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25 Mar, 2022 15:07 

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Russia’s Shoigu talks to Armenia and Azerbaijan as tensions flare

Armenia accused Azerbaijan of sending troops into disputed villages in Nagorno-Karabakh

FILE PHOTO. A Russian peacekeeper holds a machine gun near the Dadivank Armenian monastery, in the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. © Sputnik/Maksim Blinov 

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has spoken to his Azerbaijani counterpart Zakir Hasanov on the phone, on Friday. to discuss a surge of tension in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Russian Defense Ministry reported on Friday. The call came after Armenia accused Azerbaijan of violating a ceasefire.

Shoigu had a exchange with Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan on Thursday evening. Earlier in the day, Yerevan accused Baku of sending its troops to two villages in Nagorno-Karabakh, which was the scene of brutal war, in 2020.

One of them is called Parukh in Armenian and Farukh in Azerbaijani, while the other one is named Khramort. The settlements are located on the border between Azerbaijan and the territory administered by the Yerevan-backed self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh.

According to the Armenian side, the Azerbaijani troops sought to take over Parukh, which some reprorts suggesting they succeeded. Such a move would be in violation of the ceasefire agreement, which is guaranteed by Russia. Azerbaijan denied the accusations and said the soldiers were simply clarifying their data on troops’ dispositions along the disengagement line.

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The ceasefire agreement in question was brokered by Moscow after a bloody 44-day armed conflict between Yerevan and Baku that started in September 2020. The settlement deal handed back some territory to Azerbaijan which the Armenians had de facto controlled since the 1990s. Russian peacekeepers have been deployed along the contact line.

While internationally recognized as a de jure part of Azerbaijan, most of Artsakh is administered by a breakaway government that is loyal to Yerevan and includes many ethnic Armenians. The only overland link to Armenia, however, is the so-called Lachin corridor, now controlled by Russian peacekeepers under the terms of the ceasefire agreement.

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