Home SECURITY & DEFENCE Karabakh Now Fully Under Azerbaijani Control as Russian Troops Withdraw

Karabakh Now Fully Under Azerbaijani Control as Russian Troops Withdraw

by EUToday Correspondents
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Karabakh: On Wednesday, Russia closed a military base on Azerbaijani territory, where nearly 2,000 of its troops had been stationed.

This closure follows the recapture of the area by Azerbaijani forces last year, despite a two-year Russian peacekeeping mission aimed at preventing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The base, located in Khojaly within the Karabakh region, housed 1,960 Russian peacekeepers across 10 barracks. However, in a rapid military offensive last September, Azerbaijan reclaimed control over Karabakh.

This event triggered a mass exodus of approximately 100,000 ethnic Armenians, who had maintained de facto independence in the region since the 1990s, following the first of two wars between these South Caucasus neighbors.

At the departure ceremony, Russian Colonel General Yevgeny Nikiforov remarked on the peacekeeping mission’s efforts, stating, “The presence of Russian peacekeepers made it possible to establish peace on Azerbaijani soil.”

Echoing this sentiment, Colonel General Kerim Valiyev, Azerbaijan’s chief of the general staff, acknowledged Russia’s efforts, saying they had “made every effort to establish peace in the Karabakh economic region” and to conclude decades of conflict.

In contrast, Armenia has expressed dissatisfaction with Russia’s role.

Armenian authorities have accused Moscow of failing to prevent Azerbaijan from seizing Karabakh by force and committing what they describe as ethnic cleansing, allegations which Azerbaijan denies.

As a result, Armenia has suspended its participation in the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), a defense alliance of former Soviet states led by Russia.

The ceremony marking the closure of the base was notable for the absence of Armenian representatives. It featured folk dances and patriotic songs, with Russian troops departing to the accompaniment of a military band.

Colonel General Nikiforov highlighted the achievements of the Russian peacekeeping force, citing their provision of humanitarian assistance, the clearance of over 30,000 explosive devices, the return of more than 110 prisoners of war, and the repatriation of over 1,900 fallen soldiers to their respective countries.

He concluded, “The Russian military completed the task assigned to them.”

The developments underscore the complex and often contentious dynamics in the South Caucasus region.

Russia’s peacekeeping mission, initially intended to stabilize the area, faced significant challenges, culminating in Azerbaijan’s decisive military actions and Armenia’s subsequent disillusionment with Moscow’s protective capabilities.

While Azerbaijan and Russia commemorate the efforts to restore peace, Armenia’s grievances highlight ongoing regional tensions and the divergent perspectives on the conflict’s resolution and the role of international peacekeeping forces.

Main Image: By Mil.ru, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=96123030

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