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A Russian peacekeeper stands next to a tank near the border with Armenia, on Nov. 10, 2020.FRANCESCO BREMBATI/Reuters

Russian peacekeepers have been deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh, marking the end of a 43-day war and plunging Armenia into political crisis after it lost much of the disputed territory to neighbouring Azerbaijan.

Protests erupted in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, even before Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed the ceasefire deal Tuesday, which will see Azerbaijan regain most of the lands it lost in an early 1990s war between the two former Soviet republics.

NAGORNO-KARABAKH PEACE DEAL

Armenia and Azerbaijan have signed a Russian-brokered settlement to end military conflict over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh

GEORGIA

RUSSIA

ARMENIA

AZERBAIJAN

Baku

Yerevan

0

100

KM

AZERBAIJAN

Murovdag

mountains

Talish

ARMENIA

Stepanakert

Shusha

Captured

Nov. 8

Lachin

corridor

Hadrut

Goris

Nakhchivan

(AZERBAIJAN)

Jabrayil

0

50

IRAN

KM

Territory recaptured by

Azerbaijan since Sept. 27

Armenian-controlled territory

to be ceded

Nagorno-Karabakh region

(ethnic Armenian majority)

TERMS OF NAGORNO-KARABAKH

PEACE AGREEMENT

Territorial gains: Azerbaijan will keep areas captured during conflict, including city of Shusha, or Shushi.

 

Losses: Ethnic Armenian forces to surrender control of territory around enclave by Dec. 1.

 

Peacekeeping: 2,000 Russian troops to patrol frontlines for at least five years. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev says Turkey will also take part in peacekeeping.

 

Lachin corridor: 5km-wide link between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia to remain under Armenian control, protected by Russian peacekeepers.

 

Internally displaced people and refugees: Will have right to return, overseen by United Nations.

 

Nakhchivan: Armenia to provide transport link between Azerbaijan and its western exclave.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: GRAPHIC NEWS

NAGORNO-KARABAKH PEACE DEAL

Armenia and Azerbaijan have signed a Russian-brokered settlement to end military conflict over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh

GEORGIA

RUSSIA

AZERBAIJAN

ARMENIA

Baku

Yerevan

0

100

KM

AZERBAIJAN

Murovdag

mountains

Talish

ARMENIA

Stepanakert

Shusha

Captured

Nov. 8

Lachin

corridor

Hadrut

Goris

Nakhchivan

(AZERBAIJAN)

Jabrayil

IRAN

0

50

KM

Territory recaptured by Azerbaijan since Sept. 27

Armenian-controlled territory to be ceded

Nagorno-Karabakh region (ethnic Armenian majority)

TERMS OF NAGORNO-KARABAKH

PEACE AGREEMENT

Territorial gains: Azerbaijan will keep areas captured during conflict, including city of Shusha, or Shushi.

 

Losses: Ethnic Armenian forces to surrender control of territory around enclave by Dec. 1.

 

Peacekeeping: 2,000 Russian troops to patrol frontlines for at least five years. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev says Turkey will also take part in peacekeeping.

 

Lachin corridor: 5km-wide link between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia to remain under Armenian control, protected by Russian peacekeepers.

 

Internally displaced people and refugees: Will have right to return, overseen by United Nations.

 

Nakhchivan: Armenia to provide transport link between Azerbaijan and its western exclave.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: GRAPHIC NEWS

NAGORNO-KARABAKH PEACE DEAL

Armenia and Azerbaijan have signed a Russian-brokered settlement to end military conflict over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh

GEORGIA

RUSSIA

Territory recaptured by

Azerbaijan since Sept. 27

AZERBAIJAN

Baku

Armenian-controlled territory

to be ceded

ARMENIA

Nagorno-Karabakh region

(ethnic Armenian majority)

0

100

KM

ARMENIA

AZERBAIJAN

Murovdag

mountains

Talish

Yerevan

Stepanakert

TURKEY

Shusha

Captured

Nov. 8

Lachin

corridor

Hadrut

Goris

Nakhchivan

(AZERBAIJAN)

Jabrayil

Yeraskh

Russian helicopter mistakenly shot

down by Azerbaijan

on Nov 9. Two killed.

IRAN

0

50

KM

TERMS OF NAGORNO-KARABAKH PEACE AGREEMENT

Territorial gains: Azerbaijan will keep areas captured during conflict, including city of Shusha, or Shushi.

 

Losses: Ethnic Armenian forces to surrender control of territory around enclave by Dec. 1.

 

Peacekeeping: 2,000 Russian troops to patrol frontlines for at least five years. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev says Turkey will also take part in peacekeeping.

Lachin corridor: 5km-wide link between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia to remain under Armenian control, protected by Russian peacekeepers.

 

Internally displaced people and refugees: Will have right to return, overseen by United Nations.

 

Nakhchivan: Armenia to provide transport link between Azerbaijan and its western exclave.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: GRAPHIC NEWS

The deal was an effective surrender by Mr. Pashinyan, who acknowledged at the outset of the conflict that his country was outgunned. In an interview with The Globe and Mail shortly after the fighting began, he tried to portray the conflict in clash-of-civilizations terms, hoping an ally such as Russia or another power would intervene to rescue his Christian country from military defeat at the hands of its more powerful Muslim neighbour, which was backed by Turkey in the fighting.

