US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held telephone conversations with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to resolve the situation around the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian name is Artsakh).
Blinken called for an “immediate end to hostilities” and any escalation in the region. The US Secretary of State stressed that there is no military solution to the Karabakh problem and that the parties must resume dialogue to resolve remaining differences between Baku and ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, the State Department said.
The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan, meanwhile, said on Wednesday morning that “local anti-terrorist measures continue successfully.”
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, during a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said that Baku would stop “anti-terrorist measures” in Karabakh if the Armenian military laid down their arms.
Blinken also had a telephone conversation with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, during which the interlocutors “emphasized the inadmissibility of the use of force,” the press service of the Armenian government reported. Blinken assured Pashinyan that the United States fully supports the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Armenia.
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.
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. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that Baku attacked Karabakh with rocket artillery.
The Armenian service of Radio Liberty reported that 27 people died in Nagorno-Karabakh over the past 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.
The United States, Russia and the European Union called on the parties to the conflict to stop hostilities. A meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in Karabakh is scheduled for September 21.
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.