Azerbaijan has launched military action in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, with the aim of restoring constitutional order and driving out Armenian military formations. This move could potentially lead to a new war in the volatile area. Karabakh is recognized as Azerbaijani territory, but it is partially controlled by breakaway ethnic Armenian authorities who consider it their ancestral homeland. The region has been the center of two wars since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Social media footage from the capital of Karabakh, Stepanakert (known as Khankendi by Azerbaijan), captured loud and repeated shelling. The Karabakh separatist human rights ombudsman reported multiple casualties among the civilian population due to strikes by Azerbaijan’s military. However, RushHourDaily could not independently verify this claim.
Azerbaijan’s defense ministry stated that its operation aimed to disarm and secure the withdrawal of Armenia’s armed forces from Azerbaijani territories, as well as neutralize their military infrastructure. The ministry emphasized that it only targeted legitimate military targets using high-precision weapons and had no intention of harming civilians. Azerbaijan also provided humanitarian corridors for civilians to leave, including one to Armenia.
Ethnic Armenian forces in Karabakh claimed that Azerbaijani forces were attempting to break through their defenses after heavy shelling. However, they asserted that they were currently holding the line. Armenia condemned what it called Baku’s “full-scale aggression” against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and accused Azerbaijan of shelling towns and villages.
Armenia appealed for help from members of the U.N. Security Council and called for Russian peacekeepers on the ground to intervene. Russia, which brokered a ceasefire after the 2020 war, urged all sides to stop fighting. Armenia criticized Moscow for being too distracted by the war in Ukraine to protect its own security and accused Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh of failing to fulfill their duties.
Amidst the escalating situation, Ruben Vardanyan, a former top official in Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian administration, called for Armenia to recognize Karabakh’s self-declared independence from Azerbaijan. He also urged the international community to impose sanctions on Baku. The Armenian government held a security council meeting to discuss the situation, while people gathered in Yerevan, the Armenian capital, demanding action from the authorities.
Baku initiated its military operation after claiming that six of its citizens had been killed by landmines planted by “illegal Armenian armed groups.” Armenia denied these allegations. The escalation occurred just a day after much-needed food and medicine were delivered to Karabakh, potentially defusing tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Previously, Baku had imposed restrictions on the Lachin corridor, the only road connecting Armenia with Karabakh, citing concerns of arms smuggling.
Armenia accused Azerbaijan of causing a humanitarian catastrophe with its actions, which Azerbaijan denied. Armenia’s foreign ministry had warned on Monday that Azerbaijan’s diplomatic stance seemed to be preparing the ground for military action.
In conclusion, Azerbaijan’s military action in Nagorno-Karabakh has raised the specter of a new war in the volatile region. The conflicting parties have different narratives regarding the objectives and consequences of the operation, with Armenia condemning it as full-scale aggression. The international community, including Russia, has been called upon to intervene and help resolve the escalating conflict.
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