Two crew members were killed and a third was injured when the helicopter was shot down in Armenia near the border with Azerbaijan, Moscow says.

A Mi-24 helicopter is seen during military exercises of the Russian navy in the Kaliningrad region on April 4, 2019.
A Mi-24 helicopter is seen during military exercises of the Russian navy in the Kaliningrad region on April 4, 2019. (Reuters)

Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry has said that Azerbaijan's forces downed a Russian helicopter near its border with Armenia by accident, expressing apologies to Moscow and readiness to pay compensation.

Russia's Defence Ministry said earlier on Monday that one of its Mi-24 helicopters had been shot down over Armenia near the border with a region belonging to Azerbaijan, killing two crew members and wounding another.

"The Azerbaijani side offers an apology to the Russian side in connection with this tragic incident," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding the move was "an accident" and "not aimed against" Moscow.

It said the helicopter flew at a low altitude during hours of darkness and close to the state border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

"Helicopters of the Russian air force had not been previously sighted in the area," the statement added.

Baku said Azerbaijani forces decided to open fire due to heightened tensions amid fighting with Armenian troops and militants.

It offered its condolences to the families of those killed and said it was ready to pay compensation.

Fierce clashes for Karabakh 

Azerbaijan said the decision was made to open fire on the helicopter due to the "tense situation in the region and increased combat readiness" after six weeks of fierce clashes with Armenia-backed separatists for control of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The helicopter was shot down near the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, a landlocked exclave of Azerbaijan between Armenia and Turkey, far from Nagorno-Karabakh.

Russia has a military pact with Armenia and a base in the country but has so far insisted it would not get involved in the conflict with Baku unless Armenian territory itself came under threat.

Ferocious fighting continued over Nagorno-Karabakh on Monday, with Azerbaijani forces managing to liberate dozens of villages and capture Shusha, the second-largest city in the occupied Karabakh region. 

READ MORE: Azerbaijan: Some two dozen Karabakh villages retaken from Armenian forces

Source: TRTWorld and agencies