Who and why started it? Experts in Baku, Yerevan, Stepanakert and Moscow looking into the case
16:00, 2 April 2016
Reports from Baku:
Arastun Orujlu, the Head of “East-West research center:
‘This escalation of tension could be explained by a thaw in relations between Azerbaijan and the USA. Russia wanted to warn Azerbaijan through Armenia’s hands, but there has been unexpected reaction.
According to the information we possess, our troops have not only repulsed an offensive, but also further advanced beyond the contact line. I don’t think that will last long. It’s not in Russia’s interest to have a hot spot in the vicinity of its borders. However, at present the firefight still continues.’
Head of Azerbaijani Defense Ministry press-service, Vagif Dargyahly, who is at the front line now, has just confirmed on air of ASAN Radio the reports on combat actions using all types of military equipment. However, he has denied reports on alleged evacuation of peaceful population.
According to the unconfirmed information, civilians are being evacuated from the border regions.
The most popular topic in the social networks – the role of Russia and the United States in a sudden escalation of conflict:
‘Until now, the escalation of tension has not been the Russian TV channels’ news topic. Whereas now, this news goes the second or the third in the NTV and Russia-24 news programs. May God help us!’
Reports from Yerevan
Alexander Iskanderyan, director of the Caucasus Institute:
‘Considering the information that has been coming in from Karabakh, it does not look like the outbreak of a war. A real war outbreak would be if there was a military incursion deep across the line of contact into Karabakh. President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan had described Azerbaijan’s and Turkey’s stance as destructive, and almost immediately Azerbaijan confirmed this by opening fire.
One may suspect that a full-scale war has been kicked off, but to me it looks more like another confrontational incident, though the level of tension is really quite high.
It is obvious that an order has been issued, and Aliev himself may have issued it while in Washington, perhaps because of some problems he may have encountered there. I don’t think there have been any real resolution prospects before, but now by acting like this Azerbaijan has limited the possibilities – above all, for himself.’
‘Aliyev’s nerves have broken down. He was not received well in Washington – open remarks with regard to the human rights, violation of democratic standards, freedom of speech, trampling the opposition, embezzlement of public funds, corruption. He has done worse to himself. The offensive has died out. It has turned out that there has been no support from the rare, the additional forces have got stuck far away from Karabakh – it seems that the offensive order has come as a surprise for the army. There is a trench war underway now.’
Reports from Stepanakert
“In my humble opinion, if Azerbaijan wanted to start a full-fledged war, the situation would be different today. What is happening now resembles an unexpected escalation, events on the verge of spiraling out of control. If what people who are now in Artsakh say is true, the situation is stable: no one is panicking and no one will. Presently, the right thing to do is to keep a close eye on how the events unfold and to avoid spreading unverified information. In conclusion I’ll say: everything will be either fine or very fine. That’s it for the moment.
Reports from Moscow
Mikhail Shevelev, an independent journalist:
“After it has obviously failed to assert itself as a global player in Syria, Moscow needs new arguments to use in its conversation with the outside world. The Karabakh conflict is one of a few such possibilities it has left at its disposal. Besides, the Kremlin is now very nervous, because of all the unsavory publications that are to appear in Western media soon. In a situation like this, any news that can divert the society’s attention away from the country’s inner political problems is welcome.
“If Moscow’s involvement is something we should suspect, it may not have been politically motivated at all, but is, rather, a result of some immediate military decisions. The Minsk Group is very precious for Russia, because it is the only place left where the Russian and American sides can talk face to face.
12:00, 2 April 2016
Reports from Yerevan:
Armenian Defence Ministry has reported that armed clashes started early this morning along the entire contact line in Karabakh conflict zone.
Armenia claims, Azerbaijan has taken the offensive using artillery, armored vehicles and aircrafts. As it is pointed out in Armenian MoD’s official statement, ‘the enemy tried to break through deep into Nagorno-Karabakh defense and take in the strategic positions.’
According to the Armenian media, Azerbaijani helicopter was downed at one of the sections. Armenian official sources also report on casualties on both sides, however more people are reported to be killed from Azerbaijani side.
Reports from Baku:
Azerbaijani Defence Ministry (a few hours after the Armenian Defence Ministry’s statement had been released) made similar official statement about the beginning of armed clashed on the contact line with Armenia and around Karabakh.
Azerbaijan claims that ‘Armenian armed forces had shelled Azerbaijani positions across the front line using large-caliber guns, after which the Azeri army undertook reciprocal measures.’ The Ministry denied Armenian media reports about alleged downing of the helicopter.
Reports from Stepanakert:
The Defence Ministry of the unrecognized republic of Nagorno-Karabakh has confirmed the reports about clashes. As the Ministry has reported, at the moment (12 p.m. April 2, 2016), ‘due to active actions taken by NKR Defense Army lead detachments along the perimeter of the contact line, the enemy was driven back to their original positions, sustaining considerable losses.’ The hostilies continue – the ministry reports.
• The armed conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh took place in 1991-1994. Since entering into truce, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has existed as de facto independent republic, not recognized by any country of the world, including Armenia. Azerbaijan considers Karabakh and the adjacent areas, taken in during the war, as the occupied territories and demands their return.
• The parties to the conflict regularly report on clashes on the contact line and accuse each other of provocations.
Photo from Gevork Kazaryan’s archive; taken during the CIS military trainings in Armenian, in 2012
The opinions, expressed in this article convey the author’s views and terminology do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editorial staff.