Beginning on November 10, 2021, Azerbaijan undertook what appears to be a broader strategy of positioning itself for a military operation across Armenia’s southern region. The establishment of customs checkpoints on the Goris-Kapan highway were quickly followed by surgical incursions and attempts at enhancing their positions within Armenia-proper by November 14. In the backdrop of what appeared to have been progress in diplomatic negotiations, the rapid shift to internecine violence culminated in Azerbaijan’s multi-pronged assault upon Armenian positions on November 16. The scope and depth of the Azerbaijani operations remain much more expansive and are not limited to the border areas. Yesterday, on November 15, 2021, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev tweeted the following: “The opening of the Zangezur corridor will create new opportunities for the entire region. The Zangezur corridor is a project capable of connecting the Turkic world, Europe, and our neighbors and today active work is underway to realize this project.”
November 17, 2021
2:23 a.m.: Statement by Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly: “Canada is deeply concerned by the recent Armenia-Azerbaijan border clash, which resulted in the deaths of Armenian troops. Our thoughts are with the victims’ families, loved ones and the community. We call for de-escalation so that a peaceful solution to the conflict may be found.”
10 a.m.: According to Armenia’s Defense Ministry, as of 10 a.m. November 17, the situation on the eastern border of Armenia is relatively stable. The Ministry did not report about any other casualties except the one death from yesterday, Nov. 16. There are 13 captured servicemen and “connection was lost during combat operations” with another 24 servicemen. Their fate is currently unknown.
The Defense Ministry claims that the Azerbaijani side has up to 70 killed and wounded servicemen, as well as significant losses of military equipment, including armored vehicles. According to Sputnik Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense reported that they have seven casualties and 10 wounded.
Negotiations are underway with the mediation of the Russian side to resolve the situation and return the captured Armenian servicemen.
As more information becomes available, the Defense Ministry will provide further updates.
10:50 a.m.: Statement of the spokesperson of Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
Regarding Armenia’s appeal to Russia: Armenia is in direct and multilevel contact with its ally Russia. As already reported, Nikol Pashinyan held a phone conversation with Vladimir Putin and presented the situation. The leaders of the two countries have discussed possible joint action deriving from bilateral agreements.
Regarding the appeal to the UN Security Council: Armenia’s MFA has already informed the president of the UN Security Council about the situation on the border. The application of international law and all tools of diplomatic practice are being considered to protect Armenia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Armenia’s Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan Meets Representatives of Diplomatic Missions
1:45 p.m: Foreign Affairs Minister Ararat Mirzoyan invited representatives of foreign diplomatic missions to an emergency meeting. He briefed them on the details of the recent Azerbaijani attack and incursion into Armenia’s territory.
Mirzoyan said that this recent aggression was preceded by Azerbaijani state sponsored anti-Armenian rhetoric, threats to use force, violations of Armenia’s sovereign territory and announcements of securing a corridor by force.
The Foreign Minister also noted that Azerbaijan’s recent actions are the result of the lack of proper condemnation by Armenia’s partners and the international community with regard to Azerbaijan’s aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh in September of last year and its aggressive behavior in the following months. Mirzoyan noted that the false equivalency in the statements of the international community has provided Azerbaijan with the incentive to continue its provocative behavior. Mirzoyan noted that Armenia expects its partner states to immediately respond to Azerbaijani aggression, using any leverage they have over Azerbaijan to urge them to stop provocative actions and violations of Armenia’s territory.
Mirzoyan also stated that according to the UN charter, as well as bilateral and multilateral agreements, Armenia has the right to defend its territory and sovereignty and moving forward, the responsibility of any further escalation of the situation falls on Azerbaijan.
In conclusion, Mirzoyan announced that by attacking Armenia, Azerbaijan is trying to divert the international community’s attention from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, however, Armenia is committed to protecting its territorial integrity as well as the right to self-determination of the Armenians of Artsakh.
Dmitry Peskov: Russia Will Continue to Mediate
According to the Russian Ria Novosti, Russian president spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Russia will continue to mediate the settlement of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan; however, it will be possible to stabilize the situation only through the implementation of the November 9, 2020 trilateral statement. According to Peskov, the only guarantee to avoid the repetition of an escalation on the ground would be the compliance of all signatories with their obligations. Peskov also said that a meeting of the leadership of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia will be necessary but the consent of all three sides is needed for the meeting to take place.
