The bloody conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan flares up again. The two former Soviet republics have each declared martial law. It’s the worst escalation in a long time.

In the troubled Nagorno-Karabakh region of the South Caucasus, several people were injured and killed in an extraordinary escalation of violence between the warring neighbors Armenia and Azerbaijan. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has interpreted the fighting in the troubled Nagorno-Karabakh region with its belligerent neighbor Azerbaijan as a declaration of war.

“Aliyev’s authoritarian regime has resumed hostilities. It has declared war on the Armenian people,” Pashinyan said in a video he posted to Facebook. Under Ilham Aliyev’s government, Azerbaijan attacked Nagorno-Karabakh with heavy equipment. “We are ready for this war,” said the Armenian government leader.

The image released by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry shows the Azerbaijani Armed Forces destroying the Armenian air defense system at the contact line. (Source: dpa)

On Sunday morning, Armenia declared war and announced a general mobilization of the entire country. On Sunday evening, martial law was declared in Azerbaijan. “Martial law will come into effect at midnight,” said President Hikmet Hayjev in the Azerbaijani capital Baku. He also said several major cities, including Baku, and areas near the Nagorno-Karabakh front line are subject to night clocks.

Dead and injured on both sides

Azerbaijan had previously announced a military operation on the demarcation line and spoke of the capture of seven villages. The region controlled by Armenia belongs to Islamic Azerbaijan under international law. It’s the worst escalation in decades.

According to official information from the capital Stepanakert, about ten soldiers from Nagorno-Karabakh were shot. Azerbaijan also announced that there were deaths and injuries among its own ranks.

Video footage of the conflict in the Caucasus: Fighting has broken out again around the Nagorno-Karabakh region. (Source: dpa / Uncredited / AP / Armenian Ministry of Defense)Video footage of the conflict in the Caucasus: Fighting has broken out again around the Nagorno-Karabakh region. (Source: Uncredited / AP / Armenian Ministry of Defense / dpa)

According to information from both sides, heavy fighting broke out between the warring countries early Sunday morning. The authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh announced that Stepanakert had been fired and the people had to come to safety. Numerous houses in villages have been destroyed. Videos were shown of tanks driving through the villages and clouds of smoke rising over Stepanakert.

Both sides blame each other for fighting

According to reports from Baku and Yerevan, fighting continued in the region with an estimated 145,000 residents. Azerbaijan has captured seven villages in the conflict zone, according to the Ministry of Defense. Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov told Azerbaijani media that the areas had been liberated from the Armenian occupation. The Nagorno-Karabakh authorities insisted that this was an “absolute lie.” You would now be in control of the situation.

Both sides blamed themselves for the fighting. Armenia shot down helicopters and combat drones. Three enemy tanks were hit. Baku denied this, insisting that the fighting was a counter-offensive. President Ilham Aliyev accused Armenia of destroying the negotiation process for a peaceful solution to the conflict. The current state is no longer acceptable. “That means the occupation must end.”

The power to protect Russia from the power of Turkey

Azerbaijan lost control of the area in a war following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nagorno-Karabakh is now inhabited by Christian Karabakh Armenians. A fragile ceasefire has existed since 1994. The completely impoverished Armenia counts on Russia as a protective force, which has stationed thousands of soldiers and weapons there. Yerevan had only completed a joint military maneuver with Moscow over the weekend. The oil and gas rich Azerbaijan has Turkey as an allied brother state.

Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, delivers a speech to the nation. After fighting with neighboring Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, Armenia declared war. (Source: dpa)Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, delivers a speech to the nation. After fighting with neighboring Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, Armenia declared war. (Source: dpa)

Baku had repeatedly announced that it would take back the region by military force if necessary. The country had greatly upgraded its military in recent years. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already assured Azerbaijan of his support.

The conflict last flared up in 2016. More than 120 people died. Several months ago – in July – fierce fighting broke out again on the border between the belligerent countries; However, the fighting was hundreds of miles north of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Russia is calling for negotiations

Russian political scientists suggested that another escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh could delay efforts in the region by decades. Russian expert Dmitri Trenin of the Carnegie Center in Moscow wrote that the skirmishes are not skirmishes that have always happened in the past. “War is announced here.” States like Russia and the US should do everything they can to stop this development.

Just hours after the fighting became known, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held intensive talks to persuade the warring factions to stop the fire. Both countries should return to the negotiating table, he said. He also called Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu.

Fighting is raging in the border area between Armenia and Azerbaijan: the image of Azerbaijani tanks has been published by the Armenian Ministry of Defense. (Source: AP / dpa)Fighting fury in the border area between Armenia and Azerbaijan: The photo of Azerbaijani tanks has been published by the Armenian Ministry of Defense. (Source: AP / dpa)

Germany and France called for an immediate end to the fighting and a resumption of dialogue. Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas (SPD) was alarmed. “I call on both sides to the conflict to immediately stop all hostilities and in particular the shelling of towns and cities.” The Minsk OSCE Group is ready for negotiations with its three Co-Chairs France, Russia and the US. The OSCE is the organization for security and cooperation in Europe.

The international community is concerned

Charles Michel, President of the EU Council, expressed his deep concern in a tweet. The only way out is an immediate return to unconditional negotiations. Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric of the Council of Europe also said that the conflicting states should take their responsibility and be restrained. “When they joined the Council of Europe, both countries committed themselves to a peaceful resolution of the conflict, and this commitment must be strictly enforced.”

Pope Francis called for a peaceful solution to the conflict. “I pray for peace in the Caucasus,” he said in his Angelus message to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square. He called on the parties to the conflict to use “gestures of goodwill and fraternity” to ensure that problems are solved not through violence and weapons, but through dialogue and negotiation. Reports from Baku and Yerevan said the fighting continued.

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