Russia suggested it had brokered a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan in a statement on Tuesday, but it was short-lived.
The Russia-brokered ceasefire “broke down almost immediately,” according to John Kirby, the US National Security Council’s strategic communications coordinator.
Azerbaijan, meanwhile, tweeted on Wednesday that some of its military units were also coming under artillery fire. In a statement, its Defense Ministry said it had opened a criminal case against two civilians injured in the ongoing conflict with Armenia.
50 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed in fierce clashes on Tuesday, the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan said in a statement. There were 42 members of the Azerbaijani Army and eight members of the State Border Service, he said.
For decades, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been at loggerheads over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, a landlocked area between Eastern Europe and Western Asia that is populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians but lies within Azerbaijani territory.
The region’s unrest stems from the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the region, supported by Armenia, declared independence from Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has long claimed to reclaim the territory, which is internationally recognized as Azerbaijan.
In November 2020, renewed fighting raged in the region for nearly two months, killing at least 6,500 people, according to Reuters. Hostilities ended after Armenian-backed separatists agreed to relinquish control of territories in the region. Russia helped broker a ceasefire agreement between the two countries, with President Vladimir Putin sending peacekeeping forces along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“As far as we know, the peacekeeping presence is still there,” Kirby told reporters on Tuesday. Asked if Russia might redeploy its troops to Armenia, Kirby said: “We have seen no indication of Russian forces redeploying now.”
On Tuesday, Armenia asked Russia to implement a 1997 defense treaty that states the countries will defend each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty in the event of an attack by a foreign country.
“It was decided to officially ask the Russian Federation to apply the provisions of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the UN Security Council regarding the attack on the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia,” says a statement from the office of the Prime Minister of Armenia.
The request follows a session with Armenia’s Security Council and a call between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Putin, according to a statement from Pashinyan’s office.
Kirby said the US is “actively engaged” in trying to end the violence, adding that Blinken has spoken with the president of Azerbaijan and the prime minister of Armenia.
“We are actively engaging with the government of Armenia and Azerbaijan to see what we can do to end this violence,” Kirby told reporters Tuesday.
CNN’s Hannah Ritchie, Philip Wang, Anna Chernova and Eleni Giokos contributed reporting, as did reporter Aren Melikyan.