Azerbaijan threatens military action days after deadly ambush

Azerbaijani armed forces have killed 21 Armenian residents of Artsakh since the end of the 2020 Artsakh War, according to Artsakh officials.

In a report released on March 8, the office of the Human Rights Defender of Artsakh said that six civilians and 15 military officials have been killed since the signature of the ceasefire agreement on November 9, 2020. The report details the most recent deadly shooting of three Artsakh police officers by Azerbaijani soldiers on March 5. 

“The ongoing blockade of Azerbaijan, as well as the regular and consistent armed attacks, aim at subjecting Artsakh to ethnic cleansing through physical and psychological intimidation, creating unbearable conditions and destroying the indigenous Armenian population of Artsakh,” the report reads

Vehicle shot by Azerbaijani soldiers (Artsakh Ombudsman, March 5)

Officials say Lieutenant Colonel Armen Babayan, Major Davit Danielyan and Lieutenant Ararat Gasparyan were traveling in a vehicle belonging to the Passport and Visa Department of the Police of the Republic of Artsakh on Sunday morning when they were attacked and killed by a dozen Azerbaijani armed forces. Lieutenant Davit Hovsepyan was wounded and is in intensive care after surgery. 

In its daily bulletin on March 6, the Russian peacekeeping mission in Artsakh confirmed that the Azerbaijani soldiers had instigated the shooting. The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan said that the Russian peacekeepers had “spread untruthful information.” Azerbaijani authorities say that their soldiers had opened fire in response to shooting from the Artsakh police officers. 

Vehicle damaged by gunfire (Artsakh Ombudsman, March 5)

Two days after the shooting, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry threatened to “take resolute, necessary measures to suppress the actions” of Armenia and Artsakh. It accused Armenian military officials of traveling along an unpaved route between Stepanakert and the Lisagor village accompanied by Russian peacekeepers. Armenia’s Foreign Ministry responded that Azerbaijan was spreading “disinformation and escalation” to “create a false information basis to launch a new aggression” against Artsakh and Armenia. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan had accused the Artsakh police officers targeted in this week’s shooting of using the route to transport weapons, ammunition, military personnel and landmines from Armenia to Artsakh. Azerbaijani armed forces had been sent to the route to inspect the vehicle.   

The Armenian Foreign Ministry said that the vehicle was traveling from Stepanakert to the Hin Shen and Mets Shen villages of Artsakh. Armenian officials say there were no weapons or ammunition in the vehicle except for a service pistol. The Foreign Ministry called for an international fact-finding mission to the Lachin Corridor. 

Azerbaijani authorities have repeatedly accused Armenia of illegally transporting mines along the Lachin Corridor, the road connecting Armenia and Artsakh. On February 22, the International Court of Justice rejected a request from Azerbaijan for provisional measures ordering Armenia to stop using the Lachin Corridor for this purpose, citing insufficient evidence. 

After this week’s shooting, Azerbaijani authorities said that using a road besides the Lachin Corridor to travel between Armenia and Artsakh violates the terms of the ceasefire. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry called for the “establishment of a border checkpoint regime” along the Lachin Corridor and the “immediate withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces” from Artsakh. 

There are currently no units of the Armenian military stationed in Artsakh. Armenian authorities consider this a demand from Azerbaijan to disband the Artsakh Defense Army. 

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry later warned that if these demands are not fulfilled, “the Azerbaijani side will have to take decisive and necessary measures to disarm and neutralize illegal gunmen.” 

Political scientist Tigran Grigoryan says that the unpaved road where the shooting took place has been used since the start of Azerbaijan’s blockade of Artsakh for “some irregular transits of individuals.” Grigoryan says the road cannot be used as an alternative to the Lachin Corridor because of its difficult terrain. Government sponsored Azerbaijani activists have closed the Lachin Corridor since December 12, placing Artsakh under blockade and creating a humanitarian crisis. 

“The aim of this attack was to deter individuals from using this passage and force Nagorno-Karabakh into accepting such Azerbaijani demands as the installation of checkpoints on the Lachin corridor,” Grigoryan tweeted

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has proposed the establishment of checkpoints along the Lachin Corridor. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ruled out such checkpoints while speaking with the press on February 28. He said that the corridor must operate in compliance with the ceasefire agreement, “which means the need to ensure free movement for exclusively civilian and humanitarian cargo and civilians.” 

