Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict: Cease-fire announced after fresh clashes on Nagorno-Karabakh border

A senior Armenian official said late Wednesday that a truce had been agreed with Azerbaijan after two days of violence linked to a decades-long conflict between the former Soviet states over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

There was no talk from Azerbaijan about the truce to stop the deadliest exchanges between the countries from 2020.

Russia is the main diplomatic force in the region and maintains 2,000 peacekeepers there. Moscow brokered a deal that ended the 2020 fighting – dubbed the second Karabakh war – in which hundreds were killed.

Russian news agencies Armen Grigoryan Armen Grigoryan, Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia, told Armenian TV: “Thanks to the involvement of the international community, an agreement on the ceasefire has been reached.”

The announcement said the truce was in effect for several hours. Armenia’s Defense Ministry said earlier that firing in the border areas had stopped.

Each side blames the other for the new clashes.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told parliament that 105 Armenian soldiers had been killed since the violence began this week.

In Azerbaijan, 50 soldiers were killed in the first day of fighting. Reuters could not verify the accounts of either side.

Grigory Karasin, a deputy of the upper house of the Russian parliament, told the RIA news agency that the truce was achieved through Russian diplomatic efforts.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he spoke with Pashinyan. Putin called for calm after the violence erupted and other countries called for restraint on both sides.

In a speech to parliament, Pashinyan said his country had appealed to the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization to help restore territorial integrity.

“If we say that Azerbaijan has attacked Armenia, it means that they have managed to establish control over some territories,” said Russia’s Tass news agency.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been fighting for decades over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous enclave recognized as part of Azerbaijan and home to a large Armenian population.

Fighting first erupted at the end of Soviet rule, and Armenian forces took control of large swathes of local and surrounding territory in the early 1990s. Azerbaijan, supported by Turkey, recovered these territories in six weeks in 2020.

Clashes have erupted periodically since then, despite meetings between Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev aimed at a comprehensive peace settlement.

Discontent in Armenia over the 2020 defeat has led to repeated protests against Pashinyan, who dismissed reports that he had signed a deal with Baku.

In a Facebook post, he accused the reports of “informational sabotage directed by unfriendly forces.”

A full-blown conflict would risk dragging Russia and Turkey, destabilizing an important corridor for oil and gas pipelines just as the war in Ukraine has disrupted energy supplies.

Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Paruyr Hovhannisyan said the clashes could turn into a war, the second major armed conflict in the former Soviet Union, as Russian forces are focused on Ukraine.

Azerbaijan accused Armenia, which is in a military alliance with Moscow and is home to a Russian military base, of shelling its army units.

Baku said Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov met with US State Department Caucasus adviser Philip Reeker, who said Armenia should withdraw from Azeri territory.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that Russia could “stir the pot” or use its influence to help “calm the waters”.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, in a call with members of the two countries, also called for “an end to the strikes against the Armenian territory”.