Artsakh Authorities Agree to Russia-Brokered Ceasefire


Sept 21, 2023. Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas

The authorities of the Republic of Artsakh have agreed to a Russian-brokered ceasefire, which went into effect at 1 p.m. local time on Wednesday. The agreement includes the complete disarming of the Artsakh Defense Army and the protection of Armenians will fall under the jurisdiction of Russian peacekeepers stationed in Artsakh, says “asbarez”.

Artsakh’s President Samuel Shahramanyan, during a Security Council meeting, blamed the inadequate response from international stakeholders and regional actors, saying that it was incumbent for Artsakh’s leaders to take steps to ensure the physical security of the population.

Shahramanyan’s office later issued a statement saying that by launching a large-scale attack against Artsakh, Azerbaijan demonstrated its ambition to divide Artsakh and cause irreparable and existential damage to the republic.

“During two days of intense fighting, the units of the Artsakh Armed Forces heroically fought against the enemy, which had much superior manpower and military equipment that resulting in large-scale losses,” the statement said.

“Unfortunately, there are casualties on the Armenian side, and in some areas the enemy has managed to break into the military positions of the Defense Forces, take control of a number of heights and strategic road junctions,” the statement emphasized.

“In the current situation, the actions of the international community in the direction of stopping the war and resolving the situation are insufficient. Taking into account all this, the authorities of the Republic of Artsakh accept the proposal of the command of the Russian peacekeeping mission regarding the cessation of fire,” the Artsakh president’s office said.

The Russian peacekeeping contingent had already announced that a ceasefire would go into effect at 1 p.m. local time on Wednesday. This was backed by a similar statement by Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry, which said its so-called “antiterror” campaign would cease.

Azerbaijan had framed its large-scale attack on Artsakh on Tuesday as combatting terrorism, accusing the Artsakh authorities of placing mines and arming themselves “within the territory of Azerbaijan.”

Wednesday’s agreement does not mention the nine-month-long blockade of the Lachin Corridor or efforts to end the humanitarian crisis resulting from Azerbaijan’s complete chokehold on Artsakh.

It said an agreement was reached on the withdrawal of the remaining units and military personnel of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia from the zone of deployment of the Russian peacekeeping contingent and the disbandment and complete disarmament of what it called “armed formations of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army” and the withdrawal of heavy equipment and weapons from the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh with the aim of their speedy disposal.

The issues of rights and security of Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh will be discussed at a meeting between representatives of the local Armenian population and representatives of Azerbaijani authorities at a meeting in the city of Yevlakh on Thursday and during subsequent meetings.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia said that his country’s peacekeepers in Artsakh “are actively working with all parties involved in the conflict” and they are doing everything to protect the peaceful population. He explained that 2,000 civilians, half of whom are children, were currently being housed at the Russian peacekeepers deployment location.

“We are in close contact with all parties to the conflict, with authorities in Yerevan, Stepanakert and Baku,” Putin said during a meeting with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi. “I hope we will be able to achieve de-escalation and shift the resolution of the issue to the peaceful arena,” RIA Novosti reported.

Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry S. Peskov, signaled that Russia did not see Azerbaijan’s military attack on Artsakh as a violation of international law.

“De jure, we are talking about actions of the Azerbaijani side on its own territory,” Peskov told reporters.

In a live televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan emphasized the portion of the ceasefire agreement that mentions “Armenian Armed Forces,” contending that Armenia has no military presence in Nagorno-Karabakh.

He was quick to point out that his government was not involved in drafting the agreement and claimed to have found out about the final outcome “through official information channels of Nagorno-Karabakh.”

“Certainly, we became acquainted with the text, and since Armenia did not have any participation in the development of that text, and was not a party to the discussions, our first remark is the following, the text mentions the Armed Forces of Armenia, and it mentions the withdrawal of the remaining units of the Armed Forces of Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh. This fact is unclear for us in conditions when we have numerously said that Armenia has not had an army in Nagorno-Karabakh since August 2021. But in any case, we note this statement and that the Nagorno-Karabakh authorities have accepted it,” Pashinyan complained.

“Mentioning the name of Republic of Armenia in a text which has basically nothing to do with the Republic of Armenia justifies my hypothesis and assessment that I made yesterday that one of the goals of the attack against Nagorno-Karabakh was to drag the Republic of Armenia into military operations. Of course, I have one assessment, that if it were possible to drag Armenia into military operations, the main target of that would have been the independence and sovereignty of Armenia,” Pashinyan added.

He went on to signal doubt on whether the Russian peacekeepers, through this new agreement, would ensure the security of the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Logically I assume that if the Russian peacekeepers have proposed a ceasefire. This, in and of itself, means that they have completely and without any reservations assumed the obligation to ensure the security of the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, through which the full conditions must be ensured for preserving the right of the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh to live in their homes, on their land. And it is my understanding that they are entirely assuming responsibility with this statement,” Pashinyan said.

At the same time, Pashinyan said that he had the same opinion about the November 9, 2020 ceasefire deal, by which Russia was supposed to ensure security of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“But we hope that by making this step, the Russian peacekeeping contingent will completely fulfill its obligations, about which we had some reservations previously,” Pashinyan said.