Putin speaks on Nagorno-Karabakh peace deal at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence, Moscow. Reuters
Gulf Today Report
Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed on a deal with Russia to end weeks of fierce clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday, after Russian peacekeeping troops deployed to the war-ravaged enclave of the region.
The announcement of a full ceasefire in the early hours of Tuesday sparked outrage in Armenia, with angry protesters storming the government headquarters in Yerevan where they ransacked offices and broke windows.
Crowds also seized control of parliament, calling from inside the chamber for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan after he announced the "painful" deal to the end the fighting.
"I have signed a statement with the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan on the termination of the Karabakh war," Pashinyan said, calling the move "unspeakably painful for me personally and for our people".
"I have taken this decision as a result of an in-depth analysis of the military situation," he added.
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said Pashinyan had been left with no choice but to sign the "historic agreement".
Under the deal, Azerbaijan will get to keep all of its territorial gains, including the enclave’s second city of Shusha, and ethnic Armenian forces must hand over control of a slew of other territories between now and Dec.1.
Arayik Harutyunyan, the leader of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, said on Facebook that he gave agreement "to end the war as soon as possible.”
Harutyunyan said that ethnic Armenian forces lost some regions during six weeks of fighting and Azeri units were close to Stepanakert, the region's centre.
The declaration has followed six weeks of heavy fighting and advancement by the Azerbaijan's forces. Baku said on Monday it had seized dozens more settlements in Nagorno-Karabakh, a day after proclaiming victory in the battle for the enclave's strategically positioned second-largest city.
Turkey staunchly supported Azerbaijan, while Russia has a defence pact with Armenia and a military base there.
Putin said displaced people would now be able to return to Nagorno-Karabakh, and prisoners of war and the war dead be exchanged, while all economic and transport links in the area would be reopened with the help of Russian border guards.
“We are operating on the premise that the agreements will create the necessary conditions for a long-term and fully-fledged settlement of the crisis around Nagorno-Karabakh on a fair basis and in the interests of the Armenian and Azeri peoples,” Putin said.
"This is my house, I can't leave it to the Turks," as Azerbaijanis are often called by Armenians, said one resident as he threw burning wooden planks and rags soaked in gasoline into a completely empty house.
With Russia’s mediation, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh starting at noon on Saturday following two weeks of heavy fighting that marked the worst outbreak of hostilities in the separatist region in a quarter-century.
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly said there would be no halt to fighting until Armenian troops withdraw and vowed to continue the intervention until his army captured all of Karabakh.
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