Russia accuses Azerbaijan of violating cease-fire in an unusually worded statement

In a highly unusual move, Russia over the weekend accused Azerbaijan of violating the terms of the 10 November 2020 ceasefire agreement, and called on Baku to withdraw its troops following reports of incursions by Azerbaijani troops into "the Russian zone of responsibility"

A situation developed in Nagorno-Karabakh last week which saw Armenia accuse Azerbaijan of invading parts of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Russian Ministry of Defence issued a statement on Saturday (26 March), denouncing Azerbaijan’s armed forces for entering the Russian military contingent’s zone of responsibility and setting up an observation post.  

The statement said:

“From March 24 to 25, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan violated the provisions of the trilateral statement of the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia dated November 9, 2020, entered the zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh and set up an observation post. Four strikes were carried out on units of the Nagorno-Karabakh armed forces in the Farrukh settlement by the Bayraktar-TB 2 unmanned aerial vehicle. Currently, the command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent is taking measures to resolve the situation and return the troops to their original positions. An appeal has been sent to the Azerbaijani side to withdraw troops".

While there have been numerous skirmishes since the end of the war, including many more which have been more deadly that the current ones, Russia’s recent statement is the first time it has publicly denounced one of the sides for violating the ceasefire provisions. The reference in the statement of the Russian MOD to the "Nagorno-Karabakh armed forces" would have been particularly irritating for Baku, since Azerbaijan considers the military units in the self-declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic as illegal armed formations.

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defence, in a statement also on Saturday, expressed regret at what it says is a “one-sided statement” which “does not reflect reality”. It added that Azerbaijan was committed to the Joint Statement of November 10, 2020, and that it has not violated any of its provisions. A statement by the ministry accused “members of illegal Armenian armed detachments” of attempts to sabotage Azerbaijani troops. It added that these “groups”, which appears to be a reference to the armed formations of the self-declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, have not yet withdrawn from Azerbaijani territory in compliance with article 4 of the November Statement.  

However, the statement of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence also hints at the wider implications of this very public verbal spat with the Russian military. It says:

"We would like to remind the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation that the first paragraph of the Declaration on Allied Cooperation signed by the Presidents of the two countries on February 22, 2022 states that" the Russian Federation and the Republic of Azerbaijan, based on mutual respect for territorial integrity and inviolability of state borders, as well as non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, peaceful settlement of disputes and non-use of force or threat of force. "

It also further noted that according to Article 18 of the Declaration, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Azerbaijan unite their efforts in the fight against and neutralization of threats of international terrorism, extremism and separatism.

"With this statement, the Russian Defense Ministry also disrespects the declaration signed by the President of the Russian Federation, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin."

It is now understood that the Azerbaijani forces have withdrawn back to their positions as of last week, although the situation in the area remains tense

source: and agencies
photo: Armenian soldier; Armenian ministry of foreign affairs