"We must investigate actions of Russian peacekeepers”: PM Pashinyan’s appeal to Putin
PM Pashinyan appealed to Putin amid escalation in Karabakh
The Azerbaijani Armed Forces continue to hold the positions taken on March 24 in Nagorno-Karabakh, in the zone of responsibility of Russian peacekeepers, negotiations on their return to their original positions are ongoing. The night of March 26 was relatively stable, but in the afternoon, from 11:00 am, units of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces continued their attempts to advance towards the eastern border of the unrecognized NKR, where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily stationed.
As a result of the actions of the Azerbaijan in the previous two days, three Armenian servicemen were killed, 14 were wounded and the condition of two is assessed as critical.
In Armenia, the effectiveness of the mission of Russian peacekeepers stationed in NK is being discussed, since the strategically important Karaglukh height (Dashbashi height in Azerbaijani) captured by Azerbaijan is located in the zone of their responsibility. This issue was also discussed during a telephone conversation between the Prime Minister of Armenia and the President of Russia.
However, on March 26, information was received that the leadership of the unrecognized republic had decided to send an official letter to the President of Russia with a request to increase the contingent of peacekeeping forces.
What else is known at this moment: the version of the loss of height, the details of the Pashinyan–Putin conversation, what the Armenian side expects from Russia, Armenia’s appeal to the European Court of Human Rights and the International Court of Justice below.
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“Peacekeepers offered to remove Armenian posts”
A controversial explanation of the loss of Karaglukh height was presented to Armenian journalists by the former commander of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army Samvel Babayan. According to him, Russian peacekeepers offered to remove both Armenian and Azerbaijani positions from these areas in order to reduce tension. This happened a week ago.
Since February, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces have been shelling Armenian villages located on the line of contact. Loudspeakers periodically played a message in Armenian calling on residents to leave their homes in order to save their lives.
Samvel Babayan stated that the agreement was fulfilled only by the Armenian side, and the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, taking advantage of the situation, advanced in these territories. The Russian peacekeepers offered no resistance.
“The Armenian side must demand that Russia return the Karaglukh height, because it was at the suggestion of Russia that we removed our positions from there”, Samvel Babayan believes.
However, the Armenian side continues to expect that Russia will make efforts for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
“The authorities of Artsakh express the hope that the decisive efforts of the Russian side will allow the Azerbaijani troops to return to their original positions, and the civilians of Artsakh to their homes. Otherwise, the security guarantees provided to the civilian population living in Artsakh may be seriously called into question”, the NK Information Headquarters said in a statement.
Pashinyan-Putin: “Return Azerbaijani Armed Forces to their original positions”
On the evening of March 25, the Prime Minister of Armenia spoke on the phone with the President of Russia about the situation “that has developed as a result of the invasion of Azerbaijani units of an area in the zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh”.
According to the press service of the government, Nikol Pashinyan assessed the situation on the line of contact as tense and stated
- the need to investigate the actions of Russian peacekeepers in this situation,
- the need to ensure the return of the Azerbaijani armed forces to their original positions.
“The leaders of the two countries agreed to make efforts to resolve the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh”, the report says.
“Opportunities for cooperation with Russia have not been exhausted”
This is the opinion of the chairman of the parliamentary commission on foreign relations, Eduard Aghajanyan. In a conversation with journalists, he said that, based on the response of people on social media, he had the impression that Armenian society doubted this.
“They are asking whether it is possible that what is happening is the result of some agreements between Azerbaijanis and Russian peacekeepers. I personally do not want to think so, I have no reason or even desire to think in this direction.
But I think that this is an issue that should be resolved by concrete actions by our Russian partners, and as a result, the Azerbaijani armed forces will return to their original positions, and this tension will subside. I think that after this, the perceptions of our society will change, the mentioned doubts or fears will disappear”, Aghajanyan said.
According to him, negotiations with the Russian side are ongoing, constant communication is maintained between the defense ministers:
“However, as a member of the National Assembly, as chairman of the commission on foreign relations, I count on a political result, on a concrete practical result that will substantiate the mandate of the Russian peacekeepers. And in this way, such provocations in the territory under their responsibility will be excluded in the future”.
“Drones targeted soldiers who were helping the wounded”
MK Human Rights Defender Gegham Stepanyan has visited the hospital where wounded servicemen are being treated.
“According to the information which is being specified at the moment, 14 people received injuries of varying degrees. The condition of 10 persons is assessed by doctors as mild, one is of moderate severity, one is severe, and two are critical.
During personal conversations with the wounded, it was discovered that almost all the wounds were received as a result of the use of unmanned aerial vehicles by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces. Some of them were deliberately fired upon by drones while trying to provide first aid to their wounded friends”, the Ombudsman wrote on his Facebook page.
Gegham Stepanyan believes that actions against military personnel under the ceasefire regime should also be considered as crimes and gross violations of international humanitarian law.
Appeal to the European Court of Human Rights
Armenia submitted to the ECtHR a demand to apply an interim urgent measure against Azerbaijan “in connection with the recent violations of the rights of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh”.
The message of the Armenian representative office for international legal issues states that the court has been presented with facts and evidence that since February, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces have periodically voiced threats to the civilian population, demanding to leave their homes:
“The request for an interim measure also includes cases of indiscriminate shelling of the civilian population of Artsakh, including schools and damage to the gas pipeline supplying Artsakh with natural gas. In these adverse weather conditions, the entire population of Artsakh, all structures, including hospitals and schools, were left without natural gas. Such actions pose a direct threat not only to the village of Khramort, but to the entire population of Artsakh.
Based on these facts and comparing them with the case law of the European Court, the representative of Armenia on international legal issues stated that the actions of Azerbaijan directly threaten the fundamental rights of the population of Artsakh, protected by the Convention, and contain the threat of irreversible loss. The European Court has been demanded to apply an interim urgent measure against Azerbaijan, to oblige it to stop threats, shelling and restore natural gas supplies”.
On March 25, the representative of Armenia on international legal issues also appealed to the International Court of Justice with a call to pay attention to the violations committed by Azerbaijan.