Russia mentioned on Monday that one in every of its navy helicopters was shot down in Armenia, close to the border with Azerbaijan, killing two servicemen and wounding one other.
Azerbaijan has claimed accountability for the incident and apologised to Russia.
The incident occurred close to the border with the Azerbaijan exclave of Nakhchivan.
Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have been combating for six weeks over the area of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is inside Azerbaijan however has been underneath the management of ethnic Armenians since 1994.
Nakhchivan is about 70 kilometres (40 miles) from Nagorno-Karabakh and it was not clear if the helicopter shootdown was related with the battle.
The defence ministry mentioned the helicopter was accompanying a navy convoy however didn’t make clear the aim of the convoy. Russia has a big navy base in Armenia, however it’s about 150 kilometres (90 miles) from the place the helicopter was shot down.
It added in a statement that it “ought to be emphasised” that the helicopter was flying in a zone the place “lively navy clashes proceed”, that it flew “at nighttime, at low altitude, exterior of air protection radar detection zone,” and that no Russian navy helicopters had been noticed in that space.
“Within the context of the talked about components and in mild of the tense state of affairs within the area and enhance fight readiness in reference to potential provocations by the Armenian facet, the fight crew on obligation took the choice to open fireplace.
“The Azerbaijani facet apologises to the Russian facet in reference to this tragic incident, which is unintentional and was not directed towards the Russian facet,” it additionally mentioned, expressing “since condolences” the households of the victims.
The Armenian Ministry of Overseas Affairs mentioned it “strongly” condemned the “assault” towards Russian Armed forces and refuted Azerbaijani’s assertion.
“This tragic incident occurred distant from the Nagorno-Karabakh battle zone, in a spot the place no navy clashes have been recorded throughout this era,” it said in a statement.
“We’re satisfied that using power towards the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will obtain an ample response,” it added.
Russia has a proper navy alliance with Armenia — which excludes Nagorno-Karabakh — but additionally has shut ties with Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijani forces have in the meantime taken management of Shushi, a strategically key metropolis close to the area’s capital, the spokesman for the president of the separatist authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh confirmed on Monday.
The seizure is essentially the most vital navy improvement within the combating over the territory.
Shushi’s place above the regional capital Stepanakert, which is about 10 kilometres (six miles) to the north, provides strategic benefit to whoever holds it. The town additionally lies alongside the principle street connecting Stepanakert with Armenia.
A number of 1000’s of individuals are believed to have died because of combating for the reason that newest episode of violence began between the 2 counties on September 27.
The previous Soviet states of Azerbaijan and Armenia fought a bloody conflict over the mountainous area of Nagorno-Karabakh within the early 1990s.
1000’s have been killed on either side. Tons of of 1000’s of individuals have been displaced.
The conflict ended with a truce in 1994, though there was sporadic violence since then because the battle stays unresolved.
The newest flare-up of violence began on September 27 and has left a whole lot — if not 1000’s — lifeless.