The U.S.-brokered humanitarian ceasefire that was to come into force at 8 a.m. local time on October 26 has not held. Throughout the day, battles took place along different sections of the front line. After civilian settlements came under attack by Azerbaijani forces, one civilian was killed, another two wounded.
During a live press briefing this evening, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Armenian Defense Ministry admitted that Azerbaijani forces are near the gates of Syunik [Republic of Armenia] but the situation is not dire. “I believe in the might of the Armenian soldier, in his intellect, his skill, his tenacity,” he said, adding that during warfare there will be advances and retreats. “The situation is serious, the battles are fierce, the war is raging but not insurmountable.”
Regarding the violation of the ceasefire by Azerbaijan, Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan wrote, “…the Azerbaijani leadership, having the unconditional support of the Turkish authorities and terrorist mercenaries, does not have any intentions to resume peace talks and has made it clear that they will continue their military efforts until ethnic cleansing is fully implemented in Artsakh. Thus, it is our national duty to fight for the safe and dignified existence of Armenians of Artsakh in their homeland. The security and rights of our people are not subject to compromise.”
Here is a chronology of official updates.
1:44 a.m.: Donald Trump tweeted: Congratulations to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who just agreed to adhere to a cease fire effective at midnight. Many lives will be saved. Proud of my team @SecPompeo & Steve Biegun & @WHNSC for getting the deal done!
1:45 a.m.: President of Artsakh Arayik Harutyunyan wrote the following on his Facebook Page:
I welcome the agreement reached through the mediation of the United States of America and with the participation of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group affirming the commitments of the respective parties to implement a humanitarian ceasefire, agreed on October 10 and October 17 at the initiative of the Presidents of the Russian Federation and the French Republic.
The Republic of Artsakh, as the party to the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict, confirms its readiness to comply, on a reciprocal basis, with the terms of the humanitarian ceasefire, set to take effect on October 26, 2020 at 08:00.
7:20 a.m.: Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan writes: As agreed yesterday in Washington D.C., with U.S. mediation, from 08.00 the Armenian side will maintain the full ceasefire.
Azerbaijani Defense Ministry Jumps the Gun
8:40 a.m.: Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan wrote the following on her Facebook Page:
After reaching an agreement on a humanitarian ceasefire in the United States, that had to come into effect on October 26 at 8 a.m., Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry hurried to blame the Armenian side for grossly violating the ceasefire before 8 a.m.; the announcement was subsequently deleted. Minutes later, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry disseminated, yet again, misinformation noting that Armenian forces had shelled Azerbaijani positions in the southern direction.
The Ministry of Defense of the Artsakh Republic states that the units of the Defense Army are strictly following the reached agreement, and that the accusations by the Azerbaijani side have nothing to do with reality, and were made in the context of preparing the ground for further provocations.
Armenian Defense Ministry: Azerbaijani Forces Violate Humanitarian Ceasefire
9 a.m.: Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan reported: Grossly violating the humanitarian ceasefire agreement reached in the United States, the Azerbaijani side fired artillery at the northeastern military positions in Artsakh at around 8:45.
9:20 a.m.: Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan said: Yet another violation was registered at 9:10 a.m. Azerbaijani forces fired five artillery shells in the southeastern direction.
9:45 a.m.: Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wrote: The Armenian side continues to strictly adhere to the ceasefire regime.
10:56 a.m.: Armenia’s Defense Ministry, once again, officially announces that the Armenian side is strictly adhering to the humanitarian ceasefire that came into force at 8 a.m. The announcements by the Azerbaijani side that the Armenian side has violated the ceasefire regime do not correspond to reality and are obviously provocative in nature.
In this regard, the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Armenia highlights the importance of the immediate implementation of clear parameters for maintaining the ceasefire regime, and the start of the process of exchanging prisoners of war, as well as others in Azerbaijani captivity including also the bodies of those killed, mediated by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Women of Artsakh Protest in Front of EU Office in Yerevan
11 a.m.: A group of women and children, who have been forced to flee Artsakh because of the war, held a rally in front of the EU building in Yerevan. They were demanding to speak with a representative of the EU to raise concerns about the ongoing hostilities. This initiative, called Artsakh’s Voice Matters, has been holding protests in front of different international organizations and embassies in the capital to raise awareness of their plight and demand action.
11:13 a.m.: Artsakh’s State Service of Emergency Situations reports: The Azerbaijani side violated the ceasefire regime by also targeting civilian settlements. Grossly violating the humanitarian ceasefire agreement, the Azerbaijani Air Force has targeted the city of Martuni.
