Armenia’s Defense Ministry said Azerbaijani forces attacked at dawn its positions in Gegharkunik province bordering the Kelbajar district in Azerbaijan.
“The enemy is trying to improve its positions and create favorable conditions for making advances,” the ministry said in a statement. Armenian army units are “carrying out combat tasks set for them,” it said, adding that hostilities continued as of 8:30 a.m. local time.
Another statement released by the ministry shortly afterwards said the Azerbaijani attacks were repelled by 9:20 a.m. “The exchange of gunfire is continuing,” it added.
Sources close to the Armenian military claimed that Azerbaijani troops initially seized one of its border posts in Gegharkunik. They said the post was recaptured by the Armenian side a couple of hours later.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said, meanwhile, that its troops took “adequate measures” after coming under cross-border fire in Kelbajar overnight. It said two Azerbaijani soldiers were wounded in action.
Later in the morning the two sides agreed, with Russian mediation, to stop the fighting that reportedly involved mortar fire.
“The agreement is largely respected at the moment,” the Defense Ministry in Yerevan reported at noon. It insisted that “no change in the line of contact occurred” as a result of the deadly clashes.
One Azerbaijani soldier was killed and three Armenian servicemen wounded in skirmishes reported from the same border sections last Friday. Azerbaijani troops had advanced a few kilometers into in Gegharkunik in mid-May, provoking a continuing standoff with Armenian army units.
The latest fighting is one of the most serious armed incidents in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone since last fall’s Armenian-Azerbaijani war in Karabakh stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire. The Armenian Defense Ministry said the Azerbaijani side provoked it ahead of “negotiations planned in Moscow.” It did not elaborate.
The Interfax news agency reported that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu will host talks between his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts later on Wednesday. Shoigu reportedly met with Armenia’s acting Defense Minister Arshak Karapetian in Moscow on Monday.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry accused Baku of deliberately heightening tensions on the border. It said Armenia will use all “military-political instruments” at its disposal to protect its territorial integrity.
For its part, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said Yerevan should stop “military provocations” and start talks with Baku on demarcating the border between the two states.