Dangerous escalation on Armenian-Azerbaijani borders
On May 25, the Armenian Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported the death of a 32-year-old contract soldier at the border near the village of Verin Shorzha in the Gegharkunik District of Armenia as a result of a shootout with Azerbaijani military servicemen. It has been the first victim of the recent spike of violence on the Armenian-Azerbaijani borders.
The border conflict between the two hostile states, which had only recently fought in the war for Nagorno-Karabakh, flared up on May 12. Azerbaijani troops then crossed the border and entered the territory of Armenia in the strategically important area of Lake Sev in the Armenian province of Syunik, claims Yerevan. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, on the other hand, said on May 17. that the Armenian side “demonstrates an inadequate reaction” to the process of border clarifying, the press service of the Azeri leader has reported. According to Aliev, there were no clashes on the border; the situation was stable.
A further escalation of the conflict occurred on May 20, when a skirmish broke out between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces near Lake Sev. According to the Armenian ministry officials, the incident was caused by videos posted on social media sites and in the media. In one of the videos, Azerbaijani soldiers push their Armenian counterparts from the territories occupied by the Azerbaijanis, while the second video depicts the contrary situation when Armenians drive Azerbaijanis out.
Earlier, Azerbaijani YouTube channels, including A.R.X.E, posted a video in which dozens of armed soldiers were brutally rushing at least two unarmed men in military uniform. The unarmed people were pushed, kicked, insulted with obscene words, and they were asked to flee. The video depicts how Armenian soldiers are “driven away from the border with Azerbaijan”.
A day later, Armenian General Prosecutor’s Office reported that the Armenian armed forces threw back the Azerbaijani army near the village of Khoznavar, adding that after the fight, 11 soldiers had to be hospitalised. Some Armenian media also reported injured on the Azerbaijani side.
On May 27, the Armenian Ministry of Defence has reported that six servicemen were captured on the border of the Gegharkunik Region. The Azerbaijani side has confirmed the capture of Armenian military men. According to the Azerbaijani MoD, they tried to break into the country in the direction of the village of Yukhary Airym, Kelbadjar District. The Armenian side strongly dismissed these claims, providing maps, that the capture of its soldiers actually took place 800 m inside of the internationally recognised territory of the Republic of Armenia.
On the following day, the Azerbaijani Defence ministry stated that at least one soldier was wounded in the night attack of the Armenian military on the positions of the Azerbaijani army in Nakhchivan.