Azerbaijan mobilises troops – casualties on the border with Armenia
On September 21, Azerbaijan called up army reserves after one Azerbaijani soldier was killed and another was wounded during a new escalation on the border with Armenia.
Two days before, the president of Azerbaijan announced that Armenia is preparing for war.
Some experts believe that Russia is pushing both sides to take diplomatic steps, and therefore the clashes are taking place not in Nagorno Karabakh, but on the border of the two countries.
Expert analysis and a timeline of events below.
• “Both sides are thinking about war” – interview with Azerbaijani conflict expert
• Armenian FM comments on Nagorno Karabakh, Turkey’s actions in Caucasus, Mediterranean
• Op-ed: what really happened in the July fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan, what are the results?
Ilham Aliyev’s warning
“They [Armenia] are preparing for a new war. They are concentrating their forces not far from the line of conflict.
“We see everything, we’re following everything. Of course, we will defend ourselves, just as we did in Tovuz [ed. the escalation on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border on July 12-16, 2020]”, said Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in an interview with a local TV channel on September 19.
The next day, September 20, late in the evening, the Azerbaijani defense ministry announced an Armenian drone had been shot down in the Shamkir region [near the border with Armenia].
Killed and wounded at the border
On the morning of September 21, two messages came in at the same time: one soldier had died and another had been injured.
“Elshan Ali oglu Mammadov, junior sergeant of the Azerbaijani army, was killed while attempting to suppress another provocation near Tovuz on the state border on September 21 at about 09:20”, reported the defense ministry’s press service.
The Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan reported that soldier Qurban Azad oglu Qurbanov had taken a bullet wound to the right shoulder in the Tovuz region on the border with the Tavush region of Armenia.
Call up of reserves
On the same day, September 21, Azerbaijan called soldiers with various specialties from the reserve to report to training camps.
Azerbaijani military observer Asaf Giluyev in interview with JAMnews:
“I can say with confidence that there will be no new war. Although, since we are already in a state of war with our neighboring country, we should instead say ‘large-scale clashes’”.
There are several arguments for the fact that there will be no war, says Guliyev.
They include, among others, Azerbaijan’s obligations to the international community and the state of the equipment being used by both sides.
“We do not fully understand the circumstances behind our serviceman’s death. But there could be two reasons.
First, Armenia is conducting intelligence operations.
Second, Russia is trying to make important diplomatic achievements after the July events on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Russia is pushing the parties to take diplomatic steps. It is for this reason that clashes aren’t occurring in Nagorno Karabakh, but rather on the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Of course, if the way events develop doesn’t suit Russia’s interests, a new escalation will be unavoidable”.
“Misinformation” – Armenia’s reaction
The Armenian Ministry of Defence called Baku’s statement about the downed Armenian drone misinformation. The press secretary of the ministry, Shushan Stepanyan, even stated that this is just “wishful thinking” on Azerbaijan’s side.
Yerevan claims that it has no information about the death of any Azerbaijani serviceman. But Armenia did recall the death of a contract soldier from the Armenian side on September 16 “from gunshot and shrapnel wounds as a result of a provocation from the Azerbaijani side”.
In this regard, the Armenian Ministry of Defence again raises the issue of “the need to establish mechanisms on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border that will reduce the risks of such incidents”.