Armenia has accused Baku of violating a cease-fire agreement in the conflict over Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry said Azerbaijani forces attacked positions held by ethnic Armenian forces, the so-called Karabakh Defense Army, in Nagorno-Karabakh in the southern Hadrut district on December 12.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry issued a statement accusing the Armenian military of staging a “provocation” and insisted that the cease-fire agreement was holding.
Karabakh Defense Army officials said three of its fighters were wounded in clashes on December 11.
Russian peacekeepers monitoring the cease-fire agreement acknowledged violations in Hadrut on both days, but did not assign blame.
“Small-arms shooting was recorded in the Hadrut district,” a spokesman for the peacekeeping force told journalists. “Through direct communications lines, the sides were promptly informed of our demand to completely observe the cease-fire regime.”
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said the December 11 incident was a “terrorist attack” committed by “either Armenian gunmen or what is left of the Armenian Army” in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan, but it and some surrounding areas have been de facto controlled by Armenia-backed ethnic Armenian forces for decades. In September, Azerbaijan launched a military campaign that enabled Baku to regain control of large parts of the territory.
In November, a Russia-brokered cease-fire agreement was reached, and some 2,000 Russian peacekeeping forces have been deployed to the conflict zone.
Peace talks on the conflict have been coordinated by the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). French co-Chairman Stephane Visconti said in Baku on December 12 that Minsk Group mediators were ready to continue working toward a long-term settlement.
“We are ready to work on your proposals and look for an acceptable option for the sides,” Visconti told Aliyev.
Visconti added that the recent developments had produced “an absolutely new situation” in the region, “which could bring about stability.”
With reporting by TASS, AP, and dpa
This post was originally published on Radio Free.