A second attempt at a cessation of fire for humanitarian purposes failed after Azerbaijani forces began firing using artillery and small arms several minutes after the truce was supposed to come into effect. Armenia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a swift response saying this violation demonstrates Azerbaijan’s “treacherous nature, which we have been dealing with for decades.” The Armenian side has said that it will continue to undertake necessary measures to “impose peace on Azerbaijan and establish a ceasefire regime which will entail precise and effective mechanisms for maintaining and verifying it on the ground.”
The truce was meant to allow the sides to retrieve the bodies of killed soldiers with the mediation of the International Committee of the Red Cross. In a later statement, Armenia’s Foreign Ministry noted that this was categorically rejected by Baku: “This attests to the fact that the Aliyev clan, which has turned itself into an instrument of Turkish expansionism in the region, is concerned only about holding its grip on power and while being terrified of the inevitable perspective of facing accountability before its own people for unleashing a war and for the numerous lives it has claimed, tries to postpone the unavoidable moment of truth.”
Armenia’s Health Ministry said that Azerbaijan’s targeting of the civilian population and infrastructure and its refusal to allow for the bodies of soldiers to be retrieved from the Line of Contact since October 10, increases the risks of various infectious diseases, including especially dangerous outbreaks and epidemics.
As hostilities continue, particularly along the northern and southern directions of the front line, Armenia’s Defense Ministry representative Artsrun Hovhannisyan said that this is a very heavy war with extremely difficult battles taking place.
Here is a chronology of official updates.
3:30 a.m.: According to Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan: Violating yet again the humanitarian truce, Azerbaijani forces began firing using artillery and small arms toward the northern direction of the frontline from 12:04 – 2:45 a.m., and missile strikes in the southern direction between 2:20 – 2:45 a.m.
8:40 a.m.: According to Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan: The Azerbaijani Armed Forces once again grossly violated the new humanitarian ceasefire. At 7:20 a.m., after active artillery fire, Azerbaijan launched an attack in the southern direction (Khudaferin Reservoir) in order to occupy favorable positions. There are casualties and wounded on both sides.
9:40 a.m.: Divisions of Artsakh’s Defense Army have destroyed four Azerbaijani tanks. In the southern section of the Artsakh-Azerbaijan conflict zone, Azerbaijani forces are utilizing a large number of drones and artillery.
Foreign Ministry on Violation of Humanitarian Truce
10:50 a.m.: The following is a statement by the Foreign Ministry of Armenia on the violation of the humanitarian truce agreed with Azerbaijan on October 17.
“The Defense Army of the Republic of Artsakh stated that the Azerbaijani Armed Forces once again grossly violated the new humanitarian truce agreed, and on 18 October, at 07:20, after active artillery fire, launched an attack in the southern direction in order to occupy favorable positions.
“This is the second time that Azerbaijan violates a ceasefire agreement achieved through the personal mediation of the leader of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair country, thus demonstrating to the international community its treacherous nature, which we have been dealing with for decades.
“Armenia will continue to undertake all necessary measures to impose peace on Azerbaijan and establish a ceasefire regime which will entail precise and effective mechanisms for maintaining and verifying it on the ground.”
11 a.m.: The Artsakh Defense Ministry has released the names of 40 servicemen killed in battle. Since September 27, the Artsakh Defense Army has published 673 names of servicemen killed in battle.
