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Peace talks over Nagorno-Karabakh as ethnic Armenians flee the violence

Peace talks over Nagorno-Karabakh as ethnic Armenians flee the violence

Representatives from Nagorno-Karabakh and the Azerbaijan government held a first round of talks Thursday on the future of the breakaway region that Azerbaijan now says it fully controls following a military offensive this week.

The discussions in the city of Yevlakh focused on the «reintegration» of Nagorno-Karabakh, along with its local ethnic Armenian population, into Azerbaijan in the decades-old conflict, according to the office of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev.

Representatives from the region asked for fuel and food, and AzerI

Azeri officials agreed to provide humanitarian aid, including energy to heat kindergartens and schools, a statement from Aliyev’s office said. There were reports of blackouts in Stepanakert/Khankendi and some people had to use campfires to cook what food they could find.

Nagorno-Karabakh has been deprived for months of basic supplies, including medicine, due to a blockade by Azerbaijan that severed the only road link to Armenia in the southern Caucasus Mountains region.

The quick capitulation by the separatists reflected their weakness from the continuing blockade.

A contingent of 2,000 Russian peacekeepers was sent to the region after a six-week war in 2020 that allowed Azerbaijan to reclaim some territory, but that force apparently has been limited in what actions it can take. Recent tensions between Russia and Armenia likely further dampened the Kremlin’s desire to provide support and assistance.

«The local forces, they were never strong. The Azerbaijani army is much better prepared, much better equipped. … So it was quite obvious, you know, that any military action that was to take place in that area, it would lead to the defeat of the local Armenian side,» Olesya Vartanyan, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, told The Associated Press. «And any move from the Armenia side could lead to an escalation and then the spread of the war to the Armenian territory,»

Another round of talks will be held soon, Aliyev’s office said.

The local Armenian self-defence forces agreed Wednesday to disarm and disband following a military operation launched by Azerbaijan, which ended through a Russian-mediated cease-fire.

Aliyev declared victory in a televised address to the nation, saying his country had restored its sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh, which had been running its own affairs since the early 1990s though it is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

The Azerbaijan army had unleashed artillery and drone attacks Tuesday against the outnumbered and undersupplied pro-Armenian forces in the region.

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