Azerbaijan has deployed more troops near “the line of contact” around Nagorno-Karabakh one month after the outbreak of heavy fighting with Karabakh Armenian forces, Armenia’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.
“The situation is different now: we are now seeing movements of larger numbers of [Azerbaijani] troops,” the ministry spokesman, Artsrun Hovannisian. “Our reconnaissance units are seeing and hearing everything.”
“I can’t give you any numbers for objective reasons,” he said.
Karabakh’s Armenian-backed Defense Army similarly reported on Monday a “build-up and active movements of enemy troops at various section of the frontline.” It said its forces are “prepared to take appropriate measures if need be.”
“Defense Army units have been put on high alert,” said Hovannisian. Another Azerbaijani offensive would therefore be less of a surprise for the Armenian side, he added.
The Azerbaijani army attacked Karabakh Armenian positions at northern and southern sections of “the line of contact” early on April 2. At least 170 soldiers from both sides died before a Russian-mediated agreement largely stopped the heavy fighting on April 5. The warring sides have accused each other of violating the ceasefire in the following weeks.
Despite international efforts to bolster the ceasefire regime and restart Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks, there are lingering fears of renewed large-scale fighting in and around Karabakh.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov again discussed the situation there on Monday in a phone call that reportedly focused on the conflict in Syria. “They also spoke about Nagorno-Karabakh and the conflict there and the need to continue to try to restore a better sense of calm between the sides,” John Kirby, the U.S. State Department spokesman, said afterwards.