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The second humanitarian truce in Nagorno-Karabakh befell the fate of the first

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A new humanitarian pause announced on Saturday evening in the zone of the Karabakh conflict was thwarted, and hostilities continue. Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of violating agreements
Late in the evening of October 17, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held telephone conversations with his counterparts from Azerbaijan and Armenia – Jeyhun Bayramov and Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, respectively, after which Baku and Yerevan issued messages on the agreement of an armistice in Nagorno-Karabakh from zero on October 18 local time (one hour ahead of Moscow). The duration of the truce was not specified.
However, it did not last even a few minutes, as follows from reports from Armenia, the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Azerbaijan.
According to the Azerbaijani side, two minutes after midnight, Armenian forces began shelling the city of Jebrail (Baku claims to have established control over it during the current hostilities), and until 3 am, shelling from large-caliber weapons continued in the direction of two Azerbaijani regions – Tovuz and Gadabeg. and in the morning attempts were made to attack in the direction of the settlements of Hadrut, Fizuli, Jebrail and Agdere (Martakert). All these settlements are located in the south of the area of ​​hostilities, and earlier Baku reported about their capture.
In turn, the Armenian Foreign Ministry, in its statement on the violation of the ceasefire regime, confirmed that the main hostilities were being conducted in the south, but placed the responsibility on the other side. After active shelling, Azerbaijani units undertook an offensive in the southern direction in order to seize advantageous positions, Yerevan said.
The humanitarian ceasefire agreed with Moscow’s mediation is the second attempt to pause hostilities. The first was undertaken in the Russian capital on October 10, the foreign ministers of the three countries met in person, but their agreements were never implemented. The truce was to be used by the parties to exchange prisoners and bodies of the dead. In this case, the International Committee of the Red Cross was supposed to act as a mediator, according to the agreements of October 10.
Since the beginning of hostilities, the Azerbaijani side has never reported data on the number of dead and wounded among the military, only among civilians – 43 people died (as of October 15). On the Armenian side, data are published almost every day. In the latest report for October 18 there are 40 new names, a total of 673 dead. Among the civilians, 34 people were killed.
Yerevan on the night of October 18 proposed to withdraw the wounded servicemen from the battlefield, but Baku refused this offer, the Armenian Foreign Ministry said on Sunday morning. “The incident testifies that the Aliyev clan is horrified by the prospect of responsibility before its own people for unleashing a war and numerous losses, and is trying to postpone the inevitable moment of collision face to face with reality,” the Armenian side explained. On Sunday afternoon, the Azerbaijani state commission of the republic on the affairs of prisoners of war, hostages and missing citizens announced that Azerbaijan is ready to unilaterally transfer to Armenia some of the bodies of dead Armenian servicemen through the mediation of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh has been going on since September 27. It is not known exactly what changes took place on the contact line between NKR and Azerbaijan. On October 14, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan admitted that the Armenian side had retreated to the south and north. According to him, this is due to the fact that the Azerbaijani troops have changed their tactics, “trying to create confusion in the rear with sabotage groups.” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has several times announced the capture of the same settlements. By the end of the third week, Russian journalists were convinced that Jebrail (the center of the Jebrail region, one of the seven regions adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh, which were captured during the 1990-1994 war) had come under the control of the Azerbaijani side. Hadrut is located a few kilometers away, and Aliyev also reported that he had been taken. At the end of the week, further reports were received about the capture of Fizuli, the center of the second of seven adjacent districts.
According to the Madrid principles of the settlement of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, updated in 2009, the territories around this region should be returned to Azerbaijan (provision is also made for the provision of Nagorno-Karabakh with a temporary status guaranteeing its security and self-government, the opening of a corridor between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, determination of the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh on based on a legally binding expression of will).
On Friday, October 16, the hostilities again went beyond the territory of the NKR – in the second largest Azerbaijani city of Ganja, a residential building was destroyed by a missile strike, 13 people were killed. According to Baku, an Elbrus-type rocket was launched from the territory of Armenia. Yerevan denies this.
The R-17 Elbrus is a Soviet operational-tactical missile system known in the west as the Scud. The production of missiles was discontinued in 1987, but the complexes themselves were replaced in the Soviet army with more advanced ones since 1980. The shelf life of missiles for this complex is 22-24 years under ideal conditions (unfilled in the arsenal). Even in good condition, this old rocket is not particularly accurate, ”explains Vasily Kashin, Head of the Section at the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics. According to him, the armament of the Armenian side is inferior to the Azerbaijani one. “It has four main parts. The first is what was passed to them or was transferred during the collapse of the USSR and in the 1990s, the second is the used Soviet weapons that were bought in the former USSR, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, the third is received from Russia in the form of assistance , these are, in particular, all the Armenian S-300s, belonging to the oldest modifications of this complex (late 1970s – early 1980s), unreliable and with low performance, fourth – piece purchases of modern weapons in Russia and China. They were, but their share is small, their share is within 10%, ”the expert says.
The lack of a serious territorial advancement of the Azerbaijani army is explained by the fact that the hostilities are being conducted in mountainous terrain, moreover, the Armenians stubbornly defend themselves using extensive field fortifications. “The difficult terrain and the stubbornness of the defense slowed the advance and led to losses. Armenians can only hope that the increase in losses will force Baku to agree to a real truce and continue to fight at the negotiating table, ”Kashin said. The duration of hostilities, he said, depends on several circumstances. “The main question is whether there is a substantial supply of military materials to Armenia from outside and to what extent Azerbaijan’s reserves of high-precision weapons have been depleted. If Armenia is in a real blockade (that is, Russia and Iran do not supply it with weapons), and Baku retains access to new supplies of weapons, the Armenian defense will collapse in a matter of weeks. But if Russia and Iran want to fully supply Armenia with weapons, facilitate the sending of volunteers, etc. – the war may become protracted, and its outcome will be unclear, ”the expert predicts.
“The position of Azerbaijan has changed a lot, it considers itself a winner, behind which is Turkey. A significant part of the Azerbaijani establishment has the idea that if they act more energetically, including militarily, they will have very good positions for the subsequent resolution of the conflict. The Armenians are not going to give in either. The presence of militants from the Azerbaijani side makes Yerevan feel that it will be supported, because now in Karabakh it is fighting not for Karabakh, but against Islamic terrorism, ”explains the unwillingness of the parties to make concessions, head of scientific research of the Dialogue of Civilizations Institute Aleksey Malashenko.

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