xi's moments
Home | Asia Pacific

Escalation raises stakes in Caucasus

By Ren Qi in Moscow | China Daily | Updated: 2020-09-30 09:37

A man uses his mobile phone as he stands in front of an apartment building that was allegedly damaged by recent shelling during the fighting over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, in the Tartar border district of Azerbaijan, on Sept 29, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Artillery marks step-up in fighting by Armenians, Azerbaijanis over region

Armenian and Azerbaijani forces deployed heavy artillery on Tuesday in the latest round of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, both sides said.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said the opposing forces were attempting to recover lost ground by launching counterattacks in the direction of the city of Fizuli, as well as Jabrayil, Agdere and Terter.

The ministry said in a statement that in the morning there was fighting around Fizuli, and the Armenian army shelled the Dashkesan region on the border between the two countries, kilometers away from Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia denied those reports but confirmed fighting throughout the night on Monday and said that the Armenia-backed forces in Nagorno-Karabakh had repelled attacks at several positions along the line of contact.

Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan in a war in the 1990s, but is not recognized by any country as an independent republic.

Azerbaijani troops have launched a large-scale offensive in the northern and southern parts of Nagorno-Karabakh, with fierce fighting being reported from the area, Armenian defense ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovannisyan said on Monday.

The clashes between the two countries over Nagorno-Karabakh, the heaviest since 2016, have reignited concern over stability in the South Caucasus region, a corridor for pipelines carrying oil and gas to world markets.

Armenia-backed forces in Nagorno-Karabakh said 53 of their soldiers had been killed in fighting with Azerbaijani forces on Monday. They had earlier said 31 of their servicemen were killed on Sunday and 200 wounded when Azerbaijan attacked, according to a Reuters report.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Tuesday that 10 civilians had been killed since the fighting with Armenian forces began on Sunday, the Interfax news agency reported.

Olesya Vartanyan, a senior analyst for the South Caucasus region at the Crisis Group, a think tank based in Brussels, said: "We haven't seen anything like this since the cease-fire to the war in the 1990s. The fighting is taking place along all sections of the front line."

Any move to all-out war could drag in major regional powers Russia and Turkey. Moscow has a defense alliance with Armenia, which provides vital support to the enclave and is its lifeline to the outside world. Ankara backs its ethnic Turkic kin in Azerbaijan.

Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Armenia must immediately withdraw from territory he said it was occupying in Azerbaijan. It was time to end a crisis over the breakaway region after the clashes between the Azerbaijani and Armenian forces, he said.

Minsk group

According to Erdogan, the so-called Minsk group-led by Russia, France and the United States and which mediates between Armenia and Azerbaijan-had failed to solve an issue that has been dragging on for almost 30 years.

"Turkey will continue to stand with … Azerbaijan with all its resources and heart," said Erdogan.

Armenian Ambassador to Moscow Vardan Toganyan said the country is ready to request additional military assistance from Russia, but "sees no reason to do it at the moment".

He said Armenia and Russia will continue to boost defense cooperation.

"We do believe that Russia has a major role in the Caucasus and is capable of using political methods to put an end to the bloodshed," Toganyan said.

According to the Russian state news agency Tass, the United Nations Security Council would convene for urgent closed-door consultations over the escalation between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Tass reported on Tuesday that Germany and France were among European countries requesting that the UN Security Council convene a meeting to discuss the clashes between the Caucasus neighbors.

Agencies contributed to the story.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349