The Armenia-backed Defense Army said they used not only small arms but also rocket-propelled grenades to target its outposts just east of the Azerbaijani-controlled town of Shushi (Shusha) on Monday. No Karabakh Armenian soldiers were hurt by the gunfire that lasted for six hours, it said in a statement.
“The Defense Army command is calling on the Azerbaijani side to respect the reached agreements and refrain from actions that would further escalate the situation,” the statement said, adding that Russian peacekeeping troops deployed in Karabakh were informed about the incident.
The Russian military made no public statements on the reported truce violation. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry also did not immediately comment on it.
The mayor of Mkhitarashen, a Karabakh village just of Shushi, said Azerbaijani troops also fired gunshots towards the small community and damaged a car belonging to one of its residents. The official, Mkhitar Arstamian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that there was no further fighting in the area on Tuesday morning and afternoon.
Although Karabakh authorities have periodically reported such incidents in recent months, the ceasefire brokered by Russian President Vladimir Putin has largely held so far. The ceasefire regime is monitored and enforced by nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers stationed in Karabakh and along the so-called Lachin corridor connecting the disputed territory to Armenia.
Davit Babayan, the Karabakh foreign minister, claimed that Azerbaijan resorts to such armed “provocations” to intimidate Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population and cause it to emigrate.
“They understand that they cannot launch a full-scale war now given that there are Russian peacekeepers present here and that an attack on Artsakh would mean attack on the peacekeepers, namely Russia,” he said.