US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken calls on Azerbaijan to “immediately stop military actions in Nagorno-Karabakh and calm the situation.”
Blinken made the call during a conversation with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday, according to the US State Department.
Blinken, who is with several other world leaders in New York to attend the UN General Assembly, was supposed to be in contact with representatives of Armenia during Tuesday.
According to Agence France-Presse, at least 29 people were killed in connection with the military operation in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies within Azerbaijan’s official borders but is populated almost exclusively by Armenians.
France accuses Azerbaijan
There were reports on Tuesday of loud explosions in the city of Stepanakert, and representatives of the armed forces in the breakaway region said in the afternoon that fighting was continuing “along the front.”
More than 7,000 civilians have been evacuated from 16 settlements in the region, according to the local Nagorno-Karabakh government.
France, whose Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna described the Azerbaijani attack as “illegal, indefensible and unacceptable,” asked the UN Security Council to urgently hold an emergency meeting on the unrest.
Colonna said: I would like to emphasize that we hold Azerbaijan responsible for the situation of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, and condemned the use of heavy weapons in populated areas.
In turn, Albania, which holds the presidency of the Security Council, announces that a session will be held on Thursday.
In recent months, tensions have escalated between arch-enemies Armenia and Azerbaijan. This has manifested itself in the form of a military build-up and mutual accusations of violating a Russian-brokered ceasefire after fighting in 2020, when more than 6,500 people were killed.
A Russian call for calm
Russia is also calling for a ceasefire after Tuesday’s attack.
“We call on the warring parties to immediately stop the bloodshed, stop hostilities and stop civilian casualties,” the Russian Foreign Ministry wrote in a statement.
Armenia calls on Russian peacekeepers in the region to “stop Azerbaijan’s advance unconditionally.”
– Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Tuesday that Russia must take action first, and then we expect the UN Security Council to do so as well.
Only Türkiye, Azerbaijan’s closest ally, supported the military efforts. Ankara claims that Baku has legitimate security concerns and that ethnic Armenians will try to secede from the country.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an immediate halt to the fighting.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountainous region in the South Caucasus located within the borders of Azerbaijan, but in fact it is a breakaway region under the wing of Armenia, and the majority of its population are Armenians. The region was at the heart of the decades-long regional conflict between the two countries, and two wars broke out in the region.
In August and September 2020, thousands of fighters were killed over the course of six weeks. Russia then brokered a ceasefire agreement, which saw Armenia cede parts of territory it had controlled for decades, while Russia deployed peacekeepers guarding the five-kilometre-wide Latgin corridor to ensure free passage between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
In late June, deadly fighting broke out in the long-disputed region. The parties continued to exchange accusations of violating the ceasefire that was supposed to prevail in the region.
Baku and Yerevan are trying to negotiate a peace agreement with the help of the European Union and the United States, whose diplomatic intervention in the Caucasus has angered Russia.
“Unapologetic writer. Bacon enthusiast. Introvert. Evil troublemaker. Friend of animals everywhere.”