RFE/RL BAKU/YEREVAN –Armenia has announced a Russian-mediated cease-fire with Azerbaijan after asking for Moscow’s assistance amid deadly hostilities that erupted earlier in the day along their shared border.
“Under the mediation of the Russian side, an agreement was reached to a cease-fire at Armenia’s eastern border from 1830 (1430 GMT/UTC). The situation has relatively stabilized,” the Armenian Defense Ministry announced on November 16, adding that at least one Armenian soldier died in the clashes. Earlier reports had put the number of the Armenian deaths at 15.
The renewed deadly clashes along the border started about a year after a cease-fire stopped an intense war over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Earlier on November 16, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said its forces prevented “large-scale provocations” by the Armenian forces in Kalbacar and Lachin districts bordering Armenia.
According to the ministry, two of its soldiers were injured when Armenian military units used mortars and artillery against the Azerbaijani position at the border.
In turn, Armenia’s Defense Ministry accused Azerbaijani soldiers of shooting at its positions along the border, using artillery, armored vehicles, and guns.
The ministry also said that two Armenian “combat positions” had been lost and an unspecified number of soldiers killed. It also claimed that Azerbaijani forces lost a “significant number of armored vehicles and troops.”
According to the ministry, 12 Armenian soldiers were taken captive by Azerbaijani forces. Their situation remained unknown after the announced truce.
The chairman of Armenia’s parliamentary foreign-affairs committee, Eduard Aghajanian, told RFE/RL earlier that according to preliminary estimates, 15 Armenian soldiers may have been killed during the fighting.
The truce was announced shortly after the Kremlin said in a statement, without elaborating, that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian discussed the situation during a phone call on November 16.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also held phone calls with both his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts and called on them to stop the activity that provokes escalation, Russian news agencies reported on November 16, citing the ministry.
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry earlier in the day had called on the Collective Security Treaty Organization comprising Armenia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, as well as the OCSE’s Minsk Group to intervene and undertake measures “to remove Azerbaijani armed forces” from Armenia’s territory.
The situation along the border has been tense since the two South Caucasus states fought a 44-day war over Nagorno-Karabakh last year that killed at least 6,500 people and ended with a cease-fire that granted Azerbaijan control of parts of the region as well as adjacent territories occupied by Armenians.
The breakaway region is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but had been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of a separatist war in 1994.
Last year’s war ended when a Russian-brokered cease-fire granted Azerbaijan control of parts of Nagorno-Karabakh as well as adjacent territories, including the Kalbacar and Lachin districts, previously held by ethnic Armenians.
On November 16, the European Union also urged the two sides to show restraint.
Calling for “urgent de-escalation and full cease-fire,” European CouncilPresident Charles Michel described the situation in the region as “challenging.”
“The EU is committed to work with partners to overcome tensions for a prosperous and stable South Caucasus,” Michel wrote on Twitter.
Michel also said that he had discussions with both Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev “in light of today’s developments.”