During a closed meeting, members of the United Nations Security Council called on both Armenia and Azerbaijan to respect a new armistice that they had agreed upon in the disputed Nagorno Karabakh region, at a time when fighting continues between the two parties, amidst their assurances of achieving military superiority on the ground.
During the meeting, which was held at the request of France, Russia and the United States, the 15 members of the Council reiterated the call made by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, to the two parties to respect the “humanitarian armistice” that was supposed to enter into force on Sunday.
“Everyone shared the same view. The situation is bad, and the two sides should backtrack and respond to the Secretary-General’s calls for a ceasefire,” a UN diplomat told AFP.
According to diplomats, Russia – which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council – is working on issuing a statement calling for commitment to the ceasefire.
The draft statement, which Council members are expected to agree on this week, also calls on Armenia and Azerbaijan to resume negotiations sponsored by the Minsk Group.
Russia, France and the United States are chairing the Minsk Group – established by the OSCE in 1992 – a meeting to find a solution to this regional conflict (20:00 GMT Sunday). On Monday morning, however, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense said that the Armenian “separatist” forces bombed the lands of Agjabirdi region, and at night the regions of Gheranboy, Tartre and Agdam.
Charges and toll
For their part, the Nagorno Karabakh authorities accused Azerbaijan of firing artillery at night “at various sectors of the front” and continuing its attacks in the morning. “The Karabakh army is taking proportionate measures,” she said.
The new truce was announced after the most violent attack on civilians on Saturday, when a missile hit a residential area in Ganja, the second city of Azerbaijan, killing 13 people, including children.
And the resumption of fighting three weeks ago resulted in the deaths of more than 800 people, according to official figures published by the two sides. But it is believed that the losses are much higher, as Azerbaijan has not announced any military toll.
Yerevan announced that 710 Armenian soldiers and 36 civilians were killed in the fighting, while Baku says 60 Azerbaijani civilians were killed.
In field developments, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense broadcast images that it said were of vehicles, military equipment and ammunition that the army had seized in the fighting axes with the Armenian forces. The ministry added in a statement that most of those spoils were seized in Gabriel and Fizuli.
For its part, the Armenian Ministry of Defense said that it had killed 150 members of the Azerbaijani army and destroyed 12 armored vehicles.
This ministry broadcast pictures of what it said were operations targeting the Azerbaijani army sites, accusing it of targeting civilians and residential compounds in the city of Martoni and other towns.
Tension reigns in Karabakh, amid fears of a large-scale war between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the southern Caucasus, where Ankara and Moscow compete. Russia and Iran have offered to mediate between Yerevan and Baku to settle the dispute over the region.
Under international law, the Nagorno Karabakh region is part of Azerbaijan, but the Armenians – who make up the vast majority of its population – reject Baku rule.
The region has been managing its private affairs with the support of Armenia since its defection from Azerbaijan, during a conflict that erupted when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Earlier, both the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced their readiness to negotiate directly with the aim of settling the conflict in the Karabakh region, in light of the intensification of the fighting and the control of Azerbaijan over more villages.
In two parallel meetings with the Russian “TASS” agency, Aliyev said that Azerbaijan is ready to negotiate with Armenia to resolve the dispute over Karabakh in Moscow or any other capital.
For his part, Pashinyan stressed that the dispute with Azerbaijan over Karabakh can only be settled by peaceful means, expressing his readiness to hold a direct meeting with the Azerbaijani president in the Russian capital.
In this context, the Politico news site revealed that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will hold separate meetings with the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia next Friday in Washington, DC.