3:15 p.m.: Statement by the EU Spokesperson on the Violence on the Border
The EU is deeply concerned over the recent violence along the Armenia-Azerbaijani border, which has regrettably led to loss of life.
The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, discussed the evolving situation with the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, over the phone and called for urgent de-escalation and full respect of the ceasefire.
The EU urges Armenia and Azerbaijan to exercise utmost restraint, disengage their military forces on the ground and respect the commitments undertaken in the framework of the two trilateral agreements. We call on both sides to resume negotiations to work towards a comprehensive settlement of outstanding issues, including border demarcation.
The EU supports the statement of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs of 15 November. The EU reiterates its commitment to work with Armenia and Azerbaijan to help overcome tensions and contribute to building a South Caucasus that is secure, stable, prosperous and at peace for the benefit of all people living in this region.
3:55 p.m.: Joint Statement by the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with the South Caucasus and the Standing Rapporteur on Armenia and Standing Rapporteur on Azerbaijan
The following is the joint statement by the Chair of the Delegation for relations with the South Caucasus, MEP Marina Kaljurand, the European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Armenia, MEP Andrey Kovatchev, and the European Parliament’s Standing Rapporteur on Azerbaijan, MEP Željana Zovko, on the escalation on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict:
We are seriously concerned by yesterday’s heavy fighting, which followed the recent increase in tension on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The military operation launched by Azerbaijan in response to alleged provocations amounts to the worst violation to-date of last year’s 9 November ceasefire agreement, leaving an as yet unconfirmed number of killed, wounded and captured soldiers.
We urge the rapid de-escalation of the situation and welcome the engagement of European Council President and the reported Russian-mediated ceasefire. We reiterate that any possible disagreements about the border must be addressed through negotiations in a border delimitation and demarcation process, not through the use of force and unilateral actions. We condemn any attempts at “borderisation”, as observed since the incursion of Azerbaijani troops into Armenian territory on 12 May.
We support and call for the opening of economic and transport connections as foreseen in the 9 November ceasefire agreement, which would be highly beneficial for the entire region. This includes the connection between the western regions of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. To succeed, the parties should follow the text of the agreement and avoid a too extensive interpretation. Moreover, we are concerned by reports of hindered traffic on roads that connect Armenian towns and villages through Azerbaijani territory and believe that such behavior contradicts the spirit of this agreement and unduly hampers the lives of local citizens.
We also regret that despite numerous calls from the international community, including the European Parliament resolution of 20 May 2021, many Armenian detainees held in connection with the conflict have yet to be released, and we renew our appeal to the Azerbaijani authorities on this issue. We also reiterate our call to exchange all up-to-date maps of minefields to permit civilians to return to former conflict regions.
Once again, we recall the EU’s commitment to support confidence-building measures and to address any issues at the negotiating table, in particular through the resumption of negotiations on a lasting conflict settlement and the future status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region in the process led by Minsk Group Co-Chairs.
November 16, 2021
At approximately 1 p.m. on Tuesday, November 16, 2021, Azerbaijani Armed Forces began shelling Armenian military positions on “the eastern portion of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border” using artillery, armored vehicles and different caliber firearms.
According to Armenia’s Defense Ministry, the situation remained tense as local battles continued to take place along Armenia’s eastern border. The Ministry noted that Armenian forces were exercising operational control.
At approximately 3 p.m., a number of pro-government media outlets began reporting that the Armenian side had suffered 10 casualties, six wounded and six captured soldiers, and that Azerbaijani forces had been able to capture two Armenian positions. Armenia’s Defense Ministry, however, confirmed only four wounded and stated that they are clarifying information about casualties.
3:45 p.m.: Ann Linde, Swedish Foreign Minister and Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE tweeted that she shares the “deep concern of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs regarding reported incidents in the region, including those along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.” Linde added that she expresses her “full support for their efforts and call[s] on the sides to de-escalate immediately and take steps to resolve outstanding issues.”
Eduard Aghajanyan, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Relations, announced that Armenia had lost a number of positions during a parliament session. This was later confirmed by the Defense Ministry, which also said that there were Armenian casualties and that the details were being verified.
