Terms of the Karabakh truce – corridors, boundaries and peacekeepers
What are the provisions of the trilateral agreement signed on November 10, 2020 between Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia, which stopped the 45-day war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Karabakh – and caused massive protests in Armenia.
Key points of the agreement
• Armenia and Azerbaijan stop at the positions they occupied by the moment of the signing of the agreement.
• Russian peacekeepers – 1,960 servicemen – will be stationed along the contact line in Nagorno-Karabakh. They will remain there for five years with automatic renewal for the same period if neither side requests their withdrawal.
• A timetable has been agreed upon, according to which Armenia should withdraw its troops to return control to Azerbaijan in the regions adjacent to Karabakh: by November 15 – Kelbajar region, by November 20 – Aghdam region, by December 1 – Lachin region.
• Refugees are to return to the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent areas, this process will be under the control of the UN.
• The parties must exchange prisoners of war.
• All economic and transport links in the region are to be unblocked. Control over transportation and transit will be carried out by the border service of the FSB of Russia.
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What did Armenia and Azerbaijan get as a result of the agreement?
• Receives all areas around Nagorno-Karabakh.
• Gains several districts of Nagorno-Karabakh itself – but does not gain control there over the capital Khankendi / Stepanakert and those districts that were under the control of the Armenian forces at the time of signing the agreement, including over the cities of Martuni and Mardakert.
• Receives a transit land corridor along the southern border of Armenia with Iran, which will connect the Azerbaijani autonomous republic of Nakhichevan and mainland Azerbaijan.
• The Azerbaijani army remains in the regions around Karabakh and in those regions of Karabakh itself, which it occupied before the conclusion of the agreement – including in the strategically important city of Shusha. At the same time, the Armenian side is obliged to completely leave these territories.
• Receives a corridor for transport links between Karabakh and Armenia, 5 kilometers wide, which will be ensured by Russian peacekeepers for at least 5 years.
• Reserves formal sovereignty over the border area in the south of the country, along which the transit corridor between Nakhichevan and Azerbaijan will pass. Russia will ensure the security of the corridor.
• For the first time in modern history, it will receive a transit land corridor with Azerbaijan – through the territory of Armenia and through the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan.
Map of Karabakh and adjacent regions of Azerbaijan following the results of the war. Purple – territories that have not been transferred to Azerbaijan, and what will happen to them further is unclear [more on this below].
What remains to be clarified?
The main points that should be clarified by the parties at the official level, but for now have become the subject of speculation by experts and on social media:
Access from Karabakh to Armenia
Until now, this road was the Lachin corridor, which passes through the city of Shusha / Shushi. The agreement says that there will be no more travel to Armenia through Shusha and in the next three years a road should be built bypassing the city, which will be controlled by Russian peacekeepers. What will happen before the appearance of this road – there is no answer to this question.
Will there be Turkish peacekeepers be in Karabakh?
The text of the agreement on the website kremlin.ru refers only to Russian peacekeepers.
This was also confirmed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov.
However, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev claims that Turkish peacekeepers will also be stationed on the territory of Karabakh.
The official website of the President of Azerbaijan published a video recording of the conversation between Aliyev and Putin, in which the President of Azerbaijan clearly speaks of ‘the joint peacekeeping mission of Russia and Turkey’ – and there are no objections from Putin.
Access from Armenia to Iran – and a corridor from the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan to mainland Azerbaijan
Two corridors will run in the south of Armenia – from Armenia to Iran and from Nakhichevan to Azerbaijan. And the only checkpoint between Armenia and Iran – Agarak-Norduz – is located just a few kilometers from Nakhichevan.
Will a new road be built for the Nakhichevan corridor? The agreement says nothing about this.
If the existing road is used on this section, it will be a source of constant tension for all parties, including Iran.
Here is a map showing a transit land corridor from the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic (bordering Turkey) to Azerbaijan with a white dotted line.
The gray color on the map shows the territory of Iran, with which Armenia has close economic ties.
• What names and whose state symbols will be in Karabakh?
What will be the names of the cities in Nagorno-Karabakh: Khankendi or Stepanakert? Khojavend or Martuni?
Which country’s flags will be on the administration buildings in Karabakh?
What currency will be used there?
Who will be the heads of cities and villages?
What citizenship will those who live there have?
These are all questions that are unlikely to be answered soon.
• The ‘Second Karabakh War’. From September 27 to November 10, 2020, the Azerbaijani and Armenian armies fought fierce battles in the Karabakh conflict zone using armored vehicles, artillery and drones. Several thousand people were killed among the military and civilians on both sides. An armistice was declared three times during this time – on October 10, 18 and 26, but each time it was immediately violated. The war was stopped by a trilateral agreement signed on November 10 by Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia
• Karabakh war 1991-1994. Armed conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis that took place in 1991-1994 on the territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region of Azerbaijan and the surrounding regions.
Since the signing of the ceasefire in 1994 and until November 2020, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has existed as a de facto independent republic, not recognized by any state in the world, including Armenia. The Azerbaijani population left this territory and only ethnic Armenians lived there. Azerbaijan has always considered Karabakh and the territories around it occupied during the war as occupied and demanded their return.
Over the years, negotiations on a settlement of the conflict with international mediation have yielded no results.
The previous outbreak of full-scale hostilities – the so-called April War or Four-Day War – occurred in April 2016. As a result, dozens of people died on both sides.