Azerbaijan has launched “anti-terror” operations in Nagorno-Karabakh, and said it will not stop until ethnic-Armenian separatists surrender.
Tensions in the South Caucasus have been high for months around the breakaway enclave, recognised internationally as part of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan and Armenia last went to war three years ago.
Baku ordered “illegal Armenian military formations” to hand over arms and dissolve their “illegal regime”.
Azerbaijan and Armenia first went to war in the early 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union. Then in 2020 Azerbaijan recaptured areas in and around Nagorno-Karabakh before a truce was agreed and monitored by Russian peacekeepers.
Ethnic Armenians in Karabakh appealed on Tuesday for a ceasefire and for talks to start. But it was clear from the Azerbaijani ultimatum that Baku’s aim was to complete its conquest of the mountainous enclave.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused Azerbaijan of starting a ground operation aimed at “ethnic cleansing”.
But hundreds of Armenian protesters, frustrated by their country’s response, clashed with police outside parliament in Yerevan, condemning their leader as a traitor and calling on him to resign.
Azerbaijan said talks could start in the town of Yevlakh, some 100km (60km) north of the Karabakh regional capital of Khankendi, called Stepanakert by ethnic Armenians. (BBC)