Under the deal, some 2,000 Russian peacekeepers have been deployed between the two sides and along the corridor of Lachin, a 60-kilometer road through the district linking Stepanakert, Karabakh’s main city, to Armenia.
Azerbaijani trucks travelling through the corridor were joined overnight by Russian military vehicles and were stationed at the major crossroads in Lachin.
Most inhabitants of the city left before the invasion, but Levon Gevorgyan, 48, the owner of a small grocery store, said he had planned to stay Azerbaijani .
“I am scared of God alone. I’ve been here for 22 years, I’ve started from zero, I’ve created it all,’ he said. I pray I can keep driving, because I still have a loan to pay for it. I’ll burn everything if I have to quit Azerbaijani.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev welcomed the dawn of a new reality in a televised speech on Tuesday.
The enemy has been pushed out of our territories by us. We get our territorial integrity back. We have terminated the occupation,’ he added.
After the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union that left some 30,000 people dead, Nagorno-Karabakh broke from Azerbaijan’s control in a battle.
The area proclaimed independence, but no government, including Armenia, which strongly supports the separatists, has ever recognised it.
After six weeks of resolve that saw Azerbaijan’s army overtake separatist forces and attempt to move on Stepanakert, the peace deal concluded on November 9 was renewed.
According to the deal, Armenia is losing control of seven districts it gained in the 1990s around Karabakh.
The separatists have maintained power of much of the Soviet-era territories of Karabakh, but have lost the main town of Shusha.
Aliyev stated that before the 1990s war, nearly 50,000 Azerbaijanis lived in the Lachin district and would return to the nearest future.”
Crowds bearing Azerbaijani flags cheered the takeover of Lachin, a city glorified in a popular Azerbaijani folk song, in Baku on Tuesday.
The International Crisis Group’s Olesya Vartanyan said that although the handover of the last district indicated the “work” of the peace settlement, the current status quo remained unclear.”