Russian Troops Deploy in Nagorno-Karabakh Cease-fire Attempt
Almost 2,000 Russian troops have begun deployment as peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed mountainous enclave where a heavily armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been ongoing since September. The pact allows Azerbaijan to keep territorial gains from the fighting, including the enclave’s second-largest city, Shusha (called by Armenians Shushi), while ethnic Armenian forces must give up control of many other territories between now and December 1. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan described the deal as “unspeakably painful” in a passionate Facebook post. Before this round of hostilities, the Armenians fully controlled the disputed enclave. However, recent moves by Azerbaijan’s armed forces gave them control over strategic areas. Following the deal’s announcement, riots broke out in Armenia’s capital city Yerevan, with crowds ransacking government buildings, labeling the deal a betrayal. Azeris, on the other hand, celebrated in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital. Signed in Moscow, this cease-fire went into effect on Tuesday at 1 am (Moscow time). Since September, thousands of combatants and civilians have been killed in the region’s bloodiest battles since the mid-1990s war in which an estimated 30,000 people were killed. Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed that both Armenia and Azerbaijan had agreed to “a total cease-fire” with the intention that this will lead to the conflict’s long-term settlement. Turkey, a key ally of Azerbaijan, will have a role in monitoring the deal.