However, Lavrov added that it may be “possible to use technical means to remove the existing suspicions that the corridor is really used for its intended purpose,” in reference to Azerbaijan’s accusations that the corridor is used to transport mines and weapons. 

European External Action Service (EEAS) said that the EU “deplores the outbreak of violence yesterday on the Karabakh Line of Contact. “We urge all stakeholders to show restraint in order to prevent any further actions which could further undermine regional stability and threaten the peace process,” the EEAS said in a statement. 

The Artsakh Foreign Ministry noted that the attack took place days after a March 1 meeting between representatives from Artsakh and Azerbaijan since the start of the blockade. 

Through its actions, Baku openly demonstrates its rejection of negotiations as a means of finding solutions to any issues,” the Artsakh Foreign Ministry said

Lusine Avanesyan, spokesperson for the Artsakh president, said that the representatives discussed “humanitarian and infrastructural issues,” specifically the restoration of movement along the Lachin Corridor, during meetings on February 25 and March 1. The Azerbaijani side said that the representatives discussed the “reintegration of Armenian residents living in the Karabakh region into the Republic of Azerbaijan,” which Artsakh authorities denied.  

Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan said during a Security Council meeting on March 6 that the meetings “did not give results.” Harutyunyan said that, after the meetings, Azerbaijani officials conveyed through private channels that Artsakh must “accept the integration policy” or face “tougher and more drastic steps.”

We did not accept and do not accept, and today I want to state again that it is not only a decision of the Security Council, but the overwhelming majority of our people accept that we will not deviate from our right to independence and self-determination,” Harutyunyan said.

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is the assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly. She reports on international women's rights, South Caucasus politics, and diasporic identity. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Democracy in Exile, and Girls on Key Press. She holds master's degrees in journalism and Near Eastern studies from New York University.


  1. Seems to me it is the complete control of the area and beyond by the Azeris. We need help and we need it Now. Seems like the Russians peace keepers can’t even keep the peace.


  2. I am sure Armenia will be happy with a condemnation statement from the West and company. With Pash at the helm, there is no winning for Armenia.

  3. How do religious folks explain the persistent persecution of the peaceful Armenians and why evil-doers get away with whatever they want? Is God punishing us?

    • Humans are constantly domesticating themselves. We are evolving past our stone age behaviours. It just takes time. Given the fact that there are billions of people on this planet a few instances like this is nothing. Of course I can’t imagine the tragedy that mans family is living right now. Religion is just a bond that keeps groups together. Anyways you guys lost a war things like this will happen for a while until all is sorted out further. You just have to ride it out.

    • @Turko friend,
      We did not lose any war and to claim such a thing is pure fallacy. Wars are won and lost when they are declared first of all. There was no declaration of war against us from our enemy. This was a terroristic invasion planned, provoked, initiated and dictated by NATO member terrorist Turkey on militarily incompetent artificial Azerbaijan’s behalf in return, among other things, for cheap Caspian oil and for massive revenues it acquires for acting as a hub for oil & gas transport to energy-hungry Europe. This was a terrorist act authorized by Turkish Islamo-fascist mullah and terrorist-in-chief Er-dog-an and conducted by Turkish terrorist defense ministry, in collaboration with Northern Syrian Turkmen and Arab ISIS terrorists and criminal gangs. Terrorist Pakistan, dictatorial Belarus and morally-bankrupt hypocritical Israel, whom Er-dog-an recently equated with Nazi Germany, also played a major role in this by supplying our enemy state-of-the-art long-range missiles and kamikaze UAVs (drones) which I have no doubt were operated not by our incompetent enemy but by those who supplied them. The only thing artificial Azerbaijan did was to provide mostly unprofessional soldiers, under the command of the Turkish defense ministry, who for thirty years could not even put a dent on the Armenians.

