Russia sends peacekeepers to Nagorno-Karabakh as regional dispute draws to close
Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that Russian peacekeepers are being deployed to the much-disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, after a new ceasefire agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
"A Russian peacekeeping contingent is being deployed along the contact line in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the corridor connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with the Republic of Armenia," Putin announced in an official televised statement on Tuesday.
The Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement saying that it had begun dispatching 1,960 servicemen, along with their equipment and vehicles.
"The fifth Il-76 military transport aircraft with Russian peacekeepers on board took off from the Ulyanovsk-Vostochny airfield. Personnel from the peacekeeping unit, armored personnel carriers, and materiel are on board," the ministry noted in the statement.
Earlier, the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia signed a statement on bringing the war in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh to an end. The agreement came into effect overnight.
Azerbaijan and Armenia had been fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region since September. And Russia was trying to mediate an end to the war.
Karabakh is globally recognized as being part of Azerbaijan, yet it is held by ethnic Armenian separatists supported by Armenia since 1992, when they broke from Azerbaijan in a battle that killed some 30,000 people.
According to Putin, the two warring sides would exchange prisoners of war and the war dead, and all economic and transport links in the area would be reopened.
Under this agreement, Azerbaijan will reportedly get to keep all of its regional gains, and ethnic Armenians must hand over control of a number of other territories between now and December 1.
Putin expressed great hope that the deal would pave the way for a long-term political settlement of the conflict in the region.
"We are operating on the premise that the agreements will create the necessary conditions for a long-term and fully-fledged settlement of the crisis around Nagorno-Karabakh on a fair basis and in the interests of the Armenian and Azeri peoples,” Putin stated.