Antonyan, Vruyr [Siamantoyi], b. 1977 (reserve)
Vardanyan, Harutyun [Samveli], b. 1982 (reserve)
Avetisyan, Hovhannes [Nikolayi], b. 1967
Khachatryan, Artur [Ararati], b. 1992
Grigoryan, Vanik [Grigori], b. 1971
Kostanyan, Gevorg [Arkadii], b. 1996
Margaryan, Hamazasp [Vladiki], b. 1972
Khachatryan, Vardan [Zoriki], b. 1990
Kirakosyan, Armen [Aristakesi], b. 1985
Margaryan, Arman [Mihrabi], b. 1983
Asatryan, Varuzhan [Rubiki], b. 1977
Hakobyan, Armen [Hayki], b, 1980
Yeghoyan, Karen [Zaveni], b. 1989
Yeghoyan, Karen [Vladiki], b. 1988
Muradyan, Samvel [Martiki], b. 1979
Aristakesyan, Kolya [Rafiki], b. 1990
Simonyan, Zakaria [Herosi], b. 1979
Nazaryan, Grisha [Samveli], b. 1996
Zakaryan, Karapet [Dereniki], b. 1986
Gharibyan, Artur [Harutyuni], b. 1985
Sargsyan, Sevada [Varazdati], b. 1980
Harutyunyan, Edgar [Artemi], b. 1982
Aslanyan, Artur [Armeni], b. 1998
Ayvazyan, Armen [Khachaturi], b. 1984
Sargsyan, Arman [Rafiki], b. 1983
Simonyan, Gevorg [Vanushi], b. 1972
Stepanyan, Apaven [Bayanduri], b. 1969
Zakaryan, Zakaria [Hunani], b. 1987
Babayan, Papag [Qajiki], b. 1980
Poghosyan, Hrachya [Vachiki], b. 1995
Simonyan, Isahak [Samveli], b. 1995
Babayan, Andranik [Vardani], b. 1991
Mnatsakanyan, Vardan [Mushegi], b. 1989
Sargsyan, Yanek [Vrezhi], b. 1981 (reserve)
Aleksanyan, Artyom [Parziki], b. 1983 (reserve)
Asatryan, Hrant [Alberti], b. 1986
Varagyan, Sahak [Demsiki], b. 1981
Kakoyan, Bagrat [Saribeki], b. 1985
Sargsyan, Vachik [Hayki], b. 2002
Voskovsky, Vyacheslav [Valerevichi], b. 1975
11:30 a.m.: According to Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan: The Armenian-Azerbaijani border is relatively calm. The statement of the Azerbaijani side claiming that the Armenian Armed Forces fired from large-caliber weapons along the Line of Contact is not true.
Foreign Ministry Statement on Azerbaijan’s Rejection of Mediation Attempt by the ICRC
12 p.m.: The following is a statement by the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Armenia on Azerbaijan’s rejection of the mediation attempt of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC):
“After the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan reached an agreement on the establishment of a humanitarian truce on October 18, 2020, an attempt was made to reach an agreement to withdraw the wounded soldiers from the battlefield, through the mediation of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“However, this step, undertaken in line with the letter and spirit of both the October 17 agreement and the October 10 Moscow agreement, was categorically rejected by Baku.
“This attests to the fact that the Aliyev clan, which has turned itself into an instrument of Turkish expansionism in the region, is concerned only about holding its grip on power and while being terrified of the inevitable perspective of facing accountability before its own people for unleashing a war and for the numerous lives it has claimed, tries to postpone the unavoidable moment of truth.”
12:10 p.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter, the (video) surveillance devices of the Artsakh Defense Army have recorded the ceasefire violation of the Azerbaijani forces on October 18 with a precise area and time. The evidence shows how the Azerbaijani side initiates an offensive in the direction of the military positions of the Armenian forces.
Health Ministry Warns of Risk of Various Infectious Diseases, Dangerous Outbreaks
12:50 p.m.: The Health Ministry of Armenia, in a statement, has warned that as a result of Azerbaijan’s targeting of civilian population and infrastructure and Azerbaijan’s refusal to allow for the bodies of soldiers to be retrieved from the Line of Contact since October 10, the risks of various infectious diseases, including especially dangerous outbreaks and epidemics, is currently very high.
The statement said damage to water supply and sewer systems of civilian settlements makes it impossible to carry out proper cleaning and disinfection work, creating favorable conditions for the development of infectious intestinal diseases (cholera, hepatitis A, dysentery, etc.).
