Baku, Azerbaijan – The Azerbaijani army continues its determined progress to liberate its occupied territories. As the Thirty-fourth day of the Nagorno-Karabakh war, in which the sounds of shelling were not interrupted, the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh leader Araik Harutyunyan said that Azerbaijani forces were only 5 kilometers from Shusha, an important and historical city, and called on the Armenians to defend the city. Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan, who was cornered, received a cheeky call.
As the Thirty-fourth day of the Nagorno-Karabakh war, in which the sound of shelling has not stopped, the Azerbaijani army continues to inflict losses on Armenian forces, who, despite the ceasefire, open fire on Azerbaijani soldiers and settlements throughout the night in different directions of the front.
In a statement, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said that the clashes continued, mainly in the Agdere, Khojavend and Gubadli aspects of the front.
The Armenian army attempts to attack averted, all day yesterday and today the Armenian army in different parts of the front during the night time hours of 2 Su-25 aircraft, 3 T-72 tank, 1 armored infantry vehicle, 2 “Smerc” and 1 “Grad” missile system, 10 different types of Ball, 2 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzers, OSA 1 flak, 1 p-18 radar tool and 4 cars were destroyed, disarmed many of the military personnel noted. It was emphasized that the front was under the control of the Azerbaijani army.
Colonel Artur Sargsyan, Deputy Commander of Armenia’s 1st Army, and major Aram Gazaryan, chief of communications of the 18th Motor Rifle Division, were killed in the clashes. The officer of the artillery department of the 1st General Army and the commander of the 2nd motorized infantry regiment were also reported missing.
The Azerbaijani army destroyed Armenia’s Smerch missile system, which targeted civilians in the country’s city of Berde. Images shared by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry show that the smerç missile system was destroyed by a point shot.
The ministry also reported that the time when the missile system was destroyed was 15.18 local time yesterday. On 27-28 October, 25 civilians were killed and more than 70 injured when the Armenian army attacked the city of Berde, 60 kilometers from the front line, with marble-bombed Smerch missiles.
Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan, who was cornered, received a cheeky call. “The European Union must end the Katabag war and apply sanctions against Turkey,” Pashinyan said.
On the other hand, the Ministry of National Defense announced that the number of downed aircraft belonging to Armenia by Azerbaijan has increased to 5; Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke on the phone with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ceyhun Bayramov, about Upper Karabakh.
21 Azerbaijani civilians who died in a cluster bomb attack organized by Armenia were sent on their final journey with a funeral ceremony held in different villages. Fazil Hajiyev, 51, who died when a cluster bomb hit him while he and his wife were trying to get out of the doctor and buy medicine from the pharmacy, was among those buried during the attack.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said that new realities are being formed in the region, and cooperation between Turkey, Iran, Russia and Iran can be talked about in different formats.
Speaking to the Russian press, Aliyev conveyed his thoughts on how the geopolitical situation in the region will develop after the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis.
“In the future, of course, the situation will be different from before the crisis. We have drastically changed the geopolitical order in the region. It’s changed and a lot of stereotypes are a thing of the past,” he said.
“I think that a very positive format of cooperation has developed in our region today among the leading politicians who set the agenda of these places and aim for cooperation. Today, it is possible to mention that there is active cooperation between Turkey, Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan in both trilateral and bilateral formats. We also have cooperation in a triple format, ” he said.
Aliyev said that there will be times in the future when they will work in a four-way format, and that this will be natural in terms of strengthening security in the region.
Araik Harutyunyan, the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh leader, said Azerbaijani forces were only 5 kilometers from Shusha, an important and historic city.
Araik Harutyunyan stated that the Azerbaijani army, which wanted to capture the city, continued its advance. In a video message recorded outside the city’s historic cathedral, Harutyunyan called on all Armenians to defend the city.
Harutyunyan was also seen planting candles and asking for offerings. “Whoever controls Shusha controls Karabakh,” Harutyunyan said, noting that the Azerbaijani army is close to taking Shusha.
“Dear compatriots, in 1992, our triumphant march began with the rescue of Shushi, and now it is conditional on his protection. The enemy is located a few kilometers away from Shushi, no more than 5 kilometers away. The ultimate goal of the Azerbaijani army is to capture the city. So to speak, the owner of Artsah (Karabakh), who owns Shusha, is also the owner,” he said.
