International brokers are trying to strike a new peace deal for the separatist region
Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of firing across their shared border on Thursday as international efforts intensify to calm tensions over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“Azerbaijani forces are firing artillery and mortars at Armenian positions in the Sotk region of eastern Armenia,” the Armenian defence ministry announced in a statement, saying three Armenian servicemen were wounded as a result of the shelling.
The ministry added that Armenian forces were taking “appropriate defensive measures”.
The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry for its part accused Armenia of firing “high-calibre weapons” at its positions on the border, denouncing the actions as a “provocation”.
“Despite warnings about the need to stop provocations,” a statement said, “the Armenian side has again violated the ceasefire regime.”
The ministry claimed an Azerbaijani serviceman was wounded by Armenian fire last night, with “mortar fire” continuing on Thursday morning.
The incident comes as members of the international community seek to revive peace talks between the two neighbours, who have been rowing over control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region for some 30 years – often violently.
Russia weighs in
After four days of intense talks in Washington last week, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev are set to meet in Brussels on Sunday, says the European Union, which will sponsor the meeting.
According to the US, “tangible progress” was made during the talks and a peace agreement is now “in sight”.
The Russian government was irked by the talks, with the Kremlin insisting there is no realistic alternative to the ceasefire agreement it helped craft in 2020.
“At this stage, there is no other legal basis that would contribute to the settlement,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last week.
The two Caucasus countries fought two wars in the early 1990s and in 2020 over control of Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region with a majority Armenian population that seceded from Azerbaijan more than three decades ago.
Tensions escalated this spring when Baku announced on 23 April that it had set up a road checkpoint at the entrance to the Latchine corridor, the only route linking Armenia to the separatist enclave.
It is already under a months-long blockade that has led to power shortages and blackouts.