After Attack From Azerbaijan, Armenia Rattles Sabers
The deaths of two Armenian soldiers on the border with Azerbaijan has led to predictions that Armenia will carry out a "substantial" attack in retaliation.
On June 5, Armenia's defense ministry reported that two of its soldiers had been killed along the border with Nakhcivan, the exclave of Azerbaijan cut off from the rest of Azerbaijan and bordering Turkey, Iran, and Armenia.
"Azerbaijan has shown its true face and prompted us to be prepared for a war," said deputy speaker of parliament Eduard Sharmazanov, according to BBC Monitoring. Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian told a representative from the OSCE that "ongoing escalation in the current operational environment is prone to entail unforeseen consequences for the Azeri side."
And a retired Armenian general, Arkady Ter-Tadevosyan, in an interview with RFERL, said he had "specific information" that Armenia is preparing a "substantial strike" on Azerbaijan in retaliation for the two soldiers' deaths. "If we don't carry out counterattacks soon, the Azerbaijanis will conclude that we're weak. We just need to attack, and the attack needs to be noticeable. I don't only expect, but I know, that such an attack is being prepared."
And there are reports that Armenia has already counterattacked. Again via BBC Monitoring:
On 8 June, opposition Azadliq paper quoted unidentified local social media users as saying that Armenian troops attacked from the direction of Lakataq village in Naxcivan's Culfa District bordering Armenia, adding that the enemy captured "several heights" in the area.
On the same day, opposition Yeni Musavat paper quoted Hakimeldostu Mehdiyev, a correspondent of the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety in Naxcivan, as saying that "serious" fighting occurred in Heydarabad village of Sadarak District bordering Armenia. He added that the situation became stable as of 7 June.
Azerbaijan's defense ministry has denied the reports, saying that "Armenia is interested to spread provocative information and cause confusion within the Azerbaijani society." (One Azerbaijani website didn't get that memo, and reported that Armenia was planning a chemical weapons attack on Azerbaijan.) And for whatever reason there seems to be no reaction from Yerevan. How much of this is misinformation, and how much real?
Joshua Kucera is the Turkey/Caucasus editor at Eurasianet, and author of The Bug Pit.
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