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YEREVAN. – The recent round of clashes in the line of contact has prompted a more nuanced response from the OSCE Minsk Group, Armenian analyst Richard Giragosian said in response to Armenian News-NEWS.am request to comment on the recent statement issued by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.

Richard Giragosian, director at Armenia-based Regional Studies Center, said already tense situation along the Nagarno-Karabakh line of contact dramatically worsened over the past week, and after months of a consistent and steady escalation, clashes led to a detailed response from the OSCE Minsk Group. 

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Minsk Group in particular said: “According to information collected from multiple reliable sources, on 15 May, Azerbaijani armed forces fired a missile across the Line of Contact, striking military equipment.”

“This latest, more assertive OSCE statement clearly identifies the nature of the violations. This was aimed to not only pressure all sides to refrain from further escalation, but also cannot help but to be a stronger reaction in the wake of the Azerbaijani move to force the closure of the OSCE office in Armenia, the last OSCE presence in the region,” Giragosian said in a written comment.

According to him, the statement shows that clear and coherent asymmetry of the violations was evident as the co-chairs also criticized the response of 16-17 May by stating “Armenian armed forces retaliated with mortar fire of various calibres”.

“Moreover, in statements echoing the OSCE Minsk Group, the official Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakhariva, also added to the warning.  This also suggests that Moscow may be likely upset with any advance knowledge of the Azerbaijani missile attack that, after all, destroyed a Russian-made air defense system,” the analyst added.

However, the developments make Giragosian think that the risk of greater provocations, more violations and even of renewed hostilities is much greater as the summer comes. 

“And more worrying, there is no real or effective deterrent preventing an ever more significant round of attacks and tests of defensive positions by Azerbaijan,” he resumed.

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