US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold talks with Baku and Yerevan over the next 24 hours to resolve the situation around the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian name is Artsakh). Reuters reports this.
On September 19, the Azerbaijani army announced a military operation in Karabakh with the goal of “restoring the constitutional order.” Attacks on targets of the Armenian and Karabakh armies were reported. Yerevan denies the presence of its military in Karabakh.
Before announcing the operation, Baku accused Yerevan and Karabakh of organizing terrorist attacks. According to the Azerbaijani side, on September 19, two cars ran into mines. Six people were killed, including four employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan.
On the evening of September 19, the Azerbaijani army broke through the line of resistance with Armenian forces in Karabakh in several places, said Advisor to the President of Azerbaijan Hikmet Hajiyev.
According to Hajiyev, Baku is ready for negotiations with representatives of the Armenian side of Karabakh only if they lay down their arms and “raise the white flag.”
During the day on September 19, the Azerbaijani military managed to take control of more than 60 combat positions of the Armenian Armed Forces, a representative of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense said.
At the same time, residents of Stepanakert, the administrative center of Karabakh (Azerbaijani name is Khankendi), reported shelling that could be heard in the city. The media reported a power outage.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that Baku attacked Karabakh with rocket artillery. The prime minister expressed concern that Azerbaijan could begin ethnic cleansing.
According to Pashinyan, Yerevan is not participating in hostilities. Against the backdrop of Pashinyan’s statements, protests broke out in the Armenian capital. The demonstrators shouted anti-government slogans and demanded that the prime minister intervene in what was happening in Karabakh. There were clashes between protesters and police. Several people were hospitalized.
The Armenian service of Radio Liberty reported that 25 people died in Nagorno-Karabakh in 24 hours. Russian peacekeepers stationed in the region evacuated about 500 people from dangerous areas. Baku reported the death of one resident of the city of Shusha.
A meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in Karabakh is scheduled for September 21.
The United States, Russia and the European Union called on the parties to the conflict to stop hostilities. Turkish President Recep Erdogan expressed his support for Baku’s actions during a speech at a meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The territory of Nagorno-Karabakh is considered part of Azerbaijan under international law. The region’s population is predominantly ethnic Armenians. Since the early 1990s, Baku has not controlled most of the region. Representatives of the Armenian community proclaimed an independent republic, which was not recognized by any country, including Armenia. As a result of the short-term war, in the fall of 2020, Azerbaijan and Armenia, through the mediation of Russia, signed an agreement to cease hostilities. Baku has regained control of a significant part of the territories of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent regions of Azerbaijan, occupied by Armenian troops in the early 1990s. Russian peacekeeping forces were stationed in the region. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that Russian peacekeepers did not fulfill their obligations and did not ensure control over the Lachin corridor. Earlier, reports began to come from Nagorno-Karabakh about shortages of food, fuel and medicine, allegedly due to the blockade of the region by the Azerbaijani military. Baku denies all accusations.