Russia announced on Saturday its willingness to provide “necessary” assistance to Yerevan in its conflict with Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh if tension reached Armenia’s territory.
“Russia will render Yerevan all necessary assistance if clashes take place directly on the territory of Armenia,” the foreign ministry in Moscow issued in a statement on Saturday, October 31st, asking the opposing sides to immediately halt fire.
This comes after Armenia’s prime minister Nikol Pashinyan has requested urgent talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin over security assistance, marking the first time that Armenia calls for help from Russia under the terms of a 1997 mutual defense and security assistance pact between the two countries.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have now been at war for a month, ever since tension rose to its boiling point on September 27th. Casualties have already caused more than 5,000 innocent civilians.
The rising conflict between the two countries has also opened doors for a wider regional disaster, given Russia’s defense agreement with Armenia and Azerbaijan’s strong backing from Turkey.
Nagorno-Karabakh is seen as part of Azerbaijan, however, the ethnic Armenians, who make up most of the population, have refused the Azerbaijani rule and have been taking control of their own affairs ever since a war there ended in 1994.
The two countries have agreed that they “will not deliberately target civilian populations or non-military objects in accordance with international humanitarian law.”
However, shortly after the mutual agreement was announced by the Minsk Group co-chairs, Nagorno-Karabakh authorities called out the Azerbaijani forces for firing rockets at a street market and a residential building in the separatist region’s capital, Stepanakert.
They said that neighboring areas in the town of Shushi also were affected by the Azerbaijani shelling.
Worth noting that Russia has a military base in Armenia. The mutual assistance pact covers attacks on Armenia’s sovereign territory but does not include Nagorno-Karabakh or the other occupied regions of Azerbaijan.