On Wednesday, three troops were killed and Azerbaijan claimed to have gained possession of key crucial heights in the disputed region, causing fresh tensions to flare up over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Russia charged Baku with breaking the flimsy cease-fire, and the European Union demanded a “immediate cessation of hostilities” in response to the escalation.
Nagorno-Karabakh, which is inhabited by Armenians in Azerbaijan, was the subject of two conflicts between the two countries’ longtime rivals Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020 and the 1990s.
After the most recent war, Armenia was compelled to give up large portions of territory it had long held in its possession. Russia also sent some 2,000 peacekeepers to monitor the shaky cease-fire, but tensions still exist.
Azerbaijan reported losing a soldier on Wednesday, and the Karabakh army reported losing two soldiers and suffering more than a dozen injuries.
According to the defense ministry of Azerbaijan, troops from Karabakh attacked army positions in the district of Lachin, which is overseen by the Russian peacekeeping mission, killing an enlistee.
Later, the Azerbaijani army claimed that in retaliation, it had carried out an operation dubbed “Revenge” and had seized numerous strategically important heights in Karabakh.
For its part, the army of the breakaway state charged Azerbaijan with breaking a cease-fire, leading to the deaths of two troops and the injuries of an additional 14.
The army released a statement stating that Karabakh has announced a “partial mobilization.”
Following the flare-up, Armenia urged the international community to assist in putting an end to Azerbaijan’s “aggressive actions.”
“Azerbaijan continues its policy of terror against the population of Nagorno-Karabakh,” the foreign ministry said.
Azerbaijan was accused by Armenia of attempting to unilaterally alter the Lachin corridor, which connects Armenia and Karabakh.
Russia promised to calm the situation and charged Azerbaijan with violating the cease-fire.
“The cease-fire regime was violated by the armed forces of Azerbaijan around the Saribaba height,” the Russian defense ministry said in a statement.
“The command of the Russian peacekeeping force, with representatives of Azerbaijan and Armenia, are taking measures to stabilize the situation.”
After speaking with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an escalation.
The Azerbaijani and Armenian forces in Karabakh were asked to “immediately cease hostilities,” according to the European Union.
“It is essential to de-escalate, fully respect the cease-fire and return to the negotiating table to seek negotiated solutions,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s spokesman said in a statement.
“The European Union remains committed to help overcome tensions and continue its engagement toward sustainable peace and stability in the South Caucasus,” he added.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price, meanwhile, expressed concern at the renewed fighting and urged “immediate steps to reduce tensions and avoid further escalation.”
In his statement, he also called for “a negotiated, comprehensive, and sustainable settlement of all remaining issues” tied to the conflict.
As a result of Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine on February 24, which further alienated it, it lost its position as the main peacemaker in the Karabakh conflict.
More than 6,500 people were killed over the course of six weeks of violence in the autumn of 2020, which culminated in a cease-fire mediated by Russia.
In what Baku refers to as “The Great Return,” Azerbaijan started the process of relocating its citizens to territory it had reclaimed from Armenian militants in July.
The oil-rich nation has committed to settle the reclaimed territory.
The first returns represented a symbolic occasion for Azerbaijan because President Ilham Aliyev had long promised to reclaim lands lost in the 1990s.