Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to end fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia on Tuesday, following border clashes that killed at least 49 Armenian soldiers and raised fears of a full-fledged war in the former Soviet Union.
Following the deadliest violence since Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a six-week war over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, Russia, the United States, and France called for calm.
Jermuk, Goris, and Kapan, among other towns close to the Azerbaijani border, were reportedly shelled early on Tuesday, according to Armenia. According to Yerevan, it had retaliated to what it described as a “on a massive scale provocation” by Azerbaijan.
Assault by Armenia, according to Baku. The battlefield accounts from both sides could not be readily confirmed by Reuters.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, told reporters that it was difficult to overstate the significance of both the Russian Federation and Putin personally.
As is only logical, Peskov added, “the president is doing all in his power to assist in deescalating tensions at the border.”
Russia, the dominant player in the Caucasus and an ally of Armenia through the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which met on Tuesday to examine the issue, launched soldiers into Ukraine in February in the largest European ground invasion since World War II.
In 2020, as part of an agreement to stop a war in which Azerbaijan achieved major territorial gains in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia, which has a military base in Armenia, dispatched thousands of troops to the area.
Azerbaijan is supported militarily and politically by Turkey.
Nikol Pashinyan, the prime minister of Armenia, claimed that Azerbaijan had attacked Armenian villages because it refused to negotiate the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, an area that is part of his country but is primarily populated by Armenians.
He claimed that while hostilities had dwindled in intensity, Azerbaijani strikes had not abated.
According to Azerbaijan, Armenia attacked its military installations while conducting intelligence operations along the border and transporting weaponry. Although it claimed losses, it did not specify how many people were killed.
A ceasefire deal was reportedly violated nearly immediately after it was put into effect early on Tuesday, according to Azerbaijani media.
Call for calm
Both Russia and the United States, which are at odds over the Ukraine conflict, have urged Baku and Yerevan to exercise restraint.
“As we have long stated, no military solution to the conflict is possible,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “We demand an immediate cessation of all military hostilities.”
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan “should be resolved exclusively through political and diplomatic means.”
On Tuesday morning, Armenian and Russian defence ministers met and agreed to take steps to stabilise the border situation.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke with his Azeri counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov and urged Armenia to “cease its provocations.”
The European Council’s president, Charles Michel, also urged Pashinyan to avoid further escalation. Michel met with Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Brussels last month to discuss bilateral relations, humanitarian issues, and the prospect of a peace treaty over Nagorno-Karabakh.
France will raise the clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan at the UN Security Council, according to President Emmanuel Macron’s office, adding that Macron will continue to urge both sides to adhere to a ceasefire.