YEREVAN (AP): Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of new rounds of shelling on Wednesday morning as hostilities reignited between the two longtime adversaries.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry accused Azerbaijani forces of launching combat drones in the direction of the Armenian resort of Jermuk overnight and renewing the shelling from artillery and mortars in the morning in the direction of Jermuk and Verin Shorzha village near the Sevan lake.
The Azerbaijani military, in turn, charged that Armenian forces shelled its positions in the Kalbajar and Lachin districts near the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Armenia said at least 49 of its soldiers have been killed since fighting erupted early Tuesday, while Azerbaijan said it lost 50 troops.
The two countries have been locked in a decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is part of Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994.
Azerbaijan reclaimed broad swaths of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent territories held by Armenian forces in a six-week war in 2020 that killed more than 6,600 people and ended with a Russia-brokered peace deal. Moscow deployed about 2,000 troops to the region to serve as peacekeepers under the deal.
Russia moved quickly on Tuesday to negotiate an end to the fighting, but a cease-fire it sought to broker has failed to hold with the parties trading blame for violations.
“Despite the appeals of the international community and the reached cease-fire agreement, Armenian armed forces continue attacks and provocations in the state border using artillery and other heavy weapons,” Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
It said two Azerbaijani civilians were injured by the Armenian shelling of the Kalbajar and Lachin districts.
Moscow has engaged in a delicate balancing act in seeking to maintain friendly ties with both ex-Soviet nations. It has strong economic and security ties with Armenia, which hosts a Russian military base, while also has been developing close cooperation with oil-rich Azerbaijan.
The international community also urged calm.
The Armenian government said it would officially ask Russia for assistance under a friendship treaty between the countries, and also appeal to the United Nations and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Moscow-dominated security alliance of ex-Soviet nations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and leaders of other CSTO members discussed the situation in a call late Tuesday, urging a quick cessation of hostilities. They agreed to send a mission of top officials from the security alliance to the area.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the mission will deliver a report assessing the developments to the leaders of CSTO member states. “The situation has remained tense,” Peskov said in Wednesday’s conference call with reporters.
On Friday, Putin is set to hold a meeting with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where they both will be attending a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security grouping dominated by Russia and China.