Armenia’s top army general on Tuesday downplayed the significance of increased ceasefire violations around Nagorno-Karabakh that have been reported in recent days.
Karabakh’s Armenian-backed Defense Army said on Friday that the Azerbaijani army has fired mortar shells at its positions for the first time in months. It has alleged Azerbaijani mortar fire on a daily basis since then.
The Azerbaijani military has claimed the opposite.
The authorities in Stepanakert have accused Baku of increasingly breaching the ceasefire regime along the Karabakh “line of contact” after several months of relative calm that followed last April’s heavy fighting between the two warring sides.
Lieutenant General Movses Hakobian, the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff, seemed less concerned about these incidents when he spoke to reporters in Yerevan.
“Most of the tension is on the Artsakh (Karabakh) frontlines and that is natural,” he said. “The situation there has been the same in recent years. There is nothing extraordinary happening there right now.”
Hakobian also played down large-scale military exercises launched by the Azerbaijani army at the weekend. “The exercises are a pre-planned activity carried out by them,” he said. “We are following the exercises and drawing appropriate conclusions. The situation remains under our control.”
The drills are reportedly involving tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of tanks, artillery systems, helicopter and warplanes. Addressing some of the participating troops on Saturday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev threatened the Armenian side with renewed military action. He did not speak about prospects for a peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict.