Peace night: how Armenia and Azerbaijan divided Karabakh

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Russia’s influence in the Caucasus region will grow significantly thanks to the fact that Moscow helped to achieve a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh. This was stated by experts interviewed by Izvestia, commenting on the agreement reached between Baku and Yerevan. The heads of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia signed a statement on the complete end of hostilities in the unrecognized republic from 0:00 Moscow time on November 10. According to the document, the troops of the warring parties remain in their positions, Yerevan returns its territory to Baku, but receives the Lachin corridor, which will connect the NKR with Armenia. The Russian peacekeepers will act as a guarantee of compliance with the agreements – they have already moved to Karabakh… In his speech, the leader of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, called the agreement “the most profitable option.” And in Yerevan, against the background of the signing of an agreement on the transfer of some territories to Baku, unrest broke out at night.

The points

This is not the first agreement on the cessation of hostilities in the NKR. All previous similar agreements were not observed by the parties. but this document contains new clauses that can really radically change the situation.

For instance we are talking about the introduction of the Russian peacekeeping contingent into the conflict zone – for five years with automatic renewal for the next five-year periods, if neither side is against. It is being deployed in parallel with the withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from Azerbaijani territories.… Armenia, according to the document, undertakes to transfer the Kelbajar region to Azerbaijan by November 15, Aghdam region by November 20, and Lachin region by December 1, 2020, leaving behind a corridor 5 km wide. It will ensure the connection of Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia and at the same time will not affect the city of Shusha.

A peacekeeping center is being deployed to increase the effectiveness of control over the implementation by the parties to the conflict.… Internally displaced persons and refugees return to the territory of Karabakh and adjacent areas under the control of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for refugees. There is also an exchange of prisoners of war and all economic and transport links in the region are unblocked.

At half past one in the night of November 10, the Kremlin released a statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the signed agreements.

We proceed from the fact that the agreements reached will create the necessary conditions for a long-term and full-scale settlement of the crisis around Nagorno-Karabakh on a just basis and in the interests of the Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples, the Russian leader emphasized.

At the same time, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that peacekeeping activities will be carried out jointly by Russia and Turkey. According to him, Baku is ready to turn to Ankara in case of military aggression. Aliyev stated that the military phase is coming to an end and the parties are moving towards a political settlement. He called the agreements “the most profitable option” and “actually a military surrender of Armenia.”

Prior to that, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that he had made this decision as a result of a deep analysis of the military situation. “I kneel before all our victims. I bow to all our soldiers, killers, generals, volunteers who defended and defended their homeland with their lives, ”he wrote on Facebook.

Peace guarantors

As stated by the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Russian Federation sent 1,960 peacekeepers and 470 pieces of equipment to Nagorno-Karabakh on military transport planes. The core of the contingent will be subdivisions of the 15th separate motorized rifle brigade (peacekeeping) of the Central Military District.

In addition, according to Izvestia sources in the military department, on the Russian side in the peacekeeping operation it was decided to use the 102nd military base, which is deployed on the territory of Armenia, 31st airborne assault brigade from Ulyanovsk, as well as units of the 45th separate guards brigade of special forces of the Airborne Forces, located in Kubinka near Moscow.

According to Izvestia’s interlocutors, already on Monday, November 9, at the Kubinka and Ulyanovsk airfields, more than two dozen Il-76 military transport aircraft gathered for the transfer of paratroopers. The planes arrived from Tver, Taganrog and Pskov.

On the night of October 10, Armenia received footage of the 15th Motorized Rifle Brigade’s Russian military convoy advancing to Karabakh… It is the largest peacekeeping unit in the Ground Forces. This status was assigned to the brigade in February 2005. Part is fully staffed by contract soldiers and is part of the UN international peacekeeping forces. She already has experience in maintaining peace in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict from 2005 to 2008.

The choice of landing units for the operation in Nagorno-Karabakh is also not accidental.… The 31st Airborne Assault Brigade is the only one in the Airborne Forces that has peacekeeping status. To do this, since 2013, it has been fully completed on a contract basis. Earlier, “Krasnaya Zvezda” reported that special attention in the training of the 31st brigade is paid to the peacekeeping specifics and skills of performing tasks by non-military methods – negotiating, demonstrating presence and readiness to resolve problems by force.

