Baku, Yerevan play blame game over Karabakh truce breach
Azerbaijan and Armenia have accused each other of violating a ceasefire recently agreed to end hostilities in the Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabakh following four days of fierce fighting in the disputed territory.
In a statement released on Thursday, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said that Armenian-backed forces had violated the truce in Karabakh 119 times in the past 24 hours.
In response, Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan accused the Azeri troops of shelling populated zones and Armenian armed forces’ positions near the town of Vardenis.
“The Azeri armed forces actively shelled Armenian armed forces’ units and populated areas located in the direction of … Vardenis … on April 6. The fire was delivered using various firearms, including large-caliber ones, and also 60mm mortars,” he told Russia’s Interfax news agency on Thursday.
In another development on Thursday, Russia stressed that it will continue efforts to help resolve the Karabakh conflict.
“Certainly, Moscow will carry on its consistent course [towards the Karabakh settlement],” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
On Wednesday, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan blamed Baku for breaching the truce in Karabakh, but his Azeri counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, pointed the finger at Yerevan, expressing hope that crisis will be resolved peacefully.
The new spate of violence broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Karabakh on April 1, with the two countries blaming each other for triggering the escalation.
After four days of fighting, which reportedly left at least 75 people dead, the two sides agreed to the ceasefire on April 5.
The landlocked Karabakh territory, which is located in the Azerbaijan Republic but is populated by Armenians, has been under control of local ethnic Armenian militia and the Armenian troops since a three-year war, which claimed over 30,000 lives, ended between the two sides in 1994 after mediation by Russia.
Last December, the Armenian Defense Ministry said the ceasefire deal was no longer in place, saying the current situation amounted to “war.”
Although the two countries are divided by a buffer zone, both sides frequently accuse one another of violating the ceasefire.