Azerbaijan said on Tuesday that it had launched a military operation against an Armenian enclave inside its territory, raising fears of a new armed conflict in a fragile region in which the interests of Russia, Turkey and Western countries are increasingly colliding.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said in a statement that its forces had launched “local anti-terrorist” operations in the Nagorno-Karabakh area aiming to “disarm and secure the withdrawal of Armenia’s armed formations” from its territory. The country’s foreign ministry issued what appeared to be an ultimatum, declaring that only the “dissolution” of the unrecognized pro-Armenian government in the region would “achieve peace and stability.”
The defense ministry also said that it had been using high-precision weapons so far to target what it said were Armenian firing points and other military facilities in the area.
Unverified video footage from the region showed explosions and the buzzing sound of a drone, a weapon that Azerbaijan used to devastating effect when it last fought, and defeated, Armenia in a 44-day war over Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020.
“At this moment the capital Stepanakert and other cities and villages are under intensive fire,” the region’s pro-Armenian government, the unrecognized Republic of Artsakh, said in a statement, describing Azerbaijan’s actions as the start of a “large-scale military offensive.”
Nikol Pashinyan, the prime minister of Armenia, said: “Armenia does not participate in military operations, and I want to note once again that the Republic of Armenia does not have an army in Nagorno-Karabakh,” according to the Russian news agency Tass. “At present, we will not take any rash actions,” he added.