Yerevan (GPA) – In what may prove to be a costly mistake, Azerbaijan has admitted to downing a Russian helicopter over Armenia.
During an eventful day of fighting Nagorno-Karabakh, Azeri forces managed to make a massive mistake in all the confusion. Even as ethnic Armenians lost Shushi, the second-largest city in Artsakh, this latest mistake by Azerbaijan may put a stop to any victory celebrations before they can begin.
Russia confirmed the downing of the Mi-24 that was part of a group running routine drills from Russia’s base in Armenia earlier today. Azerbaijan did promptly offer to reimburse Russia for the incident but Russians likely won’t be happy two of their pilots are dead despite Moscow acting as a neutral party in the Nagorno-Karabakh.
Although a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman downplayed any escalation saying Moscow “does not support a forcible settlement of this crisis.”
Regardless of the aversion of crisis, for now, Azerbaijan will likely also have to answer some further questions about why this incident occurred in the region of Nakhchivan, which is on the Armenian-Azeri border near Iran and Turkey. This region is nowhere near the conflict zone, which Russia spoke to in their statement, which will lead some to wonder what gave Azerbaijan the idea to down the helicopter.
Artsakh does not have any air power and relies heavily on its air defense forces, so it is unclear who exactly the Azeris thought they were firing on. At best, the thought was likely that they were going to be downing an Armenian helicopter and at worst, just any nation’s aircraft.
Azerbaijan does claim the Mi-24 was “flying low in the dark” but since no violations took place on Russia’s part is unclear how this is an acceptable excuse.
James Carey is an organizer based in Detroit, Michigan, founder of Geopolitics Alert, and an experienced analyst on Middle Eastern affairs with a particular focus on Turkey. He also covers topics ranging from Latin America and Asia to Europe. You can also hear James in his weekly podcast; The Left is Dead which he co-hosts with investigative journalist Jake Anderson.