The Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has agreed to end his country’s war over Nagorno-Karabakh. He concluded an agreement with ally Russia and rival Azerbaijan to end weeks of bloody fighting.
The Armenian leader announced the decision on Monday in a statement in the social media in which he addressed his “dear compatriots, sisters and brothers” to tell them that he “has made a hard, very difficult decision for me and for all of us”.
“I have signed a declaration with the Russian and Azerbaijani presidents to end the Karabakh war from 1 pm,” he said. “The text of the declaration, which has already been published, is incredibly painful for me and our people”.
The step is “the result of a thorough analysis of the military situation and the appreciation of the people who know best about the situation,” he said. After weeks of losses on the battlefield, he said his decision was based “also on the conviction that this is the best solution for the current situation.
Pashinyan said he would issue a more comprehensive message in the coming days, admitting that he had not been able to achieve the victory he was seeking.
“It is not a victory, but there is no defeat unless you recognize yourself as a loser,” Pashinyan said. “We will recognize ourselves as the losers, and this should be the beginning of an era of national unification and rebirth. We must analyze our years of independence to plan our future and not repeat the mistakes of the past”.
He appealed directly to those affected by the conflict that broke out at the end of September in defense of the breakaway republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, a self-proclaimed administration run by ethnic Armenians in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.
“I kneel before all our victims. I bow before all our soldiers, officers, generals and volunteers who have defended and are defending their homeland with their lives,” he said. “You have selflessly saved the Armenians of Artsakh. We fought to the end. And we will win. Artsakh stands. Long live Armenia. Long live Artsakh.”
The agreement was later confirmed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said that both sides had agreed to maintain a total cease-fire and allow the deployment of Russian peacekeepers to find a solution to their centuries-old dispute.
Pashinyan’s statement came just a few hours after Azerbaijani forces announced that they had captured the key city of Shusha, which is just a few miles from the de facto capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanakert. Both sides reported fighting until a few minutes before the announcement was made.
Shortly after it became known that a Russian Mi-24 military helicopter had been shot down by MANPADS, which Azerbaijan described as an accident, the news came. Two army personnel were killed and Baku offered an apology, condolences and compensation, while Yerevan offered assistance.
Russia and Armenia are allies in the organization of the Collective Security Treaty, and Putin had stressed Moscow’s obligations to protect Armenian territory, but not Artsakh’s.
The Azerbaijani armed forces had steadily increased, but met with fierce resistance, causing the number of victims on both sides to skyrocket in the worst fighting between the two sides since the beginning of the war, when the Soviet Union collapsed in the late 1980s and early 1990s. As a result of this war, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe set up the Minsk Group, co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States.
Turkey, which is also a member of the Minsk Group, offered full support to Azerbaijan.
This is an evolving message. More information will be added as it becomes available.