Is there any hope for peace in Nagorno-Karabakh? The warring parties Azerbaijan and Armenia let their weapons rest, Russia mediated. But there is resistance to the agreement.
Following a new agreement to end all fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, Russian peacekeeping forces have started operations. The first four Ilyushin Il-76 planes flew into the crisis area with soldiers and armored vehicles on Tuesday evening, Russia’s Defense Ministry in Moscow told Interfax agency. The official start of the mission was agreed at 7 a.m. local time (4 a.m. CET).
Putin had interceded
The agreement to end all fighting was reached late Monday evening between the president of Azerbaijan and the Armenian head of government, brokered by Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin. It provides for the deployment of 1,960 Russian peacekeepers and territorial concessions.
In the crisis region itself, it initially remained calm on Tuesday morning. Neither the Armenian Ministry of Defense nor that of Azerbaijan reported fighting over the mountainous area. The day before, the Nagorno-Karabakh authorities had admitted the loss of the strategically important city of Shusha. In addition, a Russian military helicopter was shot down by Azerbaijan.
Protests in Armenia
News of the end of the fighting sparked violent protests, especially in Armenia. During the night riots broke out in the capital Yerevan. Protesters occupy the seat of government and parliament. They insulted Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan as a traitor. In the morning, Pashinyan wrote on Facebook that he was still in Armenia and that he “continued to fully fulfill his duties” as prime minister.
Armenian President Armen Zarkissyan was surprised by the agreement to end all fighting. “I have been informed about it by the press,” he said in the capital Yerevan on Tuesday. He also learned from the media about the conditions for an end to the war. “Unfortunately there was no consultation or discussion with me about the document.” However, every step, action and especially the signing of such an important document must be the subject of extensive discussion.
The fighting for Nagorno-Karabakh has been going on since the end of September. The conflict itself has existed for decades. Azerbaijan lost control of the mountainous region of about 145,000 inhabitants in a war after the collapse of the Soviet Union about 30 years ago. There has been a vulnerable ceasefire since 1994. Azerbaijan invokes international law in the new war and repeatedly seeks support from its “brother state” Turkey. Armenia, in turn, relies on Russia as a protective power.