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Tension on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Line of Contact in Tavush

On June 12, official sources from Armenia and Azerbaijan reported of ceasefire regime violations. Cross-fire, including artillery fire, continued on June 13. Spokesperson of Armenia’s Ministry of Defense, Shushan Stepanyan first reported: “On June 12, at around 12:30 officers of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, attempted to cross the state border of Armenia around Tavush region in an UAZ vehicle. After the Armenian side made warnings, the Azerbaijani officers left the vehicle and returned to their posts. At 13:45, they attempted to take hold of Armenia’s line of contact posts, using artillery fire, however they failed and were thrown back. No casualties from the Armenian side.”

In the meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense reported that two soldiers died and five were wounded. According to them, the Armenian side trespassed the border in Tovuz region and shelled their posts.

Later in the evening, at around 11pm on July 12, Armenian MoD spokesperson reported that shelling resumed from the Azerbaijani side using 82 mm mortar and tank fire near the same military post in Tavush region. It was emphasized that the military and political leadership of Azerbaijan were fully responsible for the escalation of the situation.

Shelling in the direction of Movses village of Tavush continued in the morning of July 13. It was reported that two police officers on duty at the Tavush border were injured from the cross-border fire. Their injuries are reported to be minor.

In the morning of July 13, Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement condemning the violation of the ceasefire and Azerbaijani provocaiton on the line of contact. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also contacted the OSCE Minks Group Chairpersons and Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). “The Azerbaijani side has continuously failed to adhere to the calls of OSCE Minsk Group Chairpersons to refrain from provocative actions, hostile rhetoric and to reinforce the ceasefire. It has been threatening with use of force and military escalation.

In this light, the full brunt of responsibility for the consequences of these provocative actions shall be borne by Azerbaijan’s military and political leadership,” read the statement.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan spoke of the situation in a cabinet meeting on Monday, July 13. “The actions of Turkey aimed at provoking regional instability are of grave concern. The foreign agency of Turkey has released a statement by which it expresses full support to the actions of Azerbaijan with evident and traditional anti-armenian sentiments,” said Pashinyan.

He emphasized that the military incident did not take place in a vacuum.

“For quite a while, the Azerbaijani leadership has been trying to play the anti-Armenian card for reasons known to them. It is possible that we have a situation where they are trying to overshadow their internal issues with an escalation at the border. In this context, they blatantly do not care for human lives, including the lives of Azerbaijani soldiers, whom they send forward unperspective actions.” 

“Azerbaijan has also failed to join the global ceasefire call made by the US Secretary General. The more the pandemic spreads in Azerbaijan and the more the social economic situation worsens, the more bellicose becomes the anti-Armenian rhetoric of the Azerbaijani military and political leadership. Instead of calling on their own people to maintain anti-epidemic rules, Azerbaijan’s leadership comes up with calls of war, as if anti-armenianness is the best cure against the coronavirus,” said Pashinyan. He also assured that no provocative action will remain unanswered and expressed full support for the Armenian armed forces and called on the population to follow only official news.

Pashinyan inquired from Minister of Defense Tonoyan, whether the resumption of fire was because the Azerbaijani side wanted to take back their UAZ vehicle. Tonosyan responded that in that case they could have made calls, agreed upon refraining from fire and in that manner they could have retrieved the car from the Armenian side. However, immediately after they retreated, they employed heavy artillery fire.