One week after it was brokered by Russia, the ceasefire along “the line of contact” around Nagorno-Karabakh appears to be largely holding despite sporadic gunfire reported by the warring sides.
Karabakh’s Armenian-backed Defense Army said on Tuesday that Azerbaijani forces fired overnight more than two dozen mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades towards its positions at the northern and southern sections of the frontline, the main scene of heavy fighting that broke out on April 2.
The statement said Karabakh Armenian forces returned fire only “in cases of necessity.” “The situation is calm at the moment,” concluded the statement issued in the morning.
Nagorno-Karabakh -- An Armenian soldier stands next to a cannon at the artillery positions near Nagorno-Karabakh's town of Martuni, April 8, 2016
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, for its part, claimed to have registered 100 Armenian truce violations on the “line of contact” and Armenian-Azerbaijani border in the past 24 hours. It said its troops shot back as many times.
“Compared with what happened on April 2-5 … we can say that the situation has been relatively stable in the last few days,” said Davit Babayan, a senior Karabakh official. “True, the enemy has shelled our positions at some sections but on the whole we can say that there is relative calm along the entire frontline.”
The fighting, which left at least 100 soldiers on both sides dead, all but stopped on April 5 following a Russian-mediated ceasefire agreement reached by Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s top army generals in Moscow.
The U.S., Russian and French mediators have urged the parties to stick to the truce. They have also called for renewed Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations on a political resolution of the Karabakh conflict. They have yet to arrange such direct talks.
The speaker of the Karabakh parliament, Ashot Ghulian, said on Tuesday that Baku will fail to clinch “unilateral” concessions from the Armenian side as a result of the Azerbaijani offensive launched on April 2.
“Azerbaijan’s actions are having an opposite effect … as I think that not only Karabakh’s but also the overall Armenian position on resolving the Karabakh conflict is hardening,” Ghulian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “This was inevitable.”