The dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been smoldering for years, in the past two weeks the states have fought hard over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. There is now a ceasefire, but before that the situation again escalated.
After days of fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the southern Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a ceasefire has started. The ceasefire must be in effect from 10 a.m. (12 noon local time). Russia mediated Saturday evening after hours of negotiating the deal.
Shortly before the ceasefire began, the capital, Stepanakert, was once again the target of missile attacks. Azerbaijan hit civilian areas with missiles, a representative of the self-proclaimed government in Nagorno-Karabakh wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
Both sides reported attacks
Two explosions shook the city that morning, a reporter from the AFP news agency reported. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for its part, reported attacks on inhabited areas by the Armenian side. “The Armenian armed forces are bombing densely populated areas,” the ministry said. Azerbaijan then took action.
Fighting has been raging since the end of September
After a long period of relative calm, the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent areas flared up again in late September. Since then, there has been fierce fighting every day and fighting continued on Friday regardless of the talks.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev called the Moscow meeting the “last chance” for a peaceful solution. However, the conflict must first be brought to a military end. Only later could one speak of a permanent political solution. Armenia must give up Nagorno Karabakh.
Hundreds of soldiers have died in recent weeks
Hundreds of people have died on both sides since the fighting between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces began in late September. On the Armenian side alone, more than 400 soldiers are said to have died in Nagorno-Karabakh. The fighting is the worst escalation in the decades-old conflict since the 1994 ceasefire.
Smoke rises after the shelling by Azerbaijani artillery: 320 soldiers died in Armenia, there is no information from Azerbaijan. (Archive photo) (Source: Uncredited / AP / dpa)
In a war that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union some 30 years ago, Azerbaijan lost control of the area. Nagorno-Karabakh is now inhabited by Christian Karabakh Armenians. The Baku leadership accuses neighboring Armenia of occupying Azerbaijani territory in violation of international law. There has been a vulnerable ceasefire since 1994.
Turkey is also involved
Azerbaijan receives support from Turkey in the conflict. Foreign mercenaries and fighters from jihadist groups from the war zones in Syria and Libya are also said to be involved in the fighting. So far there is no clear evidence.
Russia has diplomatic and economic ties with both former Soviet republics. However, those with Armenia are more intense. Russia also has a military base there.