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Ceasefire holds between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Azerbaijanian servicemen crossing the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and approaching the Armenian positions (Armenian Defense Ministry/AP)
Azerbaijanian servicemen crossing the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and approaching the Armenian positions (Armenian Defense Ministry/AP)

A ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan is holding after two days of fighting that killed 155 soldiers from both sides.

Armen Grigoryan, the secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, said the truce brokered thanks to international mediation took effect at 8pm (4pm GMT) on Wednesday.

A previous ceasefire that Russia brokered on Tuesday had quickly failed.

Armenia’s Defence Ministry said on Thursday the situation on the border with Azerbaijan was quiet and no ceasefire violations were reported.

There was no immediate comment from Azerbaijan’s government.

People stand around a coffin of Azeri serviceman Elshan Babazade, killed at Azerbaijani-Armenian border, during his funeral in Mykhlygovag, Azerbaijan
People stand around a coffin of Azeri serviceman Elshan Babazade, killed at Azerbaijani-Armenian border, during his funeral in Mykhlygovag, Azerbaijan (AP)

The ceasefire declaration followed two days of heavy fighting that marked the largest outbreak of hostilities between the two longtime adversaries in nearly two years.

Armenia and Azerbaijan traded blame for the shelling, with Armenian authorities accusing Baku of unprovoked aggression and Azerbaijani officials saying their country was responding to Armenian attacks.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Wednesday that 105 of his country’s soldiers had been killed since fighting erupted early on Tuesday, while Azerbaijan said it lost 50.

The ex-Soviet countries have been locked in a decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is part of Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994.

During a six-week war in 2020, Azerbaijan reclaimed broad swaths of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent territories held by Armenian forces.

More than 6,700 people died in the fighting, which ended with a Russia-brokered peace agreement.

Moscow deployed about 2,000 troops to the region to serve as peacekeepers under the deal.

A serviceman carries a portrait of Shamistan Sadykhov killed at Azerbaijani-Armenian border, during his funeral in Lerik, Azerbaijan
A serviceman carries a portrait of Shamistan Sadykhov killed at Azerbaijani-Armenian border, during his funeral in Lerik, Azerbaijan (AP)

Mr Pashinyan said his government has asked Russia for military support amid the latest fighting under a friendship treaty between the countries, and also requested assistance from the Moscow-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organisation.

He said “we don’t see military intervention as the only possibility, because there are also political and diplomatic options”.

Yerevan’s plea for help has put the Kremlin in a precarious position as it has sought to maintain close relations with Armenia, which hosts a Russian military base, and also develop warm ties with energy-rich Azerbaijan.

On Wednesday, Mr Pashinyan told politicians Armenia is ready to recognise Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity in a future peace treaty, provided that it relinquishes control of areas in Armenia its forces have seized.

“We want to sign a document, for which many people will criticise and denounce us and call us traitors, and they may even decide to remove us from office, but we would be grateful if Armenia gets a lasting peace and security as a result of it,” Mr Pashinyan said.

Some in the opposition saw the statement as a sign of Mr Pashinyan’s readiness to cave in to Azerbaijani demands and recognise Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Thousands of angry protesters quickly descended on the government’s headquarters, accusing Mr Pashinyan of treason and demanding he step down.

Protests were also held in other Armenian cities.