Armenia Says Truce With Azerbaijan Hailed by Trump Has Collapsed
(Bloomberg) -- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said a U.S.-brokered truce agreement with Azerbaijan has broken down hours after coming into effect, the third time international mediators have failed to stop the worst fighting in decades over Nagorno-Karabakh.
“It’s clear that, once again it wasn’t possible to maintain the cease-fire,” Pashinyan said Monday on Facebook. “We don’t yet know how the U.S. president will react to the failure.”
Each side accused the other of breaching the humanitarian cease-fire within minutes of it taking effect at 8 a.m. local time and throughout the day, while claiming that its own forces were observing the truce. There are no international monitors on the ground to record violations.
The U.S. State Department announced the deal late Sunday in a joint statement with Armenia and Azerbaijan, which said the two countries had agreed to abide by the terms of a cease-fire first negotiated in Moscow on Oct. 10. That agreement and a subsequent attempt to call a truce also collapsed almost immediately.
U.S. President Donald Trump had earlier hailed the cease-fire accord and told a campaign rally on Sunday that the conflict was “an easy one” to deal with.
In fact, the U.S., Russia and France have tried without success for nearly three decades to mediate a peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenians took control of the region and seven surrounding districts of Azerbaijan in a war that killed 30,000 and displaced 1 million people amid the collapse of the Soviet Union before Russia brokered a 1994 truce.
Hours after the truce agreement took effect, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in a televised address that his country would “carry on to the end” until Armenians announced a withdrawal from its territory, while also saying he’d ordered his military to observe the truce.
Aliyev warned that as many as six Turkish F-16 fighter jets located in his country would intervene if Azerbaijan came under attack. “Our Turkish brothers kept them here to show us moral support,” he said. “If there’s an aggression against us from abroad, they’ll face the F-16s.”
While Aliyev didn’t specify which country may pose a security threat, Armenia has a defense pact with Russia, though it doesn’t cover Nagorno-Karabakh. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan “with all its means” in the conflict with Armenians though he hasn’t stated publicly that his military would join the fighting that began Sept. 27.
The latest bid to halt the violence came after U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo held separate talks with the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in Washington on Friday. The representatives of the warring sides met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow two days earlier.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that about 5,000 people had already been killed since the clashes began, with heavy losses on both sides.
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