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Azerbaijan and Armenia Resume aggressive attack and Heavy Shelling

Despite earlier declarations of a ceasefire, fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia continued on Wednesday, a day after nearly 100 soldiers were killed in clashes, the Azerbaijani and Armenian defense ministries said.

In a statement on Tuesday, Russia suggested it had brokered a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but it proved short-lived.

According to US National Security Council coordinator John Kirby, the Russian-brokered ceasefire was “violated almost immediately”.

Armenia’s defense ministry blamed Azerbaijan for the renewed attack on Wednesday, saying artillery, mortars and “large-caliber firearms” were fired at three Armenian cities, including Jermuk, near the border between the two countries.

In a series of tweets, the ministry insisted that “all responsibility” for the current clashes and any future developments lies with Azerbaijan. The Armenian government said on Tuesday that at least 49 Armenian military personnel were killed in the action.

Azerbaijan said on Twitter on Wednesday that some of its military units were also under artillery fire. The Ministry of Defense said in a statement that criminal proceedings had been opened in the case of two civilians injured as a result of the ongoing conflict with Armenia.

“Two civilians were injured as a result of a large-scale provocation committed on the night of September 12 by the Armenian armed forces,” the statement said. “The facts are currently being investigated.”

Fifty Azerbaijani soldiers were killed in deadly clashes on Tuesday, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said in a statement. Among them were 42 members of the Azerbaijani army and eight members of the State Border Service, the agency said.

If fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan continues, it could threaten key oil and gas pipelines, worsening energy supply problems already disrupted by the war in Ukraine, according to Reuters.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a decades-long dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, a landlocked region between eastern Europe and western Asia that is populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians but is in Azerbaijan’s territory.

Unrest in the region dates back to the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the Armenian-backed region declared independence from Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has long claimed to regain control of the territory internationally recognized as Azerbaijan.

In November 2020, renewed fighting erupted in the region for nearly two months, killing at least 6,500 people, Reuters reported. Hostilities ended after separatists backed by Armenia agreed to relinquish control of territories in the restive region. Russia helped broker a ceasefire agreement between the two countries, resulting in President Vladimir Putin deploying peacekeepers along the contact line in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“As far as we know, the peacekeeping presence is still there,” Kirby told reporters Tuesday. Asked if Russia might move troops into Armenia, Kirby said: “We have seen no signs of Russian forces moving now.”

Armenia on Tuesday called on Russia to implement a 1997 defense treaty that stipulates the countries will defend each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty in the event of an attack by a foreign country.

“A decision was taken to officially request the Russian Federation to implement the provisions of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the UN Security Council in the matter of aggression against the sovereign territory of the republic. Armenia,” the Armenian Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

The request followed a meeting with Armenia’s Security Council and a phone call between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Putin, according to a statement from Pashinyan’s office.

Just hours after Moscow said it had enabled a ceasefire between the two nations, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern that Russia could try to “stir the pot” between Armenia and Azerbaijan “to divert attention from Ukraine”.

Kirby said the US was “actively engaged” in trying to help end the violence, adding that Blinken had spoken with both the president of Azerbaijan and the prime minister of Armenia.

“We are actively working with both the Armenian and Azerbaijani governments to see what we can do to end this violence,” Kirby told reporters Tuesday.

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