Armenia accused Azerbaijan on Friday of “blatantly violating” a Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped on April 5 the heaviest fighting along the Nagorno-Karabakh “line of contact” in over two decades.
“Azerbaijan is ignoring the international community’s calls for a solely peaceful resolution of the conflict,” said Tigran Balayan, the Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman.
“Continued hostilities by Baku could lead to dangerous consequences, the full responsibility for which would fall upon Azerbaijan’s leadership,” he added in written comments.
Balayan pointed out that two soldiers of Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army were shot dead by Azerbaijani forces at different sections of “the line of contact” late on Thursday. The Defense Army accused Azerbaijani forces of firing at its positions from mortars, grenade launchers and small arms overnight. It also claimed to have repelled an Azerbaijani commando attack on one of those positions.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said, however, that the Armenians themselves launched a “sabotage attack” on its frontline troops early on Thursday. It said one Azerbaijani soldier was killed as a result.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev reportedly alleged “periodical military provocations by the Armenian army” when he met with the European Union’s special envoy to the South Caucasus, Herbert Salber, in Baku on Friday. According to the APA news agency, Salber arrived in the region on a fact-finding visit related to the April 2 outbreak of heavy fighting in Karabakh.
Also on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed the situation in the conflict zone by phone for a third time in less than two weeks.
Davit Babayan, a senior Karabakh official, indicated earlier in the day that the ceasefire is largely holding despite the reported violations. “The number of these violations is definitely less serious than what happened during the four-day war,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Babayan claimed that the Azerbaijani side resorts to ceasefire breaches in order to “make us nervous.” “But that will not work,” he said.
“I don’t think that they will again launch a full-scale war because they got a tough response,” he went on. “Besides, that would be a serious challenge to the international community and mediating powers.”