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The flare-up of the Armenian-Azeri conflict may also deepen the energy crisis & More Latest News Here

 

Clashes between the two former Soviet republics, Azerbaijan and Armenia, continued on Wednesday. On Tuesday, nearly a hundred soldiers lost their lives after the militants of the two countries fired at each other with an intensity not seen since 2020. According to the Reuters news agency, at least 49 Armenian and 50 Azeri soldiers died in the border clashes on Tuesday.

The six-week war that broke out between the two countries back in 2020 can be seen as a direct antecedent of the fights that took place this week. The subject of the conflict is the Nagorno-Karabakh province, a contiguous mountainous area in Azerbaijan inhabited by Armenians. At least 6,500 people died in the six-week war two years ago, and the flare-up conflict ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire.

Although Armenia and Azerbaijan are neighboring states and were once part of the Soviet Union, cultural and ethnic tensions between them surfaced in the 1990s. While Azerbaijan has a predominantly Shiite Muslim population in terms of its cultural background, the Armenians are Eastern Orthodox Christians. Although it does not follow clearly from all this, Russia became an important strategic ally for Armenia and Turkey for Azerbaijan, which also means military support.

The current conflict is risky precisely because if it drags on, it could create tension between Turkey and Russia as well. This could lead to further destabilization of oil and gas transport routes, and this would also have a negative effect on the global energy supply, which is already in crisis due to the Russian-Ukrainian war.

Karen MINASYAN / AFP Relatives of soldiers wounded in border clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan gather in front of a military hospital in Yerevan on September 13, 2022.

In any case, the situation looks like Russian-backed Armenia and Turkish-backed Azerbaijan are blaming each other for the flare-up of the conflict.

Armenia said that shortly after midnight on Monday, Azerbaijani forces launched an intensive attack with artillery and large-caliber firearms against Armenian military positions in the direction of Goris, Szotk and Jermuk. At the same time, the Azeri Defense Ministry accused Armenia of “large-scale subversive acts” near the districts of Dashkesan, Kelbajar and Lachin in Azerbaijan, adding that the positions of the Azeri army were also under fire. Elnur Mammadov Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister claimed that Armenia has been shelling Azerbaijani military positions for weeks, but this has only increased in recent days.

Many world leaders have raised their voices over the escalating conflict. Turkey called on Armenia to stop provocation against Azerbaijan. Antony Blinken US Secretary of State stated that Washington was deeply concerned by the reports of the attacks and called for an end to the fighting. The US Secretary of State also voiced his suspicion that Russia is mixing the cards, and therefore negotiated separately Nikol Pasinyan with Armenian Prime Minister and Ilham Aliyev with the Azeri president. Charles Michel, and the President of the European Council stated that the European Union seeks to prevent further escalation. He added: “there is no alternative to peace and stability in the region.”

Russia also expressed “extreme concern,” according to news reports.

The Russian Foreign Ministry then announced on Tuesday that a truce had been reached, which began at 9 a.m. Moscow time on Wednesday. The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it expected the parties to fully implement the ceasefire agreement, and according to Reuters, the fighting had largely subsided by midday on Wednesday, but then new clashes broke out.

In the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, war raged in the nineties and most recently in 2020. The enclave is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, but it is populated by Armenians who want to either become independent or join Armenia. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, believes that the Armenians occupied their land illegally.

In 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, thirty thousand people died in the ethnic and territorial conflict between Armenians and Azeris. In 2020, the six-week war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire. According to the agreement, Armenia renounced territories under its control for decades, and Moscow deployed about two thousand Russian peacekeepers to the region to supervise the implementation of the ceasefire.

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