Thomas de Waal: Helicopter downing threatens shaky truce

“The shooting down of an Armenian helicopter on the ceasefire line – known as the Line of Contact that separates Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone – is the worst incident of its kind in more than 20 years of the truce that ended the war of the early 1990s,” Thomas de Waal, senior associate for the Caucasus at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, writes in an article published by the BBC.

“Three Armenians were killed, and the Azerbaijani officer who shot down the helicopter was given a medal for courage. It is a very disturbing development that follows a serious upsurge of fighting in the summer in which more than 20 soldiers were killed on both sides,” he wrote.

The Azerbaijanis blame the Armenians for sending two helicopters to fly over their positions. The Armenians say the helicopter was on a routine training mission and posed no danger. A video taken from the Azerbaijani side shows a missile being fired and one of the two helicopters bursting into flames to shouts of excitement from the Azerbaijani soldiers.

“There is no military logic to these attacks. A local commander can be responsible for small arms fire, but use of heavier weapons takes a decision from politicians higher up. These attacks are all about showing off your strength,” Thomas de Waal writes.

According to him, the incidents at the line of contact “are an illustration of the increased militarisation of the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire line over the last 20 years – the most militarised zone in Europe.”

Show More
Back to top button