11:40 a.m.: According to Artsakh’s State Service of Emergency Situations: At this moment, the sappers of the Emergency Situations service are working in Stepanakert and its surrounding areas. Any unexploded ordnances are being destroyed. Therefore, if any residents hear explosions, do not panic.
12 p.m.: Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan: Despite several provocations, the ceasefire is generally being maintained. The Armenian side will continue to strictly adhere to the ceasefire regime.
12:17 p.m.: According to the Diaspora High Commissioner’s Office of Armenia, the German-Armenian Bar Association has appealed to the German Federal Public Prosecutor General to file a criminal case against Azerbaijan for committing war crimes against Artsakh. The statement included claims about Azerbaijan’s attack of peaceful civilians, the physical torture and intimidation of Armenian prisoners of war, the use of internationally-banned cluster munitions, and the shelling of civilian infrastructure including homes, buildings, hospitals, kindergartens, schools, cultural centers and churches, as well as the bombing of communication roads and bridges. It should be noted that the German International Criminal Code allows for the prosecution of serious Crimes against International Law, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
2:15 p.m.: According to the Artsakh Defense Ministry, despite the ceasefire agreement reached in the U.S., Azerbaijani forces launched an offensive in the direction of one of the military units located in the southeastern direction and continued to shell peaceful settlements. Around 1:50 p.m., Azerbaijani forces fired a rocket from a Smerch rocket launcher in the direction of the Zardashen village of the Martuni region. Artsakh Defense Army units are waging defensive battles to stop the attacks of the Azerbaijani forces and push them back.
Armenia Applies to ECtHR Regarding POWs
3 p.m.: The Office of the Representative of Armenia to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), recently applied to the Court regarding eight Armenian prisoners of war that are currently in Azerbaijani captivity. On October 22, a video started circulating in Azerbaijani media about the Armenian POWs.
Armenia’s Representative to the ECtHR told Armenpress that the Armenian side demands interim measures to be applied against Azerbaijan and to ensure their safety. The Armenian side also demanded information about their health status, their whereabouts and the conditions in which they are being kept.
Without mentioning names, Kirakosyan noted that they have received a response from the ECtHR regarding five POWs, because they were able to identify the five from the beginning. Later, in a second stage, they have submitted applications for the remaining three POWs.
The ECtHR has obligated the Government of Azerbaijan to provide information about five POWs until October 29. Kirakosyan said that they expect a similar decision for the remaining POWs as well.
The Armenian side has also informed the International Committee of the Red Cross about the application submitted to the ECtHR, including the response received from the Court.
One Civilian Killed, Two Others Wounded in Azerbaijani Attack
3:50 p.m.: Artsakh Ombudsman Artak Beglaryan tweeted the following: According to the Artsakh Ombudsman, in violation of the humanitarian ceasefire agreement, Azerbaijani forces launched a missile attack on the village of Avetaranots in the Askeran region. As a result, a civilian, Gevorg Hambardzumyan, was killed and two other civilians, Henrikh Adamyan and Andrey Hambardzumyan, were wounded.
4:30 p.m.: Artsrun Hovhannisyan of Armenia’s Defense Ministry said heavy battles are taking place in the southeastern direction of Artsakh.
6:25 p.m.: Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan reports: Since 5 p.m., fire has significantly intensified across the entire length of the front line. The adversary is targeting Artsakh Defense Army positions with different types of artillery, including tanks.
Civilian Settlements Come Under Fire
6:30 p.m.: According to Artsakh’s State Service of Emergency Situations: Azerbaijani forces are targeting the Martuni region, including the city of Martuni, Martakert and the upper communities of Askeran with Smerch and Grad missile launchers. A house in the city of Martuni has caught fire; emergency services are working on-site to put out the fire and carry out rescue work. Information about casualties and material destruction is being clarified.
6:40 p.m.: Artsakh Ombudsman tweets that Azerbaijani military forces have launched heavy strikes including cluster rockets on the cities of Martuni and Martakert, and villages of the Askeran region; mass destruction, civilian homes burnt. Casualties unknown.
Artsakh President on Collapse of Humanitarian Ceasefire
6:45 p.m.: Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan wrote the following on his Facebook Page:
Despite the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to establish a humanitarian ceasefire in the region, the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan continues to ignore and violate all agreements reached for that purpose.
As in previous times, the U.S.-brokered agreement that was reached with the participation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs reaffirmed the commitment of the parties to implement the October 10 humanitarian ceasefire that was reached in Moscow on the initiative of the Russian President and the October 17 agreement reached in Paris on the initiative of the French President. Today, the ceasefire was again grossly violated by official Baku. Especially during the second half of the day, Azerbaijan resumed its offensive along the entire length of the front line, using missiles and artillery.
All of these reaffirm that the Azerbaijani leadership, having the unconditional support of the Turkish authorities and the terrorist mercenaries, does not have any intentions to resume peace talks and has made it clear that they will continue their military efforts until ethnic cleansing is fully implemented in Artsakh. Thus, it is our national duty to fight for the safe and dignified existence of Armenians of Artsakh in their homeland. The security and rights of our people are not subject to compromise and our determination in this matter is above all circumstances and desires.
Prime Minister Nikol Pahinyan Addresses the Nation
6:45 p.m.: During a Facebook Live, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addressed the nation. Below is an unofficial translation of his remarks.
It is now evident that, once again, the ceasefire was not respected. I cannot say what the response of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs will be, but you should know that the Armenian side has done everything in its power to maintain the ceasefire. The Artsakh Defense Army has restrained itself since morning but during the second half of the day, we can register that the ceasefire failed. Now for the third time, it was not maintained. I remind you, it was first brokered by the Russian President, then the French President and the third ceasefire was brokered by the U.S. President, who even congratulated me and the Azerbaijani President in a tweet yesterday. We do not know what the reaction of the U.S. President will be about the failure of the ceasefire. I had a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday after midnight. I said that, since this is our third ceasefire, I can predict approximately what will happen tomorrow. I told Pompeo that tomorrow, most likely, the ceasefire will not be maintained and most likely, Azerbaijan will say it was Armenia that violated the ceasefire. However, the main point that I presented to the Secretary was the following: If the ceasefire fails, how are we going to determine who violated it? What will be the consequences for the side that violates the ceasefire agreement?
I do not consider it to be proper for me to relay to you Pompeo’s answer. But as the United States is waking up and the working day there has started, I hope Washington and President Trump will answer these questions. Have they identified the side that violated the ceasefire and if yes, then what will the repercussions be?
Imagine a scenario when the efforts of the Presidents of Russia, the U.S. and France toward establishing a ceasefire and finding a diplomatic solution to the conflict are futile. All three presidents sincerely want this ceasefire to be established. I say this without a shred of doubt. These leaders are putting their names under the efforts to establish this ceasefire. This fact alone is enough to understand the sincerity of their efforts. This situation is even more acute in the case of the United States since the country is now in a presidential campaign and Trump’s ability to influence an international situation is at stake; this can have positive as well as negative repercussions on the campaign.
If the U.S., Russia and France are unable to impose a ceasefire in this conflict, then this can mean several things. Maybe the world we live in has changed and we need to understand what this new world represents. This is just a thought, because there is still hope that the efforts of the three presidents will yield results. Maybe it is Armenia’s fault and the positions we adopted that make the ceasefire and a solution to the conflict unattainable. Here I just want you to know, and this may not be palatable for some, but in this matter we have been extremely flexible. And as a result, we have come to the conclusion that Azerbaijan is not looking for a resolution to the conflict but rather the capitulation of Karabakh. This demand is not new, it was evident before the war. As I have said before, whenever we show flexibility, be it in a theoretical approach or a practical matter, it has not been acceptable for Azerbaijan, instead they have demanded more. Whether there has been encouragement from Turkey is irrelevant at this time. Let us clearly register that Azerbaijan, now more than ever, wants Karabakh’s capitulation and not a solution to the conflict.
We need to also clearly answer one question: Is the Armenian nation ready for concessions? I think the answer is yes, Armenians are ready for concessions. I would even say that we are ready for painful concessions. But are we ready for capitulation? I think the Armenian nation will not accept capitulation under any circumstances. As impossible as it seems, within the logic of our limited resources, the Armenian nation needs to find the resources to resist and protect its rights. Bearing in mind the international flexibility that is expected of us, we should also have the strength to act for our rights but on the other hand it is difficult to imagine that the Armenian nation would agree to capitulation.
Therefore, we should find the resources to be able to stand up for our rights and be able to influence the situation in such a way that Azerbaijan seeks concessions and not capitulation. This is the main obstacle to the resolution of this conflict; Azerbaijan was never ready for concession especially now against the backdrop of the war.
