Major fighting erupts between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh

Major fighting erupts between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh
Screenshot of footage released by Armenian defence ministry of claimed attack that destroyed Azerbaijani tanks. / Armenian defence ministry.
By bne IntelIiNews September 27, 2020

Fighting erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan early on September 27 around the ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan. The Armenian defence ministry said two Azerbaijani helicopters were shot down and that Armenian forces hit three Azerbaijani tanks and at least three drones. Azerbaijan denied the claim.

Azerbaijan’s army said it had taken control of six villages in Nagorno-Karabakh as of the afternoon of September 27, a claim that Armenia rejected. "Fierce battles" were taking place all along the frontline, said Azerbaijani officials.

Spokeswoman for the Armenian defence ministry, Shushan Stepanyan, said the fighting began with an Azerbaijani attack. But Azerbaijan claimed it was the Armenian side that attacked and that Azerbaijan launched a counteroffensive. It said it was responding to shelling along the whole front.

Observers will now anxiously watch the responses of strategic partner to Armenia, Russia, and Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan—Ankara was bellicose in verbal attacks on Armenia and beefed up its contribution to annual military exercises held with Azerbaijani in the wake of July border skirmishes between the two foes that were the worst seen for four years.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement posted on Twitter that Armenia had “once again showed that it is the biggest threat to peace and tranquility in the region”. He added that Turkey stood by Azerbaijan “with all its means, as always”.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has long been trying to mediate a settlement of the conflict, with diplomats from France, Russia and the US - making up the OSCE Minsk Group - trying to build on a ceasefire, but this mission has largely failed. 

Latvia's foreign minister Linas Linkevicius tweeted: "Monitoring worrying developments between #Armenia and #Azerbaijan very closely. I strongly call for deescalation. Peaceful solution is the only possible solution."

Russia's foreign ministry also called for an immediate ceasefire and talks to stabilise the situation.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in a TV address that Armenia's policy was "a new war for new territories", adding: "Armenia has been consciously provoking Azerbaijan, and they will see the bitter results of this. Armenia is an occupying country, and an end must be put to this occupation and an end will be put to it."

Aliyev also said that “there are losses among the Azerbaijani forces and the civilian population as a result of the Armenian bombardment”.