War in Karabakh: Azerbaijan declared anti-terrorist operation, September 20
Third Karabakh war unfolds
Azerbaijan’s “anti-terrorist operation in Karabakh” enters its second day. The war began on September 19 and is already being referred to as “the third Karabakh war.” Artillery and drones are being used. The unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) has reported 25 casualties and 138 wounded, while the Azerbaijani side has reported one fatality. Russian peacekeepers have evacuated nearly two thousand people from the region.
Baku has extended an offer to local armed groups and the leadership of the unrecognized NKR urging them to surrender “to avoid destruction.” They have also expressed readiness to engage with representatives of the Armenian community to discuss prospects for integration into Azerbaijan.
The European Union and the United States have called on Azerbaijan to cease hostilities, while France has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council scheduled for September 21.
In Yerevan protests erupted outside the government building, with demonstrators demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Simultaneously, protests outside the Russian embassy have led to clashes with the police, resulting in several injuries.
Number of dead and wounded in NK
Nagorno-Karabakh Ombudsman Gegham Stepanyan said that at least 200 people were killed and more than 400 wounded as a result of Azerbaijan’s military actions. Among the peaceful population 40 people were wounded, 13 of them children. So far, 10 civilians have been confirmed dead, 5 of them children.
Photo by Siranush Sargsyan, NK
Hundreds protest in Yerevan, demanding Pashinyan's resignation and accusations against Russia
Yerevan in these minutes. The situation in front of the government building, where a protest demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is taking place, has escalated and there have been clashes with the police.
The opposition has gathered hundreds of people in Republic Square. At the same time there is an action in front of the Russian Embassy in Armenia. One group demands the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, while others blame Russia.
The opposition has announced the formation of a national committee that will seek the resignation of the government. “A step-by-step plan for the removal of Nikol Pashinyan and his team has been developed, and it includes a clause on expressing impeachment of the prime minister in parliament,” Dashnaktsutyun ARF representative and opposition MP Ishkhan Saghatelyan told the rally.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev addressed the nation
Ilham Aliyev said that since the end of the second Karabakh war more than 300 citizens of Azerbaijan have become victims of mine terror. “Yesterday’s terrorist attack was an event from this category.”
Aliyev said that before the establishment of the Lachin border crossing point, mines were smuggled from Armenia into the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and installed in various places.
“As a result of anti-terrorist measures and their successful completion, Azerbaijan has restored its sovereignty.
A significant part of the army, which was illegally deployed by the Armenian state in Azerbaijani territories and has not yet been withdrawn despite Armenia’s commitments, has been completely destroyed. Military equipment was destroyed and put out of service.
Before the start of the operation, I once again gave all our military formations a serious instruction that the Armenian population living in the Karabakh region should not be hit as a result of anti-terrorist measures, and the civilian population should be protected.
The process of withdrawal of the illegal Armenian armed formations from Karabakh and the surrender of military equipment has already begun. The so-called regime should fold their “flags”, put them in their pockets and leave our lands. Karabakh is the territory of Azerbaijan.
The Armenian population of Karabakh can now breathe easy.
At the meeting of my representative with the representative of the Armenian community of Yevlakh, we will convey to the other side our plans for coexistence”,
Pashinyan had a telephone conversation with Putin
The press service of the Armenian Prime Minister reports that Pashinyan had a telephone conversation with the Russian President: “The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh was discussed. The interlocutors also touched upon issues on the Armenia-Russia bilateral agenda.”
Russian peacekeepers killed under fire
The Russian Defence Ministry reports “the death of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh”. Russian media reports that their vehicle came under fire while returning from an observation post, and Russian and Azerbaijani investigators are “working at the site of the deaths”. It is not reported how many people were killed.
Meduza reports on how the Kremlin recommends state media to cover the events in NK and Armenia
The media outlet Meduza” has obtained a methodology sent by the presidential administration to the employees of state and Kremlin-loyal media in the evening of 19 September. In it, the Kremlin recommends blaming Armenia and Western countries for the escalation of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Here is the text of the publication on the Kremlin’s recommendations to Russian media resources:
“Meduza” found out how the Kremlin recommends state media to cover the events in Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia and its Western “partners” are to blame for everything. And Russian peacekeepers are heroically saving civilians from shelling
The employees of state-owned and Kremlin-loyal media are advised to focus on the fact that “the Armenian leadership has recognised Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabagh”, and to confirm this thesis AP advises to quote statements of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan made in October 2022.
