Two people were killed and one was injured when a Russian military helicopter was shot down near the Armenia and Azerbaijan border on Monday, according to Moscow’s Defense Ministry.
Moscow said the Mi-24 helicopter was hit by a shoulder-launched missile and crashed in Armenia, whose forces are fighting Azerbaijan in a monthlong war over the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh. The breakaway region within Azerbaijan is controlled by ethnic Armenians, who refer to the area as Artsakh.
The helicopter went down outside the combat zone as it was escorting a motorcade to a Russian military base, according to RT News, a Kremlin-financed news operation.
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry later announced that the helicopter was downed by mistake, and the government is prepared to compensate Moscow for the accident, Russia’s state Tass news agency reported.
Armenia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, condemned what it called an "assault towards the Russian Armed Forces by the Azerbaijani armed forces within the sovereign territory of Armenia."
"We are convinced that the use of force against the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will receive an adequate response," the ministry said in a statement.
Azerbaijan and Armenian separatists have stepped up their fighting in a battle over Nagorno-Karabakh, which has resulted in nearly 1,000 reported military casualties on the side of Armenia and dozens of civilians killed and hundreds wounded on both sides. Azerbaijan does not publicize its military casualties.
Negotiations for control over the territory have been stalled for 30 years under the support of the Minsk Group, co-chaired by the U.S., France and Russia.
The United States has attempted to negotiate a cease-fire in the fighting, though such an agreement fell apart minutes after its implementation late last month.
--Updated at 3:28 p.m.