On Tuesday, Russia negotiated a new peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the two countries engaged for more than six weeks in a military conflict for the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region in the South Caucasus. In Azerbaijan, President Ilham Aliyev believes he has obtained enough benefits to call for peace and reconciliation on his terms, after bringing his nation back from humiliating losses in the last Karabakh war in the 1990s. By the time the Azerbaijani armed forces advanced, the cost of the offensive for life and resources had increased, with thousands of their troops and hundreds of civilians killed (Azerbaijan refused to publish the death toll). Had the conflict continued in Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, the resulting brutality could have further damaged Azerbaijan`s political position, particularly among Azerbaijani gas customers in the West, who had expressed concern about Aliyev`s human rights violations and had already considered sanctions against arms exports to Azerbaijan. “Personally, I have made a very tough decision for myself and for all of us,” Pachinjan said in a statement posted online, in which he called the terms of the armistice “incredibly painful for me and our people.” In a video address, Aliyev mocked Pachinjan and said he had signed the agreement because of his “iron fist.” Armenia and Azerbaijan also remain ready to resort to violence again if the terms of the agreement are not applied, interpreted differently or if red lines such as the target of civilians or the widespread destruction of cultural heritage are exceeded on the ground. The question now is whether the leaders of both countries can avoid nationalist pressure to continue to adopt positions of prosecutor, xenophobia and maximalism in all negotiations arising from the 9 November agreement. If these talks fail, the ceasefire could still fail. Many previous hot spots remain a source of hostility. The helicopter was shot down near the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, an inland enclave of Azerbaijan between Armenia and Turkey, far from Nagorno-Karabakh.
A war between the Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces ended in 1994 with a ceasefire, with Armenia having full control of Nagorno-Karabakh and other surrounding enclaves of Azerbaijani territory.