Russia Mediates Ceasefire Following Fatal Armenia-Azerbaijan Border Clash

The Armenian Ministry of Defense says that Azerbaijan has agreed to a ceasefire mediated by Russia, following clashes earlier on Tuesday in several areas along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.

In a Twitter statement, the Armenian Ministry of Defense said that:

“According to the agreement reached through the mediation of the Russian side, the fire in the eastern border zone of Armenia has been stopped since 6:30pm, the situation has relatively stabilized.”

Yerevan had called for assistance from Moscow after fighting broke out, with Russia already having a peacekeeping presence of 2,000 soldiers in Nagorno-Karabakh since the end of the war there a year ago. According to the Kremlin, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan had discussed the border clashes with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a phone call earlier on Tuesday, while the Russian Interfax news agency reported that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had called his Armenian and Azerbaijan counterparts as well.

In a somewhat delayed statement, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said in a tweet late on 16 November that:

“We are troubled by the reports of fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We call on both sides to engage directly and constructively to resolve all outstanding issues, including border demarcation.”

The Armenian Times reports that the clash was centered around two Armenian combat positions on Mount Kilisali, inside Armenian territory. Azerbaijani troops are said to have demanded that Armenian troops vacate the positions, only for fighting to break out after demands were refused. The positions have allegedly been lost following Azerbaijani advances.

Video footage said to be of Azerbaijani artillery firing on Armenian forces during the clash

Armenia says that one Armenian soldier has been confirmed to have been killed during the clashes, with 12 more taken captive and 24 currently missing. Yerevan also claims to have inflicted significant losses on Azerbaijani forces, with the latest statements claiming 70 Azeri soldiers killed or wounded and the destruction of four BTRs and several other vehicles. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense has confirmed that seven servicemen were killed in the clashes, with a further ten wounded.

As is the norm for various clashes and exchanges of fire since the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh war a year ago, both sides accuse each other of firing the first shots, with Yerevan further accusing Baku of waging a disinformation campaign claiming that Armenian forces had shot first.

Despite over a year passing since the end of the 44-day war that saw Azerbaijan regain control of much of the previously Armenian-controlled Karabakh region, many issues continue to drive tensions between the two countries, in particular the demarcation of the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan due to overlapping territorial claims. Armenia has accused Azerbaijani forces of encroaching into Armenian territory since May, while Baku claims that its forces have always been operating on Azerbaijani land. Work towards the formation of a joint committee to demarcate the border has stalled, despite the reelection of Pashinyan in June.