On September 19, the Ministry of Defence of Azerbaijan announced the start of local anti-terrorist measures on the territory controlled by the self-proclaimed Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR).
"In order to disarm and withdraw the units of the Armenian Armed Forces from our territories, neutralise their military infrastructure, ensure the safety of the civilian population, as well as restore the constitutional order of Azerbaijan, local anti-terrorist measures have been launched in the region," the Ministry of Defence of Azerbaijan said in a statement.
The Azerbaijani forces informed the Russian peacekeepers and the Joint Russian-Turkish Centre for Monitoring the Ceasefire about their actions. The Turkish Foreign Ministry supported Azerbaijan's actions.
Prior to the start of the military operation, Azerbaijan accused the Armenian Armed Forces of shelling the positions of the Azerbaijani army in the Aghdam direction.
The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan stressed that civilian objects and the population were not targeted in the strikes. At the same time, residents of Stepanakert in the NKR-controlled part of Nagorno Karabakh reported incidents of shelling on the outskirts of the city.
The Azerbaijani military "use high-precision weapons on the front line and in the depths to destroy the positions of the Armenian Armed Forces, their long-term firing points, as well as combat means and military facilities.”
The Ministry of Defense of Armenia said that there were false messages in Azerbaijani official reports and media about the presence of Armenian military personnel and equipment in Nagorno Karabakh.
Armenian official claimed that Azerbaijan launched an act of large-scale aggression.
"Azerbaijan has unleashed another large-scale aggression against the people of Nagorno Karabakh, seeking to complete the policy of ethnic cleansing (…) Civilian settlements, the city of Stepanakert, other cities and villages are being shelled by Azerbaijan under the empty pretext of the need to destroy military facilities," Armenia's Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
"In order to ensure the evacuation of the population from the danger zone, humanitarian corridors and reception points have been set up on the Lachin road and in other directions,” the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
The department promised to provide necessary medical care, drinking water and food to women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has repeatedly stated that he considers Nagorno Karabakh part of Azerbaijan. He made it clear that he was ready to regulate relations between the two countries on this basis. Russia wanted Nagorno Karabakh to obtain a special status of Karabakh, but Pashinyan thwarted those efforts.
“The point is not only about the results of the last conflict. The Armenian leadership essentially recognised Azerbaijan's sovereignty over Karabakh. They documented it in their Prague statement,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the Eastern Economic Forum.
Putin also explained what claims Azerbaijan has against the Russian Federation.
"Baku now tells us that if we want to do something about Karabakh, then we should resolve all issues with them on a bilateral basis. Well, there’s nothing to say here if Armenia admitted that Karabakh was part of Azerbaijan,” Putin noted.
It is only the people of Nagorno Karabakh who can help their own republic. Armenia has already distanced itself from the new conflict. There are no units of the Armenian regular army in Nagorno Karabakh and the situation on the borders of Armenia remains calm, Armenian officials said.
The West will not respond with sanctions against Azerbaijan if the operation does not go beyond the boundaries of the unrecognised republic.
Azerbaijan's military operations against Nagorno-Karabakh must be stopped immediately, European Council President Charles Michel wrote on social media.
"Devastating news coming from former Nagorno-Karabakh oblast today. Military actions of Azerbaijan must be immediately halted to allow for a genuine dialogue between Baku and Karabakh Armenians," Michel wrote.
Michel's statement means that the West recognises the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. In addition, Azerbaijan helps the EU in the endeavour to replace Russian energy resources. Armenia is like a third wheel here. The Americans conduct military exercises with Armenia, but those war games are being taken against the Russian Federation, not Azerbaijan.
Russian peacekeepers could be drawn into hostilities if Azerbaijan fails to achieve a victorious “blitzkrieg” to capture Stepanakert. Then Russia will have to respond, especially if the peacekeepers get caught in the crossfire.
A 20,000-strong group of PMC Wagner fighters stationed in Belarus disappeared from the field of view of the collective West