Fierce battles for Shushi (Shusha) have been waged since late last week as Armenians claimed to have repelled multiple attacks by Azerbaijan’s armed forces.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev declared on Sunday that Baku was in control of the hilltop town located 10 kilometers south of Stepanakert, on one of the two roads linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia. But Armenians did not immediately admit losing the town.
Still on Monday morning military officials in Yerevan said battles for Shushi were ongoing. But Nagorno-Karabakh’s de facto ethnic Armenian leader Arayik Harutiunian already then dropped hints at the possibility that the town might already be under Azerbaijani control.
In a Facebook post on November 9 morning he said he had visited defense lines of Stepanakert to talk to “[ethnic Armenian] Defense Army soldiers and volunteers who have, for more than a day, been resisting enemy bandits attacking the capital from Shushi.”
Harutiunian’s spokesperson Vahram Poghosian said later in the afternoon that “Shushi is totally out of Armenian control.”
“War is a hard-fought struggle where neither success nor failure is guaranteed. To this day, unfortunately, we have to admit that the chain of failures still haunts us, and the town of Shushi is completely out of our control,” Poghosian wrote on Facebook in what he later confirmed to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service was his authentic post.
Poghosian also confirmed that Azerbaijani forces were on the outskirts of Stepanakert. “Let’s put ourselves together, for the enemy is on the outskirts of Stepanakert and the existence of our capital is already endangered,” he said.
“If we want Shushi to be ours again, if we want Artsakh (the Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh) to be preserved, today we must use all our capabilities to organize a reliable defense in Stepanakert and at other sectors of the front. This is the real and reliable guarantee of success,” the spokesman for Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leader said.
The Defense Ministry of Armenia did not immediately comment on the current status of Shushi.
And Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian wrote on his Facebook on Monday evening that “battles for Shushi are continuing.”