Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) condemned the "intensified conflict" between Azerbaijan and Armenia on Tuesday and said the EU will continue to monitor the situation. Estonian experts believe Azerbijan is taking advantage of Russia's weakness.
"I strongly condemn the intensified armed conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia last night that claimed lives on both sides," the minister said in a statement.
"Estonia and its partners in the European Union will continue to monitor the situation on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border and will remain in constant contact with Baku and Yerevan to contribute to ending the intensified conflict. I also welcome the news from this morning that a truce has been re-established, and I urge sides to honor it and return to peace negotiations to end this conflict."
Condemn in the strongest sense the reported intense shelling & increase in tension on the #Armenia-#Azerbaijan border.#Estonia is closely following the ongoing violent situation. We urge an immediate end to any military hostilities & reported strikes on civilian objects.— Urmas Reinsalu (@UrmasReinsalu) September 13, 2022
Dozens of soldiers were killed in fighting between neighboring countries Armenia and Azerbaijan in overnight clashes. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said 49 of its soldiers died.
At the core of the dispute is the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. It is, according to internationally-recognized borders, firmly a part of Azerbaijan — but is populated by ethnic Armenians.
Both countries blame the other for the latest outbreak of violence.
The dispute has led to full-scale war in the 1980s and 1990s, a six-week war in 2020, and continuing clashes for decades, the BBC reported.
Journalist: Azerbaijan taking advantage of Russia's weakness
Azerbaijan is taking advantage of Russia's military weakness by carrying out an attack on Armenian territory, said ERR correspondent Anton Aleksejev on Tuesday. Russia is Armenia's ally.
Additionally, Azerbaijan may want to gain access to the Nakhichevan region through Armenian territory, added the journalist, who covered the war in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020.
"Azerbaijan may have a specific goal — it needs a transport corridor with the Nakhichevan region, which is an exclave between Iran and Armenia, which does not share a common border with Azerbaijan. It is a separate region and there is Armenian territory between them. It is in Azerbaijan's interest to create and construct a transport corridor. But the Armenians are against it, and so is Iran," Aleksejev said
The journalist said there has been no peace in the region following the conflict in 2020, which left thousands dead.
Azerbaijan, which is highly motivated to take territory it believes to be its own, may have seized the opportunity after Russian peacekeepers stationed in the region were sent to fight in the war in Ukraine.
Aleksejev said the Russian peacekeepers still there will not be able to maintain order.
"I do believe that the Azeris saw that the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Russian military have a lot to do elsewhere that is, in Ukraine, and of course, they took advantage of it and took this fact into account to implement their plans," Aleksejev said.
The journalist does not believe the West will be able to stop the conflict.
"At the moment, the question is whether Russia will come to Armenia's aid and somehow influence Azerbaijan so that it stops hostilities. But Russia, as we know, has many other things to do in Ukraine," Aleksejev said.
Kannik: Azerbaijan probably wants to secure its border region
Indrek Kannik, director of the International Center for Defense and Security in Tallinn, echoed Aleksejev's view that Azerbaijan is taking advantage of Russia's preoccupation with Ukraine.
He said Azerbaijan likely wants to secure its border region.
"Armenia's most important ally, Russia, is stuck and busy in Ukraine. Russia has very few forces and this gives Azerbaijan confidence that now is the right time to achieve its wishes and goals," Kannik told TV show "Ringvaade" on Tuesday evening.
"I dare not say for sure, but I assume that their goal is to secure their border zone, to push Armenian military units a little further from the border, to make sure that, for example, Armenian artillery can not attack Azerbaijan's own territory. So-called increasing their own security," he said.
The director said Azerbaijan attacked the Armenian border area and not Nagorno-Karabakh because it achieved its goals in the region in 2020.
"Now is the time to further consolidate its own positions," he said.
Kannik said the escalation is bigger than usual but may be short-lived. He believes Azerbaijan has no interest in expanding the conflict but flare-ups may still occur.
"I don't think they want to conquer the whole of Armenia, they do not have the same ambition as [Russian President Vladimir] Putin had to conquer Ukraine. I think that positions are being improved there and conflicts may still occur," he said.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to add comments from Anton Aleksejev and Indrek Kannik.
Editor: Helen Wright, Joakim Klementi, Merili Nael