The United Nations is concerned over the recent escalation of tensions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, told a briefing in New York. “As the UN Secretary General underlined on June 22, 2017, we are increasingly concerned over the deteriorating security environment, including the most recent ceasefire violations, along the line of contact and in the broader Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone,” Dujarric said.
The UN took note of and echo the OSCE Minks Group co-chairs’ recent statement with reference to the renewed violence on July 4 in the Alkhanli village of the Fuzuli district, which resulted in casualties, including among civilians, he added. “We call upon the sides to refrain from any military action, and strongly urge them to take immediate steps to de-escalate tensions and prevent any further violence. An early return to the negotiations table in good faith is the only way to resolve this long standing and dangerous conflict,” he said.
In the evening of July 4th, the Azerbaijani side used TR-107 multiple rocket launchers to shell the territory of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) for the first time since the April aggression in April of 2016. The launchers were deployed in the village of Alkhani, in close proximity to residential houses. The Artsakh defense army said it was forced to take countermeasures to suppress the fire of the Azerbaijani army.
Zakharova stressed that Russia is keeping this topic under special control, doing everything to bring it back to the negotiation table within the framework of the OSCE Minks Group, co-chaired by the United States and France.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted into armed clashes after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, as the predominantly Armenian populated enclave of Azerbaijan sought to secede from Azerbaijan and declared its independence backed by a successful referendum.
On May 13, 1994, the Bishkek cease-fire agreement put an end to the military operations. A truce was brokered by Russia in 1994, although no permanent peace agreement has been signed. Since then, Nagorno-Karabakh and several adjacent regions have been under the control of Armenian forces of Karabakh.
Nagorno-Karabakh is the longest running post Soviet era conflict and has continued to simmer despite the relative peace of the past two decades, with snipers causing tens of deaths a year. On April 2nd, 2016, Azerbaijan launched military assaults along the entire perimeter of its contact line with Nagorno-Karabakh. Four days later a cease fire was reached.