      Forget delusional and dysfunctional unpatriotic Pashinyan who is on the way out and he will be lucky if he can get away with all that he has done. He played a major role in all of this too. But rest-assured artificial Azerbaijan will pay for this through the nose sooner or later. It is just a matter of time. Neither terrorist Turkey nor artificial Azerbaijan can defeat Armenians on a level playing field. Not now and not ever! Imagine what we could do to our enemies if we were a NATO member state for over seventy years since 1952 like Turkey with access to all kinds of weapons like Turkey does. It is easy to talk out of context. But when you put things in context everything falls in place and everything is possible. We have never lost a war to artificial Azerbaijan and never will. Artificial Azerbaijan bought and paid for this undeclared war with petrodollars like they do for everything else!

  4. This is simply outrageous. Any word from the Council of Europe of which Azerbaijan is a member? I have never heard before of this EEAS whatever that is.

  5. At Ararat, I may be wrong but wars are rarely declared. Its the job of the country to gather intel and be prepared. You should of signed an agreement years ago. You couldn’t look at the bigger picture (population, income, armament, politics, etc). Given all the factors an idiot could of told you that eventually the enemy will prevail. ‘We had a kingdom in the region thousands of years ago’. Yeah, no worries go tell the UN.

    • @ Turko friend
      Ararat, seems to be one of those people who thinks that just because Armenia was successful in the 1990’s it would be entitled to success now. I’m sure many native Americans felt “we have been here for generations upon generations who are you strange people to assume its yours now” harking back to ancient times is a howl of present weakness and self pity. Sadly many Armenians prefer to take comfort in a stab in the back myth akin to many Germans at the end of WW1 and overlook how much Azerbaijan military had changed since 1994 just like the war in Ukraine shows that the Russian military isn’t such a wonderforce after all and the notion popular among the Russophiles and the anti Pashinyans in 2020 – 21 that Russia let Armenia loose to teach them a lesson for straying such voices have quietened over the last year. Those intent on being an ignoramus just have to left to find out the hard way. Also level playing fields are a false comfort facts and reality mean that the playing field almost never is and its akin to the morons who rave about the pros and cons of various military equipment when a real soldier just has to make do with what they have got and hope for the best.

    • @Charles
      And you Charles seem to be one of those people who either does not know or leaves out a whole bunch of things to prove a point. If Azerbaijan’s military lately was so much more competent since 1994 then why is it that the April 2016 war initiated by Azerbaijan on its own lasted less than a week using the weapons as those in 2020 war more or less? What was NATO member Turkey doing in Armenia’s backyard dictating the war on Azerbaijan’s behalf if Azerbaijan’s military had changed so much since the decades past and could be self-reliant? What were Turkish F-16s NATO jets doing flying over Armenian airspace conducting reconnaissance flights and providing assistance to Azerbaijani forces on the ground and in many cases bombing Armenian positions? What was the Turkish terrorist defense minister Hulusi Akar doing threatening Armenia if this was ‘militarily competent’ Azerbaijan’s war and their war alone? What was Turkish military doing in Armenia’s backyard with no provocations whatsoever from Armenia towards Turkey? Why is it that on many occasions the Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has called himself Azerbaijan’s minister as well as Turkey’s? What were several thousand Northern Syrian ISIS mercenaries, among them many Syrian Turkmen terrorists, doing fighting the Armenians on ‘competent’ Azerbaijan’s behalf? How did they end up in a place where I bet they could not even locate on the map? Why did Turkey fly them over to the conflict zone after they were done using them in the Syrian conflict and were paid by Azerbaijani petrodollars? I can go on and on. If you don’t know these things or are suffering from memory loss or pick and choose your words it does not mean these things did not happen. They did and are all facts you seem to want to ignore. Where was this ‘militarily competent’ Azerbaijan fighting its own war?

      P.S. Have you ever engaged Azerbaijanis in political discussions? Do you even know what they say when they make claims to occupied Armenian territories? All they say is to mention a whole bunch of Turkic tribes roaming around the region for centuries and therefore they have the right to claim these territories as theirs. I lost count of the number of times they mentioned the ‘Black & White Sheep Herders’ or ‘Ağ Qoyunlu’ and ‘Qara Qoyunlu’ tribes in their language as the basis of their claims. Do you know how many times I have heard Turkish president Erdogan referring to 11th and 15th century Central Asian Turkish tribes to make a political point and feel proud of his Turkishness? But here you are rambling on about us talking about our past when we were a political entity and a nation-state unlike them who were nothing but a bunch of nomadic bandits roaming around the region! You have no ground to stand on and I have heard enough of your incoherent gibberish!

