Russia Tells Azerbaijan To Withdraw Troops From Garabagh Village
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Russia Tells Azerbaijan To Withdraw Troops From Garabagh Village

Russia has accused Azerbaijan of violating a Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh and called for the withdrawal of Azerbaijani forces from an area in eastern Karabakh occupied by them this week.

The Azerbaijani army on Thursday reportedly captured Parukh, a village in Karabakh’s Askeran district, before advancing towards strategic hills to the west of it controlled by Karabakh Armenian Defence forces. Fighting in that area continued for the second consecutive day on Saturday despite the presence of Russian peacekeeping troops.

In a statement released on Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that Azerbaijani army units “entered the zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping contingent” in breach of the 2020 truce accord. It also confirmed that they used Turkish-made combat drones to strike Karabakh Armenian positions near Parukh.

“At present, the command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent is taking measures to resolve the situation and return the troops to their original position,” added the statement. “A call for the withdrawal of the troops was sent to the Azerbaijani side.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry said, meanwhile, that it is “extremely concerned” about the rising tensions in Karabakh. It urged the warring sides to “show restraint” and avoid ceasefire violations.

Earlier on Saturday, the Armenian Foreign Ministry urged Moscow to “issue a clear demand” for the Azerbaijani withdrawal. It said Yerevan also expects the Russian peacekeepers to take other “concrete, visible steps to resolve the situation.”

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the situation in Karabakh in phone calls on Thursday and Friday.

The U.S. State Department on Friday expressed serious concern over the Azerbaijani troop movements, calling them “irresponsible and unnecessarily provocative.” Baku rejected the criticism.

Both conflicting sides reported fresh fighting near Parukh on Saturday. Karabakh’s Defense Army said its troops thwarted Azerbaijani attempts to gain more ground outside the village.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry claimed, for its part, that Armenian forces tried to launch a sabotage attack on one of its frontline positions but were pushed back. The Karabakh army denied that.

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