Nagorno-Karabakh Ceasefire Agreement
In coordination with the international community, the Minsk Group is tasked with facilitating negotiations for a “peaceful and comprehensive settlement” of the conflict. The co-chairs have a responsibility to promote a solution to the conflict without the use of force and must “help the President-in-Office develop a plan for the creation, composition and operation of a multinational OSCE peacekeeping force… Although the current ceasefire agreement includes a peacekeeping force, it formally covers only Russian peacekeeping forces. Since 1992, Armenia and Azerbaijan have both agreed to oversee the Minsk group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), jointly managed by Russia, the United States and France – three of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – as an appropriate mechanism for the development of a peace plan. Nevertheless, the entire Minsk group was not involved in the development of this agreement – because, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, “the situation was changing by the hour and it was impossible, for reasons of time, to negotiate within the OSCE Minsk Group”. The agreement stipulates that Armenia must cede several territories (Aghdam, Lachin and Kelbajar) to Azerbaijan. In addition, Azerbaijan will retain control of the territories it conquered during the war, including the strategic town of Shusha/Shushi. As part of the agreement, Russia has begun deploying peacekeeping forces to the region, of which 1,960 are expected to settle below a five-year term. President Aliyev said the agreement was of “historical importance” and that it was a “capitulation” of Armenia.
After the signing of the agreement, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pachinjan said: “This is not a victory, but there is no defeat until you consider yourself defeated, we will never consider ourselves defeated, and it will be a new beginning in an era of national unity and rebirth.”  Following the announcement of the ceasefire agreement, violent demonstrations took place in Yerevan. Armenian Parliament spokesman Ararat Mirzoyan was beaten by an angry mob who stormed Parliament after the peace deal was announced. Pachinjan, however, suggested that Mirzoyan`s life was “not in danger” and that he had been operated on.   The real challenge of the ceasefire agreement is to Congress. It has been just over seven months since Deputy Foreign Minister Stephen E. Biegun renounced the provisions of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act prohibiting the supply of arms to Azerbaijan, stating that weapons “do not undermine or hinder ongoing efforts to negotiate a peaceful settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan or are not used for offensive purposes against Armenia.” Either Biegun lied, or more likely, the U.S. Embassy in Baku was sleeping at the counter and had no idea what Aliyev was planning. However, the failure of the secret services should have consequences: the immediate end of a waiver and the reintroduction of sanctions against Azerbaijan. The new ceasefire agreement angered Armenia when protesters stormed Parliament, beat the speaker and allegedly looted the prime minister`s office. The agreement defines some of the responsibilities of Russian peacekeeping forces. The Lachin Corridor, which connects Armenia and NKR, is controlled by the Russian peacekeeping contingent, with Azerbaijan having to ensure the safety of citizens, vehicles and goods transported in both directions along the corridor. Similarly, Armenia is obliged to ensure the security of transport links between the western regions of Azerbaijan and the Nakhichivan Autonomous Republic, which are separated by Armenia.
In accordance with the agreement, the Armenian government will guarantee the free movement of citizens, vehicles and goods in both directions. For the most part, Azerbaijan will take the route between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and the Russian Internal Security Agency will take a route through southern Armenia and connect one Azerbaijani territory to another.