Tension at the border
The situation around Nagorno-Karabakh, on the territory of which the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (DRC) is located, escalated on 24 March. According to the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Azerbaijani forces crossed the line of contact in this area and then occupied the village of Parukh in the Askeran district. In addition, Yerevan accuses Baku of bombarding NKR territory and blocking the gas pipeline that feeds Karabakh.
At the same time, representatives of the unrecognized republic noted that the Azerbaijani army also violated the ceasefire using small arms and UAVs, including the Turkish Bayraktar TB-2. According to the DRC, at least a few soldiers, including those from Azerbaijan, were killed as a result of the fighting.
At the same time, the Armenian newspaper Hraparak claims that the Azerbaijani forces have also occupied the village of Faruh in the Khojaly region.
The newspaper emphasizes that the situation in the region is tense. In the media, special attention is paid to the “silence” of these data by the Azerbaijani leadership.
Baku really denies all accusations from Yerevan. On March 25, the Republic’s Ministry of Defense issued a statement, noting that the country’s army units continue the process of clarifying their location and position without the use of force.
“The claim spread by the Armenian side that UAVs were used in the Azerbaijani territories where the Russian peacekeepers were temporarily deployed and an armed conflict that led to the death of our soldiers is a lie and a provocation.” The ministry stressed.
How is the situation evaluated in Baku?
It is surprising that Armenia occasionally allows it to interfere in Azerbaijan’s internal affairs, Aydın Mirzazade, a deputy from the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, of the Azerbaijan National Assembly told Gazeta.ru. According to him, the situation in the territory of Azerbaijan, including Nagorno-Karabakh, which is temporarily controlled by Russian peacekeepers, has nothing to do with Armenia.
Yerevan forgets that it signed a memorandum with Azerbaijan on the withdrawal of its forces. So far, statements reflecting the intervention in our internal affairs have been received from the official Armenian authorities. Perhaps such actions of Armenia are determined by some internal processes.
It is possible that official Yerevan still wants to show the Armenian community that it has an influence in resolving Azerbaijan’s internal problems. But Armenia – both politicians and society – must make a serious conclusion for themselves that there is an independent Azerbaijan,” he said.
At the same time, from Mirzazade’s point of view, such accusations from Yerevan do not prevent the resolution of the disputes between the two countries under the mediation of Russia.
“Political statements about the need to regulate bilateral relations come from both sides from time to time. Therefore, probably all problems will be resolved, only official Yerevan should finally begin to respect Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and independence,” he said.
What do they say in Yerevan?
Prosperous Armenia Party leader Edmon Marukyan is confident that Azerbaijan is ignoring the agreement of November 10, 2020, as evidenced by the very tense situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, “insolently violating the agreements in broad daylight”.
“Before that, the situation was different, of course there were provocations, but it only affects Nagorno-Karabakh, on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. It is possible that Azerbaijan is trying to exploit the situation around Ukraine, where Russia is conducting a special operation.
There really is a possibility of Baku attacking Nagorno-Karabakh or Armenia. Since the Azerbaijani side is doing everything to prevent Armenians from living in Nagorno-Karabakh, they need these lands to remain without Armenians,” he said.
According to Marukyan, Armenia expects the Russian peacekeepers to be able to send the Azerbaijani forces to their places of deployment before the recent events.
“There are discussions in Armenia about how the Azerbaijani troops were able to occupy the new villages without any hindrance, the inhabitants of which were evacuated as soon as possible. It’s just not clear to us. “Russian peacekeepers are there, they are negotiating, but so far nothing has come out of the dialogue – Azerbaijani forces have not returned to their positions,” he said.
Is there a risk of rising
The situation around Nagorno-Karabakh has escalated more than once since the end of the six-week war in November 2020. The outcome of the conflict was the restoration of Baku’s control over the territory lost during the first Karabakh war and a full ceasefire agreement, as well as the stopping of the parties’ troops in their positions and bringing the Russian peacekeepers to the line of contact.
Despite the signing of agreements, conflicts periodically arise between the parties, including the absence of agreements on the delimitation and demarcation of state borders, and negotiations for a peace agreement between the parties have not yet led to tangible results.
However, socialbites.ca spokespersons are skeptical of the possibility of resuming the conflict due to the current violence around Nagorno-Karabakh. Therefore, Vadim Mukhanov, head of the Caucasus sector of IMEMO RAS, pointed out that we are currently witnessing a rather difficult situation in the entire post-Soviet space as a whole, but this is unlikely to be a reason for an escalation between the two. Transcaucasian republics.
“Still, Yerevan and Baku are not interested in intensifying their actions somehow. While Armenia is currently dealing with slightly different problems, Azerbaijan is primarily solving the problem of developing the lands taken during the 2020 conflict. Therefore, it is hardly possible to talk about the high probability of the resumption of large-scale hostilities between Baku and Yerevan in the short term,” he said.
Aleksey Martynov, director of the Institute for Recent Situations, partially agrees. According to him, Armenia and Azerbaijan constantly accuse each other of certain violations, but the current aggravation is not much different from the others.
“Armenia’s latest statements, heard from time to time, can be called on-duty – it is a necessary part of the internal story. Azerbaijan accordingly denies them. At the same time, there is now almost no chance for the conflict to escalate, as only Russian peacekeepers are stationed there. Baku has no such goals, and Yerevan is just trying to promote the agenda for no other reason,” he said.