Armenia Signs 'Painful' Deal With Azerbaijan and Russia to End Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

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Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan,  October 6, 2020.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan, October 6, 2020.Credit: - - AFP

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said he has signed a deal with the leaders of Azerbaijan and Russia to end the military conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region on Tuesday morning after more than a month of bloodshed.

Pashinyan first announced the signing on social media in the early hours of Tuesday and the Kremlin and Azerbaijan's president Ilham Aliyev later confirmed the news.

"The signed trilateral statement will become a (crucial) point in the settlement of the conflict," Aliyev said in a televised online meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin

Putin said Russian peacekeepers would be deployed along the frontline in Nagorno-Karabakh and the corridor between the region and Armenia. The Russian Defense Ministry later said 1,960 soldiers were already en route. Aliyev also said that Azerbaijan ally Turkey would take part in the peace-keeping process.

Arayik Harutyunyan, the leader of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, said on Facebook that he gave agreement "to end the war as soon as possible".

There were reports of protests in Armenia's capital after the announcement, with angry crowds calling on Pashinyan's resignation. Videos posted on social media showed people breaking into government buildings, including the parliament.

Meanwhile, in Azerbaijan's capital Baku, buildings were lit up with national colors, while cars honked their way down the jammed streets. People waved Azerbaijani and Turkish flags in celebration. 

In a televised address, President Ilham Aliyev made it clear this was a military victory for Azerbaijan. "Pashinyan did not sign this peace deal voluntarily. He signed it due to this iron fist," he said, reinforcing the statement with a gesture.

The declaration has followed six weeks of heavy fighting and advancement by Azerbaijan's forces. Baku said on Monday it had seized dozens more settlements in Nagorno-Karabakh, a day after proclaiming victory in the battle for the enclave's strategically positioned second-largest city.

"The decision is made based on deep analyses of the combat situation and in discussion with best experts in the field," Pashinyan said on social media.

"This is not a victory but there is not defeat until you consider yourself defeated. We will never consider ourselves defeated and this shall become a new start of an era of our national unity and rebirth."

The fighting had raised fears of a wider regional war, with Turkey supporting its ally Azerbaijan, while Russia has a defence pact with Armenia and a military base there.

Azerbaijan says it has since September 27 retaken much of the land in and around Nagorno-Karabakh that it lost in a 1991-94 war which killed an estimated 30,000 people and forced many more from their homes. Armenia has denied the extent of Azerbaijan's territorial gains.