Analysis: What caused Armenia's de-facto defeat

Ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh have agreed to fully disarm, ending two days of fighting in the disputed region.

Azerbaijani forces on Tuesday launched what they called anti-terrorist operations in the area, which is home to thousands of ethnic Armenians. On Wednesday, the Armenian side announced it had accepted the terms of a ceasefire.

NHK World's senior commentator Amma Hideo explains what is behind Armenia's "de facto defeat."

He said, "Basically, the local Armenians didn't get enough support from their home country, nor its ally, Russia. Moscow has about 2,000 peacekeepers in the region. They mediated the ceasefire, but didn't intervene to stop Azerbaijan's attacks.

"The Azerbaijani military had also secured key highlands and routes, putting Armenia at a further disadvantage. Armenia had no choice but to accept this humiliating ceasefire agreement."

An Armenian human rights group said on Wednesday that Azerbaijani attacks have killed at least 200 people and injured more than 400 others.

But Amma points out there were already signs Armenia would concede in May. "Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan had announced he would recognize Azerbaijan's sovereignty over the region, on the condition that the safety of its residents was guaranteed. So he likely knew Armenia couldn't win another conflict with Azerbaijan."

Why didn't Russia, Armenia's ally, help?

Amma says the reason Russia didn't help Armenia was related to its invasion of Ukraine.

"Russia is bound by a collective security treaty to assist Armenia. However, Moscow's priorities have shifted. Russia doesn't want to upset Azerbaijan and its ally, Turkey, who are increasingly influential. And since most of its troops are fighting in Ukraine, Russia didn't have the resources to help Armenia anyway. So it pivoted from providing military support to mediation.

An armed clash in 2020 between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh ended in a ceasefire under the mediation of Russia.

"Furthermore, the relationship between Armenia and Russia has not been great. This month, Moscow expressed displeasure when Armenia conducted joint military exercises with the United States. All this explains why Russia wasn't too eager to help Armenia."

Concerns rising for the ethnic Armenians

Amma says the treatment of the 120,000 Armenians living in the Nagorno-Karabakh region is now a focus.

"There are concerns about what all this means for them. Some argue there may be a humanitarian crisis in the making.

Ethnic Armenians in the region evacuated on Wednesday with Russian peacekeepers standing nearby.

"Armenian news agencies report negotiations between the local Armenian population and Azerbaijan will begin Thursday. Azerbaijan may demand the punishment or extradition of Armenian leaders. Many have already chosen to flee out of fear of persecution," says Amma.

He says this may be the beginning of the end of a 30-year-old conflict, and that the international community needs to monitor the circumstances of the region's Armenian people and figure out what it can do to protect them.