And what does it mean to consolidate all our resources? We should understand that this is a fateful moment for us. Absolutely no one can count on there being a force within Armenia or in the diaspora able to solve this issue alone. There is one solution to this problem: Each and every one of us is as committed to solving this as the soldiers on the front line who refuse to retreat even at the cost of their lives.
We will, of course, continue working and being flexible as much as possible. Azerbaijan is probably surprised how we have not surrendered despite the amount of weapons they are acquiring from all around the world, coupled with the mujahideens and special forces from other countries. We will not surrender.
We will also wait to see which side the U.S. and the OSCE Minsk Group member states will condemn for not complying with the U.S. recommendation, how they will react and how they will respond.
While the war is in Artsakh, the condition must be the same in Armenia. Today, there should be queues in front of enlistment bases. Voluntary enlistment continues and I thank all those citizens who have joined. People should undergo military training and be ready to fulfill the orders of the commander of the Defense Army, because today the fate of our nation is being determined. And there is no better solution than taking the wheel of fate into your own hands. This does not mean being harsh. While Azerbaijan wants Artsakh’s capitulation, Artsakh is not seeking the capitulation of Azerbaijan. The Armenian people should provide such support to Karabakh, that Azerbaijan does not want the capitulation of Karabakh either. No matter how long Azerbaijan thinks that just a little more is left until they solve their problem, the Armenian people should show with their response that it is not the case and that there will not be any capitulation, we will not agree or give in. And the best way to express that is to have queues in front of enlistment bases 24 hours a day.
I want to stress again that today’s main formula is that no one else will stand, solve or die for the homeland. Cowardice will not be justified. I want to call upon our women. Today, Armenia, Artsakh and the diaspora should have been cauldrons of dignity, dignity should be boiling over throughout the country. In the diaspora, dignity and pride are boiling and I want to bow before our diasporan Armenians for that. But that is not the case in Armenia and I think women play a significant role in this. Our women should tell our men that, in this situation, hesitation by anyone will not be forgiven. Women should not hold their husbands, sons, brothers back from the struggle. On the contrary, dignity and pride must boil in the country. This is the guarantee of our success.
I love you all, I am proud of you all, I bow before all of you, I serve you all and I am ready to obey your direction. But as long as I am fulfilling the responsibilities of the Commander-in-Chief, as long as I am the Commander-in-Chief, I demand that every citizen of the Republic of Armenia obey my call, my decision and my command. At the same time, understanding that I am the servant of the people, I am ready to obey any decision of the people. And it is my command that every man should stand up and go to his local enlistment base. And I ask women to support that decision. Those women who have the strength to stand up for their homeland, I ask them to also form troops. This is a millennial war.
8:15 p.m.: Anna Hakobyan, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s spouse wrote on her Facebook Page:
Starting tomorrow, a 13-member women’s unit, including myself, will start military training. In a couple of days, we will head to defend the borders of our motherland.
Neither our motherland nor our dignity is for the taking.
9 p.m.: Artsakh’s Human Rights Defender Artak Beglaryan wrote the following on his Facebook Page:
I unequivocally admit that the defenders of our homeland are the main (if not the only) protectors of our human rights.
I felt this confession necessary since my compatriots often ask me – what is the international community thinking? Do they not want to protect our rights? Myself and so many others are doing our utmost to present the reality to the international community and prompt them to action. Unfortunately, some in the international community are either blind, incapacitated or peddlers.
We need to recognize the fact that our rights are only protected to the extent of how firmly our heroes stand on the front line. Therefore all our efforts should be directed to fortify the front line and the rear. To pin hopes on the international community would simply be an unacceptable escape from reality.
Ministry of Defense Live Press Briefing
10 p.m.: During a live press briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Ministry of Defense said that, late last night, Azerbaijani forces were able to take control of Kubatlu and register advances in certain directions. We will show these areas through the interactive map tomorrow. As already reported by the Artsakh Defense Army this morning, Azerbaijani Armed Forces, along with different terrorist groups and military units from other countries, initiated large-scale incursions in different directions in the southeast. At the same time, they kept cities in Artsakh under artillery fire. Throughout the day, they did not succeed in breaking through the front line, despite seeming successes in certain positions. Armenian forces managed to counterattack and restore the frontline. At the same time, in the forest north of Hadrut, operations to seek out and destroy subversive groups have continued. Some have escaped leaving behind machinery; however, battles continue in several villages like Sheykher, Jivanik, Azdokh and others. Operations to discover and neutralize such groups continue.
