By Mark Dovich
Azerbaijan has handed over the bodies of 95 Armenian soldiers killed in Azerbaijan’s unprecedented attack last week on Armenia, taking the total number of bodies repatriated by Azerbaijan so far to 127.
Aram Torosyan, a spokesperson for Armenia’s Defense Ministry, confirmed the figures to CivilNet Tuesday.
The day before, Armenia’s Security Council raised the total number of Armenians killed or missing after last week’s attack to 207, a figure that includes five civilians.
Torosyan said the 127 bodies returned so far are “included” in the 207 figure, but it remains unclear how many people out of that number have been confirmed killed versus remain missing.
Armenia updated its figures Monday to 296 people injured, including three civilians, and 20 soldiers taken as prisoners of war, while Azerbaijan continues to report 80 soldiers killed and 282 wounded.
The combined losses make last week by far the bloodiest in the region since the outbreak of the war in and around Karabakh (Artsakh) nearly two years ago, while Azerbaijan’s attack on three dozen municipalities in Armenia proper marked an unprecedented escalation in hostilities.
A ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan that came into effect last Wednesday evening continued to hold as of 9 a.m. local time Tuesday, Armenia’s Defense Ministry said.
Meanwhile, Stanislav Zas, the head of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, arrived in Armenia Tuesday for meetings with senior officials.
Anatoly Sidorov, a senior official at the CSTO, arrived in Armenia five days earlier to lead a fact-finding mission in the eastern and southern parts of the country, which were heavily shelled in last week’s two-day attack.
The CSTO decided to send the mission after declining to provide military assistance to Armenia, a founding member of the alliance, at an emergency session convened last Tuesday at Armenia’s request.
That decision prompted Yerevan residents to hold a small, but rare, protest over the weekend, demanding Armenia withdraw from the CSTO, saying it is not living up to its security commitments to Armenia.
Last Friday, a small number of people attempted to gather in front of the Russian embassy in Yerevan to protest “against Russia’s indifference and neutrality,” but police immediately detained them.
Earlier on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told two dozen foreign ambassadors freshly posted to Moscow that Yerevan will host this year’s annual CSTO summit.
“Let me note that measures are being taken through this organization (the CSTO) in connection with the aggravation of the situation in the Armenian-Azerbaijani border area,” he said. “We call on everyone to show restraint, strictly adhere to the ceasefire regime, and firmly follow the trilateral statements.”
The term “trilateral statements” refers to three statements signed by the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia since the end of the 2020 Karabakh war, including the ceasefire that halted large-scale hostilities in and around Karabakh.