Authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh have dismissed a statement by Baku warning that it had declared the airspace over the territory closed.
Officials in Stepanakert laughed off that statement, saying that Armenian warplanes and helicopters will continue flying over Karabakh and surrounding Armenian-controlled territories as planned.
David Babayan, deputy chief of staff to the president of NKR said that planes were flying over Nagorno-Karabkh on November 13.
Azerbaijan announced on November 12 that it had closed the airspace after the Azerbaijani military shot down a helicopter belonging to the Karabakh armed forces.
Azerbaijan said the helicopter was shot down as it “attempted to open fire” on Azerbaijani forces and that its three crew members were killed.
The Nagorno-Karabakh self-defense forces said the helicopter was on a training mission, and Armenia’s Defense Ministry called the incident an “unprecedented provocation” by Azerbaijan.
This attack marks the first time a military aircraft has been shot down in the Nagorno-Karabakh region in at least 20 years.
The United States has expressed concern about the downing. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says the incident is “yet another reminder” of the need to reduce tensions and respect a cease-fire in the region.
Psaki told reporters in Washington on November 12 that there could be “no military solution to the conflict.”
The Minsk Group of mediators from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) — which is co-chaired by France, Russia, and the United States — said the incident shows the “urgency to intensify efforts to find a lasting settlement” to the decades-old conflict.
European Union’s External Action issued a statement saying “it is essential that all sides show restraint and avoid any actions or statements which could escalate the situation. Furthermore, we call for an investigation into this incident.”