Azerbaijan's pro-government media has been signaling potential further military action against the Armenian-controlled part of Nagorno-Karabakh.
And the president in his most recent speech stressed that ending the presence of any Armenian armed groups was a prerequisite for a comprehensive peace deal with Yerevan.
On July 3, the head of Azerbaijani state television AzTV, Rovshan Mammadov, said on his weekly talk show that Baku was within its rights to conduct "an anti-terror operation," in Karabakh and suggested it be titled "Revenge 3".
"International law also allows for it. It's our territory - established by international law," Mammadov said. "But, once again - we don't want a war. We're committed to the peace process. However, we need to see Armenia's recognition of Karabakh as Azerbaijani territory not only verbally - but in a document."
(Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said explicitly in May that Armenia was ready to recognize Azerbaijani sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh in exchange for internationally backed guarantees for the rights and security of the region's Armenian population.)
New Azerbaijan, the official newspaper of the ruling party, published a similar commentary on July 4 under the subhead "[Armenian] provocations lay the groundwork for Revenge 3".
"Such situations [as the wounding of an Azerbaijani soldier] make a possible 'Revenge 3' operation relevant. Armenia's non-fulfillment of its obligations under the tripartite declaration signed in 2020 has created a new situation in the region," it read.
"After the deployment of the Russian peacekeeping contingent to the relevant territories, the Armenian armed forces did not leave the territory of Azerbaijan, as it seems, on the contrary, they are engaged in new provocation-oriented activities."
The proposed title for the possible offensive refers to an operation in August 2022 when Azerbaijan captured additional territory in Nagorno-Karabakh, killing two Armenian soldiers and wounding 19 in the process. The Defense Ministry dubbed it Operation Revenge because it followed the killing of an Azerbaijani soldier.
Another attack just two weeks ago was christened Revenge 2 by pro-government media because it followed an incident where an Azerbaijani soldier was wounded.
President Ilham Aliyev brought up the subject once again in his most recent speech. Addressing a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Baku on July 5, Aliyev said there are still "remnants of Armenian armed forces" in Karabakh.
"If Armenia is really interested in achieving long-awaited peace in the region, then its armed forces must completely leave the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan," he warned. "Armenian military and paramilitary elements on the ground should be disarmed and demobilized."
Armenia pledged to withdraw all its troops from Karabakh by September 2022. The Armenian troops Aliyev was talking about belong to the de facto administration of Nagorno-Karabakh's own armed force, the Artsakh Defense Army.
Prior to Armenia's defeat in the 2020 Second Karabakh War, that force was largely integrated with the army of the Republic of Armenia. Before the war, conscripts from Armenia were sent to serve in and around Nagorno-Karabakh.
Aliyev and other Azerbaijani officials are clearly refusing to make a distinction between Armenian troops and Karabakhi Armenian troops.
Thomas de Waal, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment, believes the Azerbaijani media hype is not a sign of a coming offensive but rather a negotiating tactic.
"I do not think that we should expect a serious escalation from the Azerbaijani side," he told RFE'RL's Armenian service. "As we have seen over the past two years, they have adopted a tactic that can be described as 'coercive diplomacy', that is, the use of both force and diplomacy. This means that we sometimes see escalation, but it does not reach the level of full-scale war as long as negotiations continue."
As tensions rise over a possible escalation and demands to dissolve the local army, Karabakh's de facto president, Arayik Harutyunyan, addressed a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin to be delivered by the Armenian prime minister.
Karabakh's Foreign Minister, Sergey Ghazaryan, later clarified that the letter restated their expectation that the Russian peacekeepers will "fully lift the blockade" of Nagorno-Karabakh that recently came to exclude even patient transfers and supplies of essential items.
Soon afterward, the Kremlin press service reported a phone conversation between Prime Minister Pashinyan and President Putin "at the initiative of the Armenian side," where the leaders discussed the difficult situation around Nagorno-Karabakh.
Russia is overseeing peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan that are not coordinated with parallel negotiations brokered by the EU and the U.S.
The key sticking point in the talks has long been the fate of Karabakh's Armenian population. Yerevan, and the Western mediators, want Baku to hold talks with Karabakh Armenian representatives on their rights and security under prospective Azerbaijani rule.
Early in July, Armenian media reported on a U.S. offer to mediate Karabakh-Azerbaijan talks in a third country. Artur Harutyunyan, the parliamentary leader of Karabakh's ruling party, told RFE/RL that Stepanakert refused because the only issues up for discussion were the "agenda pushed by Azerbaijan," namely the "integration" of Karabakh Armenians into Azerbaijan.
In an interview with Armenian Public TV, while speaking about the possibility of Armenians living in Azerbaijan, the US Ambassador to Armenia said, "We believe and hope it's possible." The statement sparked backlash both in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
In a June 29 government hearing, Arayik Harutyunyan, Karabakh's president, restated that "There's only one topic Baku discusses with us - integration. There's no second topic."
Nagorno-Karabakh has previously agreed to negotiate with Azerbaijan on humanitarian issues, such as ensuring unhindered movement between the region and Armenia and restoring the gas supply in the region, which has been cut since March 22. But for most of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, integration with Azerbaijan is a "red line" they're not willing to cross.
Azerbaijan has continuously insisted on their willingness to negotiate with Nagorno-Karabakh after Karabakh disbands its defense army.
President Harutyunyan additionally remarked during the hearing: "Let me tell you the sequence: we announce that we have disbanded the army, we dissolve the state administration system. They [Azerbaijan] barely create a mechanism for municipal elections, after which they will restore gas and electricity and let us use the road. And clearly, they will allow us to do it only as citizens of Azerbaijan."
Heydar Isayev is a journalist from Baku.
Lilit Shahverdyan is a journalist based in Stepanakert.