Police guard a government building in Yerevan, Armenia, on Tuesday after protesters gathered to oppose a cease-fire agreement to end fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Photo by Lusi Sargsyan/EPA-EFE
Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Armenia has signed a peace deal with Azerbaijan and Russia, bringing an end to fighting over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Tuesday.
In a message posted to Facebook, Pashinyan said he made an "extremely difficult decision for myself and for all of us" in signing an agreement brokered by Russia to bring a halt to the six-week conflict.
The announcement came shortly after Azerbaijan claimed the strategic city of Shusha.
Pashinyan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a statement declaring a total cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh starting at midnight Tuesday, the Kremlin announced.
"I made this decision as a result of an in-depth analysis of the military situation and the assessment of the people who know the situation best," Pashinyan said. "I also based it on the belief that this is the best possible solution in the current situation."
Violent protests broke out in the Armenian capital of Yerevan after the announcement, where windows were smashed at the prime minister's official residence.
Angry crowds also entered Armenian Parliament to protest. Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan was hospitalized with injuries.
Three transport planes carrying a Russian army peacekeeping brigade landed in Armenia on Tuesday to patrol the line of separation between the two sides, Russia's defense ministry said.
Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey, launched an offensive to retake Nagorno-Karabakh in September. Armenia has called for the mountainous enclave to be recognized internationally as an independent state.
Armenians administer the disputed region, which is located within Azerbaijan's borders. Multiple previous cease-fire agreements have failed and both sides have accused one another of airstrikes against civilian targets.
Thousands have died in the worst fighting in the region since the early 1990s.