New border clashes erupt between Armenian, Azerbaijani troops

New border clashes erupt between Armenian, Azerbaijani troops

New border clashes took place between Azerbaijani and Armenian soldiers on the border on Friday, amid faltering EU-led attempts for peace talks between the two neighbors, according to Azerbaijan in Focus, reporting Daily Sabah.

The Caucasus neighbors are locked in a decadeslong territorial dispute of Azerbaijan’s Karabakh, over which they have fought two wars.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said, “Armenian armed forces opened fire from trench mortars on Azerbaijani positions” at the border.

On Friday morning, “Azerbaijani Armed Forces violated the cease-fire in the direction of Sotk (eastern part of the state border) using UAVs (drones),” claimed a defense ministry statement from Yerevan, which appears to be in retaliation to Armenia opening fire and killing an Azerbaijani soldier the day before.

Two of its soldiers had been wounded and one was in critical condition, Armenia added.

Reports indicate clashes continued later on Friday.

The previous day, an Azerbaijani soldier was killed and four Armenian troops were wounded when Armenia opened fire.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian are scheduled to meet Sunday in Brussels for talks led by European Council President Charles Michel.

According to the European Union, the rival leaders have also agreed to jointly meet the leaders of France and Germany on the sidelines of a European summit in Moldova on June 1.

Western mediation

On Thursday, Pashinian accused Azerbaijan of seeking to undermine the talks in Brussels. He warned there was “very little” chance of signing a peace deal with Azerbaijan at the meeting.

A draft agreement “is still at a very preliminary stage and it is too early to speak of an eventual signature,” Pashinian said.

The EU-led diplomacy comes after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken brought the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers to Washington for talks in early May.

The West has stepped up mediation as the influence of Russia, historically the major powerbroker between the former Soviet republics has waned since its invasion of Ukraine.

Armenia, which has traditionally relied on Russia as its security guarantor, has grown increasingly frustrated with Moscow.

It has accused Russia of having failed to fulfill its peacekeeping role when Azerbaijani environmental activists blocked Karabakh’s only land link to Armenia last December over illegal mining.

The two countries went to war in 2020 and in the 1990s over Karabakh. In 2020, Azerbaijan liberated Karabakh and several adjacent regions from three decades of illegal Armenian occupation in a war triggred by incessant Armenian cease-fire violations.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the two wars over the region.