YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Nagorno-Karabakh agreed to disband its armed forces and discuss its “reintegration” into Azerbaijan as part of a Russian-brokered ceasefire announced on Wednesday, September 20, 24 hours after Baku launched a large-scale military offensive in the Armenian-populated region.
Karabakh’s leadership said early in the afternoon that it has no choice but to agree to the deal proposed by Russian peacekeeping forces because of severe military and humanitarian consequences of the offensive.
The office of Samvel Shahramanyan, the Karabakh president, said Azerbaijani forces managed to seize a number of strategic heights and road junctures during attacks accompanied by heavy shelling of Karabakh Armenian positions and civilian targets. It said that Karabakh’s Defense Army is greatly outnumbered and outgunned by the Azerbaijani side despite putting up fierce resistance and inflicting heavy losses on the enemy. It also pointed to the international community’s “insufficient” reaction to Baku’s actions.
A separate statement issued by Stepanakert shortly afterwards clarified that the ceasefire, which was due to take effect at 1 pm local time, commits the Karabakh Armenians to disarming and disbanding their armed forces and removing their heavy weaponry from Karabakh.
The statement also announced that Karabakh representatives and Azerbaijani officials will start talks on Thursday on the region’s possible “reintegration” into Azerbaijan and the Karabakh Armenians’ rights and security “within the framework of the Azerbaijani constitution.” Their first meeting will take place in the Azerbaijani town of Yevlakh.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the agreement, saying that it will be implemented “in coordination with the commanders of the Russian peacekeeping contingent.”