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Armenia asks Russia to deploy soldiers to frontier with Azerbaijan, as shootout kills three soldiers & sparks fear of new conflict

Armenia asks Russia to deploy soldiers to frontier with Azerbaijan, as shootout kills three soldiers & sparks fear of new conflict
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has called on Moscow to deploy more peacekeepers to his country’s border with Azerbaijan, as both nations accuse each other of violating an agreed ceasefire after a day of bloody fighting.

Speaking at a government meeting on Thursday, he said that, “given the current situation, I think it makes sense to consider deploying strongholds of Russian border guards across the whole Armenian-Azerbaijani border.” According to Pashinyan, this would “allow for the demarcation of the border, without the risk of firefights.”

Officials in Yerevan announced that three soldiers had died and five had been wounded after a fatal skirmish along the frontier on Wednesday evening. Casualties were also reported on the Azerbaijani side of the border. Russian peacekeepers are already stationed in outposts near key towns and villages as part of the Moscow-backed deal, signed last year, that paused the fighting in a brief but violent war between the two nations.

Also on rt.com Armenian PM sounds alarm over ‘incursion’ by Azerbaijani troops, sparking fear of fresh conflict after bloody Nagorno-Karabakh war

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry claimed on Thursday that its troops had come under artillery fire from across the border. “The Armenian armed forces … fired on the positions of the Azerbaijani army stationed in the village of Zeylik, in the Kelbajarskooo region, from machine guns and grenade launchers,” military chiefs said.

However, Yerevan retorted that Azeri troops had provoked the clash and opened fire on their position with rifles. “As of 7am, the situation is calm. There is no fire,” the authorities said later.

In May, Pashinyan claimed Azerbaijani special forces had used fake identity cards to cross over into Armenian territory in an effort to shift the border. “They are trying to surround Sev Lich,” he said, referring to a body of water spanning both sides of the mountainous frontier between the two nations.

In November last year, Pashinyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, signed the Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement to formally end the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, considered a de jure part of Azerbaijan but home to many ethnic Armenians and run almost autonomously by officials with close ties to Yerevan. The deal, which saw Armenia relinquish control over swaths of territory, has effectively paused fighting. However, since then, both sides have regularly reported breaches of the deal and the resumption of hostilities.

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