The 45th Special Forces Brigade is famous for participating in all modern conflicts with the participation of the Russian army. They have experience of military operations in the Caucasus during the operation to force Georgia to peace in 2008.

Protests

In Yerevan, news of signed agreements and land surrender met with protestsand. Columns of cars began to flock to Republic Square in the city center at night.

According to media reports, the protesters broke into the government building. According to some reports, they beat the speaker of the Armenian parliament Ararat Mirzoyan.

– For Pashinyan, this is the end. After they broke into the government building, he was not there. According to rumors, he escaped and is now in Sochi. What will happen next is not known. But no one will accept this decision, – one of the protesters told Izvestia.

Where is Pashinyan? Why didn’t he come out to his people? Another demonstrator agrees. – The military should take power and continue the war. Shushi should be ours, it is an Armenian city. Pashinyan had no right to do this to us.

According to another demonstrator, the majority of Armenians are not ready “to put up with Pashinyan’s surrender” and are going to take back to Karabakh, “the lands seized by Aliyev and Erdogan.”

From a military point of view, the conflict ended with a convincing victory for Azerbaijan, says military historian Dmitry Boltenkov. – The country regained the areas lost more than 25 years ago, including those that it did not manage to recapture during the hostilities… She also received transport corridors. The most important of them will be the route to the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic.

The Azerbaijani military will remain on the territory of NKR itself, including in the occupied Shushi, ten kilometers from Stepanakert. Now only Russian peacekeepers will guarantee the existence of the NKR. But Azerbaijan is also interested in their presence. It is the Russian border guards who will ensure the safety of transport corridors. As a result, the influence of our country in the entire region will only grow, the expert believes.

On the approaches

On October 9, the city of Shushi completely got out of the control of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic… The outcome of the three-day battles for the strategic fortress was decided by the appearance of several groups of Azerbaijani infantry near it, sources familiar with the situation told Izvestia. The dismounted mobile detachments broke the resistance of the Armenian garrison and cleared the city without waiting for their armored vehicles to approach it. The defended NKR forces used artillery and operational-tactical missile systems “Elbrus” in this direction. But Azerbaijan has organized a counter-battery fight with the support of drones.

Baku showed the first video from the captured city in the afternoon. The Azerbaijani military hoisted their flags over the local administration and at the entrance to the settlement. According to the Izvestia correspondent from the scene, on Monday people were leaving Stepanakert en masse in buses and cars. Journalists were also evacuated from it.

Before that, Ilham Aliyev said that the country’s Armed Forces took control of a number of villages and strategic heights in six regions around the unrecognized republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. As of November 9, official Baku informed about the establishment of control over 223 settlements… In recent weeks, Azerbaijan has launched an offensive deep into the territory of the NKR, in the direction of its capital. The capture of Shushi was a necessary condition for the continuation of this operation.

In Yerevan on Monday they said that the Azerbaijani army last night struck with cluster munitions on the capital of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic – Stepanakert.

Also, on November 9, at about 17:30 Moscow time, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced the crash of a Russian Mi-24 helicopter over Armenia.… Two hours later, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry admitted that the vehicle had been destroyed by the country’s air defense systems by mistake. Ilham Aliyev apologized during videoconference with Vladimir Putin and assured that the persons who shot down the Russian helicopter will be punished, the press service of the Azerbaijani president said.

Another escalation of the conflict in the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic took place on September 27. Baku and Yerevan accused each other of shelling. The parties agreed on a ceasefire three times, but the fighting continued.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have disputed the ownership of Nagorno-Karabakh since February 1988when the region announced its secession from the Azerbaijan SSR. During the 1992-1994 armed conflict, Baku lost control over Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven adjacent regions.

Worked on the material: Alexey Ramm, Anton Lavrov, Tatiana Baikova, Alexey Zabrodin

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