However, at that time Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev explicitly spoke only about respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of their countries.
The Kremlin is advised to describe the status of the Russian peacekeepers as “supervisory”, while the pro-government media should talk about the peacekeepers’ assistance in “evacuating civilians”.
At the same time, employees of pro-government media are advised to talk about the successes that Russian troops are allegedly achieving in Ukraine. The authors of the methodology formulate the “task” of the Russian army in the following way: “To knock out.”
Russian peacekeepers announce they are "providing assistance to civilians". Video
The Russian Defence Ministry says in its Telegram channel that the peacekeepers’ camp accommodates “2,261 civilians, including 1,049 children,” referring to MK residents evacuated from the combat zone.
The RCC announced that it “continues to fulfil its functions” to provide possible assistance to civilians.
Attached to the publication is the following video, which shows people entering the peacekeepers’ base with their belongings. There is also footage of them being accommodated in the premises.
Situation commentary from Yerevan
A comment on the situation from Daniel Ioannisian, Programme Coordinator of the “Union of Informed Citizens”. Below is a translation of his post on his Facebook page.
“A little bit of chronology:
1.Pro-Russian-pro-Kocharian forces come to power in Artsakh.
2.Azerbaijan launches a large-scale attack on Artsakh under the obvious patronage of the Russians (RF reaction is a witness to this).
3.Medvedev declares that some bad fate awaits the Armenian authorities.
4. The Russian propaganda machine holds the Armenian authorities responsible for all this.
5.Pro-Kocharian forces in Yerevan try to attack the government building.
6. Having more tanks and artillery than Armenia, the pro-Russian-pro-Kocharian authorities in Artsakh agree to complete surrender, even after not even a full day of fighting.
As far as Russia is concerned, everything is clear here, people want to make a coup and turn Armenia into Belarus-2. But it is painful to state that there are forces in Armenia (who came to power in Artsakh), which subordinate the independence of Armenia and the existence of Artsakh to their desire to get to power.
And we simply state that on the 10th day of coming to power in Artsakh these forces received war, and on the 11th day they signed a complete surrender.”
Speech by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan
“We have learnt from the information official pages of Nagorno-Karabakh that through Russian mediation the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh have accepted the proposal of the command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent for a ceasefire.
We have familiarised ourselves with the text, and since Armenia was in no way involved in the drafting of the text and was not a party to the discussions, the first note is that the text mentions the Armenian Armed Forces and talks about the withdrawal of the remaining units of the Armenian Armed Forces from Nagorno-Karabakh. This is not very clear to us under the circumstances when Armenia has repeatedly stated that since August 2021 the RA has no Army in Nagorno-Karabakh.
In any case, we take note of this statement and the agreement of the Nagorno-Karabakh authorities.
The intensity of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh has decreased dramatically at the moment, but it cannot be said that it has completely subsided”.
Azerbaijani authorities will meet with representatives of Karabakh Armenian community tomorrow
Statement of the Administration of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan:
“On the proposal of the Administration of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, a meeting with representatives of the Armenian residents of Karabakh will be held in Yevlakh on 21 September 2023 to discuss reintegration issues on the basis of the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Azerbaijan.”
The anti-terrorist operation is over
Statement of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Azerbaijan:
“The Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Azerbaijan informs that taking into account the appeal of the representatives of the Armenian residents of Karabakh received through the Russian peacekeeping contingent, an agreement has been reached on the suspension of anti-terrorist activities of local nature on 20 September 2023 at 13:00 on the following conditions:
1. Armenian armed forces formations and illegal Armenian armed formations located in the Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan shall lay down their weapons, abandon their combat positions and military posts and fully disarm. The units of the armed forces of Armenia shall leave the territory of Azerbaijan and the illegal Armenian armed formations shall be disbanded.
2. In parallel, all weapons and heavy equipment are surrendered.
3. The implementation of the above-mentioned processes is ensured in co-ordination with the Russian peacekeeping contingent”.
Authorities of unrecognised NKR accept peacekeepers' ceasefire proposal
Here is the full text of the statement of the President’s Office:
“Since 19 September, the Republic of Azerbaijan has launched a large-scale offensive along the line of contact with the Republic of Artsakh with massive artillery and air strikes.
