Russia calls for restraint after gunfight near Nagorno-Karabakh

MOSCOW—Russia said on Monday that Russian forces were instrumental in ending deadly weekend clashes between Azerbaijani soldiers and police in Nagorno-Karabakh, urging all parties to show restraint. .

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan, but has been under the control of the Armenian-backed Ethnic Armenian Army since the end of the separatist war in 1994. In 2020, the Azerbaijani army routed the Armenian army in six weeks of fighting. Azerbaijan occupied most of Nagorno-Karabakh, allowing Azerbaijan to reclaim nearby areas that had been in Armenian hands for nearly two decades.

In December, tensions rose again as Azerbaijani protesters claiming to be environmental activists blocked the main road between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, leaving 120,000 residents short of food and other basic supplies. .

Last month, the United Nations Supreme Court ordered Azerbaijan to allow free movement along the so-called Lachin Corridor to resume, but the situation remains tense.

On Sunday, Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said a shootout broke out as Azerbaijani soldiers went to check vehicles suspected of transporting weapons along an auxiliary dirt road connecting Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh. said he did. The Armenian Interior Ministry denied the allegations, saying three police officers in Nagorno-Karabakh had been killed, describing the shooting as an “ambush”.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday that Russian forces patrolling the region as peacekeepers under a Russia-brokered 2020 pact had moved quickly to stop the clashes. The ministry confirmed that three police officers in Nagorno-Karabakh had been killed, adding that two Azerbaijani soldiers were also killed in the shootout.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry expressed concern over Sunday’s shooting, urging all parties to show restraint and take steps to defuse the situation.