Armenia announces ceasefire after Azerbaijan border clashes

The Armenian defence ministry says the ceasefire was brokered by Russia, after clashes that sparked fears of a new flare-up.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have reached a ceasefire, mediated by Russia, ending hostilities that erupted earlier in the day along their border, the defence ministry in Yerevan said.

The clashes that Armenia said left one of its soldiers dead and a dozen others captured on Tuesday sparked fears of another flare-up a year after the two sides fought a war over the disputed mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Under the mediation of the Russian side, an agreement was reached to cease fire at Armenia’s eastern border from 18:30 (14:30 GMT). The situation has relatively stabilised,” the Armenian defence ministry said in a statement.

The Azerbaijan government did not immediately confirm the ceasefire.

Earlier, Armenia’s defence ministry reported fatalities and injuries among Armenian troops as a result of the fighting, adding that the number of casualties was being verified and that Yerevan had “lost control of two military positions”.

The ministry later said that 12 Armenian servicemen were captured by the Azerbaijani military.

Last year’s six-week armed conflict for control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region killed more than 6,500 people and ended in November with a Russian-brokered truce.

Since last year’s war, the countries have reported occasional exchanges of fire along their shared border [File: Armenia’s government press service/AFP]

Under the 2020 ceasefire agreement, Armenia ceded swaths of territory it had controlled for decades.

Earlier on Tuesday, the two sides traded accusations of the other side initiating fighting along their shared border.

Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said: “Armenia’s armed forces committed a large-scale provocation at the state border at 11:00 am (GMT 07:00).

“Armenian troops attacked Azerbaijani positions in the districts of Kelbajar and Lachin,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that two Azerbaijani troops were wounded in the clashes.

Azerbaijani troops “stopped the enemy’s advance, surrounded and detained Armenian servicemen,” it added.

Armenia’s defence ministry said Azerbaijani forces “attempted to break through the Armenia’s state border, at the eastern direction” before being repelled by Armenian troops.

Officials from the United Nations, European Union and Russia had urged the two sides to halt the fighting.

Russia has a military base in Armenia as well as a peacekeeping force in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Since last year’s war, the countries have reported occasional exchanges of fire along their shared border, sparking fears of another flare-up in their territorial dispute.

On Sunday, they traded accusations of opening fire at their border near Karabakh.

On Saturday, Nagorno-Karabakh authorities said the only road connecting Armenia to the separatist enclave – the Lachin corridor – was briefly closed due to an incident between the two sides.

Ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and the ensuing conflict killed about 30,000 people.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies