Who is interested in disrupting April truce between Armenia and Azerbaijan?
Armenia and Azerbaijan exchanged intense artillery strikes the third night in a row. The Azerbaijani side is in a particularly vulnerable position, because currently the city of Terter and frontline villages are mainly shelled by the Armenian Grad rocket launchers, 122-mm howitzer D-30 and mortars. At least one local resident was injured during the night shelling of the Afetli village in the Agdam district.
The positions of the Armenian military are on the other side of the frontline and where there is almost no civilian population. The Armenian military, in its turn, argue that Azerbaijan is using the tactic of human shields, which, according to him, justifies strikes on the civilian population.
However, Azerbaijan remembers well the statement of Serzh Sargsyan: "Before Khojali, the Azerbaijanis thought that they were joking with us, they thought that the Armenians were people who could not raise their hand against the civilian population. We were able to break that stereotype". So, some ideas about the humanity of the Armenian side against the civilian population in Azerbaijan was also formed.
It is obvious that the delicate armistice on April 5th was of short-term effect, which, however, perhaps, kept the region from sliding into full-scale war. But now, three weeks later, the situation is tense again to the level of the one that preceded by Azerbaijan's military operation to liberate several strategic heights in order to stop Armenia's attacks on civilians. Then Baku drew a 'red line', after walking which the already familiar 'sniper war' can move to the level of tactical operations, which involve tanks, artillery and combat aircraft. Taking the ongoing attacks on settlements, civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure of the Azerbaijani side into the account, we cannot exclude that history will repeat itself in the near future.
It seems that this is what Yerevan is betting on, since it is extremely interested in compensating for April failures. At the same time, the Armenian side continues to attack the Agdam and Terter sectors of the front, where it has much more favorable positions than Azerbaijanis.
While Armenian President Sargsyan is ruling out a possibility of negotiations without "security guarantees", the Defense Minister Ohanyan is in Moscow trying to speed up the protracted deliveries of Russian weapons to Armenia in the framework of a preferential loan of $200 million.
The head of the Armenian Defense Ministry, as well as the Commander-in-Chief, are currently under intense public and political pressure. President Serzh Sargsyan has recently dismissed the Deputy Defense Minister Alik Mirzabekyan, the Chief of the Intelligence Department of the General Staff Major-General Arshak Karapetyan, and the Head of the Communications and ACS, Komitas Muradyan. This decision indicates Sargsyan's discontent with the outcome of the fighting on April 2-5.
Recall, on the night of April 2 all frontier positions of Azerbaijan were exposed to heavy fire from large-caliber weapons, mortars, grenade launchers and guns. In addition, Azerbaijani settlements near the front line, densely populated by civilians, were shelled.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20% of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the US, are currently holding peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the UN Security Council's four resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.