But when Russian President Vladimir Putin finally stepped in to broker an end to the conflict Monday, he did so on terms that amounted to near-complete defeat for Armenia, which agreed to withdraw all its forces from the disputed territory. The Armenian-populated regional capital of Stepanakert and part of the surrounding area will come under the protection of some 2,000 Russian peacekeepers.

The deal looked to be a diplomatic victory for Mr. Putin, effectively creating another “frozen conflict” – a ceasefire maintained by Russia, giving Moscow leverage over the belligerents – akin to those in Georgia and Moldova, two other former republics of the Soviet Union.

Previous negotiations over the future of Nagorno-Karabakh were co-chaired by Russia, France and the United States. However, neither Paris nor Washington appeared to have played any role in Monday’s deal.

Turkey, which was also left on the sidelines, congratulated Azerbaijan on its “victory” and said it hoped to see the establishment of a joint Russian-Turkish office for monitoring the ceasefire.

In Yerevan, there was only fury. Chanting, “Nikol betrayed us,” an angry crowd ransacked the parliament building Monday night, beating parliamentary speaker Ararat Mirzoyan, a close ally of Mr. Pashinyan’s, so badly that he was hospitalized and required surgery. The protests continued Tuesday, and analysts wondered if Mr. Pashinyan would be forced to resign.

“This is a national trauma, a major shock for all Armenians, but first of all Karabakh Armenians,” said Hovhannes Nazaretyan, who works for a Yerevan-based fact-checking website. “Pashinyan is widely seen as a traitor, but many people wonder if he could’ve done anything else other than sign the deal.”

Demonstrators protest against an agreement to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, at the parliamentary building in Yerevan, Armenia, on Nov. 10, 2020.Dmitri Lovetsky/The Associated Press

Mr. Nazaretyan said it was likely the Kremlin would back the swelling opposition to Mr. Pashinyan, whom Moscow has treated warily since he came to power in the wake of a popular revolution two years ago. During the 43-day war, Moscow made it clear that its military alliance with Armenia did not apply to Nagorno-Karabakh, as the mountainous territory is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan (though its predominantly Armenian population voted for independence in a 1991 referendum).

News of the ceasefire was celebrated with dancing in the streets in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, and President Ilham Aliyev called the war a “glorious victory.” In addition to keeping the territories it had gained since fighting erupted on Sept. 27, Azerbaijan will regain three regions that have been under Armenian control since the 1990s.

Monday’s agreement also contains a clause calling for the establishment of a long-sought transportation corridor connecting the Nakhchivan region, an exclave of Azerbaijani territory wedged between Armenia and Turkey, with the rest of Azerbaijan. “For our people, these days are the happiest ones,” Mr. Aliyev wrote on Twitter.

Tens of thousands of Azerbaijanis who fled their homes in Nagorno-Karabakh during the 1990s will now be allowed to return under a process overseen by the United Nations. But resolving one refugee crisis has created a new one: an estimated 90,000 Armenians, about 60 per cent of Nagorno-Karabakh’s pre-war population, have fled their homes since Sept. 27.

Khadija Ismayilova, a dissident Azerbaijani journalist who has nonetheless supported her government’s military operation, said she didn’t think the ceasefire deal was enough to resolve the question of Nagorno-Karabakh. “Unfortunately, it is not the end of the conflict,” she said, adding that only the return of all Azerbaijani territory – including Stepanakert – could bring real peace. “But Russia decided its own way.”

Mr. Pashinyan’s decision to sign the ceasefire was in many ways an acknowledgment of the grim military situation facing his country. Over the weekend, Azerbaijani forces gained control of Shusha, the second-largest town in Nagorno-Karabakh, putting them in a position to lay siege to Stepanakert.

Bursts of explosions, smoke and flame are seen during fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces, near Shusha, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, on Nov. 7, 2020.The Associated Press

The fighting risked turning into a full-on rout, after entire columns of Armenian equipment had been destroyed by Turkish-supplied drones. Some of the drones filmed in action over Nagorno-Karabakh were equipped with targeting gear produced by Burlington, Ont.-based L3Harris Wescam, leading Ottawa last month to order a halt in the export of the equipment to Turkey.

In a video posted to his Facebook account, Mr. Pashinyan said he had decided to sign the ceasefire on the advice of the country’s military commanders. But he said he accepted personal responsibility for the outcome. “I personally made a very hard decision for myself and all of us,” he said, describing the ceasefire terms as “unbelievably painful for me and our people.”

The defence ministry of Nagorno-Karabakh, a de facto arm of the Armenian military, said it lost 1,302 soldiers in the fighting as of Tuesday. Azerbaijan has not released its military losses, but Mr. Putin said on Oct. 22 that, up to that time, almost 5,000 people overall had died in the fighting. The dead include several hundred civilians, and each side has accused the other of intentionally targeting civilian areas.

Turkey has also been accused of flying in Syrian mercenaries to fight on Azerbaijan’s side in the conflict. At least 250 mercenaries were killed in the fighting, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based group that monitors the decade-old civil war in Syria.

Monday’s deal was brokered just hours after a Russian helicopter was shot down by Azerbaijani forces, killing two Russian soldiers. Baku – which had previously rejected calls for a ceasefire – quickly issued an apology to Moscow and entered into negotiations aimed at ending the conflict.

The 2,000 Russian troops, who are backed by 90 armoured personnel carriers, will be deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh for five years, after which the arrangement will be automatically renewed unless one of the two parties objects. Russian troops will also guard the highway known as the Lachin Corridor, which connects Stepanakert to Armenia proper.

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