Azerbaijan has accused Armenia of trying to “purposefully disrupt the peace process” and endangering regional stability, as tensions grow over Armenian military movements in Karabakh.
An Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry statement on Saturday said its military has taken “appropriate control measures” near the Lachin road to prevent illegal Armenian activities and “potential provocations.”
“The recent provocations by Armenia demonstrate that in order to prevent illegal activities in the sovereign territories of Azerbaijan, it is necessary to establish a border control checkpoint between Azerbaijan and Armenia at the endpoint of the Lachin road,” the ministry said.
It reiterated that Armenia has “intensified” military movements, including the transport of personnel, weapons and other equipment, through Azerbaijani territories where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily deployed.
“In addition, in the last days, the activation of illegal road construction works by Armenians on the Khankendi-Khalfali-Turshsu road and Khankendi-Kosalar-Mirzeler-Turshsu road that passes north of this route was recorded by relevant means of surveillance,” the statement said.
“Despite numerous appeals from the Azerbaijani side and discussions held in this regard, no necessary measures have been taken to prevent the transportation of weapons and other military equipment.”
The ministry also referred to the March 5 killing of two Azerbaijani soldiers, who were shot dead by Armenian forces when they tried to stop vehicles for an inspection on the Khankendi-Khalfali-Turshsu road.
It said the incident “demonstrated Armenia’s intention to deliberately aggravate the situation.”
The Foreign Ministry also called out Armenia’s leaders for their “aggressive rhetoric” over recent days.
“In particular, the repeated statements by the Armenian president, prime minister and foreign minister against Azerbaijan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are vivid examples that this country has not yet given up its territorial claims against Azerbaijan,” read the statement.
“These steps of Armenia have shown its intention to purposefully disrupt the peace process, as well as its lack of interest in ensuring peace and stability in the region, amid the recent revival of international efforts for a peace agreement.”
The ministry urged Armenia to “refrain from provocative actions and statements that aggravate the situation in the region, to interfere in Azerbaijan’s internal affairs, and to fulfil its obligations instead of continuing to try to confuse the international community.”
Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
In the fall of 2020, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages and settlements from Armenian occupation after 44 days of intense fighting that ended with a Russian-brokered peace agreement.