New war with Azerbaijan ‘very likely’: Armenia PM

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Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan warned Friday of the risk of a new war with Azerbaijan, accusing Baku of “genocide” in the breakaway Armenian-populated region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Baku and Yerevan have fought two wars over the mountainous enclave and the signature of a peace treaty remains a distant prospect.

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Talks under the mediation of the European Union, United States, and Russia have brought about little progress.

“So long as a peace treaty has not been signed and such a treaty has not been ratified by the parliaments of the two countries, of course, a (new) war (with Azerbaijan) is very likely,” Pashinyan told AFP.

Tensions escalated earlier in July when Azerbaijan temporarily shut the Lachin corridor, the sole road linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia.

The closure sparked concerns over a humanitarian crisis in the region, which experiences shortages of food, medicines, and energy.

“We’re talking not about a preparation of genocide, but an ongoing process of genocide,” Pashinyan told AFP in an interview, referring to the Karabakh crisis.

The growing diplomatic engagement of the European Union and United States in the Caucasus has irked traditional regional power broker Russia.

As the latest round of peace talks on July 15 in Brussels failed to bring about a breakthrough, Pashinyan said that both the West and Russia needed to increase pressure on Baku to lift its blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“If, according to the logic of some circles in the West, Russia is not meeting all of our expectations because it is not fulfilling its obligations, similarly Russia also tells us (the same) about the West,” he said.

Nagorno-Karabakh has been at the center of a decades-long dispute between the two countries, which have fought two wars over the mountainous territory –- in the 1990s and in 2020.

In autumn 2020, a Russian-brokered ceasefire deal saw Armenia cede swathes of territories it had controlled for decades, while Moscow deployed peacekeepers to the Lachin Corridor to ensure free passage between Armenia and Karabakh.

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