Azerbajian’s Ministry of Defence has reported the death of a Major General of the Azerbajiani Army, Polad Hashimov, and ten other soldiers in fighting with the Armenian Army on the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Armenian Ministry of Defence has confirmed the death of four Armenian soldiers as of writing.
Fighting first broke out on Sunday (12 July) on the border between Azerbajian’s Tovuz District and Armenia’s Tavush Region, and has continued since. It is not known who fired the first shot, and both nations blame each other for “provocations”. Both countries’ ministries of defence have released drone videos of artillery shells striking military positions of each others’ militaries. The Armenian Ministry of Defence has additionally released a video claiming to be the downing of an Azeri Elbit Hermes 900 UAV.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have a long-standing dispute over the enclave of Nagano-Karabakh, which is largely inhabited by ethnic Armenians. Nagano-Karabakh has been under the de facto control of the self-declared Republic of Artsakh (supported by the Armenian government) since the end of the Nagano-Karabakh War in 1994. While a ceasefire was reached and peace talks remain underway, no headway towards a settlement has been made to this day. Sporadic skirmishing breaks out from time to time, however, the most recent bouts of fighting have been on the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan instead of around the borders of Nagano-Karabakh.
With the current bout of fighting shaping up to be the most intense combat since the April War in 2016, foreign nations and multinational organizations have been quick to express concern over the fighting, with the United States, European Union, United Nations and the OSCE Minsk Group (the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the body tasked with brokering Azerbajian-Armenian negotiations) have all issued statements condemning the fighting, urging both sides to cease fighting. The Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, of which Armenia is a member, has issued a similar statement despite Armenian officials’ public calls for CSTO support following the outbreak of fighting.
Street protests supporting the Azerbaijan military broke out Tuesday night in Baku, despite an official ban on mass gatherings as part of Azerbaijan’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Chants of “End the quarantine, start the war” were heard in Liberty Square, in front of the Government House of Baku, in what is believed to have been the largest public gathering in the country in years. Riot police dispersed the crowds with water cannons and tear gas after some protesters broke into the parliament building and damaged windows and chandeliers inside. Seven protesters have been arrested for “mass rioting and resistance or use of force against a government official”, with the Azerbaijan Interior Ministry claiming that seven police officers were injured.
Officials of both countries claimed, on Wednesday, that there was no overnight fighting, however, it remains to be seen if the situation will remain that way.