Yes, they have advanced in certain positions. Yes, they have come close to the gates of Syunik, but the situation is not dire. I believe in the might of the Armenian soldier, in his intellect, his skill, his tenacity. Even if the Armenian soldier has retreated in places, he has made the special forces of the world’s leading armies retreat in many other places. And this happens almost every day. We often retreat because human lives are more precious but retreating to new front lines is not fatal. The situation is serious, the battles are fierce, the war is raging but not insurmountable.
Armenian generals are often on the battlefield with their own machine guns. Armenian generals are incapacitating tanks. They are standing next to the soldier, next to the volunteer and I’m certain that we will win. We have seen many similar days in our history, have many times faced such fatal moments. I’m certain that we will win because we have no other choice, this is a battle for survival.
Ministry of Emergency Situations
Armen Pambukhchyan, the Deputy Director of the Ministry of Emergency Situations (MES) thanked all the citizens of Armenia and diasporan Armenians who, from the beginning of the war, self-organized and sent humanitarian aid to Artsakh. The Deputy Minister presented how the transfer of the cargo from the diaspora is being organized. Any cargo that arrives in Armenia and is addressed to the MES is taken to the Ministry’s warehouse, where it is separated based on its purpose. The cargo usually contains items used in healthcare and for protection, as well as food and clothes. The food and clothes are being separated and sent to the front line and people living in shelters in Artsakh. Some of the sent food and clothes is also allocated to Armenians from Artsakh who are temporarily living in Armenia. Pambukhchyan stressed that these are the main priority areas. The entire process is documented and the ministry has reports on each. The Deputy Minister once again called on Armenians in the diaspora, who continue sending assistance to Armenia, to believe and trust governmental bodies and be assured that those bodies direct the cargo to where it is needed the most.
10:50 p.m.: Vahram Poghosyan, the spokesperson to the President of Artsakh, wrote that two Azerbaijani UAVs were shot down.
11:28 p.m.: Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan released a statement: A large number of videos and photos depicting war crimes and atrocities are being sent to Armenian social network pages and private users from Azerbaijani social media sources, simultaneously spreading hatred against ethnic Armenians.
The alarms received by the Human Rights Defender of Armenia and their daily monitoring show that the videos and photos are sent in the form of private messages, and are accompanied by exceptional cynicism and threats.
Moreover, the monitoring of social networks shows that Azerbaijani or Turkish accounts or pages are opened or activated with the specific purpose of distributing the videos and photos that show killed soldiers or the process of the killing which is accompanied by atrocities.
At the same time, the inspections show that not all the materials of the atrocities contain soldiers of the Artsakh Defense Forces, however, they are presented as members of the Artsakh Defense Forces.These videos are edited and processed, which proves that this work has an organized and coordinated nature.
One of the salient features of the pages or accounts of the above-mentioned Azerbaijani social networks is that they are often prepared with the intention to misinform Armenian pages and users, and to give the impression that they are prepared by Armenian sources or pages. Based on the above mentioned, the staff of the Human Rights Defender’s Office has compiled video evidence, which confirms all of the above, which will be forwarded to the relevant international bodies.
Moreover, all the atrocities and scenes of cruelty in these videos have to be presented by the Human Rights Defender without processing/editing, exactly as they were posted to Armenian pages and sent to users so that our international partners will be informed of the real situation.
$150 Million Raised for Humanitarian Relief
In one month, the Hayastan All-Armenia Fund has raised over $150 million in donations from Armenia and the diaspora.
UN Secretary-General’s Spokesman on the Situation Between Armenia and Azerbaijan
The Secretary-General welcomes the joint statement issued today by the Governments of the United States, Armenia and Azerbaijan announcing that the humanitarian ceasefire agreed in Moscow on October 10 and reaffirmed in Paris on October 17 will take effect at 8 a.m., local time, on Monday, October 26. He commends the facilitation efforts of the United States, with the support of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.
The Secretary-General reiterates his appeal to the parties to fully implement their agreement without delay based on this understanding and to resume substantive negotiations without preconditions under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. He also calls on the parties to allow safe and unimpeded access to humanitarian workers and delivery of humanitarian assistance and services to civilians in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.
The Secretary-General expects the parties to abide by all their commitments and to work jointly together with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to make concrete steps toward a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.