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Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of breaking ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh

An Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman accused Azerbaijan late on Saturday of “violating the humanitarian ceasefire” in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region by firing artillery shells and rockets.

Details: The ceasefire began at midnight local time (4 pm ET), hours after the two countries accused each other of violating a week-old, Russian-mediated ceasefire aimed at allowing the two sides to exchange prisoners and recover corpses. Azerbaijan did not immediately comment on the spokesman’s claim.

  • The Nagorno-Karabakh Foreign Ministry said in a statement following Saturday’s announcement that it welcomes “the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group chairmen as well as Armenia to achieve a ceasefire in the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict zone and to reduce tensions.”
  • “Nagorno-Karabakh reaffirms its readiness to maintain the terms of the humanitarian ceasefire on a reciprocal basis in line with the Moscow Declaration of 10 October 2020 and the agreement reached on 17 October 2020,” Nagorno-Karabakh Foreign Ministry added.

The big picture: Hundreds of soldiers and dozens of civilians have been killed since the recent fighting began in late September.

  • The recent violence is the worst the region has seen in years, beginning with coordinated air and missile attacks late last month from Azerbaijan, which claimed Armenian forces had prepared an attack (Armenia denies it).

Background: Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountainous region of about 150,000 people, populated mainly by ethnic Armenians, but located within the borders of Azerbaijan.

  • Both countries have claimed the territory since the collapse of the Soviet Union, fought a war over it from 1992-1994 and stood on the wave of further conflict since.
  • Previous skirmishes, though many, have left the stalemate largely unchanged. Thus, a peace process has been overseen by the United States, France and Russia.

Go deeper: Armenian Americans gather in US as Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire breaks down

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with the spokesperson’s comments.

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