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Russian President Vladimir Putin is eyeing the consequences of another conflict between two former Soviet Union nations after 99 Armenian soldiers were killed by Azerbaijani forces Tuesday.
The Armenian Defense Ministry said at least 49 soldiers were killed in a shelling attack by Azerbaijani troops just after midnight. Azerbaijan, meanwhile, said that 50 of its service members died in a “large-scale provocation.”
Fighting has continued off and on throughout the day despite calls for a cease-fire by Russia, which, according to the Kremlin’s press secretary, exerts significant influence in the region.
“It is difficult to overestimate the role of the Russian Federation, the role of Putin personally,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters, according to Reuters. “The president naturally is making every effort to help de-escalate tensions at the border.”
Russia’s foreign ministry claimed to have brokered a cease-fire Tuesday morning, though reports later suggested the truce had fallen through.
The Armenian defense ministry said fighting had fizzled out in some areas but that Azerbaijani forces were still attempting to advance into its eastern territory.
Civilian infrastructure was also said to have been damaged in the attacks but casualty figures among civilians in Armenia remain unknown.
Azerbaijan claimed the attacks were in response to “large-scale provocations” by the Armenian military after its troops allegedly planted mines and fired upon its soldiers.
The Tuesday conflict stems from decades of aggression over a contested mountainous territory in the South Caucasus known as Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has been under the control of Armenia-backed forces since 1994.
Russia deployed some 2,000 peacekeeping troops to the region in 2020 as a six-week war killed more than 6,600 people after Azerbaijan reclaimed large areas of the Nagorno-Karabakh and ended only after Moscow facilitated a peace deal.
Russia on Tuesday said the fighting should be resolved “exclusively through political and diplomatic means.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.