The nationwide conscription call and martial law were both announced by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan earlier on Sunday. His Facebook post urged reservists to turn up at their territorial recruitment offices “for the sake of our homeland and for the sake of victory.”
The call to arms and martial law will be put in place because Azerbaijan may decide to attack Armenia, the premier clarified in an address to the nation later in the day.
Comprising around 44,000 active-duty troops – less than half of them conscripts – the Armenian military relies on a 210,000-strong standing reserve. Armenians who have completed military service as enlisted personnel bear an obligation to become soldiers in wartime up to the age of 50. Officers are mandated to remain in the reserve force until they turn 60.
The call to arms comes shortly after intense fighting broke out along the border of Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory wedged between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Both sides reported civilian casualties and blamed each other for starting hostilities that involved artillery shelling as well as the use of combat aircraft and heavy armor.
Earlier in the day, the Azerbaijani military reported the seizure of several strategic locations and settlements along the front line. The claim, however, was quickly rebuked by the Armenians.
Meanwhile, Baku said it sees no need to follow Armenia’s suit issuing a total conscription call. Reservists may be summoned by the army, but there’s “no such need” at present, Azerbaijan’s military officials stated.
While populated and administered by ethnic Armenians, Baku considers the region as part of Azerbaijan. Both sides fought a war in the 1990s, triggered by Nagorno-Karabakh’s decision to cede from Azerbaijan following the dissolution of the USSR. Earlier on Sunday, the breakaway region also declared martial law and mobilized its male population.
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