Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia signal Nagorno-Karabakh peace deal

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  • Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Image rightsReutersImage descriptionIt comes after six weeks of fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenian separatists in the disputed region *: not ([hidden]): not (style) ~ *: not ([hidden]): not (style) {margin-top: 1rem;}]]>

Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia have signed an agreement to end the military conflict over the controversial Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan described the deal as “incredibly painful for both me and our people”.

It comes after six weeks of fighting between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenians.

The region is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani, but has been run by ethnic Armenians since 1994.

That year a ceasefire was signed after the fight, but not a peace agreement.

Since the fighting broke out again in September, a number of ceasefire agreements have been signed, all of which have failed.

What was agreed?

The peace agreement will come into force on Tuesday at 1:00 a.m. local time (Monday 9:00 p.m. GMT).

Under the new agreement, Azerbaijan will hold onto areas in Nagorno-Karabakh that it occupied during the conflict. Armenia has also agreed to withdraw from several other adjacent areas over the next few weeks.

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During an online televised address, Russian President Vladimir Putin said 1,960 Russian peacekeepers would be deployed to patrol the frontline.

According to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who joined President Putin during the address, Turkey will also participate in the peacekeeping process.

Media signatureArmenians on the front lines in Nagorno-Karabakh

President Putin said the deal would include an exchange of prisoners of war “without blocking all economic and transport contacts”.

What was the reaction?

President Aliyev said the deal was “historic” and represented a “surrender” of Armenia.

Image rightsEPAImage descriptionThe Armenian separatists have steadily lost territory to Azerrbajan since the fighting broke out

Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan said his decision was based on “in-depth analysis of the combat situation and discussions with the best experts in the field.”

“This is not a win but there is no defeat until you consider yourself defeated,” said Pashinyan.

Image rightsReutersImage descriptionNumerous people stormed the government headquarters in Yerevan in protest against the deal

The Armenian leader in Nagorno-Karabakh, Arayik Harutyunyan, said he had given his consent to “end the war as soon as possible”.

According to local media, a large crowd has gathered in the Armenian capital of Yerevan to protest the agreement.

What happened during the conflict?

The Armenians have steadily lost territory and at the weekend the Azerbaijani armed forces took over the second largest city in the region, Shusha, called Shushi in Armenian.

Azerbaijan has also admitted accidentally shooting down a Russian military helicopter over Armenia, killing two crew members and injuring a third.

Image rightsEPAImage descriptionBoth sides have accused each other of shooting at civilian areas

It is unclear exactly how many died. Both sides refuse to attack civilians but accuse the other of doing so.

Nagorno-Karabakh authorities said nearly 1,200 of its defense forces were killed in the fighting and civilians were also killed or injured.

Azerbaijan has not released its military casualty figures, but said more than 80 civilians were killed in the fighting – including 21 in a rocket attack on the city of Barda last month.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month that nearly 5,000 people were killed in the fighting.

What is the geopolitical context in the South Caucasus?

Russia has a military base in Armenia, and the two countries are members of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization.

The treaty provides for Russian military support if Armenia is attacked. However, it does not include Nagorno-Karabakh or the other Azerbaijani regions around it that have been seized by Armenian forces.

At the same time, Moscow maintains close ties with Azerbaijan, which Turkey, a NATO member, openly supports. Russia has sold arms to both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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