A shaky temporary ceasefire appears to possibly be holding between Armenia and Azerbaijan which began at noon local time (08:00 GMT), however BBC reports that each side has already accused the other of breaking it after barely an hour in.
The truce came in to being following ten hours of Russia-sponsored talks in Moscow after which the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers signed a joint document initiating the ceasefire to allow for an exchange of prisoners and recovery of bodies in the Nagorno-Karabakh region where fighting has raged since late last month.
“A ceasefire is declared to begin on October 10 at 12:00 with the humanitarian aim of exchanging prisoners of war and other captured persons as well as to exchange bodies of victims with the facilitation of the International Committee of the Red Cross and in line with its regulations,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced early on Saturday.
Multiple hundreds have died and thousands displaced after war in the breakaway ethnic Armenian region, but which is internationally recognized as within Azerbaijan’s borders, began on September 27.
Lavrov further indicated that the temporary truce will lead to the two sides immediately engaging in “substantive” talks, with the ceasefire expected to hold only as long as it takes for the Red Cross and other aid workers to recover bodies.
One of Armenia’s sticking points which is said to be making talks difficult is its demand for regional and international recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state.
Iran welcomes cessation of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh as step toward peace.
We urge our neighbors 🇦🇿 and 🇦🇲 to engage in substantive dialogue based on respect for international law and territorial integrity.
We appreciate constructive efforts of our Russian neighbors.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) October 10, 2020
International observers hailed the pause in fighting as a major development in the right direction, and encouraged Russian efforts, specifically Iran which shares a border with both countries and has a very large ethnic Azeri population, as well as a sizeable minority of Armenians in northern Iran.