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Russia Blames Azerbaijan For Karabakh Fighting


A Russian peacekeeper stands guard on a road in the Lachin corridor to Nagorno-Karabakh on December 1, 2020.

Russia’s Defense Ministry accused the Azerbaijani army of violating the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh after deadly fighting that broke out there on Wednesday morning.

A statement posted on the ministry’s website noted the “escalation of the situation in the zone of responsibility” of Russian peacekeepers stationed in Karabakh.

“In the area of the Sarybaba hill, the ceasefire regime was violated by the armed forces of Azerbaijan,” read the statement. “The command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent, together with representatives of the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides, is taking measures to stabilize the situation.”

The Russian peacekeepers reported three instances of ceasefire violation by Azerbaijan on Monday. The report was followed by a phone call between Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Azerbaijani counterpart Zakir Hasanov.

The Azerbaijani military claimed to have captured on Wednesday several hills in Karabakh in retaliation for the alleged killing of an Azerbaijani soldier by Karabakh Armenian forces. It released video of drone attacks on a Karabakh Armenian military base and frontline position.

The authorities in Stepanakert did not immediately acknowledge any territorial losses as a result of the fighting that led Arayik Harutiunian, the Karabakh president, to order a “partial mobilization” of army reservists.

In televised remarks aired on Wednesday evening, Harutiunian praised the Karabakh army’s response to the Azerbaijani attacks. He urged the territory’s ethnic Armenian population to “maintain restraint and calm.”

“In order to deescalate and peacefully resolve the situation, necessary steps are being taken through the command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent stationed in Artsakh,” Harutiunian said, adding that some progress has already been made in that endeavor.

At the same time, he hinted at Karabakh Armenians’ growing discontent with the Russian peacekeepers.

Meanwhile, Armenia’s Foreign Ministry condemned Azerbaijan’s actions as an “aggression” and gross violation of the Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war in Karabakh. It called on the international community to counter “Azerbaijan’s aggressive stance and actions.”

Earlier in the day, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry blamed Armenia for the fighting, saying that Yerevan has not withdrawn its troops from Karabakh in breach of the truce accord.

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