Second Press Briefing From Crisis Information Center in Tavush
During a live press conference at 9:30 p.m. from the Crisis Information Center in Ijevan, Tavush, Arstrun Hovhannisyan said:
- The situation in the northeastern part of the Armenia-Azerbaijani state border has been stable since midnight of July 14.
- Since July 12, Armenia’s Air Defense Units shot down 13 drones (10 were combat drones and three were reconnaissance drones)
- According to estimated calculations, more than 50 mortars were shot in five to six civilian settlements.
- Although the ceasefire regime is being maintained, Armenia’s Armed Forces are on high alert, they are closely following the developments on the Azerbaijani side and are ready to respond to any provocations on land as well as in air.
Armenia’s Human Rights Defender/Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan:
- From July 12, when active shelling began in the Tavush region, we began receiving many calls from civilians.
- That day, there was real danger to human and material losses in particular in the village of Movses.
- We immediately contacted the Defense Minister to understand the situation and then began preparing reports to deliver to our international partners and bodies to alert them of the situation.
- We are here today in the Tavush region not only because it is our mandate to protect the rights, lives and wellbeing of civilians, but also of the soldiers of Armenia’s Armed Forces.
- On July 13-14, other civilian settlements came under Azerbaijani fire, including Berd, Chinari, Aygepar and other villages.
- It was imperative that we come immediately to the region to undertake a fact-finding mission; this mission is exclusively aimed at exposing threats that directly affect the life and health of civilian populations.
- We met with the Governor of Tavush region, after which the fact-finding mission visited the village of Berd, where Tavush Textile and a branch of the Yerevan Brandy Factory were shelled by Azerbaijani forces.
- Considering the fact that Tavush Textile produces face masks used in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the shelling of this factory, therefore, was a clear violation of international humanitarian law.
- Before the shelling, the Azerbaijani side used UAVs, which allows us to think that they are targeting a non-military facility. The shelling took place during daytime, which is another indication that they intentionally shelled the factory knowing that there would be employees.
- Most of the damage to the civilian population was observed in the village of Aygepar, where eleven houses came under shelling by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces and the artillery that was used can cause harm to the human health.
- Because of the shelling, one house in the village of Nerkin Karmiraghbyur, was destroyed, which was another indicator that the artillery shells used were particularly dangerous ones and the Ombudsman’s Office will further investigate the permissibility of those shells.
- The evidence in some of the villages shows that the shelling was intentionally done to inflict harm to the civilian populations and their property. Military objects are not located close to those settlements (which was the case in Azerbaijan), so it cannot be used as a justification for selling the border villages.
- The Ombudsman’s Office will prepare a report based on the evidence gathered during the fact-finding mission and send it to relevant international bodies.
- Considering the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Secretary General of the United Nations has called for a global ceasefire, since it distracts the attention of countries from the primary challenge that they are faced with and results in greater tensions. The intentional targeting of the civilian population by the Azerbaijani side is a gross violation of this call.
- The Ombudsman’s Office will continue monitoring the situation and maintaining close contact with the representatives of local self-government bodies. I will do everything in my power to protect the rights of the civilian population and soldiers as well as show the international community what happened on the border, based on factual evidence.
While answering online questions, Hovhannisyan said that since tensions escalated on the Armenia-Azerbaijani state border, Armenia’s Foreign Minister and Defense Minister were in direct contact with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.
Situation Remains Calm
Early this morning, Shushan Stepanyan, the spokesperson of the Defense Ministry said that as of midnight last night, the situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan state border has been relatively calm. She said that at around 10-11 p.m. on July 14, the Armenian Armed Forces shot down two Azerbaijani unmanned aerial combat vehicles
Fallen Soldiers Posthumously Awarded Medals
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan posthumously awarded medals to the four Armenian servicemen who lost their lives during military operations instigated by Azerbaijani military on the Armenia-Azerbaijan international border. “I just signed the motion to grant Major Garush Hambardzumyan the second order of honor medal for his ‘Service to the Country,’ Captain Sos Elbakyan with the medal of bravery and junior sergeants Smbat Gabrielyan and Grisha Matevosyan with the medal of military service. Martyred brothers, I bow in front of you and your families. We should live up to you and your bravery. And we will! Long live the victorious Armenian army!”
