By Stefan J. Bos
The Russian-brokered ceasefire was to start at midday on 10 October, as part of efforts to end the worst hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan in more than a quarter-century.
Both nations have been fighting over the mountainous enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is under ethnic Armenian control.
They agreed to a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh after hundreds of people were killed since the latest round of fighting began two weeks ago.
he truce followed 10 hours of talks in Moscow mediated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He stressed that the ceasefire should pave the way for talks on settling the decades-old conflict.
Minister Lavrov said: “In response to an appeal by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and accordance to an agreement with the Russian President, Azerbaijan’s President [Ilham] Aliyev, and Armenia’s Prime Minister [Nikol] Pashinyan, the parties have agreed on the following steps: a ceasefire is announced starting from midday October 10 to for humanitarian purposes the exchange of prisoners of war and other detained persons and the bodies of the dead. And according to the criteria of the international committee of the Red Cross.”
But within an hour after the truce came into effect, the two sides immediately accused each other of breaking the deal with new attacks.
It came just shortly after Armenia this week accused neighboring Azerbaijan of shelling a historic cathedral in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Footage showed damage to both the interior and exterior of the Holy Savior Cathedral in Shusha city, an important site for the Armenian Apostolic Church.
However, civilians on both sides have been suffering. And international mediators now hope the shaky ceasefire will prevent a new broader conflict.
Backed by Armenia, ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan in a war in the early 1990s that killed some 30,000 people.