STEPANAKERT-Ethnic-Armenian forces in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh have accused Azerbaijan’s military of breaking a ceasefire brokered by Russia. Gunfire could be heard in social media footage from the territory’s capital. Azerbaijan dismissed the reports as “completely false”. The two sides held talks to negotiate the enclave’s integration into Azerbaijan after Karabakh forces agreed to surrender following 24 hours of intense fighting. A day after the truce came into effect, local Armenian forces said Azerbaijan was using “a variety of firearms, violating the agreement on the ceasefire”.
They said shots could be heard in the centre of the region’s major city, Khankendi, known as Stepanakert by Armenians. Videos showed people in the city running for cover and what appeared to be small-arms gunfire could be heard in the background. Independent observers have been unable to reach Karabakh since Azerbaijan imposed an effective blockade of the area in December 2022. Azerbaijan’s defence ministry was quick to reject reports of a resumption in fighting; “We strongly deny this disseminated information.” Meanwhile, ethnic-Armenian and Azerbaijani delegations met in the town of Yevlakh, some 100km (60 miles) north of Khankendi, to discuss Nagorno-Karabakh’s future. Pictures on Azerbaijani state media showed the two delegations seated with members of Russia’s peacekeeping mission. After several hours, the Azerbaijani presidential office said in a statement that the negotiations had concluded and that fuel, medical supplies and humanitarian aid would be sent to to Nagorno-Karabakh.
It described the talks as “constructive and positive”, but the country’s representative also said it was difficult to expect all problems between Azerbaijan and Karabakh Armenians to be resolved in one session, Russia’s Ria news agency reported. A follow-up meeting is expected in the near future.