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15 Feb, 2024 16:32

Azerbaijan planning ‘full-scale war’ – Armenia

Having taken control of Nagorno-Karabakh last year, Baku wants to press into neighboring territory, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has claimed
Azerbaijan planning ‘full-scale war’ – Armenia

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has accused Azerbaijan of planning “a full-scale war” against his country. Four Armenian troops were reportedly killed earlier this week when the Azerbaijani military opened fire on a border outpost.

Attending a government meeting on Thursday, Pashinyan claimed that “our analysis shows that Azerbaijan wants to launch military action in some parts of the border with the prospect of turning military escalation into a full-scale war against Armenia.”

“This intention can be read in all statements and actions of Azerbaijan,” he added, as quoted by AFP. 

Pashinyan’s statement came two days after Azerbaijani forces killed four Armenian troops in an attack on a border outpost. Baku claimed that the Armenian troops fired first, and that the fatal attack was a “revenge operation.”

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who won a fifth term in office this week, alleged on Wednesday that it is Armenia, and not Azerbaijan, that has designs on its neighbor’s territory. “They should give up their claims,” he said in an inauguration speech. “Talking to us in the language of blackmail will cost them dearly.”

Armenia and Azerbaijan have engaged in a series of bloody confrontations since both republics declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The two countries fought a war over the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, and Azerbaijani forces clashed with the province’s separatist forces in 2023. The conflict ended with the dissolution of Nagorno-Karabakh’s government and the return of the province to Azerbaijani control.

Although situated inside Azerbaijani territory, Nagorno-Karabakh was governed by ethnic Armenian separatists until last year. Before the fall of the USSR, the province had ruled itself as an autonomous region within the Azerbaijan SSR.

Pashinyan faced intense protests over his handling of the conflict. While Armenia tacitly supported Nagorno-Karabakh’s bid for independence for decades, Pashinyan formally recognized Baku’s sovereignty over the region in 2021. His opponents accused the prime minister – whose political career was heavily funded by the US – of betraying the breakaway province at Washington’s behest.

While Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military pact made up of former Soviet republics, Pashinyan has distanced himself from Moscow and pursued closer military and diplomatic ties with the West. However, with no binding defense treaties between Armenia and the Western powers, and with Pashinyan’s government considering a break with the CSTO, Armenia could find itself outmatched if a future war were to break out.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Pankin has called on Pashinyan to re-open dialogue with its CSTO neighbors. Responding to Monday’s border skirmish, the Kremlin called the incident “concerning,” and urged both sides to avoid steps that could be perceived as provocative by the other.