The analysis of the actions of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan shows that the task has been set to dismember Artsakh and cause irreparable damage to its viability. During two days of hard fighting, the units of the Artsakh Armed Forces heroically defended the country from the enemy, which was several times superior in manpower and military equipment, inflicting the greatest losses. Unfortunately, the Artsakh side also has losses and wounded, and in some areas the enemy managed to break through to the fighting positions of the defence army, taking control of a number of strategic heights and nodes.
Taking all this into account, the authorities of the Republic of Artsakh accept the proposal of the command of the Russian peacekeeping mission for a ceasefire”.
Azerbaijan repeated the conditions for ceasefire
Following a report from Khankendi (Stepanakert) about the readiness of the unrecognised authorities of the Karabakh Armenian community to meet in Yevlakh with representatives of official Baku, Azerbaijan’s pro-government media repeated the conditions for a ceasefire announced the previous day by the Defence Ministry.
“For a ceasefire, illegal armed formations must raise the white flag and the ‘power structures’ in Khankendi must declare self-dissolution,” the reports said.
The anti-terrorist operation continues.
Yerevan in the morning after clashes with police throughout the night
This is how it is in Yerevan this morning (pictured). About 100 people are standing in front of the government building, continuing to demand the resignation of Nikol Pashinyan. People are arguing with police officers, trying to persuade them not to defend the government, but in general the situation is calm.
Active actions are expected in the evening. The head of the Mother Armenia bloc Andranik Tevanyan called on the population to strike in Yerevan and marzes and informed about holding a new rally in front of the Armenian Cabinet at 19.00.
All day and all night on 19 September protests were held in two locations in the Armenian capital: near the government buildings (on the photo) and near the Russian Embassy. One group of protesters demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan; it was announced that he was given 48 hours to leave. The other group branded Russia a disgrace and blocked all exits and exits to the Russian embassy. Russia sent a note of protest to the Armenian Foreign Ministry in this regard. Only by morning the Armenian police managed to unblock the doors to the embassy.
Several people were injured in the clashes with the police, there are detainees.
Photo JAMnews/Tigranui Martirosyan
"Urgently stop genocide" - statement of Artak Beglaryan
Former State Minister of the unrecognised NKR Artak Beglaryan said today that “the authorities of the Republic of Artsakh should make decisions very quickly, boldly and present them to the people, however difficult they may be, and the people should understand this forced step arising from the situation”.
Artak Beglaryan believes that “the genocide that is going on at the moment should be stopped a minute earlier”. He informs that the number of victims and wounded is rapidly increasing, advancement and successes of Azerbaijani army in different directions are developing.
“Time is working against us, as it is clear that any international players, including the Russian and American sides, do not want to stop the war. For me, it is undeniable that the Russian Federation, the US and the EU are criminally fully supporting the Azerbaijani programme to subjugate the people of Artsakh. In such a complex geopolitical situation and in such an extremely unequal war, our heroic boys simply cannot achieve a significant result at the cost of their courage and lives. We are completely besieged and alone, even Mother Armenia has abandoned Artsakh in this struggle.
In such an obvious stalemate, saving human lives should be the main priority, and the rest of the issues related to the future of Artsakh should be discussed after the ceasefire, as far as possible, with possible international guarantees. It is very difficult for me to write such a text, but we are obliged to speak the truth for the sake of the people of Artsakh and the future of the Motherland. Any struggle must have some visible perspective, especially when thousands of human lives are on the scales,” Artak Beglaryan wrote on his Facebook page.
"The security of the population is a priority". Statement by the President of the unrecognised NKR. Is it about evacuation of the population?
President of unrecognised NKR Samvel Shahramanyan stated that “Artsakh will be forced to take appropriate steps, the main goal of which is to ensure the physical security of the population.
During the meeting of the Security Council “the situation that has developed as a result of the war unleashed by Azerbaijan against Artsakh, possible developments and steps taken by Artsakh in this context were discussed. The President noted that the reaction of international players to the situation created in Artsakh and its overcoming is inadequate and no practical steps are taken,” the report says.
Many assumed that it is about evacuation of the population.
A record of Karabakh activist Gevorg Arstamyan is being discussed online. He wrote on his Facebook page, “Shelling continues in Karabakh. It became known from unreliable sources that the leadership of Karabakh will make a decision in the morning: either we stay or leave, in a word, either we stay, integrate or leave our homeland”.
Strike on a military unit in the village of Tyapakand - VIDEO
The Azerbaijani army struck a military unit of the Armenian army in the village of Tyapakand in the Tarter region (Tonashen village in the Mardakert region).
