Baku claims Russian peacekeepers overstepping their mandate in Karabakh
On December 12, the Russian peacekeeping mission in Karabakh expanded its geographic presence, and further penetrated into the southern area of the conflict zone by dozens of kilometers.
At the time, there were no official statements either from the Russian or Azerbaijani sides on this matter. The reason for this step by the Russians, which has caused ‘bewilderment’ in Azerbaijan, was an incident in the Khojavend region.
The Azerbaijan State Security Service and the Ministry of Defense claim the Azerbaijani special services carried out a ‘counter-terrorist operation’ in two Karabakh villages in the Khojavend region, claiming there were ‘remnants of the Armenian armed forces in these settlements.’
As a result of attacks by Armenian forces, Azerbaijan claims, a serviceman of the Azerbaijani army was killed, and a civilian was wounded.
Immediately after the operation, Russian servicemen entered this zone, which until then had not been part of the zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping forces. And the next day, on the maps of the deployment of the peacekeeping mission, the zone of responsibility of the Russian forces suddenly lengthened to the south by tens of kilometers.
According to the trilateral agreement on the cessation of hostilities in Karabakh on November 10, signed by the presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia, as well as the Prime Minister of Armenia, Russian peacekeeping forces are deployed in the part of Nagorno-Karabakh that remained with the Armenian side, as well as in the “Lachin corridor”, which provides transport connection between Armenia and Stepanakert / Khankendi.
Such actions of the Russian peacekeeping forces in Karabakh have caused discontent amongst the Azerbaijani public.
“Recently, certain shades have been visible in Russia’s attitude to Azerbaijan. Especially after the victory parade. The participation of Erdogan there, the demonstration of captured equipment clearly was not pleasing to the Russian establishment. After all, all this equipment is produced in Russia,” said Vahid Ahmadov, an MP of the Azerbaijani parliament.
“Last week, supplies of tomatoes and apples from Azerbaijan were banned. They allegedly found pests in them. This is all a lie. I think all this is temporary. Russia is a strategic partner of Azerbaijan. Such actions are unacceptable,” he said.
“As for the maps, Russian peacekeepers draw them in a new way every day, but this is all on paper, no more. Peacekeepers must ensure law and order in the zone from their presence”, he added.
Another MP, Tair Karimli, said: “In my opinion, peacekeepers sometimes allow themselves to take actions that go beyond their mandate. I hope that the leadership of the Ministry of Defense and the special services of Azerbaijan expressed their thoughts on this matter at their meetings with the leaders of the peacekeeping forces, ”says the deputy of the Milli Mejlis Tair Karimli.
“They say that the peacekeeping force arrived at the scene of the incident. But they do not identify the guilty party, they simply claim that steps have been taken to resolve the incident.
If there is information that Russian peacekeepers have turned a blind eye to the presence of militants and armed people in the region, this first of all strikes a blow at the image of Russia itself.
Neither other countries, nor the Azerbaijani public agree to the presence of Russian peacekeeping forces in Karabakh. They must respect the sovereign rights of Azerbaijan,” Karimli said.