Yerevan: Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of attacks on Nagorno-Karabakh separatist territory on Monday, despite Russia’s ceasefire agreement to end the worst hostilities in the region in decades.
The ceasefire took effect on Saturday, but was immediately challenged by mutual claims, which continued throughout the weekend until Monday morning.
Shushan Stepanian, spokesman for the Armenian Ministry of Defense, said on Monday that Azerbaijani forces are “intensively shelling” the southern front in the conflict zone. Nagorno-Karabakh officials said that Azerbaijan is bringing “a large number of troops” to the Hadrut area in the southern town of the region, where “large-scale hostilities” are taking place.
The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense called the allegations against Hadrut’s commanding forces “false information” and insisted that Azerbaijan is complying with the ceasefire agreement. The ministry in turn accused Armenian forces of shelling the Goranboy, Tert and Agdam areas of Azerbaijan around Nagorno Karabakh.
Armenian military officials also stated that Nagorno-Karabakh forces shot down an Azerbaijani Su-25 fighter jet, which Azerbaijan denied.
The most recent battle between the Azerbaijanis and the Armenian army began on September 27, and the largest escalation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in decades since the end of the separatist war in 1994 has claimed hundreds of lives.
The area is located in Azerbaijan, but is controlled by the Armenian National Forces supported by Armenia.
The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Armenia and Azerbaijan conducted a series of meetings between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. After the call, a ceasefire agreement was signed in Moscow.
Following the Moscow talks sponsored by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the ceasefire took effect at noon on Saturday. The agreement stipulates that a ceasefire should pave the way for negotiations to resolve the conflict.
If the ceasefire agreement is maintained, it will mark a major diplomatic coup in Russia. Russia has a security treaty with Armenia, but it has also established friendly relations with Azerbaijan.
But so far the agreement “is not being adhered to in full, and hostilities continue,” Lavrov said Monday at a meeting with his Armenian counterpart.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan reaffirmed their commitment to the ceasefire agreement on Monday and accused each other of violating the ceasefire agreement.
Residents of Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, who suffered severe shelling last week, told the Associated Press on Monday that it did not look like a truce to them.
“We do not feel the cease-fire at all. We do not get out from here to our flats,” Larisa Azeryan, who has been staying in a shelter in the basement of an apartment building, told the AP. “We all stay here, we eat here, sleep here. The whole day is spent here in the basement.”