The peacekeepers leave the Lachin corridor. Azerbaijan reports their illegal actions
Russian peacekeepers leave the Lachin corridor
Official Baku announces that the new road linking Armenia with Khankendi (Stepanakert) will be put into operation by the end of summer 2022. This road is being built as an alternative to the Lachin Corridor, in accordance with the terms of the tripartite statement of November 10, 2020. The Azerbaijani side also claims illegal actions of Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh to have become more frequent.
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Peacekeepers prepare to hand over the Lachin corridor
According to the terms of the tripartite declaration of November 10, 2020, signed by the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan, as well as the Prime Minister of Armenia, an alternative road to the Lachin corridor was to be constructed within three years, linking Armenia with the part of Karabakh where the Armenian population lives. After the end of the second Karabakh war this territory is under the control of the Russian Federation peacekeeping forces.
But official Baku stated that the new road should be commissioned this summer, and then the strategic road from Lachin to Shusha and the city of Lachin itself will finally come under the control of Azerbaijan. At that, Russian peacekeepers will be redeployed to guard the new road.
Illegal actions of peacekeepers
Azerbaijani website caliber.az, known for its affinity to the country’s official circles, shared exclusive footage on July 20, 2022, which shows Russian peacekeeping forces personnel of the Lachin corridor dismantling the roof of a one-story residential building in the village of Garakakha, Lachin region.
At that, “the impertinent special operation of the marauders to de-roof the building was backed up by the BTR-82A in their arsenal,” the newspaper notes.
Another incident involving Russian peacekeepers occurred at a checkpoint in Agdam. caliber.az claims that Azerbaijani servicemen stopped a Russian peacekeeping convoy – one BTR-82A and three Urals following the Askeran-Agdere (Mardakert) route – for inspection.
“During the inspection, at least five Kalashnikov assault rifles (AKM) were found in the cargo compartment of one of the cars that were not listed in the documentation,” the report says.
Activity in the Lachin Corridor
Since the last days of May 2022, columns of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces started moving from the city of Shusha towards Lachin and back, accompanied by Russian peacekeepers. This is confirmed by the peacekeepers’ reports in the daily bulletins of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.
There has been no movement of Azerbaijani columns in this direction since the end of the second Karabakh war. Apparently, this is related to the construction of a new road from Armenia to Karabakh, and Azerbaijani columns include not only military personnel, but also builders and equipment, writes Turan.
According to the publication, the intensity and geography of these movements began to gradually expand. Thus, in June, Azerbaijani columns began to travel regularly to Zarysli and the city of Lachin, as well as the village of Kichik Galaderesi (Kirov).
Also in June, Azerbaijani columns frequented some villages of the Lachin region – Pirjakhan, Garykyakha (outskirts of Lachin), Mount Gyzyldash (the dominant elevation on the road between Shusha and Lachin), as well as the villages of Zarysli and Turshsu on the same road.
In July, visits of Azerbaijani columns became almost daily and covered the villages of Sus and Zabukh (Aghavno) of the Lachin region. The latter village is inhabited by Armenians.
“Columns have been moving most intensively in the last two weeks: 3-4 columns in both directions. So on July 19, four columns passed along the Shusha-Zabukh and Shusha-Zarysly route, and on the 20th there were already 8 columns,” the source writes.
Why Azerbaijan needs this road
According to Azerbaijani experts, since the Lachin corridor passes straight through the city of Lachin, part of the Russian peacekeepers is deployed in this regional center.
One of the goals of building an alternative road is to ensure that it does not pass through Lachin. Thus, Azerbaijan will be able to remove the peacekeepers from the city. But this does not mean the peacekeeping forces will be expelled, the Russian military will only move closer to the new road.
In any case, the alternative road may contain elements of narrowing the area of movement for the peacekeepers and their complete expulsion from the region in the future.
Russian peacekeepers leave the Lachin corridor