According to a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, representatives of the Armenian Defense Ministry accepted the Russian invitation and flew to Moscow this week, but the meeting did not take place because their Azerbaijani counterparts did not show up.
The official, Mane Gevorgian, said this is further proof that Azerbaijan is unwilling to respect a Russian-mediated ceasefire agreement that was reached by the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers on October 10. Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, Gevorgian suggested that the Russian initiative was scuttled by Turkey.
Russian officials have made no public statements on Moscow’s alleged attempt to organize such a meeting in Moscow. Baku did not immediately comment on Gevorgian’s claim.
Russia as well as the United States and France have urged the conflicting parties to honor the ceasefire agreement. Moscow is also pressing the parties to work out “ceasefire verification mechanism” that would involve the deployment of “military observers” to the conflict zone.
A senior aide to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Friday that Baku does not consider the presence of such observers necessary “right now.”
Hostilities in and around Karabakh are continuing, with the Azerbaijani forces again shelling the Karabakh capital Stepanakert late on Friday and the following night. Three local residents were reportedly wounded as a result.
For its part, Azerbaijan reported early on Saturday a fresh Armenian missile strike on Azerbaijan’s second largest city of Gyanja which it said left 13 local civilians dead. Aliyev condemned the strike as a war crime.
Karabakh’s Armenian-backed back responded by releasing a list of Azerbaijani military bases and other facilities located in Gyanja. It described them as “legitimate targets.”
Also, the Armenian authorities said that Azerbaijani army drones attacked military and civilian targets in Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province on Friday night. The Foreign Ministry in Yerevan said Baku keeps trying to “expand the geography of the conflict.”