The conflict zone passes through areas that are natural plague outbreak zones like the Zangezur-Karabakh and the Arax river natural hotspots, which are home to both the pathogens as well as the transmitters of plague. The bodies of soldiers in the area, which are not being exchanged, retrieved and buried, create all the preconditions for outbreaks and epidemics.
The statement also warns that similar outbreaks will not only affect the population and armed forces of the conflict zone but taking into consideration the proximity to the borders and the reach of the Arax River, will also affect neighboring countries like the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The statement concludes by saying that, in the event of post-war outbreaks or an epidemic while the conflict is active, the Azerbaijani side bears all the responsibility, as it has been continuously violating the humanitarian ceasefire requirements signed since October 10.
Foreign Ministry Response to European External Action Service Statement on Strikes on the City of Ganja
2:15 p.m.: The following is Armenia’s Foreign Ministry statement in response to the October 17 statement by the European External Action Service (EEAS) Spokesperson on the “so-called strikes on the city of Ganja.”
On 17 October, the European External Action Service published a statement of its Spokesperson on the so-called “strikes on the city of Ganja.”
“For three weeks now, Azerbaijan has been violently shelling the cities and villages of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), including its capital Stepanakert, deliberately targeting civilian population and civilian infrastructure, killing dozens of peaceful citizens and forcing them to leave their homeland. In addition to this, Azerbaijan has already targeted and inflicted casualties on the civilian population and infrastructure in the territory of the Republic of Armenia. The current large-scale aggression was preceded by Azerbaijani provocative disinformation and smearing campaigns, just like the most recent one, the so-called ‘Armenian strikes on Ganja.’
“For decades, Azerbaijan has been infusing its population with hatred and Armenophobia, the gravest expression of which can be found in the footage of humiliating, torturing and subsequent brutal killings of Artsakh prisoners of war, proudly showcased in Azerbaijani social media.
“While disseminating unfounded allegations, Azerbaijan continues to refuse to maintain ceasefires mediated by the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairing countries and categorically rejects any possibility of ceasefire verification mechanisms in order to continue the war.
“The European Union has, to date, failed to clearly and explicitly react to these ultimate manifestations of war crimes committed by Azerbaijan with the direct involvement of Turkey including through the transfer of foreign terrorist fighters from Syria and Libya, and disregarded the existential threat and grave violations of the right to life of Artsakh’s people, as well as the severe humanitarian crisis evolving in Artsakh.
Armenia deplores this one-sided, biased and selective statement, which gives Azerbaijan ‘clearance’ to continue breaching international law with impunity, including international humanitarian law and international customary law.”
5:35 p.m.: Artsakh Infocenter: Despite the new agreement on a humanitarian truce, Azerbaijani UAVs continued to violate Artsakh’s airspace during the day. The air defense units of the Defense Army have downed two UAVs.
6:25 p.m.: The following is the statement by Josep Borrell, the High Representative/Vice President of the European Union regarding the situation in Artsakh after speaking to Armenia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Zohrab Mnatsakayan and Azerbaijan’s Foreign Affairs Minister Jeyun Bayramov:
“The European Union welcomes the joint announcement of a humanitarian ceasefire by Armenia and Azerbaijan, scheduled to start at 00.00 hrs (local time) last night, following the mediation efforts by the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, in coordination with the other OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. The EU deplores that, unfortunately, violations continue, with reported fighting in and around Nagorno Karabakh. This leads to more civilian suffering. It aggravates the conflict between States and respective societies, rendering the healing of wounds even more difficult. The population in Nagorno Karabakh has already experienced excessive suffering. Overall, the conflict has led to extensive and unacceptable civilian casualties. The EU strongly condemns all such attacks irrespective of their origin.
