Nagorno-Karabakh
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FILE PHOTO.
The Russian peacekeeping mission in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region has demanded that Baku and Yerevan stick to the November ceasefire agreement as Armenia and Azerbaijan blamed each other for weekend truce violations.

A shooting incident has been reported on the line of contact in the southern part of the contested territory, a spokesman from the Russian deployment told Moscow media.

"We immediately demanded through emergency channels the sides stick to the complete ceasefire," he said. Earlier on Saturday, Armenia's Defense Ministry accused Baku of resuming an offensive Nagorno-Karabakh targeting two villages held by forces supported by Yerevan in an area mostly controlled by the Azerbaijani army. According to media reports, at least three reservists were injured in the incident.

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev has in turn blamed Armenia for what he called a "provocation." The incident, which the Russian peacekeepers said occurred on Friday, has become the first ceasefire violation since a trilateral agreement on cessation of hostilities was signed by Moscow, Yerevan and Baku on November 9.

The Russian peacekeepers said they continue to monitor the situation at 23 observation posts scattered around the area "on a round-the-clock basis." The peacekeeping mission was deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh as part of the November 9 deal.

The decades-old dispute between Yerevan and Baku over the region reignited in late September and caused thousands of casualties on both sides. Both nations believe they have legitimate claims to the territory.

The armistace has left the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh unresolved but it was aimed at stopping the violence and only laid the groundwork for a potential way towards a resolution in the future, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.

Azerbaijan claims some Armenian troops broke terms of armistice by remaining in region

"After the signing of the November 10 joint statement on a ceasefire, Armenian armed units remained in the forests to the northwest of the Hadrut village," a statement from the Defense Ministry said. "The Armenian side requested the assistance of the command of Russia's peacekeeping contingent in order to withdraw these units."

Baku claims it "created all conditions for withdrawing Armenian units," allowing the Russians to escort the remaining Armenian troops out of the region. However, they refused to leave, and a small shootout started between the two armies. A firefight began, leaving four Azeri soldiers dead.

In response, the Armenian Defense Ministry accused Azerbaijan of violating the ceasefire. Yerevan reported that six of its servicemen were wounded in the firefight. The Defense Ministry of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic also blamed the Azeris, announcing that "the enemy attempted to attack the combat positions."

At the time the truce was signed, Azerbaijan was at a clear advantage. In Russian President Vladimir Putin's opinion, Yerevan's refusal to agree to stop the hostilities would have been "suicide." According to Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia's prime minister, Yerevan had no choice but to sign the document, as the country's resources were quickly becoming depleted.