The attempt to establish a separatist Tskhinvali out of Khankendi with the assistance of "peacekeepers" has proven unsuccessful. The "peacekeepers" are now withdrawing  

18.04.24 15:40

Russian peacekeepers have withdrawn the majority of their military equipment and significantly reduced the number of their personnel and posts in Karabakh. This information was confirmed by the press secretary of the Russian President, Dmitry Peskov. Azerbaijani presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev also confirmed that the top leadership of Azerbaijan and Russia had decided on the early withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Azerbaijani territory.


The presidential aide stated that the process had already commenced, with the defence ministries of Azerbaijan and Russia implementing the necessary measures to facilitate the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Azerbaijani territory.


In essence, the Russian contingent commenced the process of withdrawal from Azerbaijani Karabakh almost immediately following the anti-terrorist operation in September 2023. This resulted in the defeat of separatist gangs and the formal abolition of the separatist entity known as "Artsakh".


Subsequently, those who were unwilling to accept Azerbaijani citizenship (the majority of the Armenian population) departed from Karabakh without hindrance, despite the fact that Azerbaijan had strongly encouraged them to remain and become its full-fledged citizens. Furthermore, it has extended an invitation for them to return. Those who remained demonstrated their unwavering loyalty to the Azerbaijani authorities, and there was no necessity to maintain a contingent of "peacekeepers" in their vicinity, particularly with military equipment.


The issue of the final withdrawal of all Russian peacekeepers from Karabakh has now been resolved. It is important to recall that the Russian peacekeeping contingent (RCC) in Karabakh was permitted to enter the region on the basis of the ceasefire statement signed by the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia following the Second Karabakh War.


The term of the Russian peacekeeping contingent's stay is set at five years from the date of the agreement's signing (9 November 2020), with automatic extension for another five-year period, unless either party to the agreement declares six months prior to the expiry of the term its intention to terminate the application of this provision.


It was initially proposed that Russian peacekeepers would facilitate the peaceful integration of the Armenian population of Karabakh into Azerbaijani society during a transitional period of five years, as well as the return of Azerbaijani refugees. Additionally, there was an agreement on the complete disarmament of separatist gang formations. However, no steps were taken by the Armenian side.


The presence of peacekeepers was perceived as an opportunity for the final occupation of Karabakh and detachment from Azerbaijan, in accordance with the Tskhinvali scenario. Russia had a "peacekeeping" contingent in the Tskhinvali region since 1992, yet instead of ensuring its peaceful integration into a united Georgia, Russian peacekeepers supported the separatists in every possible way.


These developments ultimately gave rise to a new separatist conflict in August 2008, marked by the ethnic cleansing of the remaining Georgian settlements in the Tskhinvali region. This was followed by a full-scale Russian military incursion and the occupation of both the Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia, ostensibly in recognition of their purported "independence."


The separatists in Khankendi, as well as the Armenian lobby, were anticipating a similar scenario. To support the separatist project, a Russian oligarch of Armenian origin, Ruben Vardanyan, one of the closest to the Kremlin, was "seconded" from Moscow to Karabakh. Ruben Vardanyan, an oligarch of Armenian origin, arrived in Azerbaijan under the guise of a peacekeeper and assumed the role of the so-called "state minister" of the separatist "Artsakh." With Vardanyan's arrival, the separatists became emboldened, indicating that they were not interested in integrating into Azerbaijan. Furthermore, the exploitation of the Azerbaijani subsoil by the separatists and the export of ore through the Lachin corridor assumed a catastrophic scale. This open looting, facilitated by Russian peacekeepers, provoked the anger of Azerbaijani environmentalists, who blocked the Lachin road in order to prevent the plundering of Azerbaijani Karabakh's subsoil and the irreparable damage to the region's natural environment.


Subsequently, the Armenian revanchists vocalised their opposition to the blockade of "Artsakh" and the perceived threat of "genocide". This opposition intensified further following the establishment of a checkpoint on the border with Armenia by Azerbaijan.


At the same time, and most interestingly, Russia's geopolitical adversaries, led by France, sent an entire "humanitarian convoy" led by the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, to support the separatists.


But nothing helped the separatists. In a one-day operation on 19-20 September, the Azerbaijani army destroyed key separatist positions and forced them to surrender and disarm. Some of the separatist leaders, including Ruben Vardanyan, were arrested. The separatist leaders are now under investigation and will be tried in an Azerbaijani court.


Thus, the separatists and Armenian revanchists have failed to "involve" Russian peacekeepers in order to ignite a new war "according to the Tskhinvali scenario". Of course, the fact that Russia was completely "bogged down" in the war in Ukraine and could not afford a "second front" played its part, but the main thing was still Azerbaijan's determination to restore the territorial integrity of the country.


So Russian troops are leaving the territory of Azerbaijan. In fact, they are doing this for the third time. The first time they left most of the territory of Azerbaijan, they even took part in the Karabakh war on the side of Armenia and ensured the occupation of 20% of its territory. Then the Russian military contingent left the area allocated for the operation of the Gabala radar station. And now, finally, Russian troops are leaving Azerbaijan for the third time. They will leave Karabakh, where they have been stationed, on 9 November 2020.  And by all accounts, for good!


This gives hope that Russian troops will soon leave the occupied Georgian region of Tskhinvali as well, restoring Abkhazian and Georgian jurisdiction over these territories, just as Azerbaijan's territorial integrity has been restored and Karabakh returned to its rightful owner, the Azerbaijani people.



Varden Tsulukidze

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