“I have just called the ministers of foreign affairs of Armenia and Azerbaijan to impress upon them that the ceasefire should be unconditional and strictly respected by the two sides. I have also underlined that attacks on civilians should stop immediately. They cannot be justified. I have reiterated that the EU remains ready to support the parties and the OSCE in a long-term solution to the conflict. The EU will continue to monitor the situation.”
7:08 p.m.: The Artsakh Defense Ministry has released the names of an additional 37 servicemen killed in battle.
Kocharyan, Zohrab [Hrachiki], b. 1991
Khachatryan, Tsolak [Samveli], b. 1990
Harutyunyan, Karen [Seyrani], b. 2000
Manukyan, Narek [Sureni], b. 2000
Elizbaryan, Mher [Ashoti], b. 2000
Grigoryan, Gor [Sergeyi], b. 2000
Hayrapetyan, Sasun [Tigrani], b. 2000
Poghosyan, Arman [Manveli], b. 2002
Grigoryan, Grigor [Armeni], b. 2002
Mkrtchyan, Vazgen [Rudiki], b. 2000
Kirakosyan, Artur [Hayki], b. 1999
Ghardashyan, Roman [Vladimiri], b. 2001
Galstyan, Mushegh [Arami], b. 1997 (reserve)
Gabrielyan, Gegham [Ediki], b. 1977
Balayan, Karen [Arturi], b. 1993
Melkumyan, Hovhannes [Vagharshaki], b. 1977
Nikoghosyan, Artur [Khosrovi], b. 1991
Paramazyan, Arshak [Hrachiki], b. 1983 (reserve)
Mirzoyan, Gor [Gevorgi], b. 1980
Baghdagulyan, Ashot [Varazdati], b. 1973
Mikayelyan, Hayrapet [Gurgeni], b. 1994
Tatikyan, Sasun [Zohrabi], b. 1998
Isayan, Vahram [Vazgeni], b. 1980
Kyarunts, Gagik [Razmiki], b. 1998
Avanesyan, Boris [Varuzhani], b.1990 (reserve)
Udumyan, Vahe [Haykazi], b. 2001
Harutyunyan, Misha [Sedraki], b. 2001
Mayilyan, Norayr [Vahani], b. 1999
Konjoryan, Rafayel [Yuriki], b. 2000
Sargsyan, Robert [Arturi], b. 2001
Abgaryan, Arsen [Seyrani], b. 2001
Movsisyan, Artur [Arseni], b. 2001
Movsisyan, Erik [Arturi], b. 2001
Avanesyan, Manvel [Karleni], b. 2001
Barseghyan, Areg [Arturi], b. 2001
Grigoryan, Karen [Gedeoni], b. 2001
Sargsyan, Arman [Arkadiki], b. 2001
German Parliament Members: Sanctions Need to Be Imposed on Turkey and Azerbaijan
8 p.m.: Members of Parliament of the German Bundestag and Landtag [German state parliament], including the Deputy Speaker of the Bundestag were in Artsakh today to see and assess the situation on the ground. During a press conference, they stressed that German media outlets do not impartially cover the war and that it was critical for them to come and see the reality for themselves. They have been to Shushi and the capital Stepanakert and seen the consequences of Azerbaijani shelling on civilian infrastructures and cultural sites. They reaffirmed that Azerbaijan, with the support of Turkey, is using internationally banned weapons and targeting civilian infrastructures and settlements even though there are no military objects located in their proximity. The MPs stressed that it is time that parliaments around the world start acting and not just speaking. They went on to mention that sanctions need to be imposed on Turkey and Azerbaijan (including an arms embargo) as well as specific individuals in those countries.
Speaking about the OSCE Minsk Group, the MPs noted that although it has been the primary negotiation format, it is no longer effective. They also spoke about the involvement of mercenaries in the conflict and said that if their involvement is confirmed, then Azerbaijan should be considered a key figure in international terrorism.
