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The fall of Nagorno-Karabakh

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After 32 years, the de facto independence of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh is reaching its end.

The tense and often-violated ceasefire that had governed the region since the end of the 2020 Second Karabakh War was overwhelmingly violated by Azerbaijan around 1pm local time on Tuesday. Azerbaijani military units, which had been gathering near the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh and on the borders of Armenia for weeks, launched a massive assault across all areas of the Nagorno-Karabakh frontline.

Artillery, precision missile strikes and airstrikes struck the beleaguered units of the Artsakh Defence Army, as the breakaway region’s military forces are known, while Azerbaijani infantry launched an offensive on the ground.

24 hours later, it was all over. Weakened by nine months of siege and starvation, without any supply lines to the outside world and hopelessly outmatched by Azerbaijan’s modern military, the president of the Republic of Artsakh, Samvel Shahramanyan, announced that his government had accepted the demands of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. The Artsakh Defence Army would be dissolved, its weapons would be handed over, and the region would, finally and definitively, come under Azerbaijani control.

In a sense, all of this was expected. Nagorno-Karabakh and its ally, Armenia, had suffered a devastating defeat in the 2020 war. Much of Nagorno-Karabakh had been captured – around 75% of the lands held by Karabakh Armenians before 2020 were conquered by Azerbaijan or ceded to them in the ceasefire agreement. The Armenian army, reeling from its losses, had been forced out of the conflict, left struggling to repel even the Azerbaijani incursions into Armenia itself.

The nine months of Azerbaijani blockade that began in December 2022 had been met with indifference from the international community, with ‘urges’ and ‘calls’ for Azerbaijan to reopen the Lachin Corridor – Nagorno-Karabakh’s single lifeline to the outside world – but no consequences when Azerbaijan refused to do so, ignoring even the International Court of Justice ruling on the matter.

The Russian peacekeeping mission, entrusted with ensuring that road remained open and active, similarly demurred from any real attempts to unblock it. Aliyev clearly read these signals – that there would be no consequences for violating yet another tenet of the 2020 ceasefire – and sent his army in for the kill.

Massive casualties

At the time of writing, so much is still unclear. The 24-hour war involved massive casualties: Nagorno-Karabakh’s authorities have confirmed over 200 dead and 400 wounded from their side, a number that is sure to rise as more bodies are found, while Azerbaijani social media reports place the number of Azerbaijan casualties at over 150.

What exactly happens next is anyone’s guess, including the people of Nagorno-Karabakh themselves. In the wake of the Azerbaijani assault and subsequent capture of numerous villages and key roads, tens of thousands of the region’s 120,000 inhabitants have been displaced. Stepanakert is overrun, with every public building hosting dozens of families; the city’s airport, the site of the main Russian peacekeeping base, is an even more dire site, with thousands of civilians now encamped there in the open air, having fled from the Azerbaijani soldiers who captured their villages.

Other areas are entirely isolated: the towns of Martuni and Martakert, Nagorno-Karabakh’s second- and third-largest settlements, are surrounded by Azerbaijani forces, their populations unable to escape and with little known about their condition. 

In this near-total information blackout, with no independent media access and limited internet connectivity, rumors of Azerbaijani atrocities have spread. One woman claimed that Azerbaijani troops had beheaded her three young children in front of her; another said that the same had happened to a Karabakh Armenian soldier. A woman named Sofik, from the Karabakh village of Sarnaghbyur, described in video testimony how Azerbaijani artillery bombardment of her village had killed at least five children and wounded 13 more.

There is little verification or ability to confirm these claims, but there is ample precedent for them: Azerbaijani troops have previously filmed themselves beheading elderly Karabakh Armenian civilians, have executed groups of POWs, and indiscriminately bombarded Karabakh settlements. In the coming days, videos of atrocities committed over the past few days are likely to come to light.

The ultimate fate of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh is similarly unclear. While Azerbaijani officials have said that civilians will be allowed to stay there unharmed, few, if any, of the locals believe them.

Armenian Prime Nikol Pashinyan stated in a speech on Thursday that a mass evacuation was “not plan A nor plan B,” and that he hoped the Karabakh Armenians would still be able to live a “safe and dignified” life there, but that Armenia was ready and able to accept 40,000 families if the need arose.

More despair than revolution

The view of Nagorno-Karabakh’s residents is a sharply different one. Ashot Gabrielyan, a local teacher who has documented life in Nagorno-Karabakh under the blockade, summed up the local community’s views in an Instagram post on Friday. “We, the people in Artsakh, need a humanitarian corridor to leave [to Armenia],” he wrote. “We are not ready to live with a country [Azerbaijan] which starved us, then killed us. We NEED to leave.”

