US-Brokered Ceasefire In Azerbaijan Falls Apart In Under 24 Hours

(Photo by ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent
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A ceasefire agreement facilitated by the United States on Sunday in the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was violated in less than 24 hours, according to the Associated Press. 

Armenia and Azerbaijan both accused each other of breaking the truce on Monday in the conflict which has already killed hundreds in the Caucasus region, according to the AP. High-level officials from both countries met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in recent days in an attempt to reach a peaceful end to the conflict that has now raged on for almost a month. 

Armenian forces were accused of firing upon Azeri settlements and forces along the border by the Azerbaijan Defense Ministry, while Armenian officials claimed the Azeris initiated shelling against areas of Nagorno-Karabakh Monday, per Reuters. This was the third ceasefire that was temporarily agreed to in the fight, but none have lasted more than a day. 

Officials in Nagorno-Karabakh, an autonomous region that is recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is controlled by ethnic Armenians, say they have sustained over 1,000 casualties in the conflict thus far, the AP reports. Azeri authorities haven’t disclosed their number of military casualties, but Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that Moscow’s intelligence revealed a total death toll of nearly 5000, per the AP. This number is far higher than what other reports have shown to this point. 

The Pompeo meetings were an escalation of involvement for the United States, something that has not been welcomed by all parties. Azeri President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly criticized the Minsk Group, which is a body co-chaired by France, the United States, and Russia that seeks to mediate the conflict, and has said that Armenian forces must fully withdraw from the disputed territory for the conflict to end, the AP reports. 

Turkey, who strongly backs Azerbaijan, has also rejected peacemaking efforts by the Minsk group, with the Turkish Parliament Speaker recently calling the group “brain dead.” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian says the problem is that Azerbaijan “wasn’t ready — and still isn’t — for compromises,” the AP reports. For now, the countries are planning to resume talks at a meeting in Geneva on Thursday facilitated by the Minsk Group, according to the AP.