Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian chairs a meeting of Armenia's Security Council, Yerevan, March 28, 2022

Armenia Offers ‘Immediate’ Peace Talks with Azerbaijan after Most Intense Attacks Since 2020 War

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenia said on Monday, March 28, that it is willing to “immediately” start negotiations on a peace treaty with Azerbaijan in a bid to prevent fresh Azerbaijani attacks on Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Armenian Security Council also called on the international community to activate “containment mechanisms” in view of “the possibility of military clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh and on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.”

“The analysis of the situation shows that Azerbaijan preparing is preparing the ground to launch new provocations and attacks in the direction of Nagorno-Karabakh, including by accusing Armenia of unconstructive actions on the issue of a peace treaty,” the council said after a late-night session chaired by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

In a statement, it offered Baku to “immediately start negotiations on a comprehensive peace treaty” between the two South Caucasus nations.

The statement came four days after the Azerbaijani army captured a village in eastern Karabakh and surrounding territory, triggering deadly fighting with Karabakh Armenian forces. Azerbaijani troops partially withdrew from the area after the intervention of Russian peacekeepers stationed in Karabakh.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov discussed the situation in Karabakh with the army’s top brass earlier on Monday. He reportedly said that Azerbaijani forces must be “ready to use modern weaponry and other military equipment at any moment.”

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Meanwhile, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan’s held separate meetings with the Russian co-chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, Igor Khovaev, as well as the Yerevan-based ambassadors of Russia, the United States and France. The tensions in Karabakh were high on their agenda.

According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Mirzoyan told Khovaev that Armenia is ready to start negotiating with Azerbaijan on the peace treaty “within the framework of the co-chairmanship of the Minsk Group.”

Earlier this month, Yerevan asked the US, Russian and French co-chairs of the Minsk Group to mediate such talks after receiving a five-point formal proposal from the Azerbaijani side. The proposal includes, among other things, a mutual commitment to recognize each other’s territorial integrity.

Attacks and Withdrawal

Azerbaijani forces withdrew from a village in Nagorno-Karabakh’s east but continue to occupy territory outside it seized by them last week, military authorities in Stepanakert said on March 28.

The Azerbaijani army captured the village of Parukh on Thursday, March 24, before advancing towards a strategic mountain to the west of it. Three Karabakh Armenian soldiers were killed in ensuing fighting for the sprawling Karaglukh mountain. Russian peacekeeping forces stationed in Karabakh helped largely halt the fighting on Saturday evening.

In a weekend statement, Russian Defense Ministry accused Azerbaijani of violating a Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war. It urged Azerbaijani forces to leave the peacekeepers’ “zone of responsibility.” Baku denied violating the ceasefire regime in the area bordering the Aghdam district regained by it following the six-week war.

The Defense Ministry in Moscow announced on Sunday evening that Azerbaijani forces have pulled out of Parukh.

Karabakh’s Defense Army confirmed the following morning that the small village is now “under the control of the Russian peacekeeping troops.” All of its residents had fled their homes on Thursday.

The Defense Army also said that Azerbaijani soldiers continue to hold “fortified positions” at a section of Karaglukh but that “the main part” of the sprawling mountain is controlled by the Karabakh Armenian side. The Russian contingent’s command keeps trying to ensure a full Azerbaijani withdrawal from the area, it added in a statement.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry said, meanwhile, that Yerevan expects from the Russians “concrete measures” to reverse the Azerbaijani “incursion” into parts of Karabakh’s eastern Askeran district. It also reiterated Yerevan’s calls for a “proper investigation” into the peacekeepers’ failure to thwart that incursion in the first place.

The Russian military said on Sunday that peacekeepers have managed to “stabilize the situation” in the area. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday that Moscow’s chief objective is now to ensure the conflicting parties’ full compliance with the 2020 truce accord.

Russia Angered by Move

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that it is “extremely concerned” about the rising tensions in Karabakh. It urged the warring sides to “show restraint” and avoid ceasefire violations.

Earlier on Saturday, the Armenian Foreign Ministry urged Moscow to “issue a clear demand” for the Azerbaijani withdrawal. It said Yerevan also expects the Russian peacekeepers to take other “concrete, visible steps to resolve the situation.”

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the situation in Karabakh in phone calls on Thursday and Friday.

The US State Department on Friday expressed serious concern over the Azerbaijani troop movements, calling them “irresponsible and unnecessarily provocative.” Baku rejected the criticism.

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