A spokesman for Armenia’s defense ministry accused Azerbaijan late Saturday of “violating the humanitarian ceasefire” in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region by firing artillery shells and missiles.
Details: The ceasefire began at midnight local time (16:00 Pacific time), hours after the two countries accused each other of violating a week-long Russian-brokered humanitarian truce aimed at allowing both sides to exchange captives and restore bodies. Azerbaijan did not immediately comment on the spokesman’s statement.
- In a statement from Nagorno-Karabakh’s foreign ministry after Saturday’s announcement, he welcomed “the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, as well as Armenia, to achieve a ceasefire in the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict zone and to reduce tensions.”;
- “Nagorno-Karabakh reaffirms its readiness to support the terms of the humanitarian ceasefire on a reciprocal basis in accordance with the Moscow statement of October 10, 2020 and the agreements reached on October 17, 2020,” the Nagorno-Karabakh Foreign Ministry added.
General picture: Hundreds of soldiers and dozens of civilians have died since the recent fighting, which began in late September.
- The recent violence is the worst in the region in recent years, starting with coordinated air and missile attacks from late last month by Azerbaijan, which claimed that Armenian forces were preparing an attack (Armenia denies this).
Prehistory: Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountainous region of about 150,000 people, inhabited mainly by ethnic Armenians but within Azerbaijan.
- Both countries claimed this territory after the collapse of the Soviet Union, fought for it in 1992-1994 and have since stood on the brink of further conflict.
- Previous skirmishes, although numerous, have left the stalemate largely unchanged. The peace process is also controlled by the United States, France and Russia.
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Editor’s note: This article has been updated with the speaker’s comments.