Nagorno Karabakh the ceasefire is coming Armenians agree to lay

Nagorno Karabakh, the “ceasefire” is coming: Armenians agree to lay down their arms

CONSTANZA (ROMANIA) – “See that Russian passport? This is where the break is because Moscow has betrayed us.” A little more than 24 hours after announcing the start of the “anti-terrorist operation” against the Armenian separatists of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Baku government announces a ceasefire agreement and the start of negotiations in the Azerbaijani city of Yevlakh. The Armenian formations have agreed to lay down their arms as demanded by Azerbaijan and imposed by Russian peacekeepers stationed in the region following the 2020 war. But the tension shows no signs of abating as the separatists now accuse Moscow of failing to protect them from the Azerbaijanis.

“We only hit military targets,” Baku claims, while the Armenians speak of at least 30 civilian casualties. Without the former head of the Armenian regional government, Ruben Vardanyan, it is an “ethnic cleansing” with at least 400 dead and several hundred injured, while Moscow says it has evacuated 3,100 civilians.

The ceasefire imposed by Baku, an ally of Ankara, and Moscow, an ally of Yerevan, envisages the complete surrender of Armenian separatists and the disarmament of the forces of the so-called Artsakh. In fact, it is the status quo imposed in 2020. But the agreement may not hold. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, fearing new protests from separatists, made it clear that he had not taken part in drafting the surrender text. Nevertheless, several hundred protesters gathered outside the Armenian government headquarters yesterday for the second day in a row, loudly demanding Pashinyan’s resignation, while the opposition in parliament announced the creation of a committee to remove the prime minister.

There were repeated clashes between demonstrators and the police in the square. Most importantly, Moscow yesterday denounced that gunmen opened fire on a car belonging to Russian peacekeepers, killing “all men on board.” An action that, if demanded by the separatists, could give the Kremlin, already under strain following the Pashinyan government’s strengthening of ties with Europe and the United States, a pretext to withdraw its men.

Russia, on the other hand, cannot afford to lose Armenia’s support: this is one of the main routes that still allows imports to circumvent sanctions. It is no coincidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Pashinyan yesterday and again spoke of “peace”, at least for the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.