U.S.-mediated Ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh Erodes in Minutes

Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of violating the latest ceasefire over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, minutes after it came into effect on Monday, according to the BBC.

The U.S.-brokered ceasefire had been announced in Washington on Sunday. Two other ceasefires agreed earlier this month over the conflict were broken almost immediately.

Fighting erupted on 27 September around the mountainous enclave. The conflict has intensified again in recent days.

The “humanitarian ceasefire” was announced on Sunday in a joint statement released by the U.S., Armenian and Azerbaijani governments. It came into effect at 08:00 local time (04:00 GMT) on Monday.

The announcement followed discussions between U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov. The U.S. state department said agreement was reached following intense negotiations.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday to congratulate those involved.

However, within minutes of the ceasefire coming into effect, Azerbaijan accused Armenian forces of shelling the town of Terter and nearby villages in “gross violation” of the agreement.

Armenia’s defense ministry said Azerbaijani artillery had fired on military positions in various parts of the front line after the ceasefire agreement had begun.

In a post on Facebook, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan insisted his country “continues to strictly adhere to the ceasefire regime”.

Hikmet Hajiyev, a spokesman for the Azerbaijani president, said Armenia was trying to “preserve the status quo based on occupation”, adding: “The Azerbaijani side is exercising restraint.”