Russia and the European Union have called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to respect the Nagorno Karabakh ceasefire, which was supposed to take effect on Saturday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the truce should be strictly enforced, Meanwhile, the European Union expressed grave concern about reports of further military operations targeting civilians.
The news was reported The renewed exchange of bombing between Armenia and Azerbaijan, only hours after the ceasefire took effect.
The blasts hit Stepanakert, the capital of the disputed Nagorno Karabakh region, on Saturday night, according to eyewitnesses and Armenian media.
The two sides had previously exchanged accusations of violating the temporary truce sponsored by Moscow after two weeks of fighting.
“We are watching with great concern,” said the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell Reports about continued military activities, including against civilian targets, as well as civilian casualties in breach of the agreement, “according to a statement released on Sunday.
More than 300 people have been killed and thousands have been displaced since the recent outbreak of violence in the long-running conflict that renewed on 27 September.
The separatist leader in Karabakh, Araik Harutyunyan, told AFP that the situation had become “calmer” on Sunday, but warned that the truce was unstable.
An apartment building in the Azerbaijani city of Ganja was destroyed at night in what officials described as an Armenian missile strike, killing seven people and wounding dozens.
Armenia described the reports of the bombing as “an absolute lie.”
A fragile ceasefire would have allowed the two countries to exchange prisoners and recover bodies from the last round of fighting.
Armenians control Nagorno-Karabakh even though it is officially part of Azerbaijan.
The two former Soviet republics blamed the latest outbreak of violence, the worst in decades.
For her part, American actress Kim Kardashian West, who is of Armenian descent, announced on social media that she has donated a million dollars to the Armenian victims of the conflict.
In a tweet, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev denounced “a flagrant violation of the ceasefire” and a “war crime.”
“The Armenian armed forces do not respect the humanitarian truce and continue missile and artillery strikes on cities and villages,” said Waqif Diyargahli, spokesman for the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry In Azerbaijan. “
On the other hand, a spokesman for the Armenian Defense Ministry, Shushan Stepanian, said, “The Azerbaijani forces are violating the ceasefire agreement by launching attacks on the south with armored vehicles and missiles. (Separatist units) have firmly eliminated the hostile actions.”
On Monday, Armenian Foreign Minister Zahrab Mnatsakyanian, who fought with his Azerbaijani counterpart in the negotiations that led to the armistice, will return to Moscow on Monday and will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as his spokeswoman confirmed to AFP. .
He is also scheduled to meet with representatives of the Minsk Group (Russia, France and the United States), but the date has not yet been set.
The Turkish and Russian foreign ministers called, according to a Russian statement after a phone call, to “the necessity of strict respect for all provisions” of the agreement.
How was the ceasefire achieved?
The agreement was reached after 10 hours of talks in the Russian capital, Moscow. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the two countries would now start “substantive” talks.
However, Armenian Foreign Minister Zahrab Mnatsakyanian later described the talks as “somewhat difficult”, and said that Armenia wants to recognize Nagorno Karabakh internationally as an independent country.
The self-proclaimed officials in Karabakh repeated this call, accusing Azerbaijan of using the ceasefire talks as a cover to prepare for new attacks.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jihon Bayramov said that not enough pressure was exerted on Armenia during the talks, and that the situation in Nagorno Karabakh could not remain as it is.
He added that Azerbaijan expects to control more territory, and that the ceasefire will continue only until the Red Cross arranges for the exchange of bodies.
Turkey, which supports Azerbaijan, said the truce was Armenia’s “last chance” to withdraw its forces from the disputed territories.
Russia has a military base in Armenia, both of which are members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
However, Moscow also has good relations with Azerbaijan.
What happened after the ceasefire took effect?
The Armenian Defense Ministry said that the Azerbaijani forces launched an attack five minutes after the scheduled time for the truce to enter into force, with the Armenian forces responding, and that they targeted a town.
Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense said that Armenia is “flagrantly violating the ceasefire,” and firing on the Tatar and Agdam regions in Azerbaijan.
Armenia denied this.
Heavy fighting also broke out before the ceasefire. The unilaterally declared ethnic Armenian authorities in Nagorno Karabakh said Azerbaijan fired missiles at civilian neighborhoods in the main city, Stepanakert, while Armenia accused Azerbaijani forces of intensifying drone strikes.
For its part, Azerbaijan said that Armenia bombed populated areas near Nagorno Karabakh and said it was returning fire.
On Thursday, Armenia accused Azerbaijan of bombing a historic cathedral in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The photos showed massive damage in the Cathedral of the Holy Savior in the city of Shusha (known as Shushi in Armenian).
At the same time, Azerbaijan said that Ganja, its second largest city, and the Goranboy region were bombed by Armenian forces, killing at least one civilian.
In a statement to the BBC earlier this week, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan warned of “genocide” in the region, calling it “Armenia, the land of Armenians”.
Officials said that the clashes have displaced half of the Nagorno-Karabakh population, or about 70,000 people.
Stepanakert suffered from bombing for several days as residents took shelter in cellars, leaving many parts of the city without electricity.
Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war on Nagorno-Karabakh between 1988-1994, and finally declared a ceasefire. However, they did not reach a settlement on the dispute.