The head of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) deplored on Thursday the downing by Azerbaijani forces of an Armenian combat helicopter as a “dangerous” blow to regional security.
“We have witnessed a new violation of ceasefire agreements [in the Nagorno-Karbakh conflict zone,]” Nikolay Bordyuzha said. “The destruction of the helicopter is a dangerous manifestation of violence. A threat of a fresh escalation of the conflict has emerged.”
“The situation in the South Caucasus is becoming more and more acute,” Bordyuzha warned in a statement.
The Russian official said the conflicting parties should respect the ceasefire regime and avoid “provocative actions.” Continued Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks are also essential for preventing another full-scale war in Karabakh, he added.
Bordyuzha, who has held high-level security positions in the Russian government in the past, already underlined his concerns about increased truce violations in the conflict zone last month with a first-ever visit to Armenian army positions on the border with Azerbaijan. He was accompanied by Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian.
Bordyuzha inspected Armenian fortifications on the border with Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave one day after meeting with President Serzh Sarkisian in Yerevan. Sarkisian accused unnamed ex-Soviet states aligned in the CSTO of failing to support Armenia and even aiding Azerbaijan. It was not clear if he referred to only the CSTO’s Central Asian members or Russia as well.
As of Thursday evening the Russian government issued no official statements on Wednesday’s downing of the Armenian helicopter near Karabakh. The Russian, U.S. and French mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group avoided blaming any side in a joint statement that expressed serious concern at the “drastic incident.”