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Armenia vows to use ‘all the necessary means’ in defence against Azerbaijan

Armenia’s armed forces have so far held back from entering the war alongside those of Nagorno-Karabakh. But in a televised address, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan portrayed the conflict as a national struggle and compared it to the country’s war with Ottoman Turkey in the early 20th century.

His Foreign Ministry said Armenia, as the guarantor of Nagorno-Karabakh’s security, would take “all the necessary means and steps” to prevent what it called “mass atrocities” by the forces of Azerbaijan and its ally Turkey. A ministry spokeswoman declined to comment on what steps this could entail.

Broken glass and window blinds in an apartment on the top floor of a building that was shelled the previous evening in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh.

Broken glass and window blinds in an apartment on the top floor of a building that was shelled the previous evening in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh. Credit:Getty Images

Azerbaijan’s Defence Ministry denied any planes being shot down and said Armenian personnel had shelled civilian territory. Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev said his country’s army “raised the flag” in the town of Madagiz and taken seven villages.

Nagorno-Karabakh officials have said more than 150 servicemen on their side have died so far. Azerbaijani authorities haven’t given details on their military casualties but said 19 civilians were killed and 55 more wounded.

Vahram Poghosyan, a spokesman for Nagorno-Karabakh’s president, claimed on Facebook that intelligence data showed some 3000 Azerbaijanis have died in the fighting. Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman Artsrun Ovannisian said later that 2300 Azerbaijan troops were killed, about 400 of them in the last day.


With Azerbaijan not commenting on troop casualties, the statements could not be verified.

Nagorno-Karabakh was a designated autonomous region within Azerbaijan during the Soviet era. It claimed independence from Azerbaijan in 1991, about three months before the Soviet Union’s collapse. A full-scale war that broke out in 1992 killed an estimated 30,000 people.

By the time the war ended in 1994, Armenian forces not only held Nagorno-Karabakh itself but substantial areas outside the territory’s formal borders, including Madagiz, the village Azerbaijan claimed to have taken Saturday.

Several United Nations Security Council resolutions have called for withdrawal from those areas, which the Armenian forces have disregarded.

Aliyev said in a television interview the Armenians must withdraw from those areas before the latest fighting can stop.

In the interview with Al Jazeera, a transcript of which was distributed Saturday by the presidential press office, Aliyev criticised the so-called Minsk Group of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has tried to mediate a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

One reason behind the current fighting is that “the mediators do not insist or exert pressure to start implementing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council,” he said.

“We have no time to wait another 30 years. The conflict must be resolved now.” Aliyev said.

Armenia has repeatedly claimed over the past week that Turkey sent Syrian fighters to Azerbaijan and that the Turkish military is aiding Azerbaijan’s.

“Turkey and Azerbaijan are pursuing not only military-political goals,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Saturday in an address to his nation. “Their goal is Armenia, their goal is continuation of the genocide of Armenians.”

Some 1.5 million Armenians died in mass killings in Ottoman Turkey beginning in 1915, which Armenia and many other countries have labelled a genocide. Turkey firmly rejects that term, contends the total number of victims is inflated and says the deaths were the consequence of civil war.

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry released a statement on Saturday alleging that thousands of ethnic Armenians from abroad were being deployed or recruited to fight for Armenia.

“Armenia and Armenian diaspora organisations bear international legal liability for organising these terrorist activities,” the statement said.

AP, Reuters

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