Azerbaijan captures 6 Armenian soldiers at the border
Six Armenian servicemen have been captured on Armenia’s border on May 27, press service of the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry and Armenian officials have confirmed. However, the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan claims that the incident took place in the Kelbajar region of Azerbaijan, while the Armenian Defence Ministry states that the Armenian soldiers were surrounded and captured while carrying out engineering work on the territory of Armenia.
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Baku’s official response
The official statement of the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan reads as follows:
“On May 27, at about 3 am, a reconnaissance and sabotage group of the Armenian Armed Forces tried to cross the state border in the direction of the Yukhari Ayrim settlement of the Kelbajar region.
The enemy was noticed while attempting to place mines on the support routes leading to the positions of Azerbaijani Armed Forces on the border, and, as a result of the measures taken, 6 enemy servicemen were surrounded and captured.
In the morning, an accumulation of military equipment was noticed, including tanks of the Armenian Armed Forces near the border. As a result of the urgent operational measures, the movement of the reconnaissance- sabotage group has been stopped”.
The head of the press service of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Leyla Abdullayeva said on her Twitter page that Azerbaijan regards the attempted infiltration of Armenia’s reconnaissance group into the territory of Azerbaijan as a violation of the trilateral Nagorno-Karabakh agreement of November 10, 2020.
An official statement of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry says that Armenia is pursuing a policy of deliberately increasing tension on the state border of the two countries:
“Although Azerbaijan has suffered damage from mines planted by Armenia for many years, sabotage and further attempts at mining carried out by an Armenian sabotage group on the territory of Azerbaijan may become a serious threat to the lives of Azerbaijani servicemen and civilians.
Azerbaijan is dedicated to resolving tensions on the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border by means of negotiations and supports the calls of the international community for the delimitation and demarcation of interstate borders.
Attempts to violate the state border of Azerbaijan are unacceptable. Armenia should refrain from actions aimed at increasing tension in the border area and respect the borders of the neighboring state”.
Statements from Yerevan
The Armenian Defense Ministry denies the reports of the attempted sabotage and states that the captured soldiers were carrying out engineering works in the Gegharkunik region of Armenia which borders Azerbaijan. The ministry said in a statement that measures are now being taken to release the captured servicemen.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry also issued a statement claiming that “Azerbaijani military units continue to carry out provocative actions” and calling for the immediate return of the captured soldiers:
“The provocative actions carried out by the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan pursue the goal of further aggravating the situation, which can seriously threaten peace and stability of the region”.
PM Pashinyan: “The goal of Azerbaijan is to start a military conflict”
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan described the incident at the border as “the abduction of Armenian soldiers from the territory of the Republic of Armenia”:
“Our servicemen carried out work on the arrangement of the border with Azerbaijan, they were planting warning signs on the minefields, there was no sabotage. The incident took place on our territory”.
According to Pashinyan, such incidents occur because “someone wants us to come to terms with the presence of the Azerbaijani military on our territory, but this will never happen”.
PM Pashinyan believes the situation as Azerbaijan’s attempt to provoke a military conflict by all means necessary, however, Armenia will not respond to such provocations.
MP Makunts “This is a consequence of a delayed response of Armenia’s allies”
Head of the ruling My Step parliamentary faction Lilit Makunts also believes that the Armenian military were abducted from the territory of their own country.
She stated that the capture of the Armenian servicemen is a consequence of the delayed response of Armenia’s allies, specifically the Collective Security Treaty Organization of which Armenia is a member of and which operates under the auspices of Russia:
“In order to avoid further escalation and clashes, the security system of which Armenia is a part, those international partners who are worried about such impermissible actions in the South Caucasus, should provide clearer assessments [of the situation]”.
The Armenian authorities have turned to the Collective Security Treaty Organization to begin consultations on the provision of military assistance shortly after the events of May 12 events, when the Azerbaijani Armed Forces have advanced several kilometers deep into the territory of Armenia in the direction of the Syunik and Gegharkunik regions.
The servicemen of Azerbaijan refuse to retreat despite Armenia’s repeated calls, and the lengthy negotiations between the two countries failed to bring about any concrete results.
On May 26, Nikol Pashinyan stated that Armenia does not exclude the possibility of appealing to the UN Security Council if the CSTO mechanisms fail to resolve the tensions at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Pashinyan added that Armenia is not satisfied with the delays of the CSTO’s response, since the organization has not yet publicly expressed its clear position on this matter.
The Collective Security Treaty Organization is a regional organization created in 1992, immediately after the collapse of the USSR. Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan very soon left the ranks of the CSTO and now its only six members are Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.