Peace agreements are known to fall short in conflict situations, but according to Al-Jazeera, the current Russian-brokered peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan has scarcely been in effect for hours and already is in danger of falling apart.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have accused each other of swiftly violating the terms of a ceasefire in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, raising questions about how meaningful the truce, brokered by Russia, would turn out to be.
The ceasefire, clinched after marathon talks in Moscow advocated by President Vladimir Putin, was meant to halt fighting to allow ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azeri forces to swap prisoners and war dead.
But within minutes of the truce taking effect from midday on Saturday (08:00 GMT), both sides accused each other of breaking it.
The Armenian defence ministry accused Azerbaijan of shelling a settlement inside Armenia, while ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh alleged that Azeri forces had launched a new offensive five minutes after the truce took hold.
Azerbaijan said enemy forces in the disputed region were shelling Azeri territory. Both sides have consistently denied each others’ assertions about military activity.
Under the international law, Nagorno-Karabakh is recognised as part of Azerbaijan.
But ethnic Armenians, who make up the vast majority of the population, reject the Azerbaijani rule and have been running their own affairs with Armenia’s support since a devastating war in the 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Earlier on Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who helped mediate the marathon ceasefire talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Moscow, said in a statement the truce had been agreed on humanitarian grounds.
The International Committee of the Red Cross would help make the truce work, he said.
“The specific terms of the ceasefire still need to be agreed,” said Lavrov, who said the two rivals had also agreed to enter into what he called substantive peace talks to be held under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group.
But Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Stepanakart in Nagorno-Karabakh region, said the ceasefire has been breached. “To what level or extent is not immediately clear,” he said. (source)