YEREVAN — Armenia accused Azerbaijan on Saturday of resuming offensive operations in Nagorno-Karabakh’s southwest one month after a Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the Armenian-Azerbaijani war.
The Armenian Defense Ministry said the Azerbaijani army is attacking Karabakh Armenian positions near two remote villages of Khtsaberd and Hin Takher in Karabakh’s southern Hadrut district that was mostly occupied by it during the six-week war.
In a short statement, the ministry said Karabakh Defense army is “taking adequate measures” in response. It gave no further details.
A spokeswoman for Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Russian peacekeeping forces deployed in Karabakh must react to the Azerbaijani attack.
“The leadership of the peacekeepers has been fully informed about the events unfolding there since the early morning,” Mane Gevorgyan wrote on Facebook.
The Karabakh Defense Army said earlier in the day that three of its soldiers were wounded while thwarting an Azerbaijani attempt to attack one of its frontline positions late on Friday. It denied Azerbaijani media reports saying that Armenian forces resorted to an “armed provocation” in Hadrut that left one Azerbaijani soldier wounded.
David Babayan, Adviser to the President of Artsakh, likewise claimed that Azerbaijani forces tried to advance at a southern section of the Karabakh “line of contact” but were repelled.
According to the Sputnik news agency, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that there was “one instance of violation of the ceasefire regime in the Hadrut district” on Friday. But it did not comment on fresh hostilities reported in the mountainous area on Saturday.
Later, Russian peacekeepers arrived in the Khtsaberd and Hin Takher , which were attacked by the Azerbaijani armed forces.
Head of the district administration Vahan Savadyan confirmed the information to Sputnik Armenia.
Azerbaijan did not immediately react to what were the most serious truce violations reported in the Karabakh conflict zone since the November 9 ceasefire agreement.
In what may have been a related development, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov again spoke with his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov by phone on Saturday. The Russian Foreign Ministry said they discussed the implementation of the ceasefire agreement but did not elaborate.
The nearly 2,000 Russian troops were deployed in and around Karabakh under the terms of that accord. The Russian Defense Ministry reported on Saturday morning that the peacekeeping forces have fortified their observation posts with protective and surveillance equipment.