Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of ‘unspeakable atrocities’ at UN

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan used his address to the United Nations on Thursday to accuse Azerbaijan of “unspeakable atrocities” during recent clashes between the two rivals, including mutilating the bodies of dead soldiers.

Fighting erupted between the Caucasus countries last week, killing nearly 300 people in the worst violence since a war in 2020.

“There is evidence of cases of torture, maiming of captured or dead soldiers, numerous cases of extrajudicial killings and ill-treatment of Armenian prisoners of war and degrading treatment of the corpses,” he told the UN General Assembly.

“The bodies of Armenian women military personnel were mutilated and then proudly videotaped by the Azerbaijani soldiers with particular cruelty.”

As Pashinyan spoke, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, who will address the global body this weekend, looked on impassively.

Pashinyan continued, “Undoubtedly, the commission of such unspeakable atrocities is a direct result of a decades-long policy of instilling hatred and hostility towards Armenians in Azerbaijani society by the political leadership.”

He also accused Azerbaijan of shelling civilian facilities and infrastructure deep within his country’s territory, displacing more than 7,600 people and killing three civilians and missing two.

“This was not a border dispute. It was a direct, undeniable attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Armenia,” he said.

The speech comes just days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged peace between the two sides at a meeting where he hosted the top diplomats from both countries.

“A strong, sustained diplomatic engagement is the best path for everyone,” Blinken said.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blamed Baku for “illegal” attacks on Armenia during a visit to the Armenian capital Yerevan on Sunday and condemned an “assault on the country’s sovereignty”.

Washington’s ties are deepening with Yerevan, whose traditional ally Moscow is distracted with its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia maintains close ties with both former Soviet states. It is obliged to intervene when Armenia is attacked under a security pact, but has not rushed to help despite an appeal from Yerevan.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars — in the 1990s and 2020 — over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, an Armenian-populated enclave of Azerbaijan.

A six-week war in 2020 claimed the lives of more than 6,500 soldiers from both sides and ended in a Russian-brokered ceasefire.

Under the deal, Armenia ceded parts of territory it had controlled for decades, and Moscow dispatched about 2,000 Russian peacekeepers to oversee the fragile truce.