Caucasus, combats between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan leaves 130 dead

Both countries refuse to declare a ceasefire, fear grows of a new war in the Caucasus. Azerbaijan says that Armenia suffered 2,300 casualties.

Intense fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces continues and has already caused at least 130 deaths and thousands of injuries, while both sides have rejected a ceasefire despite repeated calls from the international community, concerned by the prospect of a new war in the South Caucasus, which constitutes a strategic energy corridor.

The worst clashes between the two neighbouring nations in recent years, which began on Sunday after an alleged Armenian attack on Azeri positions near the city of Tartar that caused civilian casualties, continued with heavy fighting on Thursday, in which the Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defence claimed that its forces had carried out devastating “artillery strikes against Armenian forces in the occupied territories.”

Azerbaijani government sources say that since Sunday the Armenian forces have suffered at least 2,300 casualties, including deaths and injuries; from Baku, the defence ministry reported that between September 27 and 30, some 200 tanks and armed vehicles, 230 artillery teams, 30 antiaircraft defence systems, 6 observation posts, 5 ammunition depots, 50 anti-tank guns ,110 vehicles, and a battery of Russian S-300 missiles belonging to the Armenian army have been destroyed.

The ministry further noted that an Armenian battalion under the command of the First Army deployed in the Tartar district, near the border village of Tonashen, had to withdraw after suffering severe casualties. It also indicated that the Armenian army used Soviet-made Tochka-U missiles. “Due to the enemy’s poor quality and inappropriate military equipment, three of the missiles fired did not explode,” it said.

In another statement, the defence ministry also reported that the Azerbaijani forces captured the battle flag of an assault battalion of the Armenian army, and that they managed to besiege the Armenian forces in the Aghdara-Tartar region. Another attack against an Armenian battalion heading into the Fuzuli district caused “serious losses to the enemy in terms of manpower and military equipment.”

Two neighbouring Caucasus countries with large differences in population and military

Throughout Wednesday, Armenian forces continued to launch artillery strikes against the Azerbaijani city of Tartar, again causing civilian casualties. In total, the death toll in Azerbaijan has risen to 16 since Sunday, while there are already 55 injured. The fighting is mainly focused on the line of separation established after the bloody war between the two countries in the 1990s over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, occupied by Armenia since then.

Although the economies of the two countries are similar in terms of per capita income, the differences between Armenia and Azerbaijan are significant in both military and population terms. While Azerbaijan has 10.14 million inhabitants, Armenia only has a population of 2.96 million.

Furthermore, although their per capita income is similar, Azerbaijan’s GDP (of 48,000 million dollars) is more than 3 times higher than that of Armenia (13,700 million). Militarily, and although Armenia is one of the most militarised countries in the world in relation to its population, while Azerbaijan’s military spending reaches 1,79 billion dollars annually, that of Armenia is three times less.