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Nagorno-Karabakh asks Azerbaijan for ceasefire

Authorities in the disputed region have called on Baku to end hostilities and begin negotiations

Smoke rises after shelling on the outskirts of Stepanakert, the capital of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, Azerbaijan. ©  Sputnik/Hayk Harutyunyan

Officials in Nagorno-Karabakh have called on Azerbaijan to implement a ceasefire and begin negotiations, after Baku launched what it described as “local counter-terrorism measures” in the disputed region on Tuesday.

“The Karabakh side appeals to the Azerbaijani side with a proposal to immediately cease fire and sit down at the negotiating table to resolve this situation,” representatives from the region said in a message delivered by Armenian public broadcaster AMPTV.

Russia has stated that its military is in contact with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the sudden escalation in the region as worrying, noting that the immediate priority is to convince Baku and Yerevan to refrain from using force. He added that there is a real opportunity to reach a political and diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Peskov also stressed that Azerbaijani forces have a responsibility to ensure the safety of the civilian population in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

The spokesman did not comment on any potential increase in Russia’s peacekeeping force in the disputed region, stating that decisions would be made by military leaders after consulting with all parties to the conflict.

After launching “counter-terrorism measures” on Tuesday, Baku stated that it was aiming to disable “positions of the Armenian armed forces” and other military targets in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. 

Despite Baku’s pledge not to attack civilian targets, Armenia’s human rights commissioner, Gegham Stepanyan, claimed that the operation was an act of genocide. He reported that two people had been killed in the attacks and that the number of civilians injured had risen to 23, including children. Stepanyan accused Azerbaijan of targeting civilians as well as residential buildings in several districts in the region.

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Azerbaijan has ‘unleashed large-scale aggression’ – Armenia

The Armenian Foreign Ministry also condemned Azerbaijan, claiming it had unleashed “another large-scale aggression against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh,” and accusing it of pursuing the “ethnic cleansing” of Armenians in the region.

Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan in the waning days of the USSR. The predominantly ethnically Armenian population of the region fought a full-scale war for its sovereignty in the 1990s and has been supported by Yerevan since. 

In 2020, a second major conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh erupted, resulting in major bloodshed and Baku gaining control of a significant portion of previously lost territories. A Russian-mediated ceasefire ended the hostilities.

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