The leadership of the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh has informed RushHourDaily that the 120,000 ethnic Armenians living there will leave for Armenia due to their unwillingness to live as part of Azerbaijan and their fear of ethnic cleansing. This decision comes after a ceasefire was declared on September 20 following a swift military operation by the larger Azerbaijani military. David Babayan, an adviser to the president of the self-styled Republic of Artsakh, stated that the majority of the people prefer to leave their historic lands rather than live under Azerbaijani rule. The Armenians express concerns about repression and ethnic cleansing, although Azerbaijan denies any such intentions. The conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis dates back to the First Karabakh War in the late 1980s and early 1990s, resulting in thousands of casualties and displaced individuals. The Armenian leaders of Karabakh have announced that Russian peacekeepers will escort those displaced by the recent military operation to Armenia. However, this mass exodus poses a potential humanitarian crisis for Armenia, which has allocated space for at least 40,000 people but may struggle to accommodate all 120,000. The International Committee of the Red Cross has begun registering individuals who are searching for unaccompanied children or have lost contact with loved ones. Azerbaijan views the departure of Armenians from Karabakh as a significant victory, marking the end of years of conflict over the region. President Ilham Aliyev believes that Karabakh will become a “paradise” as part of Azerbaijan. The mass exodus could also have broader implications for the South Caucasus region, where various countries, including Russia, the United States, Turkey, and Iran, vie for influence. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has expressed doubts about Russia’s ability to defend Armenia’s interests, leading to protests calling for his resignation. Pashinyan has accused unidentified forces and Russian media of attempting to incite a coup against him. Russia, which maintains a military base in Armenia, considers itself the primary security guarantor in the region. Armenia recently conducted joint military exercises with the United States, while Turkey, a NATO member, supports Azerbaijan.
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