Ministry of Defense Live Press Briefing
10 p.m.: Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Ministry of Defense during his daily live press briefing, presented the situation on the front line. He said it is a fact that Azerbaijan, once again, did not respect the humanitarian truce, something which was initiated this time by France. Since early morning, battles continued in the same directions. Azerbaijani forces attempted an offensive in the northern direction of the front. According to Hovhannisyan they were pushed back without registering any significant success in improving their positions. At the same time, in the south, at two different sections, Azerbaijani forces attempted an offensive. Hovhannisyan said that in one section, falling under heavy artillery fire by the Armenian side, they retreated suffering equipment/weapons loss. In the second part, after very intense battles, Azerbaijani forces were able to secure gains. Hovhannisyan pointed out that during such a war – which he characterized as a fifth generation war using highly technical weaponry – the front lines are constantly changing and shifting, therefore to expect things to remain static in the conflict zone is unrealistic.
During the battles throughout the day, Azerbaijani forces used different weapons, including UAVs. Armenian units destroyed nine UAVs today, two of which were in the airspace of the Republic of Armenia. Hovhannisyan said that battles are continuing at this moment with the ones in the south particularly intense.
Following his remarks, Artsrun Hovhannisyan invited Arkadi Andreasyan, a soldier who was injured during the 2014 June-August events. He voluntarily went to the frontline and participated in military operations in the northern direction.
“My greetings to Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora. I could not complete my military service in 2015 because I was injured in a mine blast. This war has called me to avenge for my fallen friends, commanders and for every drop of blood of our martyrs. We need to defend the borders of our country, our mothers, our sisters and our children. I went to the frontline and I can tell that everyone is in high spirits, prepared and has only one desire in their minds and hearts – victory. There are soldiers younger than me who are heroically fighting the adversary. Honestly, I am inspired by their unwavering will. The fate of our nation is there – on the border. All of us need to understand and realize that our future depends on each of us. We need to shape this victory through our unity, our spirit, our will power. I also want to address those who can hold a gun, who can help in the rear, and who want to save their honor – take a decisive step today. We have one mission in this war – to impose long lasting peace to the enemy. I also visited wounded soldiers who want to recover as soon as possible and head back to the front line. I assure you, we will win.”
In his closing remarks, Artsrun Hovhannisyan said: “We have one homeland, and all of us are serving our homeland. All of us have to ask ourselves what we are doing for the homeland. This is a very heavy war with extremely difficult battles taking place. The men are serving and alongside them are women who are also serving. I have heard many stories of the heroic feats of our women. We have wounded and killed women soldiers.”
11:10 p.m.: Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister calls on external parties to stay out of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and supports the creation of a verification mechanism by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs:
Just spoke to @ZMnatsakanyan. 🇨🇦 welcomes the humanitarian ceasefire in #NagornoKarabakh. It must be respected to prevent more civilian suffering. We call on external parties to stay out of this conflict & support the creation of a verification mechanism by @OSCE Minsk Co-Chairs.
— François-Philippe Champagne (FPC) 🇨🇦 (@FP_Champagne) October 18, 2020
UN Secretary-General Condemns all Attacks on Populated Areas Impacted by Conflict
Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary-General, issued a statement on the situation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The Secretary-General condemns all attacks on populated areas impacted by the conflict. The tragic loss of civilian lives, including children, from the latest reported strike on 16 October on the city of Ganja is totally unacceptable, as are indiscriminate attacks on populated areas anywhere, including in Stepanakert/Khankendi and other localities in and around the immediate Nagorno-Karabakh zone of conflict. The Secretary-General deeply regrets that the sides have continuously ignored the repeated calls of the international community to immediately stop the fighting. As he underscored again in his latest calls with the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, both sides have the obligation under international humanitarian law to take constant care to spare and protect civilians and civilian infrastructure in the conduct of military operations. The Secretary-General notes the latest announcement on the start of the humanitarian truce on 18 October and expects both parties to fully abide by this commitment and resume substantive negotiations without delay under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.