The death toll from the border clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan has risen to more than 170

Azerbaijan said on Thursday that 71 of its soldiers were killed in border clashes with Armenia over the past two days in the worst fighting since 2020.

Yerevan said a ceasefire is in place on the Armenian-Azerbaijan border, and there were no reports of new violence overnight.

The death toll announced by Azerbaijan earlier was 50.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry has published a list of 71 soldiers killed in clashes between the two historical foes since Tuesday, while Yerevan said 105 of its soldiers were killed.

The Armenian Security Council said the clashes ended “thanks to international intervention” on Thursday night, after failed attempts by Russia to broker a truce.

The European Union welcomed the ceasefire, which it said was “being respected so far”.

“The European Union remains strongly engaged in the process of normalization between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Peter Stano, the EU’s spokesman for foreign affairs and security policy, said in a statement.

He said EU Special Representative Toivo Klar held high-level consultations in Baku on Wednesday and Yerevan on Thursday.

Baku and Yerevan accused each other of starting the violence, which saw hundreds of Armenian civilians flee their homes.

The escalation came as Moscow, Yerevan’s closest ally, was distracted by its nearly seven-month-old war in Ukraine.

Armenia’s Foreign Ministry said a delegation from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) – a Moscow-led grouping of several former Soviet republics – was scheduled to arrive in Yerevan later Thursday.

Also read: Death toll rises as Armenia-Azerbaijan fighting enters second day

Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization but Azerbaijan is not.

On Tuesday, the Armenian Security Council requested military assistance from Moscow, which is obligated by the treaty to defend Armenia in the event of a foreign invasion.

– A fragile peace process –

In Yerevan, opposition supporters staged an anti-government protest throughout the night, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, after rumors he was planning to agree to concessions in the decades-old territorial dispute with Azerbaijan.

The neighbors of the Caucasus fought two wars – in the 1990s and in 2020 – over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian enclave of Azerbaijan.

Six weeks of fighting in 2020 claimed the lives of more than 6,500 soldiers on both sides and ended with a Russian-brokered armistice.

Under the deal, Armenia ceded swathes of territory it had controlled for decades, and Moscow deployed about 2,000 Russian peacekeepers to oversee the shaky truce.

The Ukrainian conflict has changed the balance of power in the region, as Russia faces increasing international isolation.

The European Union has since led the normalization process between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which includes peace talks, border demarcation and the reopening of transport links.

During EU-mediated talks in Brussels in May and April, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian leader Pashinyan agreed to “advance discussions” on a future peace treaty.

They last met in Brussels on August 31, for talks mediated by European Council President Charles Michel.

Analysts said the latest escalation has significantly weakened Brussels’ efforts to bring Baku and Yerevan closer to a peace deal.

Ethnic Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh seceded from Azerbaijan when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The ensuing conflict claimed about 30,000 lives.

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