If Shusha is captured, the Azerbaijani army will have achieved its most significant victory in Nagorno-Karabakh since the start of fighting on September 27.
International experts say images of newly dug positions being abandoned with sniper weapons also reveal the situation.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry posted images of Armenian targets destroyed by armed drones (SIHA) Bayraktar TB2s on its Twitter account.
Back-to-back footage also shows artillery batteries and armored vehicles being shot down, soldiers trying to escape the attack, and those running out of the destroyed position.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry officially announced that two Su-25 fighter jets belonging to Armenia have been shot down. Last week, another Su – 25 was shot down by Armenia.
The Armenian army again shelled the city centers this morning, and the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reports that artillery shells fell on Terter and Goranboy.
Azerbaijani local media displayed footage released by security cameras of the missile attack, which targeted the city center of Berde. The horror of what happened inside a store at the time of the attack, in which 21 civilians were killed and dozens injured, was reflected on the cameras.
Back-to-back explosions were heard, and one injured person was seen collapsing on the floor at the store door, and one of those inside was hiding under a table.
The United Nations (UN) announced that more than 130 thousand people have been forced to leave their homes in the conflict that has lasted since September 27, condemning attacks targeting civilians.
The Geneva talks, agreed during a visit to Washington, where a third ceasefire was agreed, have been postponed until tomorrow. Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry informed the BBC that Minister Ceyhun Bayramov will meet with his Armenian counterpart tomorrow.
The world media headlines the Nagorno-Karabakh War. The ongoing conflict in the historically mixed region is fuelled by fear and anxiety, according to The Economist.
The magazine wrote that many may not be able to ‘map’ Nagorno-Karabakh, but that the region poses a threat of conflict that could have far-reaching consequences in a ‘forgotten part of the world’. The Economist notes that, unlike previous leaders, Armenia’s current ‘populist’ Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is trying to put up a provocative discourse in the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis.
“The fate of what is happening in Nagorno-Karabakh depends on geopolitical games ‘played Far Away’, “The Economist says, adding that” now most of the soldiers fighting on both sides are younger than the conflict itself.”
“The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is approaching a turning point,” the Financial Times Analyses. According to the Financial Times, Azerbaijan is fighting with modern weapons and methods, while Armenia is based on the techniques and doctrines of the Soviet Union 30-40 years ago.
“One side uses modern weapons, the other weapons from the 1970s and 1980s,” says Jack Watling, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute in the UK.
Michael Kofman, director of the Russian Studies Program at the United States CNA Center, said: “Azerbaijan has gained a significant advantage with weapons supplied from Turkey and Israel. You can see that Armenia, in general, has deployed tank and artillery forces that cannot defend themselves against these weapons.”
Russian media, on the other hand, are analyzing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, including Iran and Pakistan. The Izvestia newspaper looks at Iran’s latest mediation attempt.
According to the publication, Iran’s good relations with the warring sides are encouraging. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Arakchi, who began visiting countries in the region, made his first stop in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.
The occupied Nagorno-Karabakh administration has so far announced that 1,068 soldiers have died in combat, 59 of them in the last 24 hours. But international observers say the real number is in the thousands.
The first humanitarian ceasefire agreements between Azerbaijan and Armenia were brokered by Russia on 10 and 17 October. Monday (October 26th) was the third ceasefire, but it blew up within five minutes.
Sunday (September 27th) clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh began in the morning with Armenia violating the ceasefire. Nagorno-Karabakh is recognized as part of Azerbaijan by the United Nations (UN) and the international community. However, some areas in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, which accounts for about 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory, have been under Armenian occupation since the early 1990s. The region was declared a ‘Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’ in 1991. But no country, including Armenia, has recognized this place internationally.
Nagorno-Karabakh (Upper Karabakh), which covers an area of 4,400 square kilometers in the South Caucasus, has been waiting for a solution for many years as the biggest problem between Azerbaijan and Armenia. So, what is the history of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, both countries of the former Soviet Union? The word origin of the’ Nagorno-Karabakh ‘ region consists of a mixture of several different languages. Even a few languages found in its name show how the region has been exposed to the transition between different cultures throughout history.
