As a result of this week’s escalation, recent Western efforts to move Baku and Yerevan closer to a peace agreement have essentially been undermined. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she will visit Yerevan on Saturday.
The contested Nagorno-Karabakh territory, an enclave in Azerbaijan populated by Armenians, has been the subject of two conflicts between the Caucasus neighbors in the year 2020 and the 1990s.
The conflicts, which started on Tuesday and were resolved overnight on Thursday with international intervention, are blamed on both sides for starting them.
The death toll among Azerbaijan’s military personnel was increased on Friday from an earlier estimate of 71 to 77.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said: “For the moment, the number of dead is 135.”
“Unfortunately, it is not the final figure. There are also many wounded,” he told a cabinet meeting.
Armenia’s rights ombudsperson, Kristina Grigoryan, later said one civilian was also killed and six wounded in shelling by Azerbaijani forces.
The chief of staff of Armenia’s armed forces, Eduard Asryan, accused Azerbaijani troops of committing “atrocities,” saying they mutilated and dismembered the bodies of dead Armenian servicemen.
“This is a horrible atrocity, a violation of international humanitarian law,” he told foreign diplomats in the city of Jermuk.
Grigoryan said the clashes also forced hundreds of Armenian civilians to flee their homes.
“Azerbaijan targeted peaceful residents,” she said — a claim which Baku flatly denies.
It was the worst fighting since the two countries fought a six-week war in 2020 and comes with Armenia’s closest ally Moscow distracted by its nearly seven-month war in Ukraine.
Armenia’s security council said the violence ended late Thursday “thanks to international mediation” after earlier failed attempts by Moscow to broker a truce.
A delegation of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) — a Moscow-led grouping of ex-Soviet republics — arrived in Yerevan on Thursday evening, Armenia’s defence ministry said.
Armenia is a member of CSTO but Azerbaijan is not.
On Tuesday, Armenia’s security council asked for military help from Moscow, which is obliged under the treaty to defend Armenia in the event of a foreign invasion.
Following its invasion of Ukraine in February, Moscow found itself more and more outnumbered on the international scene, and the European Union assumed the initiative in mediating the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan, and Pashinyan agreed to “advance discussions” on a future peace treaty during talks held in Brussels in April and May under the auspices of the EU.