Azerbaijan on Thursday dismissed an allegation it was building up its forces on the border with Armenia and close to the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave as false, calling it a “fraudulent political manipulation.”
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was earlier on Thursday cited by Armenian state news agency Armenpress as saying that Azerbaijan was conducting an “ongoing military build-up along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh and the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.”
Tensions between Baku and Yerevan remain high over the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan’s territory, but is run by ethnic Armenian authorities which Azerbaijan wants to disband.
Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry on Thursday rejected Pashinyan’s assertion about a purported military-build of its forces in a statement which called on Yerevan to end what Baku called “military and political provocations.”
“These claims are...part of another fraudulent political manipulation,” the foreign ministry said.
Russia has maintained peacekeepers in the region since a 2020 war in which Azerbaijan seized back significant amounts of territory it had lost to Armenian forces in the 1990s after the break-up of the Soviet Union.
Moscow, which has hosted peace talks between the two countries, said on Thursday it was continuing to work with Armenia and Azerbaijan in its role as a security guarantor in the South Caucasus.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov criticized Armenia’s decision to host a joint exercise involving 85 US soldiers next week as unhelpful however.
“In this situation, holding such exercises does not contribute to stabilizing the situation in any case and strengthening the atmosphere of mutual trust in the region,” Peskov said.
“But Russia continues to fulfil its functions as a guarantor of security, Russia continues scrupulous, consistent and constructive work with both Yerevan and Baku.”