Nagorny (or Nagorno) in English is Karabakh. The word’ Nagorny ‘means’ mountainous ‘ (нагорный), in Russian. In Azerbaijani, just like in Turkish, it is referred to by the words ‘dağliq’ or ‘yuxarı’, which means ‘mountainous’. Karabakh, on the other hand, is a common word in Turkish and Persian, meaning ‘black garden’.
When Azerbaijan and Armenia joined the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922, Nagorno-Karabakh developed into a structure that seemed accepted, but was not adopted by Armenians. In Nagorno-Karabakh, which was granted autonomous region status under the Republic of Azerbaijan in 1923, the status quo was maintained until the end of the 1980s, when the Soviet system came to a standstill, although ethnic Armenians living in the region raised their discomfort with the Azerbaijani administration from time to time.
Along with the process of openness (glasnost) and reconstruction (perestroika), which Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, initiated in 1985 to pave the way for a blocked system, Nagorno-Karabakh, like all the problem areas of the Caucasus, came to light. Evaluating the ever-weakening authority of the Soviet administration, the Autonomous Administration of Nagorno-Karabakh demanded annexation to the Republic of Armenia in 1988. While this demand was not reciprocated, after Azerbaijan and Armenia declared their independence in 1991, the secession attempts of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh also intensified.
During this period, the Azerbaijani population in Karabakh had fallen by up to 20 percent due to forced migrations. In a referendum held on December 10, 1991, which was boycotted by Azerbaijanis remaining in the region, Armenians voted to leave Azerbaijan. After the referendum, the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh was declared, but this initiative did not find a response in the international community. Tensions between the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, supported by the Armenian army, and the Azerbaijanis living in the region increased with the declaration of independence. In 1992, the conflict turned into a hot war between the Armenian army and the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Azerbaijani army.
At the end of the war, the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh took control of the entire region, as well as occupied seven neighboring regions (Rayons). Thus, the direct contact points of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan were quite limited. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been described in academic circles as a ‘frozen conflict’ for years. Despite the ongoing settlement negotiations at intervals, violations of the mutual ceasefire are frequently repeated both on the Nagorno-Karabakh-Azerbaijan contact line and on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border. August 2014 saw the bloodiest clashes in 20 years. 13 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed in two days of fighting on the Nagorno-Karabakh border. The Armenian Defense Ministry also announced that 20 soldiers were killed.
Half a million refugees took refuge in Azerbaijan and Armenia, and about a million people were forced to relocate. Some towns and villages that existed before the beginning of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict were completely abandoned and destroyed. More than 14 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory is still under occupation. Azerbaijanis say that the region has historically been under their control and therefore belongs to them, while Armenians claim that Armenians have always lived in the region and that Azerbaijani rule is illegitimate.
Other states were reluctant to intervene because it was seen as a domestic issue. Since 1992, the conflict has become interstate due to the fact that it took place between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Defense spending in Azerbaijan has increased by about 50 percent every year since 2003. In 2012, defense spending accounted for a fifth of Azerbaijan’s total public spending. Armenia also expanded its arsenal with the help of Russia.
Although the exact numbers are not known, it is believed that the population of Lachin and Kelbajar with small settlements totaled about 14 thousand people. According to the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, there has been no significant increase in the population since 2005. Ethnic Armenians settled in the region have limited access to infrastructure, economic activities and public services. Many of them are also missing identity documents.
The weakest part of the problem is the contact line, which is 175 kilometers long. This line, filled with minefields, resembles the trenches of the first World War. 30 thousand soldiers have been deployed to the contact line by the Armenian side and slightly more than this number by Azerbaijan. The negotiations, conducted through the OSCE Minsk Group, have been difficult, as leaders are approaching a compromise, but are backing down out of concern that their country may not meet the demands of the public. Azerbaijanis and Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh cannot influence the process. Armenian and Azerbaijani public opinion has more influence on the process than the locals of the region.
The Minsk Group Co-Chairs have no spokespersons or media secretaries. For this reason, the talks have little media coverage. Russia, having previously taken a position close to Armenia, now prefers to stand at an equal distance from Azerbaijan and Armenia. This strategy strengthened after the war with Georgia in August 2008. The strategic priority has become the isolation of Georgia. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is less important to the United States than the conflicts in the Middle East. The Armenian Lobby in Congress, the energy security of the Caspian Sea Basin, the ‘fight against terrorism’ and the ability to use Azerbaijani airspace on flights to Afghanistan are priority issues for the United States.