Karabakh – Azerbaijan forces have now gained control over Susha, the second-largest city in Nagorno-Karabakh. This is a turning point in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict. Azerbaijan forces shot down a Russian MI-24 military helicopter with a surface-to-air defense missile. The helicopter was flying over an area in Armenia. Additionally, two Russian military personnel are reported to be killed.
What you need to know today
A portable anti-aircraft missile system (MANPADS), brought down the Russian MI-24 helicopter, the Russian Defense Ministry said. Interestingly, Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry sent Russia an apology note. Azerbaijan calls this military altercation a tragic accidental incident which was not directed against Russia.
The military action raises questions over the Russian response. On one hand, this flight took place in close proximity to the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. On the other hand, the incident occurs at a time when active military clashes are already ongoing in the Nagorno-Karabakh area. Further, this was a dark flight at a low altitude outside the air defense radar detection zone. Russian helicopters were never in this area previously. In light of the tense situation, Russian forces opened fire, aiming to kill.
So, what is Russia really doing here?
The Russian helicopter was escorting a convoy from one of Russia’s military bases, in Gyumri — Armenia’s second-largest city. More importantly, Turkey claims that there is an Azerbaijani exclave located on the border between Armenia, Iran, and Turkey. This is right at the location where the military altercation took place. Russia confirms conducting an in-depth investigation into the attack.
With this attack, Azerbaijani forces now gain control of Shusha, a key strategic vantage point as of Monday afternoon. The capture is seen as a major victory point for Azerbaijan. Again, this plays an important role in deciding the outcome of the war.
Azerbaijanis are celebrating this win by waving flags in the capital city of Baku. On the other hand, immediately after the capture of Susha, violence started in Stepanakert, an Azerbaijan city located north of Susha. Besides, Stepanakert is now witnessing a mass evacuation of its citizens.
Will there be any ceasefire?
Just days ago, possibilities of a ceasefire were discussed. At this time, Azerbaijan is clearly ignoring the possibilities of any peace talks. The ceasefire involves the deployment of peacekeeping troops from Russia and Turkey. Three previous ceasefires failed and now it is yet to be seen how Russia reacts. Clearly, hostilities may break out again. Will this be another bloody battle?
Thumbnail Credits: Armenian Emergencies Ministry/Reuters