4 p.m.: During the same parliament session, Maria Karapetyan, an MP from the Civil Contract faction, addressed Armenia’s parliament in English: “We suggest that both the armed forces of Armenia and Azerbaijan distance themselves from the state border from Armenia and Azerbaijan, allowing space for the process of demarcation to begin.” She said that Armenia stands ready to follow this path and the OSCE’s statements on the “relocation of troops, de-escalating the situation, and beginning to delimitate and demarcate the border peacefully.” She added that Armenia still needs the support of the international community, proper pressure to bring Azerbaijan to an agreement on the relocation of its troops and engagement in a peaceful process for the demarcation of the state border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
4 p.m.: Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement that the actions of Azerbaijan violate the November 9, 2020 trilateral statement, as the Azerbaijani side has launched an attack against the Republic of Armenia from territories that came under their control as a result of the implementation of that statement.
The Foreign Ministry said that, consequently, according to the UN Charter, the Republic of Armenia has the right to respond to the use of force against its territorial integrity and sovereignty by all means. The MFA also called on the international community and Armenia’s international partners—Russia, the CSTO, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs—to respond to actions of the Azerbaijani side, which seriously endanger security in the region, and to take active steps toward preventing further escalation and toward the complete and unconditional withdrawal of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces from the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia.
4:20 p.m.: In an interview to Armenia’s Public TV, Secretary of the Security Council Armen Grigoryan said that Armenia has already called on Russia to fulfill its obligations undertaken as part of the 1997 agreement between the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation. Grigoryan was referencing the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, according to which Armenia and Russia take on allied obligations to take specific actions in the event of a threat of an armed attack or an act of aggression against each other’s territory. Grigoryan said that, since the attack was on Armenia’s sovereign territory, “we call on Russia to protect Armenia’s territorial integrity,” adding that a verbal request has been made and the written protocol will follow. Grigoryan said that Russia’s efforts to restore Armenia’s territorial integrity can be through negotiations and, if negotiations do not yield results, then Russia should send sufficient military assistance for Armenia to be able to resolve the situation on the ground.
Grigoryan said that Armenia will also apply to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), even though the organization did not respond promptly in the past. However, since Armenia currently holds the rotating CSTO presidency, the Armenian delegation will do everything in its power to activate the existing toolkit foreseen in case of an aggression against a member state.
Grigoryan also said that, if Armenia’s current security partners prove to be ineffective in resolving the crisis, Armenia will be obliged to apply to other international security structures.
4:30 p.m.: Hayk Mamijanyan , an MP from the I’m Honored parliamentary faction, said that he presented the situation at a virtual sitting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and demanded that the mandate of the Azerbaijani delegation to the Assembly be suspended.
4:30 p.m.: Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan tweeted that the Azerbaijani military has been carrying out “unlawful actions, including terroristic acts” against Armenia since November 14, and large-scale attacks near a number of villages in the Syunik region on November 16. He noted that these actions are illegal and are being carried out with new threats of war and as part of a genocidal policy, violating the rights of border residents.
5:12 p.m.: Arman Tatoyan, Armenia’s Human Rights Defender tweeted: “Today’s Azerbaijani attacks are being carried out in the immediate vicinity of some Armenian civilian communities. The Ombudsman’s Office has received information from Noravan village, Sisian community that civilians hear all the shootings. This is a real danger to the lives and health of people.”
5:30 p.m.: According to the Russian TASS News Agency, Armenian Ambassador to Moscow Vardan Toganyan said that Russia and Armenia are holding consultations through military and diplomatic channels in connection with the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
5:50 p.m.: In an interview with Azatutyun TV, Eduard Aghajanyan, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Relations, said that the Armenian side has 15 confirmed deaths and seven POWs.
6 p.m.: According to Armenia’s Defense Ministry, 12 Armenian servicemen have been captured by Azerbaijani forces (seven are contract soldiers; five are conscripts). The Ministry statement also said that the Azerbaijani side “has a large number of personnel losses, about a dozen units of armored vehicles have been destroyed or taken out of service.” The statement also read that as of 5 p.m., the situation in the eastern border zone of the Republic of Armenia, continues to be extremely tense. “The intensity of the battles has not decreased. Azerbaijani forces continue to use artillery, armored vehicles and firearms of different calibers.”
6:10 p.m.: Charles Michel, President of the European Council, tweeted that he has held discussions with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan in light of today’s developments. Michel called for an urgent de-escalation and a full ceasefire, and wrote that the “EU is committed to work with partners to overcome tensions for a prosperous and stable South Caucasus.”
Armenian Telecom Companies Warn Their Subscribers
Three of the largest telecommunication providers in Armenia, Viva-MTS, Ucom, and Beeline Armenia, disseminated similar communications to their subscribers to ignore calls and messages from suspicious numbers, refrain from spreading suspicious publications and unverified news in order not to cause unnecessary panic and to only follow official news.
