STEPANAKERT — Russia accused Azerbaijani troops of violating the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire after they advanced into Nagorno-Karabakh on Saturday.

The Russian Defense Ministry said they occupied a hill near the Lachin corridor connecting Karabakh to Armenian which has been blocked by Azerbaijan for more than three months. It said the Azerbaijani action violated a key term of the Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the six-week war in Karabakh.

“The command of the Russian peacekeepers is taking measures aimed to prevent the escalation of the crisis situation and mutual provocations by the warring parties,” the ministry said in a statement.

The peacekeepers have demanded that the Azerbaijan “withdraw units of the national armed forces to their previously occupied positions,” added the statement.

The authorities in Stepanakert condemned the Azerbaijani troop advance calling it a gross violation of the truce accord and urged the Russian peacekeepers to take “concrete steps to eliminate its consequences.”

“The authorities of the Artsakh Republic immediately informed the command staff of the Russian peacekeeping forces about another gross violation of the provisions of the Tripartite Statement, given the mission and functions assumed by them pursuant to the document. The authorities expect the peacekeeping troops to take practical steps to eliminate the consequences of this violation and prevent new ones”. Artsakh’s InfoCenter reported.

“The false claim of the Azerbaijani side about the use of the Stepanakert-Ghaibalishen-Lisagor mountainous road for the purpose of transporting ammunition is just a pretext for their aggressive and destructive actions. On March 5, they attacked and killed three police officers on duty and injured another under the same pretext.

“The authorities of Artsakh have stated on many occasions that under the conditions of the blockade that started on December 12, this mountain road is used for the organization of civil and urgent communication between Stepanakert and the four communities of Shushi region, which is carried out by tall vehicles, taking into account the very difficult and dangerous terrain of the area.

The existence and normal activity of the Defense Army does not pose any threat to anyone, as it is intended exclusively for self-defense, considering the real and immediate dangers and threats against the physical existence and security of the people of Artsakh”. Read the statement.

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