World News

Armenia-Azerbaijan Border Clashes Raise Concerns for Fragile Peace Talks

Cross-border violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted again this week, following several months of relative calm between the two intermittently warring South Caucasus states.

On Feb. 13, Armenia’s defense ministry said four of its soldiers were killed—and several others injured—when their border post came under fire by Azerbaijani forces.

According to the ministry, the deadly incident occurred near the border village of Nerkin Hand in Armenia’s southern Syunik province.

In a social media post, Edmon Marukyan, ambassador-at-large for Armenia’s foreign ministry, accused Azerbaijan of “continuing its unprovoked illegal aggression against the Republic of Armenia.”

Baku has since confirmed the incident, which it described as a “retaliatory operation” launched in response to earlier cross-border fire by Armenian forces that injured an Azerbaijani soldier.

“As a result of the operation, the combat post of the Armenian military near the Nerkin Hand settlement, where our soldiers were fired upon yesterday [Feb. 12], was completely destroyed,” Azerbaijan’s State Border Service said in a statement.

Further “provocations” by Armenia would be met with “decisive measures,” it added.

According to Azerbaijan’s defense ministry, Armenian forces opened fire on Azerbaijani positions in the northwestern Tovuz district—roughly 250 miles north of Nerkin Hand—on the evening of Feb. 12. Yerevan, for its part, has denied Baku’s assertions.

The Epoch Times was unable to independently verify claims made by either side.

The incident is the first of its kind since late last year when the longtime antagonists began holding peace talks aimed at ending three decades of intermittent hostilities.

Azerbaijan and Armenia, both former Soviet socialist republics, have remained bitter enemies since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

In 1994, Armenian separatist groups—backed by Armenia’s military—wrested control of the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region, along with adjacent areas.

Although much of Nagorno-Karabakh was inhabited by ethnic Armenians, the region is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

In 2020, the two countries fought a major war over Nagorno-Karabakh that ended with a Moscow-brokered ceasefire agreement.

Since then, Baku and Yerevan have sought to reach a definitive peace deal—with Russia’s help—aimed at ending the decades-long dispute.

Both sides say they want peace but continue to disagree on a range of issues, including the demarcation of the roughly 620-mile-long border.

Baku also wants to establish a transport corridor through Armenian territory, linking Azerbaijan to its Nakhchivan exclave, which sits between Iran and Turkey.

“The Azerbaijani leadership is consistently trying to thwart the efforts of those trying to promote the stability and security of the South Caucasus with a view to resuming [peace] negotiations,” it said in a statement.

Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, called the latest instance of cross-border violence a “serious blow” to an already fragile peace process.

Moscow, for its part, has urged both sides to exercise maximum restraint so as not to further imperil the peace process.

“We’re calling on both sides to avoid any actions that could be regarded as provocative,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Feb. 13.

The latest border flare-up, he told reporters, “does not advance the [peace] process, nor does it bring us any closer to the signing of a peace treaty.”

Moscow, he added, “will continue to closely watch the situation while remaining in contact with both sides.”

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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