Russia Brokers Ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh
Since Soviet Russia’s dissolution in December 1991, Nagorno-Karabakh (NK below) has been disputed territory.
Internationally recognized as Azerbaijan territory, its population is largely Armenian.
Armed conflict between both countries occurred from late 1991 – 1994, thousands of lives lost, hundreds of thousands displaced.
An uneasy armistice followed, leaving Armenia in control of the territory Azerbaijan wants back.
Intermittent conflict occurred since the mid-1990s — most recently erupting in July, escalating significantly in late September.
On October 8, Vladimir Putin invited Armenian and Azeri foreign ministers to Moscow for ceasefire talks.
Calling days of fighting a “tragedy,” he urged both sides to suspend hostilities for humanitarian reasons.
On Friday, Azeri and Armenian foreign ministers met with Sergey Lavrov.
Following talks, Russia’s foreign minister said both sides agreed to halt fighting at midday on Saturday.
Citing a joint statement by both sides, Lavrov said the following:
“A ceasefire is declared to begin on October 10 at (noon) with the humanitarian aim of exchanging prisoners of war and other captured persons as well as to exchange bodies of victims with the facilitation of the International Committee of the Red Cross and in line with its regulations.”
“Detailed parameters of the ceasefire regime will be agreed upon in the near future.”
“The Republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia, with the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and based on the principles of conflict settlements, begin practical negotiations with the main task of reaching the peace settlement as soon as possible.”
“All involved parties have confirmed their adherence to the invariability of the negotiating process.”
Decades of differences between both sides aren’t easily resolved in hours or days.
Ahead of the agreed on noon Saturday ceasefire deadline, fighting continued, both sides blaming each other.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry accused Armenia of rocket attacks on Hadrut and Azeri villages.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry accused Azeri forces of striking NG villages with combat drones.
Each side denied the other’s charges.
Often when ceasefires are agreed on in conflict theaters, fighting continues to some degree past an agreed on deadline for halting it.
Whether what was agreed on in Moscow Friday holds will take time to know.
A Final Comment
Ahead of Friday talks, Russia’s Foreign Ministry explained that conflict over NK “is the most complicated and destructive in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States).”
Established in 1991, they originally included Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
US-controlled Georgia and Ukraine ceased involvement in the CIS.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said mediation between Azerbaijan and Armenia over NK is focused on “formulating the political principles of settlement that would serve as a basis for a future peace agreement.”
It’s no simple task, what hasn’t been accomplished since earlier fighting between both countries ended in 1994.
Moscow presses on both sides that the NK “conflict cannot be settled by force and urge(s) Armenian and Azerbaijan leaderships to resolve their disputes on the basis of the principles of non-use or threat of use of force, territorial integrity of states, equality of rights and the right of peoples to self determination.”
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