Azerbaijan says it wants to disarm Armenian forces, but global powers decry Baku, accusing it of imperilling security.
Azerbaijan on Tuesday launched a military operation in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region and demanded the total withdrawal of Armenian forces from the mountainous territory as a precondition for peace.
In recent weeks, Armenia accused Azerbaijan of building up troops and decried a blockade of its only land link to Nagorno-Karabakh.
Renewed fighting in the region comes almost three years after a brief but brutal war with Armenia over the area, in which more than 6,000 people were killed.
The region is globally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but has a majority ethnic Armenian population that broke from Baku’s control after a war in the early 1990s.
Here is how the world is reacting to the fighting:
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan urged Russia and United Nations to take action to stop the fighting.
“First of all, Russia must take steps and, secondly, we expect the UN Security Council to also take steps,” Pashinyan, whose country is in a military alliance led by Moscow, said in televised comments.
“We must not allow certain people, certain forces to deal a blow to the Armenian state. There are already calls, coming from different places, to stage a coup in Armenia.”
Armenia’s defence ministry has denied its troops were present in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Russia, which brokered a ceasefire in 2020 and has peacekeepers in the region, has called for an end to the fighting.
“We are deeply concerned about the sharp escalation of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a news briefing.
“The main thing is to prevent human casualties … the main thing is to convince Yerevan and Baku to come to the negotiating table,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
The EU condemned the escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh and called on Azerbaijan to stop its military activities, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.
“We call for the immediate cessation of hostilities & Azerbaijan to stop the current military activities,” he said on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
The EU condemns the military escalation in Karabakh & deplores loss of lives
We call for the immediate cessation of hostilities & Azerbaijan to stop the current military activities
— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) September 19, 2023
United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Al Jazeera that the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh was “very concerning”.
“It’s very important that all the activities cease and both parties go back to a sustained dialogue to avoid any further clashes,” he said.
Azerbaijan has broken its promise by resorting to military action in Nagorno-Karabakh, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.
“Baku’s promise to refrain from military action was broken. Azerbaijan must immediately stop shelling and return to the negotiating table,” Baerbock said on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold urgent talks Tuesday with all sides to end the “egregious” operation by Azerbaijan, an official said.
After the opening of an aid path on Monday, “We were hopeful that we were going to be able to adapt to the longer-term issues,” a US official said on condition of anonymity according to the Reuters news agency, “so that makes this incident overnight particularly egregious and particularly dangerous.”
Paris has called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting to end the crisis.
“There is no pretext that justifies such a unilateral action,” the French foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that it “threatens thousands of civilians already affected by a month-long illegal blockade and which runs against efforts by the international community to reach a negotiated settlement.”
Catherine Colonna, the foreign minister, said Baku’s operation is “illegal, unjustifiable, unacceptable”.
“I would like to emphasise that we hold Azerbaijan responsible for the fate of Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh,” she told journalists at UNGA in New York.