Live Briefing From Crisis Information Center in Tavush
During a briefing from the Crisis Information Center in Ijevan, Tavush at 11 a.m., Artsrun Hovhannisyan said that there has been a relative de-escalation of tension on the frontline starting at 6 p.m. on July 14. From midnight, there was an almost complete cessation of fire, no large caliber artillery was used. However, in the evening of July 14, the Armenian Armed Forces shot down two unmanned aerial combat vehicles (which are difficult to identify if they were investigative or combat since they have fallen in the neutral zone). The relative calm has been sustained throughout the morning. The situation in Artsakh is also reported to be calm, with no unusual movements. Hovhannisyan said as of yesterday night, the Azerbaijani side had announced 12 casualties (previously reported 11).
Azatutyun, Sarkis Harutunyan: Is there an agreement with the Azerbaijani side regarding a ceasefire/truce? Also, could you provide details regarding the UAV that was destroyed by the Armenian military and which according to the Minister of High Technologies was worth over $30 million?
Artsrun Hovhannisyan: At the moment, I do not have information about an agreement for a ceasefire/truce, but information will be provided in case of such developments. I can confirm that the Armenian military destroyed a Hermes 900 yesterday, which is a very expensive and advanced Israeli-made UAV.
Ani Vartanyan, Aysor.am: Is there currently a need to mobilize volunteer groups and other forces?
Artsrun Hovhannisyan: As you can see, the Armenian Armed Forces are more than ready and capable of brilliantly responding to the task at hand. At the moment the scope and the intensity of the conflict is not such that the Armenian Forces need to call for auxiliary reinforcement including calling in the reserve or volunteer forces. We are more than sure that the volunteer forces are ready, they have always been, whenever the need has arised but at the movement, their sons, even grandsons are taking care of the situation brilliantly.
24 News.am, Sevak Vardumyan: Although official statements mention what types of weapons the Azerbaijani side is using, can you summarize what has been used so far? How many UAVs did the Armenian military shoot down?
Artsrun Hovhannisyan: The Azerbaijani Armed Forces including the border guard service which is located near the border with Tavush employed almost their entire arsenal against the Armenian military, only with a few exceptions. Some of the weapons used include rifles, machine guns, minesweepers, grenade launchers, tanks, combat drones and artillery. But sometimes it is difficult to immediately identify the calibre of the specific weapons used, that is why I would refrain from mentioning specific types of weapons. It is the first time that the Azerbaijnai Armed Forces used skystriker UAV (previously other types of combat UAVs were used), which most probably Azerbaijan acquired recently or which belongs to the border guard service. The Armenian military shot down about ten Azerbaijani UAVs, including small intelligence gathering UAVs, combat UAVs, as well as the Hermes 900.
Public Radio, Karen Ghazaryan: You have announced on your Facebook page about Armenian-produced unmanned aerial combat vehicles (UACV), can you elaborate on the possibilities they have granted?
Artsrun Hovhannisyan: This is one of those subjects that I would rather not talk freely about, especially at a time like this. We had been working on unmanned aerial combat vehicles for years. I can say that the work on creating investigative UAVs has been completed and the page turned. We are now in the process of turning the page on UACV-s and will perfect them in the near future.
Tavush News, Lia Javaryan: Do you have updated information about the health of the wounded?
Artsrun Hovhannisyan: Since July 12, we have had about 20 wounded, including two police officers on border patrol. Half of the injuries were so minor that the soldiers were back on duty within hours. At the moment, we have ten injured in hospitals, five with light flash injuries and four in medium or slightly complicated health, one is in extremely critical condition.
Assistance to Two Police Officers Wounded While on Duty
Tigran Yesayan, the Deputy Chief of Police, said during a press briefing that the two police officers who sustained minor injuries from Azerbaijani fire while on duty at the Tavush border, are in stable condition. He also said that the Police Chief is closely following their recovery and that financial/material assistance will be provided to them.
Su-30SM Fighter Jets on Permanent Duty to Protect Armenia’s Air Space
At 3 p.m. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan posted a video of Su-30SM multirole fighter aircrafts taking off, and wrote that the jets are off to surveillance duty, making sure Armenia’s air space is inviolabile. In a similar post (at 4:20 p.m.) Spokesperson of the Defense Ministry Shushan Stepanyan said the Su-30SM fighter jets will from now on be on permanent duty.
Ceasefire is Holding Says Defense Ministry Spokesperson
At 4 p.m Defense Ministry Spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan said that currently, the ceasefire is being maintained on the border. No incidents or targeted shootings have been reported. The situation along the entire border is under the full control of Armenia’s Armed Forces’ subdivisions, she wrote urging that the population not pay attention to “Azerbaijani propagandistic publications that are regularly spreading misinformation about Armenia’s Armed Forces.”
