Armenia and Azerbaijan Accuse Each Other of Breaking U.S.-Brokered Ceasefire

Armenian soldiers fire artillery on the front line on October 25, 2020, during the ongoing fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. - The head of a Red Cross mission monitoring the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict called on October 22, 2020 for all parties to stop shelling …
ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. State Department on Sunday said it had “reaffirmed” Armenia and Azerbaijan’s commitment to abide by a ceasefire previously agreed to in Moscow this month.

Officials had planned to reinstate the ceasefire on Monday morning, but the two sides accused each other of breaking the truce within hours of its start.

“Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov met with [U.S.] Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E. Biegun on October 24, 2020, and reaffirmed their countries’ commitment to implement and abide by the humanitarian ceasefire agreed in Moscow on October 10,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

“The humanitarian ceasefire will take effect at 08:00 a.m. local time (12:00 a.m. EDT) on October 26, 2020. The United States facilitated intensive negotiations among the Foreign Ministers and the Minsk Group Co-Chairs to move Armenia and Azerbaijan closer to a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” the statement further said.

Co-chaired by the U.S., Russia, and France, the Minsk Group seeks to negotiate a political settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan over their disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The breakaway territory legally belongs to Azerbaijan but is ruled by its majority population of ethnic-Armenians, who refer to the region as the Republic of Artsakh. The international community, including Armenia, does not recognize Artsakh’s sovereignty. Yerevan and Baku have been engaged in clashes over the region since September 27, the most substantial fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh since a 1991-1994 war that killed nearly 30,000 people.

Despite the U.S. effort on Sunday to broker a ceasefire, by Monday both Armenia and Azerbaijan had accused each other of violating the third attempt at a truce this month.

“Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said that Armenian forces Monday morning had targeted Azerbaijani forces with artillery and shelled the city of Tartar and surrounding villages in a ‘gross violation of the humanitarian ceasefire agreement’,” the Hill reported on Monday morning.

Responding to these allegations by Baku on Monday, Armenia’s foreign ministry said that they “do not correspond to reality and are obviously provocative.”

Armenian President Nikol Pashinyan insisted on Twitter on Monday that “[the] Armenian side continues to strictly adhere to the ceasefire regime.”

“Despite several provocations, the ceasefire is generally being maintained. The #Armenian side will continue to strictly adhere to the ceasefire regime,” he wrote in a later Twitter statement.

In the disputed region itself, Artsakh human rights ombudsman Artak Beglaryan “on Monday morning accused Azerbaijan of violating the cease-fire with a missile strike on a small village in the territory, killing one civilian and wounding two,” according to the report.

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