Review of last night's events from NK and Yerevan
● During the night the Azerbaijani Armed Forces continued to use artillery and drones in the direction of NK towns and villages, civilian infrastructure was shelled. The unrecognised NK ombudsman reported that by 5am an ambulance carrying the bodies of 8 victims was under fire, the driver was wounded.
● The number of dead and wounded has increased, including among civilians. According to NK Ombudsman Gegham Stepanyan the number of civilian casualties reached 7: 3 women, 2 children and 2 men.
● German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock said: “In the last few days there have been intense discussions between the EU and the US with Armenia and Azerbaijan on de-escalation. Baku has broken its promise to refrain from military action. Azerbaijan must immediately stop shelling and return to the negotiating table, this is the only way a lasting peace is possible. We support EU-led negotiations.”
● “I strongly condemn Azerbaijan’s use of force in Nagorno-Karabakh. The offensive must stop immediately, dialogue must be resumed on the rights and security of the inhabitants [of Nagorno-Karabakh]. I remain in touch with Prime Minister Pashinyan,” French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on the X network.
● US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a briefing: “Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan today about Azerbaijan’s military actions in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Secretary of State expressed deep U.S. concern about the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and stressed that the U.S. calls on Azerbaijan to immediately cease hostilities and immediately return to dialogue. He told Prime Minister Pashinyan that the U.S. fully supports Armenia’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”
● “Azerbaijan’s brazen attack on Nagorno-Karabakh further proves Aliyev’s malicious intent to destroy the Armenian population there. The U.S. and the international community must act,” said Bob Menendez, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
● The U.S. State Department website published a U.S. call for an immediate halt to Azerbaijan’s military actions in NK. Acting US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Yuri Kim said that “direct dialogue is the only way to resolve disputes.
Situation report for the morning
● NK reports that fighting of varying intensity continues along the line of contact. “Azerbaijani Armed Forces units, using fire from various types of weapons, continue positional advance operations, striking civilian infrastructures as well. The units of the Defence Army provide stubborn resistance, inflicting losses on the enemy,” the Defence Army of the unrecognised republic said in a statement.
● The situation near the Armenian government building and the Russian Embassy, where protests over the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh took place the day before, is calm. The security of the government building, where the demonstrators demanded the resignation of the Prime Minister, has been reinforced. The road to the embassy building has been unblocked. Sixteen people were detained during the protests. Armenian police reported that 11 were detained for actions near the government building, 5 – for administrative violations near the Russian Embassy.
Review of last night's events from Baku
● US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. According to the State Department, he urged Aliyev to stop the anti-terrorist operation in Karabakh.
● The press service of the Azerbaijani president reported:
“On 19 September, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. During the telephone conversation, the sides exchanged views on the current situation in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.
The head of state noted that reconnaissance and sabotage groups of the Armenian armed forces’ formations in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan planted mines in advance for terrorist purposes, as a result of which civilians and police officers were killed, as well as shelled units of our army with mortars and small arms of different calibre.
Ilham Aliyev stressed that these actions, including the holding of the so-called “presidential elections” in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan on 9 September, are a continuation of purposeful provocations by Armenia and the notorious separatist structure created and supported by it against the sovereignty of Azerbaijan.
The President of Azerbaijan noted that in order to prevent such provocative actions, Azerbaijan had to launch anti-terrorist measures of local character in the region. He stressed that during the anti-terrorist measures, civilians and infrastructure objects are not shelled, but only legitimate military targets are put out of action.
It was informed that in order to discuss reintegration issues, the administration of the President of Azerbaijan had several times invited representatives of the Armenian population living in the Karabakh region to dialogue, but they refused to do so. Nevertheless, they were once again invited to dialogue during local anti-terrorist activities. The President said that the anti-terrorist activities will be stopped in case of laying down arms and disarmament.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken expressed concern over the current situation, called for the achievement of a ceasefire and stated U.S. support for direct dialogue between Baku and representatives of Armenians living in the Karabakh region.”
● Azerbaijani Defence Ministry statement this morning:
“Starting from 19 September, anti-terrorist activities of local nature carried out by the armed forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the Karabakh economic region have been successfully continued.
Combat positions belonging to the units of the Armenian armed forces, military vehicles, artillery and anti-aircraft missile installations, electronic warfare stations and other military means were neutralised”.
Third war in Karabakh, day one, 19 September, reporting from Baku and Yerevan