NSS Calls On People to Not Spread Unverified Information
The National Security Service (NSS) issued a statement calling on the public and media outlets to refrain from using Azerbaijani sources and to not give in to provocations and panic. Considering the situation provoked by the Azerbaijani side on the Armenia-Azerbaijani state border, the NSS also urged citizens to not disseminate unverified information posted by fake social media users on any media platforms.
Injured Soldiers and Families of Fallen Soldiers to Receive Compensation
The Soldiers Insurance Fund will compensate the families of those servicemen who were killed and those who sustained injuries resulting in a disability during the defense of Armenia in the previous days in the following amounts:
– Families of officers who were killed or those who sustained a first-degree disability: 82 million AMD (about $170,000), of which 10 million AMD (about $20,000) in a lump sum, and the rest to be paid in equal monthly installments for 20 years.
– Families of non-commissioned officers who were killed or those who sustained a first-degree disability: 70 million AMD (approximately $145,000), of which AMD 10 million in a lump sum and the rest in equal monthly payments for 20 years.
– Families of junior non-commissioned officers and conscripts who were killed or who sustained a first degree disability: 58 million AMD (about $120,000), of which 10 million AMD in a lump sum, and the rest in equal monthly payments for 20 years.
– Officers with second-degree disabilities: 53 million AMD (about $110,000), of which 5 million AMD in lump a sum and the rest in equal monthly payments for 20 years.
– Non-commissioned officers with second-degree disabilities: 41 million AMD (about $85,000), of which 5 million AMD in lump sum, and the rest in equal monthly payments for 20 years.
– Junior non-commissioned officers and conscripts who have sustained a second-degree disability: 29 million AMD ($60,000), of which 5 million AMD in a lump sum, and the rest in equal monthly payments for 20 years.
Statement by the Foreign Ministry of Armenia on the Recent Statements by Turkey
Armenia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement today regarding recent comments by the Turkish leadership:
“On July 12, following the attack by the Azerbaijani armed forces in the direction of the Tavush region of the Republic of Armenia, the leadership of Turkey, including the President, the Foreign Minister and the Minister of Defense issued a number of official statements.
“These statements not only contain commitment of unconditional support to Azerbaijan, but also exhibit clear regional ambitions towards the South Caucasus, which the President of Turkey, along with other officials, attempt to substantiate by referring to Turkey’s “historic mission” in the region.
“Invoking its historical mission and ethnic or religious affiliations, Turkey has already destabilized the situation in a number of neighboring regions: the Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa causing immeasurable sufferings to the peoples of those regions.
“It noteworthy that in 21st century, Turkey builds its policy in our region on the traditions of kinship, justification of the Armenian Genocide and the impunity of that crime.
“Turkey’s provocative and biased stance seriously undermines the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and proves that Turkey can not be involved in any international processes related to the conflict and first and foremost within the OSCE framework.
“With its approaches, Turkey is a security threat for Armenia and the region, and broad regional and international cooperation is needed to counter it.”
Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan’s interview to Al Jazeera regarding the situation at the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border:
Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on the Situation
Valentina Matviyenko, the Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, called on Yerevan and Baku to address their disagreements through negotiations. While speaking with reporters, she noted that as the President of the Interparliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), she received letters from the Speakers of Parliaments of Armenia and Azerbaijan regarding the situation on the state border. She went on to say that Russia is concerned about the situation because both Armenia and Azerbaijan are Russia’s partners. Matviyenko noted that now is not the time to find those responsible for the situation and that it is important to immediately stop the military actions. Russia, as a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, is taking measures to reduce the risks of escalations through diplomatic means.
Armenia’s Ambassador to Russia Says no Need for CSTO Military Action or Additional Arms
Armenia’s Ambassador to Moscow Vardan Toganyan said that Yerevan does not see the need to request additional arms deliveries from the Russian Federation against the backdrop of Azerbaijan’s military aggression on the border, and also does not intend to contact the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to deploy a peacekeeping contingent.
According to Toganyan, Armenia has sufficient stock of weapons to ensure its security, and “today there is no need for additional supplies.”
Toganyan said there are obligations and agreements in place with Russia, orders that have been placed before the escalation on the border and are expected to be delivered as planned and this will be enough to ensure Armenia’s security.
The Ambassador also said that Yerevan does not intend to contact the CSTO regarding the deployment of a peacekeeping contingent on the border with Azerbaijan, but “time will tell how the situation will develop.” Saying that contacting CSTO was meant to bring attention to the fact that there is aggression against Armenia and not about expecting military action.
U.S. House to Consider Measures Blocking Transfer of Defense Articles to Azerbaijan
According to the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), the U.S. House of Representatives will be considering several pro-peace amendments to a major Pentagon authorization bill, including one that would block U.S. defense transfers to Azerbaijan.
