Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev said Sunday there was no reason for Russia to intervene in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh because Baku is not threatening Armenian territory.
Fighting has been raging over Karabakh — an ethnic Armenian region of Azerbaijan — for more than a month and on Saturday Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan asked Moscow for ‘urgent consultations’ on how Russia could come to its aid under a defence treaty.
Hosting Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Baku, Aliyev said Pashinyan’s request was an ‘admission of defeat’ and that the treaty did not apply because Karabakh is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan.
‘Azerbaijan is conducting military operations on its territory and has no military plans for the territory of Armenia,’ Aliyev’s office quoted him as saying.
Hundreds of people have been killed since new fighting erupted on September 27 over Karabakh, which broke from Azerbaijan’s control during a war in the 1990s.
International attempts to secure a ceasefire have repeatedly failed.
Aliyev said his country would agree to a truce only if Armenian separatists stopped trying to win back territory recently retaken by Azerbaijani forces.
‘This is the main reason for continued fighting,’ he said.
Cavusoglu re-asserted Ankara’s support for Azerbaijan and said Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan had told him it was ‘unacceptable’ to leave Azerbaijan without assistance.
Fighting continued overnight and Sunday morning, the warring sides said.
The Karabakh separatist leadership accused Azerbaijan of striking civilian settlements including the strategic town of Shusha.
‘In the morning the enemy forces renewed offensive operations,’ the Karabakh army said.
The Azerbaijani defence ministry accused Armenian forces of targeting its army and civilian settlements on Saturday and overnight.
More than 1,200 people from both sides have been reported killed in the fighting but the death toll is believed to be substantially higher.
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