A top Armenian army general expressed confidence at the weekend that increased ceasefire violations along Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan, which have killed and wounded several people in recent days, will not escalate further.
Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian-backed military was less sanguine about the situation on the frontlines, however, warning of “unpredictable consequences” for Azerbaijan.
“We had a more tense situation on the frontline in July-August last year,” Lieutenant-General Movses Hakobian, a deputy chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff, told journalists in Yerevan.What is happening on the frontline is nothing new for the armed forces. We always deal with such situations to varying degrees.”
“Our frontline troops fully control the situation. They have taken appropriate measures in connection with this tension and I think it will ease,” he said on Saturday.
The upsurge in fighting has been particularly serious at the western section of Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan. In the course of last week, villages on both sides of the frontier were directly hit in mostly overnight skirmishes between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops stationed in the area. Several civilians were wounded as a result.
“Compared with the previous days, the frequency of ceasefire violations has decreased,” Armenia’s Defense Ministry said later on Saturday. The Azerbaijani military likewise did not report major armed incidents there over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Karabakh’s Defense Army accused Baku of systematically ratcheting up tensions along “the line of contact” around Karabakh. In a statement released on Sunday, it said that Azerbaijani forces increasingly use mortars and rockets when violating the ceasefire regime there. It said that failure to de-escalate the situation could have “unpredictable consequences” for Baku.
The warning came the day after around 100 Karabakh Armenian volunteers led by Ara Harutiunian, the unrecognized republic’s prime minister, arrived in Armenia’s northern Tavush province to temporarily man some Armenian army posts along its border with western Azerbaijan. The authorities in Stepanakert portrayed the largely symbolic deployment as a show of solidarity with the local population.