Situation escalates on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, casualties on both sides
On July 14, the third day of escalation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, the situation remains very tense. Various reports state that both sides have used artillery, and that large territories adjacent to the battlefield, including villages, are being shelled.
Baku reports that 12 Azerbaijani soldiers have been killed, including high-ranking officers.
Yerevan reports that two soldiers have died.
Both sides accuse one another of escalating tensions and say that the casualties experienced by the other side are significantly larger.
The escalation began on July 12 with an incident on the border of the Tovuz District in Azerbaijan and the Tavush Province in Armenia.
The Azerbaijani side announced that Armenian soldiers “tried to go on the offensive in order to seize ground.”
The Armenian Ministry of Defense accused the authorities of Azerbaijan of starting the provocation. At first it was reported that the Azerbaijani military tried to violate the border of Armenia. Then, the Armenian authorities announced that Azerbaijan was unleashing ongoing artillery fire on Armenian settlements.
“The two countries need a direct line of communication” – international response
The European Union called on both countries to end the armed conflict and take measures to prevent further escalation.
The same statement was made by the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, who act as mediators in the process of resolving the Karabakh conflict.
The co-chairs stated that they are in contact with both parties, but urge them to use the direct channel of communication existing between them.
President Putin’s spokesperson released a statement expressing concern and calling for restraint on both sides. Russia is one of the countries co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group.
The Collective Security Treaty Organization, led by Russia, called for the ceasefire to be resumed immediately. Armenia is a member of this organization.
A brief timeline of recent events on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, as told be official sources from both countries.
Information from Yerevan
On the morning of July 14, Yerevan reported that during the night, the Armenian Armed Forces had noticed an enemy tank driving past and opened fire on it. Shushan Stepanyan, spokesperson for the Armenian Ministry of Defense, wrote about this on her Facebook page.
“At this moment, the border is relatively calm,” Stepanyan wrote.
She also posted a video about the incident on the border and explained what was happening on the video:
“The Armenian Armed Forces are destroying defensive bases in Azerbaijan, where they open fired at the border with the settlements in the Tavush Province. Watch the final part carefully.”
Later on July 14, the Armenian Ministry of Defense reported that an Azerbaijani drone had hit the border village of Berd:
“The enemy took out civilian infrastructure in the city of Berd with a drone strike. There are no victims.”
The ministry says that during the first two days of the escalation at the border, other border villages – Movses, Chinari, Aygepar and Nerkin Karmirakhpyur, were bombarded.
The Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs lays the blame on Azerbaijan.
“Baku continues its acts of aggression on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, intentionally targeting civilian infrastructure and civilians, expanding the area of the conflict,” states a release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs press service.
The release also promises “a proportionate response to these aggressive actions.”
Hamlet Melkumyan, a resident of Berd, the epicenter of the incident, said that the situation there is generally calm.
“Everyone is busy with their work. People understand that they must be ready at all times during a period of tension, everyone knows what needs to be done. Only schoolchildren worry. But they are not intimidated and are ready to take shelter in the basements if the situation worsens.”
Hacker attacks government sites – evidence points to Azerbaijan
The tensions are not just limited to the real Armenian-Azerbaijani border, but also exist in cyberspace.
On the afternoon of July 14, news broke that the official website of the Armenian Prime Minister had been hacked. The press service of Nikol Pashinyan has not yet commented on the situation.
In addition, the Armenian government website had been hacked. Neither sites were able to load.
Armenian experts claim that evidence from the attack pointed to Azerbaijan.
Summary of social media discussions
Trend One: the enemy is cruel and treacherous, but the Armenian army is in control of the situation
“We don’t need to laud them too heavily, of course. But we should be happy that our army is effective.”
Trend Two: no one should rejoice over casualties on either side
“I suppose I’ll get stoned for saying this, but I still don’t understand why we have this culture where people can’t get enough of hearing about the deaths of enemies.”
Trend Three: they’re only doing what’s needed
“We must respond as strongly as possible to all provocations. And recently, Azerbaijanis have begun to threaten us more and more for who knows what reason!”
Aggressive rhetoric against Azerbaijan is growing amongst Armenian Facebook users in general.
Information from Baku
On July 14, the incident on the border was the one thing all media sources reported on and the main source of discussion on Azerbaijani social media sites.
Early in the morning, the head of the press service of the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan, Colonel Vagif Dargyakhly, reported that Armenian Armed Force units were shelling the villages of Agdam and Alibeyli in the Tovuz region of Azerbaijan using large-caliber weapons and artillery cannons.
Soon, a report was confirmed that a general had died in the war zone. This was announced at a briefing not far from the front line in the Tovuz region by Deputy Minister of Defense of Azerbaijan Kerim Veliyev.
He also said that a colonel, two majors, two ensigns and a re-engaged soldier of the Azerbaijani army had died.
Veliyev said that on the night of July 13-14, fierce battles continued in the Tovuz region, and at least 100 people had been killed and equipment had been destroyed on the Armenian side.
On July 14, they reported that the shelling had killed 75-year-old disabled man Aziz Azizov, a resident of the village of Agdam in the Tovuz region.
TV channels broadcast messages from villages at the epicenter of the incident. People say that they do not want to leave their homes and will remain on their territory.
In this video interview, local residents say: “Armenians have been firing from heavy artillery since July 12. But our army is much stronger than the Armenian army. Armenians have received, and will continue to receive, an appropriate response to their actions.”
The State Office of Public Prosecutor of Azerbaijan declared that Armenian military personnel have committed war crimes against the civilian population of Azerbaijan. An investigation team is working at the scene, and after they gather the proper documentation, criminal cases will be initiated and measures will be taken within the framework of international law, read the prosecutor general’s statement.
Ukraine, Moldova, and Turkey noted the importance of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan welcomed the statements of the Foreign Ministries of Ukraine, Moldova and Turkey. These countries stated that they are in favor of an early settlement of the conflict between the two countries within the framework of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and the borders recognized by the international community.
Summary of comments on social media
Trend One: Lavrov’s plan (Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs)
“What happened in Tovuz is all part of Lavrov’s secret plan. We cannot allow Russian troops to be deployed in the zone of contact between the troops.”
Trend Two: The Enemy Must Be Punished
“The death of any of our soldiers and privates is a tragedy, it is painful. But killing an officer is a different level of audacity, for which the enemy should be punished without any talk of peace negotiations, which Pashinyan himself has openly shot down all the time recently. So now I think there is no other way. It is impossible to stop, just as it was four years ago, at the request of our neighbors, NATO, OSCE, UN, and Washington. In the end, none of them had done anything in a long enough time for justice to triumph without war. ”
Trend Three: fear for their children who serve in the army
“Parents with children who are serving now have been extremely worried these past few days, to put it mildly.. As always, those who have not served a day and have never smelled gunpowder, the happy few who own certificates exempting them from service – they are ones chanting and calling the loudest [for war].”