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Nagorno-Karabakh authorities surrender in apparent Russia-brokered deal

by The Kyiv Independent news desk September 20, 2023 1:45 PM 3 min read
The flag of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh flies in its de facto capital, Stepanakert, on July 25, 2023. (Photo by Ani Balayan/AFP via Getty Images)
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Authorities in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh declared that they had "no choice but to cease hostilities" with Azerbaijani forces, Reuters reported on Sept. 20.

Following reported advances by the Azerbaijani military into territory held by the ethnic Armenian forces, authorities in the capital of Stepanakert (Khankendi in Azerbaijani) agreed to accept a ceasefire mediated by Russian peacekeeping forces.

According to the terms of the proposal, any remaining Armenian troops must leave Azerbaijan territory and there must be a “dissolution and complete disarmament of the Armed Forces of Nagorno-Karabakh."

Further issues relating to the integration of the territory and the status of the predominantly ethnic Armenian population that live there will be discussed at upcoming talks on Sept. 20, in the Azerbaijani city of Yevlakh, RFE/RL’s Armenian service reported.

Azerbaijan strikes targets in Nagorno-Karabakh, launches military operation
Azerbaijan has launched a military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh with the claimed “goal of restoring the constitutional order,” the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan said on Sept. 19. In Stepanakert (Khankendi), the de-facto capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, air raid sounded and there are reports of gunf…

Under international law, Nagorno-Karabakh is recognized as Azerbaijani territory, but has been under the de-facto control of Armenian separatists since 1991, who refer to it as Artsakh. Yerevan has supported the breakaway territory militarily, which regularly clashed with Azerbaijani forces in the following decades.

In 2020, Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a major war in which the latter's forces successfully reclaimed a large portion of the territory before a ceasefire was mediated by Moscow, which sent a "peacekeeping" force of several thousand Russian troops to the region.

In the following years, tensions did not subside, with Azerbaijan blockading the Lachin corridor, the only road connecting Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, leading to a humanitarian crisis widely condemned by UN member states and international organizations.

This dispute culminated in the outbreak of full-scale fighting on Sept. 19.

Armenia, whose troops are reportedly no longer stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh, has claimed not to be involved in direct fighting with Azerbaijani forces. Yerevan was neither party nor made aware of the ceasefire negotiations, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in an address on Sept. 20.

Stepanakert stated that as many as 100 people died in the fighting as it entered its second day.

Despite the ceasefire agreement, Nagorno-Karabakh authorities stated on Sept. 20 that shelling continued into the day, RF/ERL’s Armenian service reported.

At the same time, Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry declared in a press conference on Sept. 20 that the “anti-terrorist operations” had been suspended.

Media: Protesters clash with police at Russian embassy in Armenia over Azerbaijan’s offensive
Armenian citizens clashed with the police at the Russian embassy in Yerevan as the people demand Moscow to stop Azerbaijan’s offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh, the news portal reported on Sept. 19.
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