Russia starts withdrawing its peacekeepers from Nagorno Karabakh

Russian peacemakers start leaving Nagorno Karabakh

Russian peacekeepers have been in the zone of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict since the fall of 2020. The question about the future of the Russian peacemaking contingent was raised after Baku's operation in the republic.

Russia is withdrawing its peacekeeping units from the territory of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Kremlin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov said answering questions from journalists.

Russian peacekeepers were stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh in accordance with the tripartite statement of Baku, Yerevan and Moscow dated from November 10, 2020. The contingent was deployed along the line of contact in Karabakh and along the Lachin corridor, which connects the region with Armenia. According to the agreements, 1,960 military personnel with small arms, 90 armoured personnel carriers and 380 units of automobile and special equipment were sent to the region. The peacekeepers were to remain in the region for five years, until 2025.

Azerbaijani APA news agency said that the peacekeepers already left the Dadivank monastery complex. Armenian publication confirmed the information. The contingent will be withdrawn in stages, the news agency added citing a diplomatic source.

Azerbaijan conducted a military operation in Karabakh in September 2023. After the operation, Baku announced the integration of the region into the country. More than 100,000 ethnic Armenians left the territory of the former republic. The question about the fate of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh was raised afterwards. In the fall of 2023, Russian peacekeepers began to dismantle temporary observation posts along the former line of contact.

Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Mikhail Galuzin said in an interview with RBC in October 2023 that Russian peacemakers would need to be present in Karabakh in the future.

"The question of the modalities for the contingent to stay will be discussed and resolved between Moscow and Baku through established channels,” he said. Kremlin representative Dmitry Peskov then made a similar statement.

The Russian peacekeeping contingent suffered losses during its stay in Nagorno Karabakh. On September 20, 2023, a day after the start of hostilities, the Russian Ministry of Defence reported the death of Russian peacekeepers when a Russian vehicle was shelled in the area of the village of Dzhanyatag (Chankatah). Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, in a conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, expressed regret over what happened and apologised. In December, another peacekeeper was killed and two were injured when a Russian BTR-82 drove off a mountain road.

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Author`s name Pavel Morozov
Editor Dmitry Sudakov