Azerbaijan said on Wednesday that it would stop its assault on a breakaway Armenian enclave after the pro-Armenian authorities there agreed to a cease-fire, a development that could avert a wider war in the volatile Caucasus region while altering its geopolitics.

In a statement carried by the Azerbaijani state news agency Azertac, the country’s Defense Ministry said that it had agreed to halt its “antiterror measures” in the enclave, Nagorno-Karabakh, after the separatist government there agreed that its forces would lay down their arms and withdraw from their battle positions.

Around the same time, the Armenian separatist government issued its own statement declaring that it had accepted a Russia-brokered cease-fire after Azerbaijani forces managed to break through Armenian positions and “take control of a number of heights and strategic road junctions.”

It was not immediately clear whether the cease-fire was being enacted. But the wording of the statements from both sides indicated that the ethnic Armenian authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh were surrendering to Azerbaijan’s demands in a deal mediated by Moscow, which deployed peacekeepers to the region after brokering an end to a 44-day war between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 2020.

Azerbaijan on Tuesday launched a military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh, which is part of Azerbaijan under international law but where tens of thousands of Armenians remained after the 2020 cease-fire, protected by Russian peacekeepers. The Armenian separatist authorities said at least 27 people had been killed since the operation began on Tuesday.

The assault appeared to be an effort by Azerbaijan’s authoritarian leader, President Ilham Aliyev, to secure full control over Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-populated enclave that declared its independence as the Soviet Union collapsed.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Anton Troianovski

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