The catastrophic situation has understandably led to political unrest in Armenia itself. On Tuesday night, as the Azerbaijani offensive into Nagorno-Karabakh was still going strong, thousands gathered in Yerevan’s Republic Square, a common spot for demonstrations in the capital. The clashes reached a rare level of violence, with police deploying stun grenades against the crowd at one point; 16 policemen and 18 civilians were wounded in the event.

But the mood was more despair than revolution. While many of those in attendance demanded the resignation of the government, few had any suggestions for what should be done differently.

“Nikol [Pashinyan] led us to this horrible situation, this catastrophe,” said Tigran, one of those in attendance. “He must resign.” Another attendee, Daniella, a 20-year old student from Nagorno-Karabakh, had a different take. “I don’t know what [the government] can even do [about this],” she said. “My family are still there [in Karabakh] and I’m very worried for them, but I don’t know that violence here [in Yerevan] will help anything,” she said.

The public paralysation is exacerbated by Russia, which has come out staunchly against the Armenian government and sought to pin the entire blame for the present tragedy in Nagorno-Karabakh on Pashinyan. A series of Kremlin media guidelines for Russian state media was leaked to the Russian opposition outlet Meduza, in which Russian government publications are instructed to blame the Azerbaijani assault on “Armenia and its Western partners”.

Mass public outrage at Russia and its absent peacekeepers in both Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh has been fanned further by posts by top Russian propagandists such as Margarita Simonyan and Vladimir Solovyov, who shared identical Telegram posts suggesting that Armenians should overthrow the Pashinyan government.

Armenian journalist Samson Martirosyan summed up the mood succinctly in a Twitter post. “Most people in Armenia don’t know what to do, caught between Pashinyan and [the] opposition. By going to protests, you would stir up chaos, which serves Russia and Azerbaijan. Not going would mean silently agreeing with Pashinyan’s disastrous policies,” Martirosyan wrote.

Meanwhile, the 120,000 inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh await the outcome of the surrender negotiations currently taking place between their leadership and that of Azerbaijan in the Azerbaijani city of Yevlakh.

There are few reasons for optimism: Nagorno-Karabakh presidential advisor David Babayan said on Friday that there were “no concrete results” from Baku on either security guarantees for the population of Karabakh or regarding amnesty for its soldiers and leaders, all of whom Azerbaijan regards as criminals and terrorists.

The Azerbaijani army currently sits at the entrances to Stepanakert, poised to enter. It is difficult to imagine the scenes that will result when that happens.

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Refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh reach Armenian territory – video

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Ethnic Armenians Flee Nagorno-Karabakh As Yerevan Protests Grow

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106 dead bodies found in Karabakh since September 21

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Search operations for servicemen and civilians who died and for those who are considered missing since the military operations have been ongoing in the entire territory of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) since September 21, reports the Artsakh State Service for Emergency Situations.

On September 21, a dead body of a civilian was found in Stepanakert, capital of Artsakh.

On September 22, a wounded serviceman was found and evacuated from Ghaybalishen village of Shushi region, and the body of two fallen servicemen in Charektar village.

On September 23, a total of 68 dead bodies were retrieved, four of which were civilians—two children and an elderly couple—from Sarnaghbyur village of Askeran region.

On the same day, two persons were found in Nakhijevanik and Sarushen villages; their lives are not in danger.

And on September 24, a total of 34 dead bodies were retrieved, and three civilians were found in Shosh village of Askeran region.


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Samantha Power, Yuri Kim arrive in Armenia

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Samantha Power, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), arrived Monday in Armenia to affirm US. support for Armenia’s sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and democracy, and to address humanitarian needs stemming from the recent violence in Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenian has learned from the US embassy in Armenia.

Administrator Power is joined by Yuri Kim, US Department of State Acting Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasian Affairs. 

“The United States continues to support Armenia as it advances a dignified and durable peace in the region. The United States is deeply concerned about reports on the humanitarian conditions in Nagorno-Karabakh and calls for unimpeded access for international humanitarian organizations and commercial traffic,” the aforesaid embassy added.

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2906 forcibly displaced persons from Nagorno-Karabakh have arrived in Armenia

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As of Monday morning, 2906 forcibly displaced persons from Nagorno-Karabakh have arrived in Armenia.

2,100 of them have already been registered, the needs assessment for 794 is in process.

Out of 2,100 registered, about 1,000 people went to their preferred laces of residence, and the government provided the other 1,100 with accommodation.

The flow of forcibly displaced persons continued throughout the night.

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After Azerbaijan Claims Full Control Over Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia PM Signals Foreign Policy Shift Away From Russia

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Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Sunday signalled a major foreign policy shift away from Russia, following Moscow’s refusal to enter the latest conflict with Azerbaijani over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Pashinyan told the nation in a televised address that his former Soviet republic’s current foreign security alliances were “ineffective” and “insufficient”.

