Summary: Following recent developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, local Russian peacekeeping forces proposed a ceasefire agreement, which has been accepted by both authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan. The ceasefire comes in response to a "counter-terrorism" operation initiated by Azerbaijan in the breakaway region. This report provides a detailed account of the events leading to the ceasefire, its terms, and the regional context.
1. On September 19, 2023, Azerbaijani forces initiated what they called a counter-terrorism operation in Nagorno-Karabakh, accusing Armenia of amassing troops in the region, a claim that was denied by Yerevan.
2. The operation resulted in intense fighting, causing casualties on both sides. Azerbaijani attacks reportedly led to the death of at least 32 people and left over 200 injured.
3. In response to the ongoing hostilities, the InfoCenter of Nagorno-Karabakh acknowledged that despite their best efforts, Azerbaijani forces managed to make significant advances, taking control of strategic positions.
4. On September 20, 2023, the Nagorno-Karabakh authorities accepted a proposal from the command of the Russian peacekeeping mission to cease hostilities. This ceasefire agreement was confirmed by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry.
5. The ceasefire agreement, effective from 13:00 on September 20, 2023, stipulates that both Yerevan's military and "illegal Armenian armed groups" must lay down their arms, vacate combat positions, and surrender all weapons to Azerbaijan. Implementation of this process will be coordinated with the Russian peacekeeping contingent.
6. A meeting is scheduled for the following day between representatives from Baku and the local community in Nagorno-Karabakh. Topics to be addressed include reintegration, human rights, and the security of the local population.
7. Nagorno-Karabakh, predominantly populated by ethnic Armenians, has been a longstanding source of tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia, dating back to the late 1980s. It declared independence from Azerbaijan as the Soviet Union dissolved, leading to a major conflict in the early 1990s.
8. A 1994 ceasefire had temporarily halted hostilities but was marred by sporadic fighting over the years. The most notable flare-up occurred in 2020 when Azerbaijan gained control of a significant portion of Nagorno-Karabakh. A Russian-mediated ceasefire ended that round of hostilities.
Russian Peacekeeping and International Involvement:
9. Russian President Vladimir Putin has emphasized that Russian peacekeeping forces are actively engaged with all parties involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, working to protect civilians in the region.
10. President Putin expressed hope that dialogue involving Moscow, Yerevan, Baku, and the Nagorno-Karabakh authorities would lead to de-escalation and a peaceful resolution. He noted that more than 2,000 civilians, including over 1,000 children, are currently housed at the primary base used by Russian peacekeepers in the region.
International Calls for Action:
11. Armenia's ambassador-at-large, Edmon Marukyan, has called on the United States, France, and EU leaders to intervene in the renewed fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and to condemn Azerbaijan's actions.
12. Moscow has urged all parties to respect the 2020 ceasefire agreement, emphasizing the need for concrete efforts based on a legal framework to achieve a peaceful settlement.
13. Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1988 and has received consistent support from Yerevan. Baku lost control of Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding areas in the early 1990s but regained significant territory following the 2020 war.
14. The 2020 conflict ended with a Moscow-brokered ceasefire, leading to the deployment of Russian peacekeepers in the region.
Analysis: The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh remains volatile despite the recent ceasefire agreement. The involvement of Russian peacekeeping forces and international calls for action highlight the importance of addressing the underlying issues to achieve a lasting resolution and prevent further escalation in the region.