Amendment #66 to the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 6395), offered by Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), would mandate that “no funds authorized by this bill can be used to transfer defense articles or services to Azerbaijan unless the President certifies to Congress that the transfer of such defense articles or services does not threaten civil aviation.” The government of Azerbaijan has issued a standing threat to shoot down any civilian airplanes traveling between Armenia and Artsakh’s Stepanakert airport. This measure is cosponsored by Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA) and TJ Cox (D-CA)
Amendment #397, spearheaded by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) would require that the Defense Department submit a report to Congress on a U.S. military aid program (known as Section 333) that has sent over $120 million worth of defense assistance to Azerbaijan over the past several years. Congressman Pallone announced his amendment during a video interview with ANCA Government Affairs Director Tereza Yerimyan on Tuesday. This measure is cosponsored by Reps. Sherman, Speier, and Schiff.
House votes are expected on these amendments as early as the morning of Monday, July 20.
Prime Minister Meets with Military Brass
Yesterday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with the leadership of the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia, headed by Defense Minister David Tonoyan and Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Onik Gasparyan. The following is the statement on the PM’s official website:
“The Prime Minister was briefed on the operative situation following the hostilities unleashed by the adversary over the past two days on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in the direction of Tavush, and the retaliatory steps taken by the Armenian side to suppress the enemy.
“The Premier was told that the situation is under the full control of Armenia’s Armed Forces. Various development scenarios and our troops’ adequate response were discussed during the meeting. Prime Minister Pashinyan underscored that the Armenian Armed Forces once again demonstrated that our country cannot be talked to from a position of strength.”
Massive Rally in Baku Calling for War
Last night during a massive rally in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, thousands of Azerbaijanis were calling for outright war with Armenia, chanting “End the quarantine, start the war.” Some protesters forced their way into the national parliament; security forces dispersed the crowds with water cannons and tear gas.
OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Urges Immediate Return to Ceasefire
OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Albania’s Prime Minister and Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Edi Rama issued the following statement:
“I am deeply concerned by the increased violence we have seen along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and urge an immediate return to the ceasefire before we see any further loss of life.”
Rama noted that the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and the Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, have been in close contact with the sides in an effort to bring stability back to the situation. A direct channel of communication was established by the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders during their meeting in Vienna under the auspices of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs in March 2019. Rama expressed his hope that such mechanisms can be utilized to de-escalate this situation.
Acknowledging the human toll of this latest violence, Rama offered condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives and expressed his concern for the well-being of those injured on both sides. “We must all do what we can to reduce the human impact of the conflict and resume substantive negotiations as soon as possible,” Rama said, underscoring his support for the Minsk process.
International Committee of the Red Cross on Civilian Settlements
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) issued a press release regarding the situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan state border:
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is concerned about the humanitarian impact of reported military activity along the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which has intensified since 12 July 2020. This activity brings additional risks for the civilian population living in the area and affects their access to livelihoods. The ICRC is sharing its concerns bilaterally with the parties to the conflict, reminding them that they must at all times distinguish between civilians and persons directly participating in hostilities.
“We call on the sides to respect the basic rules of international humanitarian law and, while conducting military operations, take all precautions necessary to ensure that civilian life and infrastructure, such as homes, schools and medical facilities, is respected and protected”, said Martin Schuepp, director of the operations for the region. “We are ready to act as a neutral intermediary between the parties and assist those affected by the recent escalation of fighting.”
The ICRC has been present in the region since 1992 in connection with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Through its delegations in Baku and Yerevan, the ICRC supports communities living along the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In addition, the ICRC works to clarify the fate of missing persons and help their families, visits detainees and acts as a neutral intermediary to facilitate transfer and repatriation of released persons.
NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, Special Representative for Caucasus and Central Asia Statement
James Appathurai posted the following statement on Facebook: “We are following with concern the developments on the bilateral border of Armenia and Azerbaijan, involving the use of heavy weapons and resulting in the loss of lives. We echo the Minsk Group Chairs in calling upon all sides to take all necessary measures to prevent further escalation.”
Statement of the President of Georgia
The President of Georgia expresses concern over the July 12-13 armed confrontation on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border.
“Today, as we all fight an invisible enemy, international solidarity and the maintenance of global stability are of paramount importance.
“The peace and security of our region is important for the future development and prosperity of Georgia, as well as our friendly and partner states – Azerbaijan and Armenia.
“The President hopes that the necessary measures will be taken in a timely manner and that further escalation of the situation will be avoided through peaceful negotiations.”