He added that Armenia should join the International Criminal Court (ICC) — a tribunal which has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over his actions in Ukraine.

“The systems of external security in which Armenia is involved are ineffective when it comes to the protection of our security and Armenia’s national interests,” Pashinyan said.

His address aired just days after Azerbaijan claimed full control over Nagorno-Karabakh after a lightning offensive that forced rebels in the ethnic Armenian territory to agree to disarm.

The separatists’ apparent capitulation could mark the end of a conflict between the Christian and Muslim Caucasus rivals that has raged — off and on — through the three decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) — a Russian-dominated group comprised of six post-Soviet states.

The group pledges to protect other members that come under attack.

But Russia is bogged down in a war in Ukraine and has grown more isolated on the international stage.

It argued that Yerevan itself had recognised the disputed region as part of Azerbaijan, and refused to come to Armenia’s aid.

“It has become evident to all of us that the CSTO instruments and the instruments of the Armenian-Russian military-political cooperation are insufficient for protecting the external security of Armenia,” he said.

“We must transform and supplement the instruments of Armenia’s external and domestic security, in cooperation with all the partners who are ready for mutually beneficial steps,” Pashinyan said.

– ‘Respect our sovereignty’ –

Pashinyan’s address came after days of increasingly strong criticism in Moscow of what has been Russia’s main ally in the volatile Caucasus.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday accused Armenia of “adding fuel to the fire” with its public rhetoric.

Moscow had earlier this month summoned Armenia’s ambassador following its decision to host US forces for small peacekeeping drills.

Russian state television commentators have been attacking Pashinyan and other Armenian leaders for their criticism of Moscow.

Pashinyan’s comments about the ICC threaten to generate particular anger in the Kremlin.

ICC judge Tomoko Akane issued an arrest warrant for Putin in March for the war crime of allegedly unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children.

Putin has avoided visiting other ICC member nations to avoid the possibility of arrest.

Pashinyan sent the Rome Statute — a founding document of the ICC — for parliamentary ratification earlier this month.

The Armenian leader said the ICC could help “ensure our security”.

“The decision is not directed against CSTO and the Russian Federation,” Pashinyan said of his desire to join the tribunal.

He concluded his address by calling “on our colleagues to respect out sovereignty”.

– ‘Aggravating tensions’ –

Independent Armenia analyst Beniamin Matevosyan said Pashinyan was “deliberately aggravating tensions with Russia”.

“He is openly telling Russia: if you don’t help keep Armenians in Karabakh, I’ll quit CSTO,” he said.

Matevosyan said the Nagorno-Karabakh supporters and people with roots in the region were leading the protests that have been simmering across Armenia in the past few days.

“He is afraid of the 120,000-strong mass of people (from Karabakh). He is seeing that so many Karabakhis are taking part in the street protests these days,” Matevosyan told AFP.

Pashinyan’s new diplomatic line is also running up against the hard reality that Russia still has a military base in the Armenian city of Gyumri that offers Moscow important geopolitical influence.

The base is believed to house 3,000 soldiers and has existed since World War II.

Armenia analyst Hakob Badalyan added that, in view of the war in Ukraine, Western powers may be unwilling to become more involved in the region.

“The West doesn’t want to assume the responsiblity,” Badalyan said. “It is telling Armenia: negotiate and make peace with (rivals) Turkey and Azerbaijan.”

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognised as part of mostly Muslim Azerbaijan.

But its status has been under dispute for centuries.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – AFP)

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Nagorno-Karabakh: refugees pour into Armenia after military offensive

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Almost 3,000 ethnic Armenians have crossed into Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh in the wake of last week’s Azerbaijani military offensive in the disputed region, which left hundreds of people dead, wounded or missing.

By 5am local time on Monday, more than 2,900 refugees had arrived in Armenia, according to an Armenian government statement cited by Russia’s Tass state news agency.

Several hundred refugees began crossing over from Nagorno-Karabakh on Sunday, becoming the first civilians to reach Armenia in nearly a year and reuniting families after a 10-month blockade by Azerbaijan that has led to desperate shortages of food, fuel and water in the local capital, Stepanakert, and surrounding areas.

Officials in the breakaway Armenian government in the region have said they plan to evacuate thousands of displaced people from the region into Armenia.

The local government said evacuees would be accompanied across the border from the disputed region into Armenia by Russian peacekeepers.

“Dear compatriots, we would like to inform you that, accompanied by Russian peacekeepers, the families who were left homeless as a result of the recent military operations and expressed their desire to leave will be transferred to Armenia,” a statement read.

