The Armenian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday accused Azerbaijan of unleashing “another large-scale aggression against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh,” after Baku announced local “counter-terrorism measures” in the disputed region.
The ministry’s statement noted that the escalation in 2020 over the region likewise started in September. Armenia condemned its rival for both the most recent developments and the “mass crimes” it claims Azerbaijan committed during the hostilities three years ago.
Azerbaijan pursued “ethnic cleansing” of Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh, the ministry alleged. It claimed that Baku felt “impunity,” given that it has openly acknowledged its actions.
Earlier in the day, the Azerbaijan Defense Ministry announced launching an operation against what it claimed to be Armenian military assets deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh. Its Armenian counterpart, meanwhile, denied fielding any units in the area. Baku has pledged that it would only attack military targets and claimed that it was seeking to “thwart large-scale provocations” by the Armenian side.
Nagorno-Karabakh split from Baku in the last days of the Soviet Union. The predominantly ethnically Armenian population of the region fought a full-scale war for independence in the 1990s and has close ties with Yerevan.
The 2020 conflict was the second major clash over Nagorno-Karabakh. It concluded with Azerbaijan gaining control of a significant portion of previously lost territories. A Russian-mediated ceasefire, which ended the hostilities, paved the way for the deployment of Russian peacekeepers to the disputed region.
Baku has claimed it is currently seeking to enforce the terms of the trilateral agreement with Yerevan and Moscow regarding the peacekeeping mission and that the commanders of the Russian force stationed in the area had been informed about its intentions.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the warning came “minutes before military action began.”