“We are seriously concerned about recent armed incidents at certain sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border which led to casualties,” a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Bikantov, said in written comments posted on the ministry’s website.
“Unfortunately, the situation along the border remains tense,” he said. “We call on the sides to refrain from any actions fraught with a further degradation of the situation and to resolve problems by diplomatic-political means.”
“Russia is prepared to continue to provide necessary support for normalizing the situation along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border through de-escalation measures and a quick launch of joint work on delimiting and demarcating the border,” added Bikantov.
Tensions have run over the past week at border sections separating Armenia’s northeastern Gegharkunik province from the Kelbajar district handed back to Azerbaijan after the autumn war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Three Armenian soldiers were killed and four others wounded there early on Wednesday in what the Armenian military described as a failed Azerbaijani attempt to capture one of its border posts.
The Armenian military claimed to have shot down on Thursday night an Azerbaijani surveillance drone in the same mountainous area. It released photographs purportedly showing fragments of the Israeli-manufactured Aerostar unmanned aerial vehicle lying in a field.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry denied the claim.
The Defense Ministry in Yerevan also accused Azerbaijani forces of opening fire on Friday morning at its positions outside an Armenian village bordering Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave. It said Armenian troops returned fire.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Thursday Armenia will ask Russia to deploy Russian border guards along the entire frontier. Russian officials responded coolly to the idea.
Moscow already proposed in May that Yerevan and Baku set up a commission on the delimitation and demarcation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed his country’s readiness to participate in its activities as a “consultant or mediator.”
The offer came days after Azerbaijani troops advanced a few kilometers into Gegharkunik and another Armenian province, Syunik, through several sections of the border. Pashinian said at the time that Yerevan will agree to the proposed creation of an Armenian-Azerbaijani commission on border demarcation only if Baku withdraws its forces from Armenian territory.
Azerbaijan has since repeatedly ruled out such a withdrawal, saying that they took up positions on the Azerbaijani side of the frontier.