Soldier wounded amid heightened Armenia-Azerbaijan tensions
YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Armenia ‘s Defence Ministry reported Thursday that an Armenian soldier was wounded and in critical condition after being shot by Azerbaijani forces on the eastern section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
Both sides accused each other of opening fire on border positions earlier in the week.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev accused Armenia on Tuesday of not complying with the Russia-brokered peace agreement of November 2020 by not fully withdrawing its troops from the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said at a government meeting that Azerbaijan started a “firefight” in order “to accuse Armenia.” Also on Thursday, Pashinyan proposed the creation of a demilitarized zone of three kilometers (nearly two miles) around Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as in other territories bordering Azerbaijan.
The two sides held peace talks on Monday that were mediated by the United States. In October, Pashinyan and Aliyev “agreed not to use force” to resolve their dispute during a summit in Russia hosted by President Vladimir Putin.
The ex-Soviet countries have been locked in a decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is part of Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994.
During a six-week war in 2020, Azerbaijan reclaimed broad swaths of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent territories held by Armenian forces. More than 6,700 people died in the fighting, which ended with a Russia-brokered peace agreement.
The truce was hailed as a victory in Azerbaijan, and was viewed as a humiliating defeat in Armenia. In September, Armenia and Azerbaijan negotiated a cease-fire to end a flare-up of fighting that killed 155 soldiers from both sides.
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