The communication came after Azerbaijani Telegram channels put out calls to start a telephone terror campaign against Armenia by writing messages in Russian to Armenians, urging them to immediately evacuate from their homes in the border cities and villages of Armenia.
Armenia’s Security Council Secretary Meets With Ambassadors
Armenia’s Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan held meetings with the ambassadors of the United States, Iran and France.
During his meeting with French Ambassador Anne Louyot, Grigoryan discussed the situation arising from the Azerbaijani attack and incursion into the Republic of Armenia. He also discussed the return of Armenian POWs and detainees. The security chief also underscored that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has not been resolved. In this context, he noted the important role of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs in helping to find a peaceful and comprehensive solution.
During his meeting with Iranian Ambassador Abbas Badakhshan Zohouri, Grigoryan presented the military/operational situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. The two spoke about regional security and peace, and opening of transportation links.
Grigoryan also met with U.S. Ambassador Lynne Tracey, noting that Azerbaijan’s offensive is an attack against Armenia’s democracy. Grigoryan reaffirmed Armenia’s position that the two armies must withdraw simultaneously to positions prior to the May 2021 Azerbaijani incursions. Grigoryan also said that Armenia is ready to begin the delimitation and demarcation process, which he said is not related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Deputy Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General About the Situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Border
The attack by Azerbaijan against Armenia was not covered in the United Nations Daily Briefing, delivered by Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for the Secretary-General. However, in response to a question on the matter, Haq replied:
“We’re just getting some of the information on this, so we may have more to say later. But clearly, we’re following, concerned by the reports of this latest violence, and we’ll need to verify those reports. At this point, we urge all sides to… we urge the sides to exercise constraint, to act in accordance with the 9th of November and 11th of January trilateral statements and address any related concerns peacefully through dialogue. We want to avoid any return to the sort of escalation we had earlier.”
7:15 p.m.: Armenia’s Defense Minister Suren Papikyan, who previously served as Deputy Prime Minister and was appointed to the position yesterday, held a phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu. During the conversation, Papikyan described the situation in the eastern part of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border zone after the Azerbaijani Armed Forces launched an offensive on November 16. The Defense Minister emphasized that the invasion of Azerbaijani troops into the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia is a violation of the provisions of the November 9, 2020 trilateral statement and endangers the whole negotiation process. Shoigu expressed his willingness to stop the hostilities, return POWs and resolve the situation.
Pashinyan Has Telephone Conversation With Putin
8:05 p.m.: According to the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan held a telephone conversation, which was initiated by the Armenian side. According to the communication, the sides discussed the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and agreed to keep lines of communication open.
Pashinyan Addresses Emergency Security Council Meeting
8:30 p.m.: There is only one way to describe what is happening: This is a direct aggression on the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia. As a result of the aggression that started on May 12 of this year, Azerbaijan has occupied about 41 square kilometers of Armenia’s sovereign territory. And Azerbaijan continues its aggression under the silence of our international partners. My evaluation is definitive: Azerbaijan and the forces that encourage it are targeting our sovereignty, our statehood, our independence. Today was a heavy day and we are living through difficult times. However, today, we also showed that we are here, we exist, we are a state, we are a nation state and the language of coercion is unacceptable for us. We can negotiate, we can look for and find mutually acceptable solutions, we behave as a responsible member of the international community but we will not be talked to in the language of arrogance. I call on the international community to adopt statements condemning Azerbaijani aggression. Talks about border disputes are absurd and pointless. There is no border dispute, there is aggression against the sovereign territory of Armenia. The borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan have been clarified through legally binding agreements reached during the Soviet times. And if this really was a border dispute then Azerbaijan should have accepted our offer to withdraw forces along the border simultaneously, deploy observers along the border and begin the process of demarcation and delimitation a while back. An Azerbaijan that will not accept this offer is an aggressor state and should unequivocally remove its forces from the sovereign territory of Armenia. Azerbaijan’s hopes of imposing its will on Armenia are in vain. The government and the people of the Republic of Armenia are resolute and we will protect our sovereignty, territorial integrity, statehood and independence through all means possible. At the same time, we continue to emphasize the need for a peaceful resolution to the situation at hand and all offers made by us in the past are still in force. We remain true to the provisions of the November 9 and January 11 trilateral statements.