  6. @ Ararat
    To dismiss what one would rather not hear or see as incoherent gibberish is indulgent. The 2016 conflict favoured Azerbaijan although its hard to make a confident projection on such a short conflict just because it only lasted four days and it should have been taken more seriously by Armenians as a wake up from the 1990’s, that the enemy was somewhat different in abilities since then. No man is an island as the saying goes so saying we would have won if not for Azerbaijan petrowealth and its kin Turkey support and hired guns is about as pointless as Russians bemoaning the massive backup Ukraine is enjoying – facts are facts! life is more like a card game than a chess game; yes there is little doubt IF Ukraine was on its own it would have almost certainly lost months ago and so on so forth.. If Turkey wishes to indulge in its past (once the centre of a vast empire), as if as that entitled them to assert authority once again then that is their own fault, although also a problem for its neighbours! The Georgians and others of the Caucasian language group where established in the area before Indo – European peoples; Armenians, Iranians (persians) , Kurds (medes) , Hittites etc established themselves there and presumably consider themselves more authentic to the area on that basis? Modern Armenia like modern Georgia is a post soviet entity although their identity long predates the soviet era and not a continuity of their ancient kingdoms as some rather assume. The current situation is awfully sad but be realistic not fantastic. I haven’t engaged in conversation with Armenians nor Azeris in person but observe online, so yes I do know just stating everything that I know would be both a bore and take up more than number of characters allowed!

  7. @Ararat

    You make some excellent points and I commend your efforts to view the conflict from geopolitical and historical perspectives!

    With that said, ultimately, Armenia is in a precarious situation. I won’t speculate on how the 2020 Artsakh War would have played out had Azerbaijan and Armenia fought each other without outside help. Two countries rarely take each other on without first forming coalitions and alliances, and unfortunately for Armenia, we saw that their so-called friends and allies were either unwilling or unable to provide material assistance during the war. With Russia getting bogged down in Ukraine and other CSTO countries distancing themselves from Russia leaves Armenia without tangible allies in the region.

    So the immediate issue, in my opinion, is how to untangle Armenia from the current predicament. Azerbaijan will not stop at Artsakh, nor Syunik region for that matter. If they had their way, they’d make a run to Yerevan and put an end to Armenia once and for all, or at least try.

    Armenians are, understandably, shell-shocked from the war and are playing the blame game. By all means, let’s do that and implement the necessary and long overdue reforms, but only after making national security the number one priority.

    • @Oguz Saltik
      First of all, I think your remarks are much more balanced than many others that I read here and I understand what you are saying. I don’t mean you but when some people give all the credits to Azerbaijan for the outcome of this undeclared terrorist invasion, since I don’t even consider this a war, of what I consider liberated Armenian territories WHILE Turkish president publically and clearly takes credit for it and on top of that glorifies the mass murderers of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, then I have to bring them back to reality. Azerbaijan had already tried this in 2016 using similar weapons and had failed miserably and that is why they dragged all the other actors into this conflict. If they could do it on their own they would have done it and take full credit for it. But like I explained that is not what happened in 2020 and to present it as such is to disrespect our dedicated soldiers fighting on the front lines. I have researched this and watched many hours of video footage where I can clearly see that Turkish defense ministry had become Azerbaijan’s defense ministry’s mouthpiece. It was Turkish defense minister making warmongering statements and threatening Armenia a few months prior to the September 2020 invasion during joint Turkish-Azerbaijani military exercises right next door to the conflict zone.

