A Russian Mi-24 military helicopter was shot down on Monday by a surface-to-air missile while escorting a convoy from a Russian military base in the country. Moscow said two Russian soldiers were killed in the attack and another was wounded. The Russian Defense Ministry said it was investigating who was behind the attack.
Later on Monday evening, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry claimed responsibility for the attack on the Russian helicopter and apologized, saying that Baku was prepared to pay compensation.
The Armenian Ministry of Emergencies stated that the accident occurred near the village of Yarsikh, in the south Armenia Near the border with Azerbaijan.
This is far from the fighting in the disputed area Nagorno-KarabakhAzerbaijan launched a bloody offensive to retake the mountain enclave from the effective control of the Armenians. The attack appears to have come across the border in the Azerbaijani-controlled Nakhchivan region.
The attack will test Russia’s willingness to remain on the sidelines of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, both former Soviet states with whom Russia maintains good relations and arms contracts. Turkey, the regional rival, supports Azerbaijan and Moscow is willing to respond to it by supporting the rival parties in Syria.
Moscow has said it will fulfill its obligation to defend Armenia under a military treaty if the fighting extends beyond Nagorno Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, but has been under the control of an Armenian-backed administration since 1994.
But Moscow stood largely idly by as Azerbaijani forces moved across the mountain pocket, Claiming to seize the town of Shusha, located on the top of the mountain It is close to the largest city in the region, Stepanakert.
A spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry played down the possibility of military intervention and urged the two sides to end hostilities, but said that Moscow “does not support a forced settlement of this crisis.”
On Monday Azerbaijan released the first evidence that it had captured the city of Shusha (called Shushi in Armenian), including a short video showing Azerbaijani forces raising a flag over the city administration.
A Nagorno-Karabakh administration official confirmed that it lost control of Shusha on Monday and warned that an Azerbaijani attack was close to Stepanakert.
“Shushi is completely out of our control,” wrote Fahram Boghossian, a spokesman for the Nagorno-Karabakh administration. Boghossian did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but confirmed his statements to Reuters and local Armenian media.
However, other local and Armenian officials denied that Shusha was kidnapped. “The battle for Shushi continues,” Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in a statement on Monday evening.
“The [Nagorno Karabakh] The defense army and militia are standing firmly on their native land, and we will continue to fight against the enemy until the end.