Nagorno-Karabakh: Ceasefire agreed after two days of fighting, officials say

Azerbaijan had sent troops backed by artillery strikes into Karabakh on Tuesday

A ceasefire agreement with Azerbaijan has been reached to end two days of fighting in the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region, local authorities and Azerbaijani officials said.

The agreement came into effect on Wednesday, with peace talks between Azerbaijani officials and the breakaway region’s ethnic Armenian authorities scheduled to take place on Thursday in the Azerbaijani city of Yevlakh.

The deal was reached through negotiations with the Russian peacekeeping contingent in the region and envisages the withdrawal of Armenian military units and equipment from Nagorno-Karabakh and disarming the local defence forces, according to the region’s officials.

It comes a day after Azerbaijan launched a military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh and used heavy artillery fire on Armenian positions there, an attack that local officials said killed or wounded scores of people.


Separatist Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh said on Wednesday they had agreed to the terms of a ceasefire proposed by Russian peacekeepers after suffering a series of battlefield setbacks at the hands of the Azerbaijani army.

Baku had demanded that the separatist political authorities in Karabakh, which is recognised internationally as part of Azerbaijan, also disband before any talks are held about the future of the region which Azerbaijan wants to fully integrate.

It sent troops backed by artillery strikes into Karabakh on Tuesday in an attempt to bring the breakaway region to heel by force, raising the threat of a new war with its neighbour Armenia.

Azerbaijan on Wednesday pounded Nagorno-Karabakh despite calls from Russia and the United States for both sides to halt a spiral into war.

Azerbaijan began its “antiterrorist” operation on Tuesday against Nagorno-Karabakh after some of its troops were killed in what Baku said were attacks from the mountainous region. Karabakh is recognised internationally as part of Azerbaijan.

Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan said Karabakh was being shelled intensively in an attempt to provoke a war. He demanded that Russian peacekeepers do their job and warned that unidentified forces were talking about a coup in Yerevan.

Ethnic Armenians in Karabakh said Azerbaijan had triggered a new war against the 120,000 people living in an area they consider their homeland. Nearby Turkey backed Azerbaijan, with which it has strong linguistic, cultural and economic ties.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken urged Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev to “immediately cease hostilities” and told Pashinyan that Washington supported Armenia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Russia also called for calm, but some Russian officials scolded Armenia for flirting with the West and said this could lead to serious problems.

Another war in the former Soviet Union could disrupt the geopolitical balance in the South Caucasus, an area where Russia, the United States, Turkey and Iran are jostling for influence.

Armenians in Karabakh, known by Armenians as Artsakh, said fighting was continuing with varying intensity. At least 27 people have been killed in Karabakh and 200 wounded, they said. Residents of some villages have been evacuated, they said.

United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres alled “for an immediate end to the fighting” after the European Union, France and Germany condemned Baku’s military action.

As the Soviet Union crumbled, what is known as the First Karabakh War raged from 1988 to 1994 between Armenians and their Azeri neighbours. About 30,000 people were killed and more than a million people displaced. – Reuters