EU calls on sides to de-escalate after clashes on the Armenia - Azerbaijan border

The eruption of new skirmishes along sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border has left 4 soldiers dead.

The Armenian Ministry of Defence (MOD), announced yesterday (11 January) afternoon that Azerbaijani forces had opened fire on the Armenian position using artillery and drones. A later report by the ministry confirmed that two Armenian servicemen, Arthur Artyom Mkhitaryan, and junior sergeant Rudik Rafik Gharibyan, had died as a result, with two more suffering wounds. A further update announced that a third soldier, Vahan Vachagan Babayan, had also died as a result of a fatal gunshot wound. The Ministry expressed its grief at the loss of life, and extended its support to the family, relatives and colleagues of the killed servicemen.

The Azerbaijani side has also accused Armenia of breaking the ceasefire, alleging yesterday that Armenian troops in the Basarkechar region opened fire on Azerbaijani forces using small arms and large-calibre machine guns. Another report published later in the day announced that one of its servicemen, Nazarov Ayaz Azer oglu, had been killed “as a result of the provocation committed by Armenian forces”. The Azerbaijani MOD extended its deepest condolences to the family and relatives of the deceased soldiers, adding that all the responsibility for the tension lies with the military-political leadership of Armenia. It also denied the use of military artillery or drones, saying that its forces were "responding to a provocation by the enemy".

The EU’s special representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, Toivo Klaar, tweeted his concern at the situation, noting the “importance for the sides to de-escalate and make full use of available mechanisms, in particular the hotline between MoDs established under EU auspices in November 2021”.

source: and agencies
photo: Armenian soldier; Armenian Ministry of Defence archive