Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has admitted defeat by signing a deal with Azerbaijan and Russia to end conflict in occupied Karabakh.
During the early hours of Tuesday morning, Pashinyan announced on Facebook that he had signed what he called a “painful” agreement.
“I have signed a statement with the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan on the termination of the Karabakh war,” Pashinyan said in a statement posted on his Facebook page, calling the move “unspeakably painful for me personally and for our people.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed the agreement and added that a ceasefire had commenced from 2100 GMT.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said the deal signed showed it was a clear defeat of Armenia.
“The liberation of around 300 settlements since September 27 has broken the back of the Armenian army,” he added.
Defeat of Armenia
Azerbaijan’s president described a deal reached early Tuesday to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region as the defeat of Armenia.
Aliyev announced the end of the Karabakh conflict between Baku and Yerevan with the new agreement.
Aliyev said Pashinyan signed the agreement due to Baku’s “iron fist,” not Yerevan’s own will.
He said the liberation of around 300 settlements since Septembar 27 in the region has weakened the Armenian army.
Aliyev said Agdam District will be delivered to Baku as of November 20 while Kalbajar will be returned by November 15 and Lachin by December 1.
The Azerbaijani president said Russia will deploy 1,960 soldiers and 90 armoured vehicles of its peacekeeping forces on the Nagorno-Karabakh contact line and in the Lachin Corridor.
He also announced a Turkish and Russia joint peacekeeping mission in Karabakh.
Protests in Yerevan
Armenia erupted in protests early Tuesday after Pashinyan’s announcement.
Protesters gathered in front of a government building in the capital Yerevan, breaking windows and chanting slogans against Pashinyan.
Some of them entered his office and called for him to resign.
Local media reports said parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan had been attacked and beaten.
The crowds grew smaller as the night wore on but some protesters remained inside parliament.
Earlier in the day, Pashinyan announced a deal between Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan, saying “I made a very hard decision for me and for all of us.”
“I have signed a statement with Russia and Azerbaijan on the termination of the Karabakh war,” he said.
In a televised address, Putin announced the new ceasefire.
He said under the deal, Azerbaijan and Armenia will remain in the positions they control.
Putin also said that Russian peacekeepers will be deployed on the contact line in Nagorno-Karabakh and in the corridor where Karabakh connects with Armenia.
The displaced and refugees will return to Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions under the control of the UN Refugee Agency.
Transportation and communications control will be provided by the Russian Border Security Service, he said.
The deal will create the necessary conditions for a long-term and comprehensive solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis on a fair basis in line with the interests of the Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples, he added.
Azerbaijanis celebrate deal
Azerbaijanis celebrated the signing of a deal and took to the streets after President Ilham Aliyev described the agreement reached to halt fighting over the region as the defeat of Armenia.
The capital Baku was the scene of enthusiastic celebrations despite the early hour, with thousands of people carrying both Azerbaijani and Turkish flags.
Some Azerbaijanis danced in the streets while others celebrated in convoys of cars. Some cried out of happiness and others sang songs and the national anthem.
In Ganja, the second-largest city in the country, people also celebrated. Hundreds of people gathered in Ganja’s main square carrying Azerbaijani and Turkish flags.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, a local resident, Elnur Habiboglu, expressed her joy.
“We are returning to our own lands hopefully after 28 years,” Habiboglu said. “Azerbaijan and Turkey are one nation with two states.”
Another local, Sefika Fazil, said her brother was a soldier. “Thank you very much. Turkey and Azerbaijan are brothers. We have won together.”
Relations between the two former Soviet republics over Nagorno-Karabakh have remained tense since 1991 with the latest clashes starting in September.
Since then, three ceasefires have been violated.
Armenia has repeatedly attacked Azerbaijani civilians and forces, even violating three humanitarian cease-fire agreements.
In total, about 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory has been under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.