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Armenian, Azeri Troops Remain Locked In Border Standoff


Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian chairs a Security Council meeting in Yerevan, May 12, 2021.

Armenia continued to accuse Azerbaijan of occupying its internationally recognized territory on Thursday as troops from the two countries remained locked in a border standoff for a second day.

Azerbaijani forces reportedly advanced several kilometers towards a village in Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province early on Wednesday, occupying several hills and a border lake. The Armenian military sent reinforcements to the mountainous in a bid to force them to pull back.

Armenia’s Security Council met on Thursday the second time in less than 24 hours to discuss what Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian described as a serious crisis. It issued no statements afterwards.

“There have been no skirmishes or clashes because since yesterday efforts are made to get the Azerbaijani soldiers out of the area,” Pashinian said at a cabinet meeting held earlier in the day.

“We must take this situation very seriously because we are dealing with a crsis which could develop under different scenarios,” he said. “Our objective is to ensure that Azerbaijani forces withdraw to their original positions from which they began their advance.”

Pashinian again denounced the Azerbaijani actions as a “preplanned provocation.”

The Azerbaijani government did not comment on those actions or react to the Armenian claims as of Thursday afternoon.

The Azerbaijani troops advanced to within several kilometers of the Syunik village of Verishen, according to local government officials and shepherds.

Armenian military police officers manning a checkpoint set up outside Verishen did not allow an RFE/RL crew and other journalists to approach the scene of the border standoff on Thursday.

The village mayor, Ararat Ordian, said he is going there to take part in fresh talks planned between Armenian and Azerbaijani military commanders on the ground. It was not clear if Russian military officials are also involved in the talks.

Russia’s defense and foreign ministers had separate phone calls with their Armenian counterparts on Wednesday. Moscow made no statements on the situation at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border section.

Syunik borders districts southwest of Nagorno-Karabakh which were retaken by Azerbaijan during and after last year’s Armenian-Azerbaijani war. Russia deployed soldiers and border guards there to help the Armenian military defend the region against possible Azerbaijani attacks.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev threatened last month to forcibly open a land “corridor” that would connect Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave via Syunik. Yerevan strongly condemned the threat.

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