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14 Oct, 2020 17:58

Armenia knew war over Nagorno-Karabakh was coming, ‘the question was when,’ PM Pashinyan tells nation as fighting continues

Armenia knew war over Nagorno-Karabakh was coming, ‘the question was when,’ PM Pashinyan tells nation as fighting continues

In an emotional address to the nation on Wednesday, Armenia’s Prime Minister said his country was aware of Baku’s plans to provoke a war over Nagorno-Karabakh, adding that Azeri attempts to smash Armenian defenses have failed.

Nikol Pashinyan, however, conceded that the disputed region controlled by Armenians, and backed by Yerevan, but considered illegally occupied in Azerbaijan, has suffered massive losses. 

Fighting erupted in Nagorno-Karabakh on September 27, with both Armenia and Azerbaijan accusing each other of firing the first shots. As far as Pashinyan is concerned, the outbreak of hostilities was hardly surprising.

“We knew it and waited [for it], the question was exactly when and in what direction the enemy was to advance,” he exclaimed in the address, saying the start of the war “did not come as a surprise to us.”

The premier said Azerbaijani troops had used “an entire arsenal of weapons” and benefited from the alleged support of “several thousand commandos from Turkey and Pakistan, as well as mercenaries, militants, and terrorists from Syria.”

Both Baku and Ankara continue to deny the involvement of foreign manpower on the ground in Nagorno-Karabakh, and there is no verifiable evidence backing up Pashinyan’s claims.

The conflict quickly escalated into intense warfare with both sides using heavy weaponry, including large-caliber artillery, rocket systems, and armored vehicles. Azerbaijan resorted to the use of sophisticated weapons such as drones to direct its own artillery fire and strike Armenian positions within the enclave.

Pashinyan acknowledged that Armenian forces had needed to make “certain retreats” on the southern and northern stretches of the frontline. “The enemy changed tactics, trying to create chaos in our rear with sabotage attacks,” he added. However the forces of Nagorno-Karabakh were still “heroically fighting” against the continued assault, he said.

The blitzkrieg plan failed, thanks to the actions of our army, volunteers, and militia.

As Pashinyan was speaking, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said the military had “liberated” an array of important settlements inside Nagorno-Karabakh.

Separately, leaders of the enclave acknowledged that Azerbaijan’s troops had made advances and broken through the Armenian lines.

Previously, Armenia’s President Armen Sarkissian said it was time for both sides to stop the war. He said the losses in Nagorno-Karabakh had been significant and that Stepanakert, the region’s capital, was “like a city after the Second World War.”

Baku and Yerevan negotiated a ceasefire last Friday night, following hours of talks mediated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. They agreed to halt the fighting without preconditions in order to exchange prisoners and evacuate those killed in action, but the fragile truce started to teeter shortly after it took effect on Saturday.

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Azerbaijani officials recently accused the other side of initiating the cross-border shelling of the city of Ganja, while the Armenians pointed to the bombardment of civilian-populated cities and towns within Nagorno-Karabakh.

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