On September 9, Azerbaijan claimed that Armenian forces had initiated an overnight attack on its troops, prompting retaliatory measures by Azerbaijani army units. Armenia swiftly denied these allegations, escalating tensions between the two nations, which have a history marred by two wars over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh enclave in the past three decades.
Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry asserted that Armenian units had fired small arms at Azerbaijani soldiers in Sadarak, located in the northern region of Nakhchivan—an Azerbaijani exclave that shares borders with Armenia, Turkey, and Iran. The ministry's statement did not specify whether any casualties occurred, a detail that remains unclear at this time. Armenia's Defense Ministry swiftly refuted the claims, insisting that its forces had not opened fire on Azerbaijani positions.
As tensions flared, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan engaged in a flurry of diplomatic efforts. He conducted phone conversations on September 9 with the leaders of France, Germany, neighboring Iran, and Georgia, in addition to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Simultaneously, Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister held discussions regarding the situation with Yuri Kim, a senior U.S. State Department official.
Armenia's government disclosed that during his conversations with Blinken and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Pashinyan expressed concerns about rising border tensions and alleged Azerbaijani troop concentrations around Karabakh—a claim denied by Baku. Pashinyan reportedly expressed readiness to hold an urgent meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to defuse the situation. Reports suggest similar conversations took place between Pashinyan and French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Hikmet Hajiyev, foreign policy adviser to President Aliyev, refuted Armenia's claim of an offer for an urgent meeting, stating that Baku had not received such an invitation.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan vehemently denounced the holding of a presidential election in Nagorno-Karabakh on September 9. While internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, the region is inhabited by approximately 120,000 ethnic Armenians. Nagorno-Karabakh had established de facto independence in the early 1990s, but Azerbaijan regained significant territory during its 2020 conflict with Armenia.
The region has remained isolated from the outside world since December when Azerbaijani civilians blockaded the only road connecting it to Armenia. Azerbaijani troops later established a checkpoint on the road, a move criticized by Yerevan as a violation of the Russian-brokered ceasefire that concluded the 2020 war.
On the same day, the separatist parliament in Karabakh elected Samvel Shahramanyan, a military officer and former head of the territory's security service, as its new president following the resignation of the previous incumbent earlier in the month. In his address to parliament, Shahramanyan called for direct negotiations with Azerbaijan and the restoration of transport links to Armenia.
Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry swiftly labeled the ethnic Armenian leadership of Karabakh a "puppet separatist regime" and declared the election illegal. The ministry's statement emphasized Azerbaijan's commitment to protecting its sovereignty and territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders and called for the "unconditional and complete withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and the disbandment of the puppet regime" as the only path to regional peace and stability.
Russia, which has had peacekeepers stationed in the region since 2020, has faced growing criticism from Armenia for perceived ineffectiveness. This comes amidst deteriorating relations between Russia and Armenia, with Yerevan accusing Russia of "absolute indifference" while simultaneously seeking closer ties with Western nations.
As the situation unfolds, the international community remains deeply concerned about the potential for further escalation in the volatile region. Diplomatic efforts are underway to ease tensions and prevent a return to open conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.