The state minister of the de-facto Artsakh Republic stated that Russian peacekeepers should remain in the Nagorno-Karabakh region indefinitely in an interview with RIA Novosti on Friday, following weeks of skirmishes along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The Republic of Artsakh is a de facto republic internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. In 2020, the area where the republic is situated was recaptured by Azerbaijan.
Artak Beglaryan, the state minister, stressed that, at present, there is an "urgent need" for the presence of the peacekeepers, adding that once the conflict with Azerbaijan is settled then the issue of the further stay of the peacekeepers could be reconsidered.
Beglaryan added that the Artsakh Republic will continue its efforts to receive international recognition and, after doing so, could consider joining Armenia. The state minister added that Artsakh officials should look for ways to gradually solve issues in the region, eventually with direct negotiations with Azerbaijan.
The state minister stressed, however, that the settlement of the conflict in the region is impossible in the foreseeable future due to "serious contradictions in the positions of Artsakh and Azerbaijan - they are diametrically opposed," according to RIA Novosti.
Beglaryan stated that while the conflict is a matter of "prestige and ambitions" for Azerbaijan, for residents of the Nagorno-Karabakh region "it is a matter of life and death, their existence and a matter of historical justice."
Clashes along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border
On Friday, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry claimed that Armenian forces fired grenade launchers and large-caliber weapons towards Azerbaijani forces along the central part of the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
"The Armenian side is attempting to aggravate the situation on the state border by using large-caliber weapons in order to divert the attention of the Armenian public from internal processes," said the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry. "We declare that the entire responsibility for the consequences of provocations committed by the opposing side falls on the military-political leadership of this country." The Armenian Defense Ministry denied the claims, saying that the situation on the border was "relatively stable."
On Wednesday and Monday, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry claimed that its forces were targeted by gunfire along the central part of the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Armenian Defense Ministry denied the claims, calling them "misinformation" and saying they have "nothing to do with reality."
On Saturday, the Armenian Defense Ministry claimed that Azerbaijani forces fired at Armenian forces along the southeastern part of the border between the two countries on Saturday morning, seriously injuring one Armenian soldier. Armenian forces responded with unspecified "retaliatory actions."
That incident came about a week after Armenia and Azerbaijan both claimed that the other country had fired toward the border.
Last week, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry claimed Armenian armed forces fired on Azerbaijani forces in the Kalbajar District, adding that Azerbaijani forces took "adequate retaliatory measures." The Armenian Defense Ministry denied the claims, calling it misinformation.
A day later, the Armenian Defense Ministry claimed that Azerbaijani forces fired on Armenian forces near the border, injuring an Armenian soldier. The Armenian forces carried out "retaliatory actions."
The clashes came shortly before Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met in Brussels to continue peace talks between the two countries.
On April 6, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to hold peace talks to address tensions over the Nagorno-Karabakh area.
In 2020, a war broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh and nearby areas, ending just over a month later with a new line of contact drawn and Russian peacekeepers deployed along the line. Sporadic clashes have been reported along the line since the war.