Russian peacekeepers seen withdrawing from Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region

(22 Apr 2024)
RESTRICTION SUMMARY:

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Kornidzor village, Armenia – 22 April 2024
1. Wide of military vehicles driving along road, traffic sign reading "Artsakh" (Armenian name for Karabakh region)
2. Various of military vehicles driving
STORYLINE:
A convoy of Russian peacekeeping forces has been seen withdrawing from Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region, where they have been stationed as peacekeepers since the end of a war in 2020, officials of both countries said.

It was accompanied by an Armenian military police car.

Meanwhile, Russian and Azerbaijani presidents Vladimir Putin and Ilham Aliyev met in Moscow.

Russian forces withdrew from their deployment area because there were no more operational functions left for them in the region, said Russian state news agency TASS on Monday, quoting Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov Monday.

The Karabakh region had been under the control of ethnic Armenians until a war in 2020 that resulted in Azerbaijan regaining control of parts of the region.

It ended with a Russia-brokered cease-fire that called for placing about 2,000 peacekeeping troops in the parts of Karabakh that were still held by Armenians.

The forces’ duties were to include ensuring free passage on the sole road connecting Karabakh with Armenia.

But Azerbaijan began blocking the road in late 2022, alleging Armenians were using it for weapons shipments and to smuggle minerals, and the Russian forces did not intervene.

After months of increasingly dire food and medicine shortages in Karabakh due to the blockade, Azerbaijan launched a lighting blitz in September 2023 that forced the Karabakh Armenian authorities to capitulate after one day in negotiations mediated by Russian forces.

Almost all of Karabakh’s 50,000 ethnic Armenian residents fled the region within days.

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