Russia said on Tuesday it was in contact with Azerbaijan over its “anti-terrorist operations” in the Armenian-populated breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh and urged all sides to respect ceasefire agreements and stop bloodshed.
“We know what needs to be done to resolve the situation … to implement everything we agreed on, not to provoke the situation, to work towards calming it down and resolving it,” Russian Foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said, adding that Moscow’s peacekeepers in the region would continue their mission.
The Russian remarks came after Azerbaijan on Tuesday launched what it called “anti-terrorist” operations in the region after claiming that six of its citizens were killed by landmines laid by “illegal Armenian armed groups” in two separate incidents in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
It said it was only targeting legitimate military targets using “high-precision weapons” and not civilians as part of what it called a drive to “restore the constitutional order of the Republic of Azerbaijan.”
And civilians were free to leave by what it called humanitarian corridors, it added, including one to Armenia.
But Armenia swiftly denied its military presence in the region. “The Armenian defense ministry has repeatedly stated, and states again, that the Republic of Armenia has no army in Nagorno-Karabakh,” its defense ministry said.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been at loggerheads over the mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh since 1988. Peace talks have been held since 1994, when a ceasefire was agreed upon, but there have been sporadic minor clashes.
A new round of armed conflict broke out along the contact line on September 27, 2020, before Russia brokered a ceasefire on November 9, 2020.
The two sides have since been discussing a peace deal.
(With input from agencies)