Pelosi Going To Armenia As Death Toll Rises In Azerbaijan Border Fighting

A tenuous ceasefire along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border appears to have held since it was enacted at 8pm local time (16:00 GMT) on Wednesday, but the death toll has risen in this biggest flare-up in fighting since the Nagorno-Karabakh war of 2020.

As of Thursday, after two days of fierce shelling the total death toll stands at 176 soldiers killed, with Armenia saying 105 of its troops were killed, and Azerbaijan counting 71 deaths among its forces. Each side blames the other for starting the fresh clashes.

Nancy Pelosi meeting with Armenian officials in 2019.
Nancy Pelosi meeting with Armenian officials in 2019.

The United Nations praised the two sides reaching a ceasefire, with a statement saying, "The international community must remain fully committed to a peaceful settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan and spare no effort to de-escalate the current tensions, bring the parties back to the negotiation table and help them achieve peace and stability in the region."

Politico is reporting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will travel Armenia this weekend in a show of support for the country and to work toward ensuring a peace holds. She's expected to meet with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan, following the G-7 Speakers’ Summit in Berlin. 

She's expected to travel with Armenian-American Congress member Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.). Politico observes that "It will be the speaker’s latest dramatic foreign trip following her contentious arrival in Taiwan last month. With the midterms approaching — and the possibility that she will lose the gavel if Republicans return to the majority — the belief in Washington is that Pelosi wants to cement her legacy as a champion of human rights, not only in the United States but around the world."

While citing two anonymous officials who confirmed plans for the trip, there hasn't been official verification from either Pelosi nor Speier's offices "due to longstanding security protocols."

Complicating matters regarding boiling border tensions, there are still several hundred Russian peacekeeping troops in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, as part of the settlement from the last round of fighting centered there. This peacekeeping mission is now in doubt, and Russia's major base in Armenia territory is said to be on "high alert". 

Azerbaijan previously "necessary response measures" by military units stationed at the border on Wednesday just before a ceasefire took hold. That's when Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Paruyr Hovhannisyan told Reuters "the clashes could escalate into a war – a second major armed conflict in the former Soviet Union while Russia’s military is focused on the invasion of Ukraine."

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