US Secretary of Defense promises military training and support for Baltic countries

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Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry says it lost 50 soldiers in overnight clashes with ethnic Armenian troops after Yerevan said at least 49 of its soldiers were killed in the fighting – the deadliest since the Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a six-week war in 2020 over the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Fifty Azerbaijani servicemen died as a result of Armenia’s large-scale provocation,” the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said in a statement, referring to border clashes that erupted early on September 13.

Russia said it had brokered a ceasefire between the two sides, but Azerbaijan accused ethnic Armenian forces of violating the agreement.

“Despite declaring a ceasefire since 09:00 (06:00 GMT), Armenia is intensively violating the ceasefire along the border using artillery and other heavy weapons,” it said. Baku army.

Aram Torosian, spokesperson for the Armenian Ministry of Defense denied the charge, calling it “obvious nonsense”. Torosian said that the Azerbaijani armed forces did not stop shelling the positions of ethnic Armenian troops, settlements and infrastructure “for a single minute”. But he added that shelling in some directions had weakened considerably.

Earlier, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said its forces were responding to Armenian “provocation” and denied claims they were hitting civilian infrastructure.

“The Azerbaijani Armed Forces are undertaking limited and targeted measures, neutralizing Armenian firing positions,” it said in a statement.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Ceyhun Bayramov spoke by telephone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrovthe Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said.

Lavrov stressed the need to avoid conflicts in the region, as well as the importance of full implementation of the declarations signed between the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia ending the fighting in 2020 .

Armenia appealed earlier to world leaders after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said Baku attacked Armenian positions overnight and fighting continued.

“At the moment we have 49 (soldiers) killed and unfortunately this is not the final figure,” Pashinyan told parliament.

Calls for de-escalation

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone with Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. His spokesman said Washington would “press for an immediate end to the fighting and a peace agreement” between the neighbors.

Blinken said he told Aliyev and Pashinian that the fighting was “in no one’s interest” and “urged them to do everything possible to pull out of the conflict and start talking about a lasting peace again.”

Blinken said there were “still concerns” about Moscow’s role in the peace process, but added: “If Russia can actually use its own influence to calm the waters… that would be a positive thing. “.

Armenia’s government said earlier it would invoke a cooperation agreement with Moscow and appeal to the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) – a regional security bloc – as well as the Security Council United Nations.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to urgently de-escalate tensions, calling on both sides “to exercise maximum restraint and resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue and in existing formats”, according to spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

France will raise the clashes at the UN Security Council, President Emmanuel Macron’s office has said.

The Kremlin said on September 13 that Russian President Vladimir Putin was doing everything he could to help defuse hostilities.

“The president is doing everything to help de-escalate tensions on the border. These efforts are continuing,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a press briefing.

Asked if Moscow intends to do anything in connection with Yerevan’s call for help at the CSTO, Peskov declined to elaborate.

“I wouldn’t want to say more now. Since the works, various agreements, etc., I wouldn’t want to announce anything until the approval process is complete,” Peskov said.

Turkey, a traditional ally of Azerbaijan, has blamed Armenia for the latest outbreak, urging Yerevan to “stop provocations” against Baku.

“Armenia must stop its provocations and focus on peace negotiations and cooperation with Azerbaijan,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said. tweeted after a phone call with Bayramov.

The CSTO, which includes Armenia but not Azerbaijan, met virtually on September 13 to discuss the situation.

After the meeting, the Belarusian President’s press service announced that the Secretary General of the CSTO may visit the conflict zone. The trip was proposed as one of the measures that could be taken immediately to defuse the situation.

The Secretary General of the CSTO, Stanislav Zas, would take advantage of this trip to prepare a detailed report. Another proposal would be to create a working group consisting of staff from the CSTO secretariat and the joint CSTO headquarters to analyze the situation and develop proposals, according to a statement from the CSTO.

With reports from Reuters, AP, dpa and AFP

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