NEW DELHI: Azerbaijan is “preparing the ground for launching aggression on the territory of the Republic of Armenia” with the Azerbaijan Defence Ministry in Baku “spreading disinformation” that Armenia is “shelling from the territory of the Republic,” Armenian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Anna A. Naghdalyan says. In an exclusive chat with StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi, she explained that the military hostilities since September 27 have been along the Line of Contact (LoC) and the disputed Armenian-majority Nagorno-Karabakh area, emphasising that Yerevan has not taken any action from its side of the international border. The international community “must condemn the Azeri policy of undermining peace and stability” she said, adding, “Azerbaijan’s political and military leadership will bear full responsibility.” Azerbaijan says it launched military operations on Sunday in response to Armenian shelling along the LoC that separates forces on the frontline of Europe’s longest-running conflict. Both sides have reported casualties in clashes over the breakaway region, which is inside Azerbaijan but is run by ethnic Armenians. The Nagorno-Karabakh defence forces, which Azerbaijan accuses of being a front for Armenia, have claimed 49 Azerbaijani UAVs, 4 helicopters, 80 Armoured vehicles and a plane have been destroyed. Azerbaijan, on its part, has also released footage that it says show Armenian military tanks and vehicles being destroyed.
“There is a qualitative change in Turkish support for Azerbaijan this time, Naghdalyan told StratNews, reiterating the Armenian position that “Turkish military experts are fighting side-by-side with Azerbaijan with Turkish made weapons.” She adder that Armenia has “credible reports” of the “recruitment and transfer of foreign terrorists from the middle east and Syria” to Azerbaijan. The spokesperson also “fully denied” Azerbaijan’s accusations that Kurdish fighters had been brought in by the Armenian side.
Armenia has backed India on Kashmir at international fora including the UN, while Turkey has angered New Delhi with its statements that mirror Pakistan’s. Islamabad, which doesn’t recognise Armenia, has been quick to support the Turkish and Azerbaijini side in the latest conflict. On being asked what Armenia expects from New Delhi in the current situation, the spokesperson said, “India and Armenia share each other’s concerns and we always appreciate India’s position on issues that are sensitive to us.” She added that “the whole international community should condemn and be more vocal on the (Azeri)initiation of use of force.” India had issued a statement during the last skirmishes in July “urging both sides to maintain restraint and take all possible steps to maintain peace at the border.” On reports that India had won a $ 40 million deal to supply indigenously built ‘Swathi’ weapon locating radars to Armenia, Naghdalyan referred StratNews Global to her country’s Defence Ministry. India also has trade, oil and gas links with Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan and NATO member Turkey signed an Agreement on a Strategic Partnership and Mutual support in 2010 under which both agree to support each other “using all possibilities” in the case of military aggression against either. Armenia and Russia, with a base and 5,000 troops permanently stationed in the country, are allies under the 1992 Tashkent Collective Security Treaty.
On Moscow’s role, the spokesperson pointed out that Russia and Armenia’s relationship is constructed within “the logic of an allied relationship”. Moscow is also the co-chair along with Paris and Washington of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Minsk group, which is the only “international group that has the mandate to mediate”, she added, saying, “We’re in constant, close contact with all co-chairs and we hope that system is working in order to take steps for de-escalation.”