After beginning what it refers to as “anti-terror” operations in the enclave, Azerbaijan has announced that its military actions in Nagorno-Karabakh are continue for a second day.
It claims that until the ethnic Armenians of Karabakh submit, it will not stop.
Since the region broke away and became recognized by the international community as being a part of Azerbaijan, tensions in the South Caucasus have been high.
Three years ago, Azerbaijan and Armenia last engaged in hostilities.
The Azerbaijani defense ministry announced in a statement on Wednesday morning that military hardware used by the Armenian armed forces, including as artillery and anti-aircraft missile batteries, had been “neutralized.”
Authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh report that since the offensive started, 27 people—including two civilians—had died and numerous others have been injured.
However, Baku believes that “illegal Armenian military formations must raise the white flag” and overthrow their “illegal regime” even though it has stated that it is ready for negotiations.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Azerbaijan and Armenia first engaged in hostilities. After that, in 2020, Azerbaijan retook control of territory in and surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh before a truce was reached and was being adhered to by Russian forces.
On Tuesday, ethnic Armenians in Karabakh made a call for a truce and the beginning of negotiations. The Azerbaijani ultimatum, however, made it quite plain that Baku’s goal was to complete its takeover of the mountainous region.
Nikol Pashinyan, the prime minister of Armenia, charged Azerbaijan with beginning a “ethnic cleansing” campaign on the ground.
Angry over their government’s response, hundreds of Armenian protestors battled with police outside the parliament in Yerevan, branding their leader a traitor and demanding his resignation.
Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan, was urged to immediately halt military action by both the Russian foreign ministry and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The village of Yevlakh, around 100 kilometers (60 kilometers) north of Khankendi, the regional seat of Karabakh known to ethnic Armenians as Stepanakert, is where Azerbaijan said discussions may begin.
2,000 Russians have been keeping an eye on the tenuous ceasefire since the year 2020, but Moscow’s focus has been diverted by its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The isolated mountain community is home to an estimated 120,000 ethnic Armenians. Separatists claimed they assisted in the movement of 7,000 civilians, while Russia said its soldiers had evacuated nearly 500 civilians from the most dangerous places.
The single access point from Armenia, known as the Lachin Corridor, has been effectively blocked off by Azerbaijan for the previous nine months.
Six persons, including four police officers, were killed in two landmine blasts on Tuesday morning, according to Azerbaijan, which claimed responsibility for starting its operation in response.
The sound of artillery and gunfire could then be heard in Karabakh’s capital city as well as air raid sirens. The journalist Siranush Sargsyan reported seeing a building next door being hit, and residential structures were also destroyed.
The Azerbaijani military “violated the ceasefire along the entire line of contact with missile-artillery strikes,” according to defense officials in the breakaway territory. Nevertheless, later reports claimed that the “large-scale military offensive” that other Karabakh authorities mentioned was not actually
The defense ministry of Azerbaijan emphasized that “only legitimate military targets are being incapacitated by the use of high-precision weapons,” and that neither civilians nor buildings were being targeted.
In response, it claimed, it had launched “local, anti-terrorist activities… to disarm and secure the withdrawal of formations of Armenia’s armed forces from our territories.” It accused Armenian forces of “systematic shelling” of its army positions.
Armenia’s prime minister denied allegations that his military was involved in a brief speech broadcast on television.
The foreign ministry of Russia claimed that it had received barely minutes’ notice of the Azerbaijani offensive and encouraged both nations to abide by the ceasefire agreement made after the war in 2020. Toivo Klaar, the special representative of the EU for the region, stated that a ceasefire was urgently needed.
On Wednesday morning, Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the UN, urged “stricter observance of the 2020 ceasefire and principles of international humanitarian law” as well as an urgent end to hostilities.
The siege had weakened the Armenian population in Karabakh, according to South Caucasus pundit Laurence Broers, and the Azerbaijan operation had been started “seemingly to retake Armenian-populated Karabakh in its entirety,” he stated on Tuesday.
Armenia is a part of the CSTO military alliance under Russian leadership, but ties with Moscow have deteriorated.
Recently, Nikol Pashinyan said that Russia was “spontaneously leaving the region,” and this week, 175 Armenian soldiers have participated in joint combat exercises with US forces. Turkey, an ally of Azerbaijan, is very supportive of the country.
The president of Azerbaijan’s special advisor, Hikmet Hajiyev, urged the ethnic-Armenian administration to “dissolve itself” and end its support for secession.
According to the constitution, “Azerbaijan has always said we are ready to provide rights and security for Karabakh Armenians,” he told BBC News.
There had been hope that tensions may ease after Azerbaijan denied stationing more troops in the area.
It opened two routes for the International Committee of the Red Cross to deliver aid to Karabakh on Monday—one via the Lachin Corridor from Armenia and the other via the Aghdam road in Azerbaijan.