Armenia and Azerbaijan accuse each other of border shootings one

Armenia and Azerbaijan accuse each other of border shootings, one dead

Armenia and Azerbaijan on Thursday accused each other of firing at the border between those two Caucasian countries, killing one and wounding four, just days before talks between Baku and Yerevan were scheduled to take place in Brussels.

“A soldier from the Azerbaijani army was killed after a provocation by Armenian forces,” the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said, accusing Armenia of firing “large-caliber weapons” at Azerbaijani positions on the border.

For its part, Armenia has reported four injured in these clashes, for which it blames Azerbaijan.

“Azerbaijani forces fire artillery and mortars at Armenian positions in Sotk region” in eastern Armenia, the Armenian Defense Ministry said on Thursday morning.

The incident came as leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Nikol Pashinyan and Ilham Aliev, were due to meet in Brussels on Sunday for a meeting sponsored by the European Union.

This meeting follows intensive discussions that took place for four days in Washington in early May between the Armenian and Azerbaijani delegations under the auspices of the United States.

Mr Pashinyan on Thursday accused Azerbaijan of wanting to “undermine” talks in Brussels, while stressing he was always ready to go.

“I have not changed my decision to go to Brussels,” he said during an intervention before the Armenian government.

However, he said there was a “very slim” chance of signing a peace deal with Azerbaijan at that meeting.

The draft peace agreement “is still at a very early stage and it is too early to talk about a possible signing,” the Armenian Prime Minister said.

The two Caucasian countries engaged in two wars in the early 1990s and in 2020 over control of Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly Armenian-populated mountainous region that seceded from Azerbaijan more than three decades ago.

Tensions, already high, were exacerbated when Baku announced on April 23 that it had set up a first road checkpoint at the entrance to the Lachin Corridor, the only axis linking Armenia with the separatist enclave, which had already faced a months-long blockade. which led to bottlenecks and power outages.

Azerbaijan justified the erection of this roadblock on security grounds, while Yerevan urged Russian peacekeepers stationed there since late 2020 to maintain control of this vital road.