New clashes have erupted between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, the Armenian defence ministry says, a day after nearly 100 soldiers were killed in the deadliest fighting between the two neighbours since 2020.
Azerbaijan used artillery, mortar and small arms in its attack on Wednesday morning, the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border remained tense,” it added, restating Armenia’s position that Azerbaijan launched an aggression on its sovereign territory.
On its part, Azerbaijan accused Armenia, which is in a military alliance with Moscow and home to a Russian military base, of firing mortars and artillery against its military units.
“Our positions are periodically being fired against at the moment,” Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said. “Our units are taking the necessary response measures.”
A full-fledged conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan would risk dragging in powers such as Russia and Turkey and destabilise an important corridor for pipelines carrying oil and gas at a time when fighting in Ukraine disrupts energy supplies.
The latest hostilities came a day after the two Caucasus neighbours traded blame for clashes that erupted along the countries’ border overnight on Tuesday.
According to Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Azerbaijani forces “launched intensive shelling, with artillery and large-calibre firearms, against Armenian military positions in the direction of the cities of Goris, Sotk, and Jermuk”.
For its part, Azerbaijan’s deputy foreign minister Elnur Mammadov accused Armenia of shelling “employee and civilian infrastructure”, saying it was a “large-scale provocation”.
He also said Armenian forces had fired at Azerbaijani military positions in the Dashkasan, Kalbajar and Lachin regions.
Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said 50 military personnel died during the overnight clashes, while Armenia said 49 of its troops were killed.
Russia, which is the main power broker in the Caucasus and an ally of Armenia through the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), said it had brokered a ceasefire agreement at 9am Moscow time (06:00 GMT) on Tuesday and called on both sides to stick to the deal.
Moscow oversaw an earlier ceasefire deal in November 2020 to end Armenia and Azerbaijan’s war over Nagorno-Karabakh and deployed nearly 2,000 peacekeepers to the region as part of the agreement.
The 2020 conflict, which killed more than 6,500 people in a little over six weeks, saw Azerbaijan win back swaths of territory in and around Nagorno-Karabakh that had been controlled by ethnic Armenian forces backed by Yerevan since an earlier war in the area ended in 1994.