Tensions flare yet again on Armenia-Azerbaijan border on Thursday

Yesterday Thursday (15 June) saw tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan flare yet again after several days of skirmishes and an incident at the Yeraskh metallurgical plant the day before in which two foreign workers were injured.

The day began with reports from the National Security Service of Armenia saying that, at 08.40am, Azerbaijani border guards crossed the Hakari Bridge from their checkpoint installed on 23 April and attempted to raise an Azerbaijani flag on the other side of the bridge, “on the territory of Armenia”.

The statement said that “as a result of the measures taken by the Armenian side, the advance of the Azerbaijani servicemen and the attempt to plant a flag on the territory of the Republic of Armenia were prevented.”

Azerbaijani serviceman Elshan Rustamov is reported to have received a gunshot wound during the incident, although his injury was not life-threatening, according to Azerbaijani sources.

Azerbaijani sources also said that they killed two Armenian snipers in “retaliatory measures”, a claim that has not been corroborated by Armenia.

Violence reported in Fuzuli region

A short time after the Hakari Bridge flag-raising incident, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence (MoD) accused “members of illegal Armenian armed detachments [...] under the guise of agricultural work, [attempting] to install long-term fortification facilities in front of the Azerbaijan Army’s positions stationed in the direction of the Fuzuli region” between 08.35am and 10.30am. The Azerbaijani MoD said that they took measures to prevent this work, and accused “members of illegal Armenian armed detachments” of opening fire at 08.45am.

However, the de facto defense forces of the self-declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic released a statement contrary to that of Azerbaijan’s, insisting that between 09.15am and 11.14am Azerbaijan opened fire at civilians doing agricultural work in Machkalashen and Chartar villages, which are known as Jutju and Guneychartar in Azerbaijani and are located some 15km northwest of Fuzuli. De facto authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh also called Azerbaijan’s previous statement “disinformation”.

Another burst of violence around midday, closure of Lachin Corridor after flag-raising incident

Two minutes before midday, the Azerbaijani MoD released a statement alleging that Armenian armed forces stationed near Tegh had opened fire on Azerbaijani positions at 11.00am, and announced that they had taken “appropriate retaliatory measures”.

At 12.08pm, however, the Armenian MoD issued a statement alleging that Azerbaijan had opened fire at 11.45am. Armenian sources have said that serviceman Artur Azroyan was wounded in the violence around Tegh village.

Later that day, de facto authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh accused Azerbaijan of closing the Hakari Bridge checkpoint - where the earlier flag-raising incident had occurred - to all humanitarian traffic, claiming that the International Committee of the Red Cross were unable to proceed with the transportation of 25 medical patients and their relatives from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. The closure of the Hakari Bridge checkpoint “due to Armenian provocation” was confirmed by Azerbaijani sources.

Then, at 3.10pm, the Armenian MoD accused Azerbaijan of having launched a drone attack on Armenian combat positions in the Kapan region, but no casualties were reported.

Armenian sources said that, from 5.50pm, the situation on the contact line was “relatively stable” and accused Azerbaijani Telegram channels of “spreading disinformation” in suggesting the opposite.

Separately, speaking on Friday morning (16 June), Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced that the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers’ meeting in Washington originally scheduled to take place on 12 June is planned in the near future.

source: commonspace.eu with agencies, Ministries of Defence of Armenia and Azerbaijan
photo: RFE/RL