Coming back to the border situation, I should say that the situation on the border at this moment is relatively calm however, the overall situation continues to remain extremely tense.
Russia Mediates Ceasefire
9:45 p.m.: Armenia’s Defense Ministry statement: According to an agreement reached through the mediation of the Russian side, the fire in the eastern border zone of the Republic of Armenia has been stopped as of 6:30 p.m. and the situation has relatively stabilized. As a reminder, on November 16, at around 1 p.m., units of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces attacked Armenian positions located in that direction of the border. They used artillery, armored vehicles and firearms of various calibers.
As a result of the retaliatory actions of the Armenian side, the Azerbaijani side suffered large personnel losses. Several units of military equipment have been destroyed or taken out of service. The Armenian side also has losses. At the moment, there is verified data about one casualty, contract soldier Meruzhan Harutyunyan (b. 1991). The number of wounded are being verified. Another 12 servicemen have been taken hostage. As more information becomes available, the Defense Ministry will provide further updates.
Statement by U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken
The United States is deeply concerned about reports of intensive fighting today between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We urge both sides to take immediate concrete steps to reduce tensions and avoid further escalation. We also call on the sides to engage directly and constructively to resolve all outstanding issues, including border demarcation.
As noted in the Minsk Group Co-Chairs’ statement on November 15, the recent increase in tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan underscores the need for a negotiated, comprehensive, and sustainable settlement of all remaining issues related to or resulting from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Permanent Representative of Armenia to UN Delivers Statement at Security Council Open Debate
On November 16, the Permanent Representative of Armenia to the United Nations Mher Margaryan delivered a statement at the United Nations Security Council open debate on “Peace and security through preventive diplomacy”.
In his statement, Margaryan drew the attention of the Security Council to the armed attacks by Azerbaijan against the territorial integrity of Armenia in recent days in breach of the UN Charter, international law and the provisions of the Trilateral Statement of November 9, 2020. He stressed that the aggressive actions of Azerbaijan are detrimental to the efforts of the international community to de-escalate the situation and are severely undermining the prospects of peace in the region.
The Permanent Representative of Armenia underlined the need for urgent and effective steps by the international actors aimed at prevention of the further escalation and ensuring unconditional and complete withdrawal of the Azerbaijani armed forces from the territory of Armenia.
The UN Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly, the President of the ECOSOC, and the President of the International Court of Justice made presentations during the meeting presided by Mexico.
French Foreign Ministry Statement
A statement by the French Foreign Ministry said that France expressed deep concern about the deteriorating security situation in some parts of the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the alleged use of heavy weapons, which has resulted in many casualties, especially on the Armenian side. France calls on the parties to adhere to the ceasefire regime provisioned by the November 9, 2020 trilateral statement. The statement also said that the delimitation and demarcation of the border should be carried out through negotiations, far from any fait accompli on the ground. “We remind you of our full readiness to contribute to this process,” the French Foreign Ministry statement concluded.
Iran Calls on Armenia and Azerbaijan to Observe Self-restraint
Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh expressed concerns about the military operations on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and called on both countries to observe self-restraint.
Expressing concern about the military clashes, Khatibzadeh emphasized the need for each country to respect internationally recognized borders. He urged the two sides to resolve their disputes through negotiations and other peaceful means.
Khatibzadeh announced Iran’s readiness to assist both sides in resolving disputes stating that prevailing tensions are harmful for the peace process and regional development.
Statement by Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić
I am concerned about reports of on-going incidents between Armenia and Azerbaijan that have already cost human lives. News of a ceasefire is welcome and I call on both sides to maintain it.
When joining our organization more than twenty years ago, both Armenia and Azerbaijan committed themselves to solving conflict by peaceful means. This commitment remains unchanged and must be strictly respected.
The Council of Europe reiterates its full support to the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in their continuing efforts to help Armenia and Azerbaijan find a peaceful solution to their differences.
We stand ready to facilitate dialogue between these two member states, with a view to building confidence and promoting reconciliation.
Azerbaijani Passenger Plane Flies to Syria
Hetq, the investigative media outlet reported that since November 14, AZAL airlines, the flagship carrier and largest airline in Azerbaijan, has actively been using Armenia’s air space for its Baku-Nakhichevan-Baku flight, three times a day. However, Hetq’s, tracking of AZAL’s “Airbus A320” passenger plane (through flightradar24.com) showed that before returning to Baku on November 16, the plane made another flight to Syria and returned to Nakhichevan.