Ongoing clashes at the Nakhichevan border

Azeri, Armenian military posts seen from the village of Yeraskh (Photo: Office of the Human Rights Defender of Armenia, July 21, 2021)

An Armenian civilian was injured in renewed crossfire along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border on Monday evening.

According to the Ministry of Defense (MoD) of Armenia, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces commenced firing at Armenian positions in the vicinity of the Yeraskh village near the Armenian border with the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic at 6:40PM local time on July 19 using firearms of different calibers and mortars. The head of the Yeraskh village Radik Oghikyan received a gunshot wound while attempting to extinguish a fire instigated by the shooting, which lasted until 2:00AM. 

Radik Oghikyan (Photo: Facebook)

“The Armenian Armed Forces announce that it will not permit any change in the line of contact,” the MoD wrote

The MoD of Azerbaijan similarly accused the Armenian Armed Forces of firing at Azerbaijani positions near the Heydarabad settlement in the Sadarak region of Nakhichevan. First lieutenant Badalli Ramal Bahlul was wounded in the crossfire, the MoD reports

The situation near Yeraskh has been tense since July 14, when the MoD reported that Armenian soldier Samvel Gagik Alaverdyan was killed in a shootout initiated by the Azerbaijani military. An Azerbaijani soldier was also reportedly wounded in the crossfire. Two Armenian soldiers have been killed since the Azerbaijani Armed Forces invaded the Armenian border provinces of Syunik and Gegharkunik on May 12, with no reported change in their positions.

On July 14, the Armenian military also reported that it lost contact with soldier Artur Nalbandyan and driver Aramais Torozyan near Lake Sev, along the border between Azerbaijan and the Syunik province. According to Sputnik Armenia, the two soldiers have since been discovered on the Azerbaijani side. The Armenian MoD told Sputnik that it had not received such information and that search and rescue operations continue. 

The violence has been accompanied by an escalation in rhetoric from top leadership and threats of a renewed war. During a joint press conference following a meeting with European Council President Charles Michel on July 17, Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan told reporters that Azerbaijan “intends to provoke new military clashes in Artsakh” and “on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border” as evidenced by recent border clashes and according to information “available from unofficial sources.” 

On July 19 Azerbaijani Minister of Defense Colonel General Zakir Hasanov echoed President Ilham Aliyev’s statement that they are “ready and must be ready for war at any moment.” The Minister “noted that Armenia bears responsibility for the escalation of tension” and “gave instructions to the command staff in regard with the suppression of possible provocations of the Armenian armed forces.” 

The US Embassy in Armenia has expressed its concern regarding recent violence along the border, calling on “both sides to swiftly and peacefully de-escalate tensions” and “return as soon as possible to substantive negotiations.” 

Meanwhile, in the domestic sphere, the Armenia Alliance and the “Pativ Unem” alliance have announced that they will take up their mandates in the National Assembly after the Constitutional Court decided on July 17 to uphold the results of the June 20 extraordinary parliamentary elections. 

Former president and head of the Armenia Alliance Robert Kocharyan has renounced his mandate, maintaining that “by virtue” he has “always been a person of executive power.” “With this step I express my agreement with my thousands of teammates who have conveyed to me their opinion that I should not be tempted by the mandate of a parliamentary deputy after the posts of the president of the republics of Armenia and Artsakh,” he wrote. “Finally, I was voted for as the candidate for prime minister.” 

Several opposition parties appealed to the Constitutional Court to redistribute the mandates or order a second round of voting between the Civil Contract Party and the Armenia Alliance following the declared victory of the former. 

International and domestic election observers concurred that the election was competitive and the results trustworthy. Nonetheless the Armenia Alliance, the I Have Honor Alliance, the Awakening National Christian Party and the Armenians’ Homeland Party submitted appeals regarding the exploitation of administrative resources by the ruling party, the directed vote of members of the military and Pashinyan’s use of hate speech and calls for violence throughout the campaign period. 

The contentious hearings, which lasted from July 9-14, were marked by accusations of partiality on behalf of various judges. At the start of the hearings, Zartonk party representative Ara Zohrabyan and Armenia Alliance representative Aram Vardevanyan submitted petitions requesting the recusal of Judge Vahe Grigoryan, who has represented Pashinyan in the European Court of Human Rights. Grigoryan has also represented relatives of the victims of the March 2008 state crackdown of post-election protests. The Constitutional Court rejected these petitions. 

