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A tragic end
It was not what expected
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On Wednesday, September 20th, the Armenian authority of the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave declared their surrender to Azerbaijan. This was done in order to avoid an escalation that would have led to further bloodshed.
Seven thousand people were evacuated from the remote villages in the enclave to the capital, Stepanakert. Others took shelter with the Russian peacekeepers. With this, Azerbaijan gets full control of Nagorno-Karabakh. At least 200 people died.
The authorities from the enclave announced an agreeement on a “complete cessation of hostilities”. Russian peacekeepers mediated the deal and proposed the ceasefire. It was agreed to withdraw the remaining units of the Armenian army, and to dissolve and disarm completely the Artsakh Defense Force.
The announcement also said that Azeri proposals about “reintegration and ensuring the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh within the framework of the Constitution of Azerbaijan” would be discussed at a meeting between representatives of Azerbaijan and Armenians of Karabakh. The Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan confirmed the agreement and the meeting in Yevlakh would be mediated by the Russian contingent there.
The ceasefire began on September 20, at 13:00 hrs. It was stated that, if the Armenian governement decided to get involved, it would escalate, but it didn’t happen. Ethnic Armenians stated that day that Azeri troops broke through the lines, seizing a number of heights and strategic road junctions.
Azebaijan announced it had stopped the offensive after a ceasefire that was reached by military victories. In a speech, Azeri dictator Ilham Aliyev announced that Baku had restored its sovereignity over the Karabakh region “with an iron fist”.
He also mentioned that Armenian forces handed their weapons and began leaving, and that those Armenians remaining could participate in the Azeri elections, receive state education and practice the Christian religion there. Aliyev mentioned that he was willing to meet with the Armenians of Karabakh adding that in order to do this:
“To stop anti terrorist measures, illegal Armenian armed groups must raise the white flag, surrender all weapons, and the illegal regime must dissolve itself. Otherwise, anti terrorist measures will be continued to the end”.
The operation had begun on Tuesday, and labelled as an “anti terrorist” campaign. Azerbaijan said it was only targeting military sites, but the streets of the capital were damaged, with dozens of people killed. It began after some Azeri troops were killed in what Aliyev mentioned that was an attack from the mountain region.
“We will turn Karabakh into a paradise”,
After the ceasefire was announced, people rushed to the airport in Khojaly, where the Russian peacekeepers are stationed, in order to get evacuated to Armenia. Russian peacekeepers were tasked with preventing conflict. However, Russia has been accused of being unable or unwilling to intervene in Armenia’s favor. The Kremlin rebuffed these accusations by saying that the matter concerned Azerbaijan in its own territory.
Moscow called both parties to cease hostilities, calling them to adhere to the tripartite agreements signed in 2020. Armenia’s President, Nikol Pahinyan, accused Russia of not warning him of the Azerbaijani plans. The Russian Defence ministry mentioned that the ceasefire would be implemented in coordination with the Russian peacekeepers there.
The enclave was being sieged by Azeri forces since last December, when they blockaded the Lachin corridor. They also cut the only road connecting the region to Armenia and preventing the importing of food. And this time, the Artsakh Defense Force, Nagorno-Karabakh’s local army, had no support from Armenia.
The de facto President of Nagorno-Karabakh, Samvel Shahrahmanyan, convened a Security Council meeting. There, he blamed the “inadequate response” of the international community to the offensive. Thus, his government was “forced to take appropiate steps, aimed first and foremost at ensuring the physical safety of the population”. It was mentioned that the “world stood by, doing nothing”.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan claim sovereignity over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and fought two wars over it. The second war was fought during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and ended in an Azeri victory after a 44 day fighting.
Guillermo is a journalist, writer and independent international analyst. If you like what you read, please support him by donating:
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