Wed, 07 Jun 2023

Azerbaijani troops have crossed the contact line in the disputed region, Moscow has said

Azerbaijani forces have violated a Russia-brokered 2020 peace deal between Baku and Yerevan, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday. The Russian peacekeepers stationed in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region are now investigating the incident, it added.

On Saturday, an Azerbaijani military unit crossed the contact line set by the 2020 deal and seized a local high ground, the statement issued by the ministry said. The Azerbaijani forces then started field works in the area.

The Russian peacekeepers then demanded Azerbaijan pull its troops back in line with the peace deal. "The Russian peacekeeping force commanders are taking measures to prevent the crisis escalation and stop the warring parties from launching ... provocations," the ministry's statement said, adding that a patrol was also sent to the area.

It is unclear if the Azerbaijani troops complied with the peacekeepers demands as of Saturday evening. Baku and Yerevan have been locked in a decades-old dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, an area that is part of Azerbaijan but has a mainly ethnic Armenian population.

Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Baku in the early 1990s and has since enjoyed support from Yerevan. In 2020, the two nations fought a 44-day war, which ended in a truce brokered and monitored by Russia. Moscow sent a peacekeeping force to the area as part of the deal.

The conflict has since seen some sporadic flare-ups, resulting in border clashes. A major outbreak occurred last September and claimed the lives of dozens of soldiers on both sides.

The agreements brokered by Russia include the delimitation of the two neighbors' borders, the opening of transportation routes, and the establishment of contacts between civilian groups, lawmakers, and religious leaders from the two countries. Moscow has repeatedly said it was ready to further contribute to the peace process.

The incident comes just days after Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced that Yerevan and Baku were to strike a peace deal, adding that there would not be another escalation.

(RT.com)

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