Following the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war which started six months ago, the border region is again on the brink of conflict, with Armenia charging Azerbaijan with illegally sending its army deep into territory from their prior post-war settlement positions in what's being viewed as a big land grab and ethnic cleansing campaign targeting ethnic Armenian communities.
Yerevan sees the threat as imminent and dire enough that it's urging its ally and treaty partner Russia to send military assistance to push back Azeri forces. Currently Russia has a limited peacekeeping force that includes 2,000 troops as part the ceasefire agreement that ended the prior border war. Russia also has a military base in Armenia, but has previously expressed a desire to keep its friendly relations with Baku.
"Armenia said on Friday Azerbaijan had failed to fulfil a promise in full to withdraw troops that had crossed the border in a disputed incident, and it had sought Russia's military help," Reuters details.
Armenia is seeking to make the case to Putin that Azerbaijan's actions are a severe violation of the ceasefire agreement and of Armenia's sovereign land.
But so far Moscow's response has appeared muted, even after Armenia's interim prime minister penned an urgent letter to President Putin requesting the military aid:
"The Russian president said that he himself believes that the Azerbaijani armed forces should leave Armenia, and there is a more important part that was stated last night: an agreement was reached that today the Azerbaijani armed forces had to carry out these actions, that is, leave the territory of Armenia," Pashinyan announced during an extraordinary session of parliament Friday.
Shushi is completely devoid of any life after it was ethnically cleansed from its Armenian population for the third time in the last century. There is only a haunting silence in the city, except for the sounds of heavy machinery being used to destroy the homes of Armenians. https://t.co/2FEijwtzqq pic.twitter.com/uJsfNlt91S— ermeni (baby eater)🇦🇲֎ (@syriahay) May 14, 2021
He explained before the parliamentary session why he didn't make an initial request for troops during a phone call the day prior:
"The reason that I did not appeal yesterday [to Putin for help] Is that the day before it was stated at the highest level that today the troops were to be withdrawn. But since the course of the negotiations showed that, in any case today, the agreement will not be fully implemented, I turned to the Russian president so that Russia would provide assistance to Armenia in this situation, including military assistance," Pashinyan said.
The Armenian Defense Ministry has accused Azeri forces of attempting "to clean the borders" in the Syunik region - or essentially ethnic cleansing.
Erdogan and Aliyev have gone so far to say Yerevan rightfully Muslim/Azerbaijan, so there is clearly no limit to their expansionism.— Alison Meuse (@AliTahmizian) May 14, 2021
Those Western nations with the power to stop this do not seem to care, and are even backing their Caspian gas supplier. Armenia is very alone. https://t.co/KFy7NQrx4B
Whether or not Armenia and Azerbaijan will renew their fierce fighting, which last year killed thousands of troops and civilians, with Armenia bearing the bulk of the casualties, remains another question. It's unclear whether Yerevan would commit without a signal of Russia's backing, which so far it doesn't appear Putin is ready to give.