Azerbaijan continued a military operation in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region on Thursday, as Russian President Vladimir Putin invited the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan to Moscow for peace talks, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday.
Azeri Defence Ministry spokesperson Anar Eyvazov said the military had not fallen back from areas taken from Armenian separatists.
“Everything continues in accordance with the operation plan. Destination Karabakh,” Anadolu cited Eyvazov as telling reporters on Thursday. “Our army has not taken even a step back from the regions it has liberated from the occupation since the day it launched a counter-attack.”
Eyvazov listed recent losses by Armenian forces: a drone was shot down by air defence units along the Armenian-Azeri border on Thursday; Armenian positions were hit with artillery; and 30 vehicles, 10 tanks, six D-20 howitzers and one Akatsiya self-propelled howitzer were destroyed along the front line.
He said Armenian forces had launched missile strikes on the provinces of Goranboy, Tartar, Aghdam, Aghjabadi and Barda, and some Azeri civilians were killed and wounded, Anadolu reported.
The fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan is the latest flare-up centred around the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. The battles have threatened to expand beyond the breakaway state, which is located within Azerbaijan’s borders but controlled by ethnic Armenians.
Putin, whose country enjoys good relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan, held a series of phone calls with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, inviting their foreign ministers to peace talks, mediated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the Kremlin said in statement, according to Anadolu.
Putin also called for a halt to hostilities “on humanitarian grounds in order to exchange dead bodies and prisoners”, the Kremlin said.
13:10 – Azeri, Armenian foreign ministers agree to meet for peace talks – Russia
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Armenia and Azerbaijan accepted Moscow’s offer of talks after the Kremlin invited their foreign ministers to the Russian capital on Friday, Reuters reported, citing the RIA news agency.
“Baku and Yerevan confirmed their participation in talks in Moscow. Active preparation is under way,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
Reuters said the upcoming meeting will be the first direct contact known to have taken place between the warring Caucasus neighbours since fighting broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh on Sept. 27.
Armenian President Armen Sarkissian said that Turkey was “creating another Syria in the Caucasus” in a conflict for control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Sarkissian called on Russia, the United States and NATO, of which Turkey is a member, to restrain Ankara, describing it as “the bully of the region”.
“We need more pressure from Russia. I hope there will be more pressure from Russia and from the United States,” Sarkissian told the Financial Times in an interview published on Friday.
“If we don’t act now internationally, stopping Turkey … with the perspective of making this region a new Syria … then everyone will be hit.”
20:50 – Turkey took over Azerbaijani state, making decisions for Baku – Armenian PM
Turkey’s policies towards the Caucasus should be evaluated in a wider frame with its policies in the Mediterranean, as they have come to include “terrorists and paid mercenaries pulled into these policies”, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said.
International society, especially Europe should assess what is happening. If they don’t, they can expect to see Turkey again at the gates of Vienna.”
The Siege of Vienna in 1529 was the first attempt by the Ottoman Empire, led by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, to siege and seize the city of Vienna, Austria, which failed. Following 150 years of bitter military tension and reciprocal attacks, a second siege attempt failed in 1683.
Pashinyan said the Turkish government took over the whole Azerbaijani state, adding, “Azerbaijan can’t make any decision with regards to its own future. Instead, Turkey makes decisions for them.”
20:00 – Armenia, Karabakh lose 86 fighting vehicles, Azerbaijan 60 in conflict
Forces under Armenia and the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region have lost a total of 86 armoured vehicles in the ongoing conflict with Azerbaijan, which has in turn lost 60 similar vehicles since the fighting started on Sept. 27, according to a tally kept by conflict blog Oryx.
The majority of losses on the Armenian side are tanks, with 63 lost. The losses include one Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jet.
Azerbaijan in turn has lost 21 tanks, five Antonov An-2 aircrafts used as bait, one Mil Mi-8/17 helicopter, and eight drones of unknown origin, which could be Turkish-made Bayraktars.
The list is populated with confirmed footage from strikes or remains, and the authors have said Canada’s decision to suspend weapons exports to Turkey could affect its veracity as Azerbaijan stopped sharing footage related to Turkish weapons as they use Canadian sensors.