Ceasefire Violations in Nagorno-Karabakh
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org - Home - Stephen Lendman
On Friday, Russia's Sergey Lavrov met with his Armenian and Azerbaijian counterparts in Moscow.
A ceasefire was agreed on in Nagorno-Karabakh (NG below) — following days of fighting since late September.
On Saturday, Russia's Foreign Ministry issued the following statement:
In response to the statement by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and in accordance with the agreements reached by president of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, president of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and prime minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan," warring sides agreed to a temporary halt in fighting.
Ahead of the agreement, Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow is going all-out to "achiev(e) (an) immediate cessation of hostilities in and around" NG, along with "peace talks based on existing fundamental principles and relevant international documents."
High-level talks between Russian and the waring sides continue. Zakharova's remarks preceded Friday's temporary agreement.
Armenian and Azeri authorities differ greatly over which country controls NG.
Major and sporadic conflict over the territory is longstanding. Agreed on ceasefire in Moscow Friday is shaky.
Over the weekend, each side accused the other of violations.
Both sides denied each other's claims. Armenia's President Armen Sarkissian expressed hope that agreed on ceasefire "would start the process of returning to peace."
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said "(t)he military part, or first part, reached its end."
Calling for a political settlement, he wants it to include Azeri control of NG, a notion Armenia rejects.
On Saturday and Sunday, heavy shelling continued.
RT correspondent in NG Igor Zhdanov tweeted:
"Several explosions rock #Stepanakert 11 hours after the ceasefire started. Air raid sirens are on."
On Saturday, Tass reported that "ceasefire mostly holds in" NG.
Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan said since ceasefire took effect at noon on Saturday, "ceasefire has been largely observed, but the adversary occasionally resorted to provocations."
On Friday, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Moscow "is ready to assist in" ending NG hostilities "jointly with other (US and France) co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group."
NG's population is largely Armenian. The enclave is internationally recognized as Azeri territory — why conflict resolution remains elusive.
Shaky ceasefire, punctuated by violations, could unravel it altogether.
Along with Russia, Armenia is a Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) member state.
It obligates members to aid others in the bloc if attacked by foreign powers.
If Azerbaijan strikes Armenian territory, what hasn't happened so far, Russia's obligation to intervene on its behalf could draw other nations into the conflict on both sides.
If happens, a small-scale local conflict could develop into something much more serious — super-powers potentially supporting one side over the other.
Russia is trying to remain neutral, brokering ceasefire on Friday, willing to help both sides pursue a durable peace.
It's no easy task. Last week, Azeri President Aliyev said his country's forces would continue their offensive until Armenia agrees to withdraw its military from NG.
Ahead of agreed on ceasefire Friday, Vladimir Putin said many Russian citizens maintain "close, friendly and even familial relations with both" Armenia and Azerbaijan, adding:
"We are very worried because (both countries and NG are) territories inhabited by people who are not strangers to us."
Around two million Azeris and over two million Armenians live in Russia.
"We will defend our CSTO allies, including Armenia" if their borders are violated by a foreign power, said Putin.
He wants hostilities in NG ended before defending a CSTO ally becomes necessary.
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