• arjun vikraman

Azerbaijani forces mistakenly down Russian helicopter, killing two

Updated: Nov 21, 2020

Arnav Mittal

10th November 2020

The first recorded deaths of neighboring forces in the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan were caused by a rocket assault on a Russian military helicopter by Azerbaijan.

A photo issued by the press office of the Armenian Emergency Ministry shows the wreckage of a Russian military helicopter shot down on the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontier. Press Office of Armenia's Emergency Ministry, via Associated Press (Source- The Guardian)

On Monday, Azerbaijan’s foreign ministers apologized to Russian authorities for the accidental shooting down of a Russian M-24 military helicopter, killing two crew members in an incident that threatened to drag Russia deeper into an already raging conflict among Armenia and Azerbaijan regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The helicopter crash occurred near the Yeraskh villages, which lie in southern Armenia, close to the Azerbaijani frontier.

Azerbaijan is being backed by Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, while Russia is in a defense treaty with Armenia. Both of them denied any direct role in the conflict between the two counties.

This attack on the helicopter was the first recorded instance of any Russian casualty in the war. The news came a day after Azerbaijan announced that it successfully claimed a tactical victory over Armenia, having captured a mountaintop town. Around 1000 soldiers and civilians from both countries have lost their lives in the conflict.

Russia’s Defense Ministry mentioned that the pilot was flying the M-24 helicopter gunship inside Armenia and close to the Azerbaijani region of Nakhichevan from where a shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft missile fired at it. The helicopter was directing column military vehicles that were allotted to a Russian military base in Armenia. Two Russian aviators lost their lives, leaving the third severely injured.

A statement was also issued by the Russian military on the 8th of November mention in that an investigation is being held to find the culprit responsible for firing the missile.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry immediately expressed their condolences to the crew members' families who lost their lives and wished a fast recovery to the lone surviving and severely wounded crewmate. The ministry also released a statement calling the attack a 'tragic incident'.

The Azerbaijani ministry’s statement mentioned that the Russian helicopter was flying in the dark where Azerbaijani troops were on high alert. Russian helicopters were never seen in that area before and anticipating an enemy helicopter approaching them, and soldiers decided to open fire. They also said that Baku (their capital) is willing to pay the compensation for the loss.

Russian authorities have not responded following the Azerbaijani statements.

Shortly after breaking away from the Soviet Union, Armenia and Azerbaijan fought over the mountainous region, Nagorno-Karabakh, from 1992 to 1994, wherein Armenian forces prevailed. The vicinity is identified as a part of Azerbaijan across the world; however, it has a majority Armenian population that has since declared independence from Azerbaijan.

Since that war, the territorial dominion and a few adjacent components of the Azerbaijani Republic have been under Armenian control. However, instances of perennial skirmishing have always continued along its border. Azerbaijan has also reclaimed some of its territories, which it lost to Armenia more than a quarter-century ago in their first conflict.

(Source- New York Times, the Guardian)

Edited by- Arjun Rohit Vikraman

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