MOSCOW, November 10. /TASS/. After more than a month of intensive fighting in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh and three failed attempts to achieve a ceasefire, Azerbaijan and Armenia have managed to finally strike a deal under the Russian mediation aimed at stopping the armed confrontation. Late on Tuesday night, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced that he signed a statement to end hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"I signed a statement with the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan on ending the Karabakh war since 01:00 (00:00 Moscow Time). The text of the published statement is inexpressibly painful for me personally and for our people. I made the decision after a deep analysis of the military situation and the assessment by people who know it better than anyone," he informed. Pashinyan did not share details of the agreements. Putin and Aliyev divulged more information.
Crux of agreements
According to the Russian leader, Azeri and Armenian armed forces will stay on positions they currently occupy. A Russian peacekeeping contingent is deployed along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the corridor that connects the disputed region to Armenia.
Moreover, all economic ties and transport links in the region are unblocked. The transport communication is overseen particularly with the help of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) border agency.
Internally displaced people and refugees return to the disputed region and adjacent districts as overseen by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. In addition to that, the parties to the conflict exchange prisoners of war, other detained people and bodies of the dead.
Meanwhile, the Azeri leader addressed the nation to clarify that Baku will establish control over several districts of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. "The Agdam District will be returned before November 20, the Kalbajar District before November 15 and the Lachin District before December 1," he informed.
Aliev also underlined that not only Russian but also Turkish peacekeepers will be deployed to the conflict zone. "Russian and Turkish servicemen will be represented in the Karabakh peacekeeping center," the leader said.
End of longstanding conflict
In a comment about the agreements reached, Putin voiced hope that they "will not only end the longstanding conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and stop the bloodshed on this land but will also create reliable control mechanisms," laying down favorable conditions to "develop relations in the region, primarily friendly relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the interests of both Azeri and Armenian people, over the long-term."
At the same time, he vowed that Moscow will do everything possible for the agreements to hold up.
Aliyev is confident too that the current Nagorno-Karabakh agreement serves interests of both nations. "I am glad that an end is put to the settlement of the longstanding Karabakh conflict," he noted. "I must say that a military and political settlement that we see now will lead to a long-term peace as well as concord in our region and will end conformation and bloodshed."
The Azeri leader highlighted Russia’s special role in the settlement. "I would like to express gratitude to you, Vladimir [Putin] for your active participation in the settlement both in the previous years and particularly during the hot phase of the conflict. The fact that today the three leaders of the countries sign this document attests to the special role of Russia in solving this conflict," he pointed out. Aliyev is certain that Moscow will play a significant role in normalizing relations between the two states.
Moreover, the Azeri president thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his "active participation in the political settlement of the conflict." "We create a completely new format of cooperation in the region not only with the goal of settling the conflict, but also in the interests of future development," he said.
Pashinyan later addressed the nation to say that the decision to end the conflict was made in view of the current situation on the frontline. "We fought against terrorists, Azerbaijan and one of the best NATO armies, the Turkish one," he said. "We made the decision in view of the frontline situation. This decision was made on the basis of analysis of the military situation and advice of the people who knew the true state of affairs better than anyone else."
He emphasized that this step was forced. "We did not have any other option but to sign the statement. I want to say a lot to you in light of this situation, but I cannot for now, because my words will endanger servicemen who are currently occupying their positions," the prime minister noted.
His address came amid protest rallies against these agreements that broke out in Yerevan. By then, hundreds of people had stormed the buildings of the Armenian government and parliament, demanding Pashinyan’s resignation and calling on the military to seize power. The prime minister himself warned that all rioters would be punished harshly.
According to the agreements reached, Russia is sending almost 2,000 peacekeepers to the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh aboard military transport jets.
"A Russian peacekeeping contingent, consisting of 1,960 servicemen, 90 armored carriers and 380 units of vehicle and special hardware, is deployed to oversee the ceasefire and end hostilities in the conflict zone," the Russian Defense Ministry clarified.
The agency specified that Russian observation posts would be set up along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh and the Lachin corridor that connects Armenia and the disputed region. The peacekeeping operation command center would be located in Stepanakert.
Russian helicopter downed
A few hours before the Nagorno-Karabakh agreement announcement was made, a tragic incident took place. A Russian military helicopter was shot down by an Azeri missile in the Armenian airspace. The Azeri Foreign Ministry almost immediately recognized that the helicopter was downed by mistake. Baku offered condolences to families of the dead pilots and expressed readiness to pay compensations to Moscow. Aliyev also called Putin to personally apologize. He confirmed that his country is ready to investigate the incident and punish those who are guilty of it.
Some observers rushed to connect the incident to the Nagorno-Karabakh agreements. However, the Kremlin rejected these claims. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS that "the work on the agreement started long before the incident."