ICG: Tensions running high between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Tensions are running high between Azerbaijan and Armenia with further escalation in arms race, the International Crisis Group said in its monthly report.

“On  June 19 Azerbaijan announced delivery of $1bn worth of sophisticated Russian weaponry including nearly 100 top-line T-90 tanks, sophisticated rocket launchers, self-propelled artillery units. President Aliyev 26 June presided over huge military parade in Baku which also featured air fighter sorties and demonstrated new drone capabilities, pledged if necessary to re-take all lost territory as well as Armenian lands. Unconfirmed Armenian defense ministry source countered by claiming Armenia is guarded with long-range offensive missile systems capable of hitting any target in Azerbaijan; unclear if claim referred to Russian systems delivered directly to Armenian armed forces or to Russian forces in Armenia,” reads the report posted on the official website of the International Crisis Group.

“Also on 26 June, head of Russian CSTO-led military bloc and Russian NSC chief visited Yerevan to sign upgraded defense pact, pledged arms and more support. Truce continues to be violated with sporadic clashes, shooting. OSCE Special Representative for Conflicts 12 June warned that simmering conflict between the two may explode; voiced continuing concern Armenia might attempt to launch regularly scheduled fixed-wing air flights between Yerevan and Karabakh, causing near certain Azerbaijani reaction; also lamented reluctance of leaders to hold another bilateral meeting to diffuse tensions,” the report says.

According to the Crisis Group, OSCE attempts to jump-start talks in June failed according to OSCE Minsk Group sources cited by media. U.S., French and Russian presidents whose countries co-chair mediation efforts 18 June expressed regret over impasse in talks; called for sides to re-activate efforts to reach settlement.

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