STEPANAKERT: Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other on Saturday of breaching a fragile cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh, minutes after it came into effect at noon.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said Armenian forces had carried out attacks on the frontline and shelled populated areas. “Armenia is blatantly violating the cease-fire regime,” the ministry said.
The Armenian Defense Ministry accused Azerbaijan of shelling a settlement inside Armenia, and ethnic Armenian forces in Karabakh said Azeri forces had launched a new offensive five minutes after the truce took hold.
Nevertheless, there was little sign of the level of violence that has killed hundreds since renewed fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh began on Sept. 27. The mountainous enclave is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but is populated and governed by ethnic Armenians.
The cease-fire followed 10 hours of talks in Moscow mediated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said the two sides were now trying to reach a political settlement, but that there would be further fighting. “We’ll go to the very end and get what rightfully belongs to us,” he said.
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry said it was using all diplomatic channels to try to support the truce, and Nagorno-Karabakh’s Foreign Ministry accused Azerbaijan of using the talks as cover to prepare for more military action.
Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, said Russia would press for peace. “For Russia, the most important issues are the security of its borders from militants … and Turkey’s rising role in the region,” he said. “This means Moscow can’t walk away … and allow a war to rage.”