On July 9 Arman Babajanyan, who participated in the election as one of the leaders of the Shirinian-Babajanyan Democrats’ Alliance, organized a protest to insist that the judges refrain from siding with Kocharyan. In March of 2021, the Constitutional Court dismissed Kocharyan’s case after he was charged with “overthrowing the constitutional order” due to his involvement with the March 2008 crackdown. 

The Armenia Alliance has also accused the authorities of political repression of the new parliamentary opposition following a series of arrests of members of its constituent “Resurgent Armenia” party on charges of corruption and vote-buying in the aftermath of the election. According to the “Akanates” observation mission, the most common election violations, including attempts to control or influence voters, were committed by the Armenia Alliance. 

Goris mayor Arush Arushanyan (Photo: Facebook)

In the latest round of arrests, Goris mayor Arush Arushanyan was charged with voter bribery on July 15 and Sisian mayor Artur Sargsyan was charged with abuse of power and forgery of official documents on July 16. According to the Special Investigative Service, Arushanyan, who was listed as the 32nd candidate on the Armenia Alliance electoral list, ordered Karahunj official Lusine Avetian to provide financial assistance to residents in exchange for votes for the Armenia Alliance. On April 28 Avetian, at the behest of Arushanyan, met with several locals and provided them each with 100,000-220,000 drams. Avetian was previously detained during a wave of arrests of Syunik politicians between July 7-8. 

“They are monkeys,” Arushanyan told reporters, ridiculing the charges. “What else can you expect from monkeys?”

During the campaign period, PM Pashinyan repeatedly vowed to use his “steel mandate” to execute staff purges against opponents of the 2018 Velvet Revolution and wage “political vendettas” against heads of local communities whom he claimed forced their subordinates to support his political adversaries.

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is a staff writer for the Armenian Weekly. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Hetq and the Daily Californian. She is pursuing master’s degrees in Journalism and Near Eastern Studies at New York University. A human rights journalist and feminist poet, Lillian's first poetry collection Journey to Tatev was released with Girls on Key Press in spring of 2021.

15 Comments

  1. Really what happened to the Armenian army? Almost purposely being thwarted from inside out. I totally blame the incompetent liar traitor pretending to be PM.

    • Looks like round 2 is upon us. This time from the other side of the border. This is an effort to link up the territories. Russians will send in T-34 tanks to help Armenia bolster it’s defences.

    • This is pan-Turanism, the unification of all Turkic nations, revisited after a century and the Armenians must never allow this to materialize. Under the disguise of “opening transportation routes” they want to link up the Azerbaijani-occupied Armenian province of Nakhijevan, after forcing out the last of the Armenians through racist Azerbaijan-SSR policies, with artificial Azerbaijan republic invented only 102 years ago on occupied Armenian lands. But that is only the start of their century-old plot. With their cunning scheme they want to open an uninterrupted route from Turkey to Central Asia and beyond, via artificial Azerbaijan, at the Armenian expense by turning Armenia into a landlocked island with no connection to the outside world. In other words, this is part of a fascist Turkish ideology to create a vast empire from Turkey to China and choke the life out of the Armenian state and destroy our nationhood.

  2. Armenian Government and Armenian people, why don’t you learn from the Afghan people? they are fighting for over 100 years for their independence, first British, then the Soviets now the USA is leaving. When can you learn how to fight to win?

    • Armenians did win in 1994 and they won decisively. They won that unequal and brutal war but they failed to do was to bring the war to its conclusion by forcing the enemy into capitulation and signing a permanent and official peace treaty. The enemy was defeated in a humiliating fashion, its army destroyed practically and most of occupied Armenian territories liberated. Instead our short-sighted Armenian leaders agreed to a ceasefire which gave the deceptive enemy time to recover and to get stronger militarily year after year by spending petrodollar billions from newly discovered oil and gas reserves. Not courage as they like to falsely advertise, but time and massive wealth allowed them to get back on their feet and become belligerent.

      I am sure the Russians had something to do with this because a strong Armenia is a liability for Russia. The stronger Armenia gets the less it will be reliant on Russia and the Russians won’t have much of a role to play in the South Caucasus anymore. Having been kicked out of artificial Azerbaijan and Georgia, fought two disastrous wars with Chechnya in the North Caucasus, Armenia is Russia’s last stronghold in the Caucasus and if they lose Armenia they will lose the entire Caucasus region and basically cease to exist as a superpower. They need to make Armenia dependent on Russia in order to have a presence there.

