Armenian prime minister accuses Azeri forces of crossing border

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Monday accused Azerbaijani troops of violating the border between the two countries and fired his defense minister, Interfax news agency reported.

Another Russian news agency, RIA, quoted the Armenian Security Council as saying that the incident took place on Sunday, but that Azeri troops had left.

Interfax quoted a spokesman for the Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying that Azerbaijani forces were operating in the country’s own sovereign territory and accusing Armenia of “provocations”.

The incident marked an escalation of tensions between the two former Soviet republics, which fought a 44-day war last year that killed at least 6,500 people and ended in a decisive victory for Azerbaijan.

Pashinyan did not say on what scale the alleged raid had occurred, but told a security council meeting that he had removed Minister Arshak Karapetyan for the incident.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan greets reservists at the Defense Ministry base prior to their departure for the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region in Yerevan, Armenia, on October 16, 2020 (credit: PRESS SERVICE OF THE FIRST ARMENIAN MINISTER / TIGRAN MEHRABYAN / PAN PHOTO VIA REUTERS)

The TASS news agency said Armenia had reported the episode to Russia and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance of post-Soviet states.

Last year’s war over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave ended with a Russian-brokered deal under which Moscow deployed 1,960 peacekeepers to the region over an initial five-year period.

But the agreement left many issues unresolved, including the legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Armenians living there, which numbered 150,000 before the war.

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