April 1, 2022
Artsakh president: Our goal is to withdraw Azerbaijani troops to their initial positions
A regular sitting of the Security Council chaired by President of the Artsakh Republic Arayik Harutyunyan was held in an expanded format on Friday, the presidential office reported.
“We understand that their goal was to capture the whole of Karaglukh. We should state that the main height of Karaglukh, the highest point, is under our control, but as of today some important hills are under the control of the Azerbaijani troops. Our goal is to withdraw the Azerbaijanis to their initial positions. Our demand and request to the peacekeeping troops was that the status quo stemming from the trilateral statement should be restored. We will never change this claim,” Harutyunyan said.
He expressed confidence that the purpose of the provocation fomented by Azerbaijan was first of all aimed at discrediting the role of the Russian peacekeeping forces.
“We consider that the Russian peacekeeping forces continue to carry out their mission, notwithstanding that episode,” Harutyunyan said.
However, the Artsakh leader stressed that vigilance should be maintained at a high level until it is clear that Azerbaijan will not resort to such provocations again.
“For that very reason, we will take radical and decisive steps in terms of our self-defense in the future,” Harutyunyan said.
Minister of Defense Kamo Vardanyan delivered a report on the current operative-tactical situation on the line of contact.
April 1, 2022
Chatham House: With Russia distracted, Azerbaijan escalates in Karabakh
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Azerbaijan has increasingly tested the will and capacity of the Russian peacekeeping mission deployed to the residual territory remaining under Armenian control at the end of the 2020 Karabakh war, Laurence Broers says in a new article published by Chatham House.
In early March, Azerbaijani forces were observed circling close to Armenian villages with loudspeakers urging the inhabitants to evacuate, and reports of increased ceasefire violations soon followed. On 8 March, a crucial pipeline supplying gas to the Karabakh Armenian population was cut off on Azerbaijani-held territory, leaving residents without heat for two weeks. Although the pipeline was repaired, it was reportedly cut off again, then restored.
Azerbaijani forces then advanced into the area which is ostensibly under Russian peacekeeper control, forcing the evacuation of one Armenian village, taking strategic heights overseeing others, and reportedly using drone strikes to kill three local Armenian servicemen and wound a further 15.
Although the Russian Ministry of Defence stated Azerbaijani forces later withdrew, both Azerbaijani and Armenian sources denied this. France, Russia, and the US – the co-chairs of the OSCE’s Minsk Group mandated to mediate the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict – all took the rare step of calling out Azerbaijan as the violator of the ceasefire regime.
“If the post-2020 security infrastructure in Karabakh is precarious, the sources of these new tensions also relate to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which created a window of opportunity for Azerbaijan in two critical ways,” Broers says.
“First, Russian distraction exposes the weaknesses of the peacekeeping mission in Karabakh, comprising 1,960 servicemen and approximately 2,000 civilian support staff but still lacking a defined mandate or rules of engagement.
“This has suited Baku, which is keen to emphasise the temporary nature of Russia’s presence – its relationship with the mission has been fraught, with a rapid turnover of mission heads whose approach to peacekeeping has incurred Baku’s disapproval.
“Second, the international reaction to Russia’s invasion offers a golden opportunity to rhetorically homogenize the various post-Soviet conflicts and the legitimacy of their various actors’ claims. With Europe and the US mobilized as never before around Ukraine’s territorial integrity and the illegitimacy of occupation, arguments over the nuances and variable pathways of Eurasia’s conflicts are easily swept aside.
“Recent developments also underline the extent to which security in Nagorno-Karabakh has become a negotiation between Russia and Azerbaijan – leaving Armenia, constrained by dependency on Russia and a possible normalization of relations with Azerbaijan’s principal ally Turkey, all but powerless.
“The more stretched Russia becomes in Ukraine – and in the world – the more likely Azerbaijani operations in Nagorno-Karabakh will intensify, framed as ‘mopping up’ Armenian militants in a narrative of counter-insurgency. This escalates the pressure on Karabakh Armenian civilians to leave, edging towards a final ‘resolution’ through gradual ethnic cleansing.
“And the more intensively this process unfolds, the more likely it is that widely promoted notions of regional connectivity – hailed by many regional and international observers alike as a new panacea for peacebuilding in the South Caucasus – will become little more than collateral damage.”
April 1, 2022
Tatoyan: Government’s proposed ‘mirror withdrawal of troops’ disastrous for security of Armenia, Artsakh
Armenia’s former Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) Arman Tatoyan claims the government’s proposal on a “mirror withdrawal of troops” from the Armenian-Azerbaijani border would be disastrous for the security of Armenia and Artsakh.
In a public post on Facebook on Friday, he pointed to the recent Azerbaijani invasion of Artsakh’s settlements, adding it is the result of the government’s idea of the “mirror withdrawal of troops”.
“This idea was reprehensibly moved to the public plain, was pushed forward and became part of an agenda that benefited Azerbaijani interests,” Tatoyan said.
“The possibility of withdrawal of Azerbaijani forces from our villages and intercommunal roads has been consistently nullified, separating security from the individual and his/her rights, reducing everything to the military and political sphere.
“The situation has been and continues to be exacerbated by senior Armenian officials, who have given the Azerbaijani authorities grounds for troop reinforcements with their irresponsible and politically motivated statements. They make official statements in line with their political interests, conceding to Azerbaijan territorial rights, ignoring the rights of the population of Armenia and Artsakh to security, life and other rights,” he stressed.
At the same time, the ex-ombudsman underscored, the Azerbaijani troops continue their criminal acts, opening fire at Armenian border villages, seizing their lands and houses, thus deliberately making life unbearable for the people.
Tatoyan says the Armenian government avoids providing clarification to the public over the proposal on the withdrawal of troops.
“Does the proposed “mirror withdrawal of troops” concern only the incursions of Azerbaijani forces in Gegharkunik, Syunik Province, or also other settlements? If this refers only to incursions, what solutions are proposed for the safety, property and other rights of people in other areas? The government’s conduct is simply reprehensible,” he said.
“Moreover, uncertainty prevails not only in Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora, but also in the international arena. Therefore, the “mirror withdrawal of troops” is only a political idea devoid of professional grounds, and in the current situation it poses a serious threat to our homeland, the security and the vital rights of all of us,” Tatoyan stated.
April 1, 2022
Armenian opposition to hold rally in Yerevan on April 5
The Armenian opposition will hold a rally in Yerevan’s Liberty Square on 5 April to discuss issues concerning the defense of Artsakh and Armenia, an opposition Hayastan faction MP and deputy parliament speaker, Ishkhan Saghatelyan, announced on Friday.
“I urge all citizens to gather at the Liberty Square on April 5, at 6:30pm, to discuss together how to preserve Artsakh and to defend Armenia, to take measures to ensure the security of the countries,” he said, addressing the parliament.
The MP claims the Armenian authorities are “unable” to organize the defense of the country.
The National Assembly convened a special session to debate a bill proposing changes to the law on local self-government.
Saghatelyan stated the agenda of the parliament is not adequate to the challenges facing the country.
“The enemy troops have invaded Parukh and took control of the strategic height [Karaglukh], but what are we discussing in the parliament? What would the people living in Stepanakert, the Khramort or Karmir Shuka communities of Artsakh think of the parliament and its majority?” he said.
He accused the ruling Civil Contract faction MPs of attempting to tighten their “grip on power”, leaving aside the main responsibility for ensuring the country’s security.