      This latest one-sided and manufactured war headed not by artificial Azerbaijan but terrorist Turkey, with Russia turning a blind eye on the NATO enemy Turkey’s military presence in its backyard and on the side of the Azerbaijanis, showed the real intention of Russia which was to return to the region militarily from where it was kicked out and had no presence in thirty years and at the expense of the Armenians to reassert its power there once again. Armenia was once again sold out to the enemy by our so-called ally for financial and other selfish gains and the West did not lift a finger to help Armenia and that because of western companies’ multi-billion dollar investments in artificial Azerbaijan’s oil and gas. I would also say that with the return of the Russian forces, disguised as peacekeepers, the artificial Azerbaijan republic has found itself in a trap!

    • Too right, Armenian keeps on talking about human rights international community lows and so on when Azarbaigan doesn’t give a toss and do as it pleases.
      Who is stopping them!! No one just talks and no action.

  3. The need for national unity and clarity of purpose has never been greater. It is about time Pashinyan took the lead with strategic appointments within his government to reflect the multifaceted nature of Armenian politics. This is also a golden opportunity to try to make some sense with the multiple nature of our political parties by union between some smaller and bigger parties, where ideologies are similar, with hopefully ending up with only 4 or 5 parties in the near future similar to most modern democratic countries. This will help to unite and strengthen the nation. With regards to our borders, I have in the past often suggested body armour for our precious soldiers in the front line to stop this constant waist of human life. I would now also suggest the provision of sharp shooters fully trained and equipped with modern long range telescopic rifles to be posted strategically where needed. Surely we can at least afford that. I am sure our US or France based compatriots in the diaspora could oblige. Amen

    • Small arms is not a game changer. You need airborne intelligence assets like UAVs and AWACS reporting enemy positions. Electronic warfare to blind the enemy, etc. Would be nice to have aerial strike capabilities too (attack helicopter, jet fighter…). Otherwise your stuck with firing artillery on the positions.

      Body armor is not going to do much either. Most soldiers die from artillery and aerial bombs not gunfire. Armor does nothing to stop blast waves popping your internal organs like water balloons. The rifle bullet would have to hit the ceramic/steel plates in the pockets of the armor (front/back) to be ineffective. It will hurt like hell. Rest (soft armour) just stops small calibers. A hit to the thigh, is also generally lethal as you pass out from blood loss within minutes. A wounded enemy is preferable then a dead one as more soldiers are put out of action helping the wounded guy out of the battle front. Soldiers deaths especially if they are conscripts are not important outside the public score keepers. Plenty more to replace them in short notice. They cost nothing to train either. High value commanders, professional soldiers are targets of snipers for a reason. Your an Armenian, you play chess like us Turks make doner durum. You should know the value of the chess pieces on the board.

  4. At the very least, I couldn’t have said it better!
    We are sleeping at the wheel again while the enemy is emboldened by their recent adventures preparing to attack and invade our country. They have been itching for war and we are still infighting among ourselves for power. I definitely think Pashinian is not the man to lead our nation at a time like this. He let us down once and will do it again. He is too weak and is not respected by the likes of Putin.

  5. Boy- Do we ever need the US and the European community. The only way is to strike back and strike back hard.

  6. It’s very straightforward. Destroy the Mingachevir dam and flood the country. Burn the oil fields. Whatever it takes-NO MERCY. Learn from the Turks they’re clearly more intelligent than us since they keep beating us; do the crime and then blame someone else with total deflection. Diplomacy, our self appointed ‘leaders’, the Church, waiting for Russia to help, none of these things have worked for us in relation to our nationhood. All we do is lose land. Wake up Armenians, we’re on our way to extinction!!!

  7. Armenians have not got it through their thick skulls yet, no sane, or for that matter real nation elects a “leader” who loses wars and signs away sovereignty. While I believe that the Chief Bozo of Armenia, calling himself “Prime Minister”, has his days numbered in office, it’s actually already late, possibly too late. If anything, him and his lying wife need to be made an example of. As a first step, that is the ONLY way forward for Armenia if it wants to exist. At this time, Armenia needs a military leader. Not a “government” headed by a moron.

  8. I believe Vice-President Harris will be more empathetic to the Armenians. She is from California. Biden hardly lets the ink on the document dry, after declaring the Armenian Genocide (106 years late) then talks of giving arms money to the enemy of little Armenia. The 1992 war went much better, because Armenians are very skilled with simple guns, mortars, and the like, before these sophisticated Drones killing 20 people at a time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*