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Sunday, 18 April 2021

Victory and bitter retreat: Nagorno-Karabakh since the ceasefire

Forty-five days of heavy fighting that started on September 27 left more than 4,000 dead, including civilians

AFP , Wednesday 25 Nov 2020
Nagorno-Karabakh
Ethnic Armenian militants stand at a checkpoint near village of Charektar in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh at a new border with Kalbajar district turned over to Azerbaijan, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020 AP
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Azerbaijan said on Wednesday its forces had entered the Kalbajar district, the second of three to be handed back by Armenia as part of a peace deal that ended six weeks of fighting over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Here is a timeline of developments since the accord was agreed earlier this month:

Putin brokers peace

On November 9 Russian President Vladimir Putin brokers a peace deal as Azerbaijani troops are at the point of overrunning the Armenian-populated region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which broke away from Baku after a conflict in the early 1990s.

Forty-five days of heavy fighting that started on September 27 left more than 4,000 dead, including civilians.

Armenian defeat

Azerbaijan claims Armenia has "capitulated".

Angry Armenians storm government buildings in Yerevan as peace terms become known.

Their leaders have agreed to return the Aghdam district to Azerbaijan by November 20, the Kalbajar district by November 15 and the Lachin district by December 1.

Russian peacekeepers are to be sent to guard the strategic Lachin corridor linking the separatist region with Armenia proper. Another corridor to the south will link Azerbaijan with its Nakhchivan enclave on the border with Turkey.

Turkey hails gains

The following day Turkey -- which had been accused of sending Syrian fighters to aid its ally Baku -- hails Azerbaijan's "significant gains".

The ceasefire agreement makes no mention of the future status of the remaining Armenian-populated areas of Nagorno-Karabakh.

By the end of the week Russia deploys its first of some 2,000 peacekeepers.

Fury in Yerevan

As protests in Armenia continue, an opposition leader is accused of plotting to kill the prime minister.

Artur Vanetsyan, former head of the country's security services, is detained along with other senior opposition figures during protests which brand the prime minister a "traitor".

Azerbaijan agrees to extend the deadline for Armenians to withdraw from the Kalbajar district to November 25.

Armenians burn homes

On November 13 Armenians are burning their homes in the Kalbajar region which was taken from Azerbaijan by Armenian separatists in the early 1990s.

Fleeing Armenian refugees begin to set their houses and farm buildings alight in other districts.

- Return to Karabakh -
The next day others begin returning to the region from Armenia. They had fled during the fighting which left more than 100 civilians dead.

Russia announces on November 24 that it has helped more than 13,000 people to return.

Turkey elbows in

On November 16 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asks his parliament to authorise sending soldiers to Azerbaijan to establish a "peacekeeping centre" with Russia.

Ankara pushes for a larger role in maintaining the peace, prompting France to ask the Kremlin to clear up "ambiguities" over the ceasefire, particularly the role of Turkey and of foreign fighters.

Azeri troops enter Aghdam

On November 20 Azeri troops enter Aghdam, the first of three districts to be handed back by Armenia.

Five days later Azerbaijan enters the Kalbajar district, which is between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.

Lachin, the district around the Russian-guarded corridor linking Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh, is to be handed back on December 1.

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