Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of war in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, saying a ceasefire no longer exists.
Artsrun Hovhannisyan, spokesperson for Armenia’s defence ministry, accused Azerbaijan of using “all existing armaments: tanks, howitzers, and anti-aircraft artillery” against Armenian troops in the region.
“We must use the word ‘war’ as there is no ceasefire anymore,” Hovhannisyan said, describing the situation at the countries’ shared border.
Azerbaijan responded with counter-accusations, saying Armenia seized land in the region and committed “provocative-sabotage acts” along the front line.
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met last week in Bern to discuss the decades-old conflict.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group said the talks “created an opportunity for the presidents to clarify their respective positions” but has warned the status quo is not sustainable.
The two states are technically still at war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, where fighting in the 1990s killed about 30,000 people. Nagorno-Karabakh is officially part of Azerbaijan but is a de facto independent state.
Conflict in the region has roots in competition between ethnic Armenians and Azaris following the 1917 Russian revolution when Karabakh became the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region. The region, within the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan, was majority-Armenian.
The region’s parliament voted to join Armenia in the 1980s and declared itself an independent republic following the fall of the Soviet Union. The split led to war between Azerbaijani troops and ethnic Armenians, who eventually gained control. A ceasefire signed in 1994 left Karabakh as a buffer zone around an Armenian enclave within the Azeri territory.
Clashes have periodically erupted in the area and the situation has escalated in recent months. Earlier this month Azerbaijani tanks shelled positions in Nagorny-Karabakh for the first time in nearly two decades.
Azerbaijan has repeatedly threatened to take back the region by force. Moscow-backed Armenia, whose entire state budget is dwarfed by oil-rich Azerbaijan’s military spending, has said it could “crush” an offensive.