In brief

Azerbaijan launches new offensive against Karabakh, occupies border areas

At least dozens reported killed in clashes · Artsakh demands its immediate international recognition as a state

Clashes between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces continue on 28 September for a second day, after Azerbaijan launched a military offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh, or Artsakh, yesterday. The Azerbaijani army occupied some areas of Artsakh, close to the border between the two countries. Both sides have reported civilian victims of their own. Martial law has been declared in Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan.

Both sides have accused each other of starting hostilities. However, it is the Azerbaijani forces that have crossed the border between Azerbaijan and Artsakh, and have occupied an unspecified area.

According to Azerbaijani sources, Azerbaijani troops have taken a mountainous area in the north of Artsakh, plus several villages in the south near Iran. Armenian sources have acknowledged the loss of some unspecified territories.

The authorities of Artsakh yesterday acknowledged 16 casualties among the ranks of their armed forces, and 15 more today. Armenian activists have said two civilians have been killed. Artsakh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims the Azerbaijani army has attacked the country’s capital, Stepanakert.

Azerbaijan reported that an Armenian attack has caused five deaths among an Azerbaijani family.

This is the second major military clash in 2020 between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces. In July, the two sides briefly clashed on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

In a August interview to Nationalia, Artsakh Minister of Foreign Affairs Masis Mayilian warned that a new offensive from Azerbaijan was likely.

An unrecognized state

His ministery was calling yesterday for the recognition of the independence of Artsakh as the “most effective response of international community” to the Azerbaijani operation.

Armenian-majority Nagorno-Karabakh was a part of Azerbaijan throughout the Soviet era. In the 1980s, the Armenian national movement in Karabakh called for reunification with Armenia. Soviet authorities failed to comply with the request.

On 2 September 1991, Nagorno-Karabakh declared itself independent. It has since been governed as a de facto independent state of Azerbaijan, but closely linked and dependent on Armenia.

The declaration of independence was followed by a war between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces which concluded in 1994 with a declaration of ceasefire. Armenian forces came to control not only the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh proper as it was defined during Soviet times, but an additional seven other surrounding districts, that the new Republic of Artsakh annexed.

Despite its de facto existence, the Republic of Artsakh has been recognised by no single country.