“The government will issue information about the relocation of other population groups in the near future.”

Armenia’s prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, said in a live address on Sunday: “Our government will lovingly welcome our brothers and sisters from Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh still face the danger of ethnic cleansing. Humanitarian supplies have arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh in recent days but this does not change the situation.

“If real living conditions are not created for the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh in their homes, and effective mechanisms of protection against ethnic cleansing, then the likelihood is increasing that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh will see expulsion from their homeland as the only way out.”

The Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh – a territory internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but previously beyond its control – were forced into a ceasefire last week after a 24-hour military operation by the much-larger Azerbaijani military.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars over the enclave in 30 years – with Azerbaijan regaining swathes of territory in and around Nagorno-Karabakh in a six-week conflict in 2020.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is due to meet Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, on Monday to discuss the situation.

Last week, Erdoğan – an ally of Aliyev who backed Azerbaijan with weaponry in the 2020 conflict – said he supported the aims of Azerbaijan’s latest military operation but had played no part in it.

Armenia says more than 200 people were killed and 400 wounded in last week’s operation, which was condemned by the US and other western allies of Armenia.

On Sunday, Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said it had confiscated more military equipment from Armenian separatists, including rockets, artillery shells, mines and ammunition.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenians do not accept Azerbaijan’s promise to guarantee their rights as the region is integrated. Armenia has called for an immediate deployment of a UN mission to monitor human rights and security in the region.

“Ninety-nine point nine per cent prefer to leave our historic lands,” David Babayan, an adviser to Samvel Shahramanyan, the president of the breakaway state, which is also known as Artsakh, told Reuters.

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Perpetrators of terrorist act that killed 4 policemen, 2 civilians in Khojavand detained

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The perpetrators of the terrorist act that killed 4 police officers in Khojavand were detained, Report informs, citing the State Security Service (SSS).

On September 20, 2023, the relevant people who were suspected of committing terrorist acts resulted in the death of two civilians and four policemen by planting mines on the newly constructed tunnel road in the 58th kilometer of the Ahmadbayli-Fuzuli-Shusha road and in the Tagaverd village of the Khojavand district on September 19 by participating in an illegal organized armed group were disarmed and detained during those anti-terrorist measures.

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US calls for Azerbaijan to halt Karabakh attack, Russia urges return to ceasefire

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Washington called on Azerbaijan to halt the military action it launched into Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday, while Russia urged both sides in the conflict to stop the bloodshed in the mountainous and disputed region.

After months of rising tensions in the Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus, Azerbaijan sent troops backed by artillery strikes into the region in an attempt to bring the breakaway region to heel.

Karabakh is internationally recognised as Azerbaijani territory, but part of it is run by separatist Armenian authorities who say it is their ancestral homeland.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held calls with both Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, urging Baku to de-escalate the situation.

“I spoke to Azerbaijani President Aliyev today and urged him to immediately cease military actions in Nagorno-Karabakh,” Blinken said on social media.

In a readout of the call, the US Department of State said that Aliyev “expressed readiness” to stop hostilities and hold a meeting with representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Blinken told Pashinyan in their call that Armenia has Washington’s full support.

Armenia took control of large swathes of territory in a war that unfolded as the Soviet Union collapsed. Azerbaijan took most of it back in a six-week conflict in 2020, ended by a Russian-brokered truce.

It was not clear whether Baku’s actions would trigger a full-scale conflict dragging in Armenia, but the fighting in Karabakh could alter the geopolitical balance in the South Caucasus.


Russia – distracted by its own war in Ukraine – is seeking to preserve its influence in the region, crisscrossed with oil and gas pipelines, in the face of greater activity from Turkey, which backs Azerbaijan.

Karabakh separatist authorities said 27 people had been killed, including two civilians, and more than 200 injured due to Baku’s military action on Tuesday. Residents of some villages had been evacuated, they said.

Moscow called early on Wednesday on both sides to stop the bloodshed and hostilities and return to the implementation of the 2020 ceasefire agreement.

“We urge the conflicting parties to immediately stop the bloodshed, stop hostilities and eliminate civilian casualties,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement posted on its Telegram messaging platform.

Relations between Russia and Armenia – traditional allies – have frayed badly since President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and further deteriorated in recent months over what Yerevan says is Moscow’s failure to fully uphold the 2020 ceasefire deal.

Yerevan, which had been holding periodic peace talks with Azerbaijan, including questions about Karabakh’s future, condemned Baku’s “full-scale aggression” against the people of Karabakh and accused Azerbaijan of shelling towns and villages.

Baku said its intention was to “disarm and secure the withdrawal of formations of Armenia’s armed forces from our territories, (and) neutralise their military infrastructure”.

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