Azerbaijan planning ‘full-scale war’, Armenia warns


YEREVAN, Armenia: Azerbaijan is planning a “full-scale war” against Armenia, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan warned Thursday, two days after a skirmish on their border left four Armenian troops dead.

Tensions between the two Caucasus neighbours have remained high since Baku re-captured the Armenian-populated region of Nagorno-Karabakh last September in a lightning military offensive.

“Our analysis shows that Azerbaijan wants to launch military action in some parts of the border with the prospect of turning military escalation into a full-scale war against Armenia,” Pashinyan said at a government meeting.

“This intention can be read in all statements and actions of Azerbaijan,” he added.

Yerevan is concerned that Azerbaijan, emboldened by its success in Karabakh, could invade Armenian territory in order to create a land bridge to its exclave of Nakhchivan.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who won re-election this month, said in an inauguration speech Wednesday it was Armenia, not Azerbaijan, that had outstanding territorial claims.

“We have no territorial claims to Armenia. And they should give up their claims. Talking to us in the language of blackmail will cost them dearly,” he said.

Pashinyan and Aliyev previously said a peace agreement could have been signed by the end of last year, but internationally mediated peace talks have failed to yield a breakthrough.

On Tuesday, both sides accused each other of opening fire on their volatile border, in a skirmish Armenia said left four of its soldiers dead.

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