Artsakh: What Happens Now..?

Ceasefire Established

Earlier today it was announced that Artsakh (aka Nagorno-Karabakh) authorities had relented and that the Artsakh Defence Army would not only be disarming, but disbanding entirely and withdrawing from Artsakh. This comes after Azerbaijan launched a large scale attack on Artsakh which resulted in the deaths of over 200 people, including 10 civilians (5 of which are children), and the injury of over 400, including 40 civilians (of which 13 are children).

These totals only include Artsakh’s casualties.

The weapons of the Artsakh Defence Army are to be turned in to Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan published scores of drone footage of strikes on Artsakh positions in what they referred to as an “Anti-Terrorist Operation”, after accusing Armenia of having an army contingent within Artsakh itself. Armenia withdrew its military forces from Artsakh after the 2020 44-Day war, and denied the Azeri accusations. Given Artsakh’s army does not have the capabilities to effectively counter the Turkish and Israeli supplied drones that Azerbaijan wields, they were prompted to accept the ceasefire.

A Political End

The ceasefire was accepted by the Government of Artsakh after a special security council was convened by the present President of Artsakh, Samvel Shahramanyan. The President convened the security council meeting alongside all of the former presidents of Artsakh, and the decision was apparently unanimous.

Following the official halt of military action at 1PM on September 20th, Artsakh’s government representatives are headed to Azerbaijan, to the city of Yevlakh, in order to meet with Azerbaijan and discuss their so called “reintegration” with Azerbaijan. The first of what may become many meetings is to take place tomorrow, September 21st. Artsakh’s government is to discuss security and rights guarantees for Artsakh’s Armenian population, numbering 120,000 people.

Tomorrow’s meeting will give a good pointer as to the future of the region.

The People’s Future

At the start of Azeri military attacks the evacuation of thousands of people to more internal areas of Artsakh began. Evacuations are likely to continue, however a myriad of issues presently lie in the way which jeopardize the safety of many people.

Namely, many of the outer towns of Artsakh are presently without both electricity and internet, making any sort of communication with these people either impossible, or incredibly difficult.

Russian Peacekeepers assist in evacuation from the Artsakh town of Askeran (Photo from the Russian Defence Ministry).

Additionally, the Lachin/Berdzor corridor, the road which connected Armenia and Artsakh, remains blocked by the Azeri military, making leaving Artsakh for Armenia immensely difficult.

Russia maintains a large amount of peacekeepers within the region and could potentially assist in the evacuation of refugees to Armenia, however Russia has had significant difficulty in negotiating with Azerbaijan in the past and its peacekeepers have proven unreliable in maintaining the security situation, having failed to prevent the outbreak of violence yesterday. Russia has thus far assisted in the evacuation of civilians from towns which were close to the line of contact.

Thousands of civilians are reportedly sheltering at a Russian peacekeepers base within Artsakh.

A photo of civilians at the Russian peacekeeping base. As of earlier in the day, 2,621 people had arrived at the base. This number has since increased.

Azeri President Aliyev in a statement months ago said that the Armenians of Artsakh could either “Accept Azeri citizenship, or get out”.

What’s Next..?

What the near future holds is unknown. Azeri President Aliyev’s rhetoric towards Armenia itself has become increasingly aggressive in recent months, with Azerbaijan making a number of territorial claims upon Armenia, particularly around Syunik as both Azerbaijan and Turkey attempt to pressure Armenia into opening up the “Zangezur Corridor”, which would connect mainland Azerbaijan with the Nakhchivan exclave, through Armenia.

Presently, Armenia is gripped in protest. Yerevan’s Republic Square has thousands of Armenians protesting against the ceasefire, against Armenian government inaction on the matter, against Russian inaction, as well as for Prime Minister Pashinyan’s resignation. Clashes with police have been common, and periodically flare up again.

The coming days will outline the future of Artsakh’s 120,000 Armenians.

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien is a published journalist and historicist with over six years of experience in freelance journalism and research. His primary expertise is in African conflict and politics, with additional specialization in Israeli/Palestinian and Armenia/Azerbaijan conflicts. Sébastien serves as the deputy desk chief for Africa.


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