      As to your points, I do understand that two countries rarely take each other on without first forming coalitions and alliances and there is not much either side can do about that. But when Turkey, for example, commits Turkish defense ministry to conduct this war, and stations her top military officers in Azerbaijan to plan and dictate the war, and leaves behind all the NATO supplied weapons after the joint military exercises and secretly transfers them to different parts inside Azerbaijan and uses them in the war, how is this then Azerbaijan’s war? It is not and those who insist on saying so are either doing it out of ignorance or doing it deliberately with ulterior motives and they should be set straight. I am very realistic and blame a lion’s share of what happened in 2020 on incompetent, dysfunctional and unpatriotic delusional Armenian government first and foremost. I mean the enemy will do what it intends to do when it feels ready to do so but it was Armenian government’s responsibility to prepare for, avoid it by diplomatic means, or at worst try to curtail it. They failed on all of those. What happened two years ago could not have happened during the former two Armenian presidents because they were both, unlike sorry excuse of a leader Pashinyan, originally from the conflict zone and knew the enemy very well and acted accordingly with tight relations with the Russians which was necessary given Turkey’s open and public commitment to military support for Azerbaijan.

      I also blame the very same Russia for doing nothing sacrificing Armenia over someone like Pashinyan whom they did not approve to run the country because even if we remotely assume incompetent Pashinyan was elected democratically, who came to power by regime change portrayed as a fake popular ‘velvet revolution’, all democracies are threats to dictatorships in the region because if it can happen next door it can also happen inside Russia as well in this case. Real allies don’t behave the way Russia did unless their supposed Armenian ally is to them nothing but a bargaining chip to use to solve their own issues in the region. I blame the West too which I’m convinced knew what was about to happen and did nothing to guarantee this outcome so they could please Azerbaijan to secure their multi-billion dollar investments in Caspian oil & gas exploration and exportation to energy-hungry Europe. I have known for a long time that Armenia does not have any TRUE friends and that is why we Armenians need to be minimizing our reliance on foreign powers and develop and manufacture our own weapons internally. Once you put all your eggs in one basket by relying on an unreliable ally, who has to take into account his own self-interests before taking into account your safety and security to lend you a helping hand, you will find yourself at their mercy. This must never be allowed to happen. Armenia needs to be much more realistic and decisive and commit to diversifying her alliances despite Russian opposition. The Russians can’t have it both ways: To discourage or even disallow Armenia, by various means, to seek alliances outside of their sphere of influence and at the same time not lift a finger to honor their commitments to Armenia.

  8. Since Pashinyan has been distancing himself from the Russians since he took the presidency, none of this is surprising. Armenia cannot depend on the west. it is now on its own pretty much. Time to buy up to date weapons, drones, train, get troops ready to fight to take back control of Artsakh. that’s if the people want it. Sometimes I get the sense people in Armenia are indifferent to the plight of Artsakh.

    Oh, and Pashinyan should be deposed, he is incompetent at best and a traitor most likely. Armenia needs competent, savvy leadership – our geographic location demands it.

  9. Russia is punishing Armenians to some extent for putting into power a Western and Turkish financed regime, not once but twice. A similar thing happened in Azerbaijan in the early 1990s which resulted in the Armenian liberation of NKR. A similar thing happened in Georgia in 2008. A similar thing is happening in Ukraine today. No Russia in the south Caucasus = no Armenia on the world map. Armenia’s independence from Russia will by default result in Armenia’s dependence on Turkey. The last 30 years have shown beyond any doubt that Armenians are not ready for independence. The safest place for Armenia and Artsakh to be is within the Russian Federation in some form. Everything else is a pipe dream.

  10. @Gurgen
    Go and live your life in Russia. Change your Name, Religion and have a happy life with a Russian wife. Doswirdanja

    • It’s not that what gets me. I mean packing up your life from US and leaving for Russia is not easy. What gets me is how these Russian fanboys keep stating that ‘Armenia deserves it’. An independent country trying to make its own decisions. How dare they! Must do as Russia says if you want to remain independent. Wait, what?

  11. And what gets me is how many diasporans are on the same page “Turko friends” when it comes to geopolitics. Then Armenians are surprised Armenia/Armenians are an engendered nation. Political illiteracy, self-destructive behavior, cognitive dissonance at work. Breaking news: Turks and their Armenian allies desperately want Armenia out of the Russia’s protective ambarella. Wake up!

    • Please don’t confuse most Turks with racist nationalists. Now it is true with Russia out of the way Turkey will have more of an influence over Armenia. Let the Armenian citizens decide. There is nothing you guys can do anyways, it’s always been one or the other. Your population is just too small. Least Turkey can stop the fighting. Russia is not really popular these days. Putin has an arrest warrant out on him. Doesn’t sound good.

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