YEREVAN, December 17. /ARKA/. Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that Moscow may increase the number of Russian peacekeepers deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh in case both Armenia and Azerbaijan give their accord.
“As for increasing the number of our peacekeepers, it is possible, but only by agreement with all parties, including the Azerbaijani side, because the current number had been agreed upon initially,” Putin said at the annual marathon news conference.
Russia deployed at least 2,000 peacekeeping troops along the line of contact between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan as part of a five-year mission that can be renewed. The troops are also guarding the ‘Lachin corridor” which links the Karabakh capital, Stepanakert, to Armenia.
The Russian President stressed today that people on both sides assess the situation adequately and increasing the number of Russian peacekeepers is purely technical in nature.
“If all sides come to the conclusion that it is necessary, we will do it. If not, then we will not do it. But it’s not only about the peacekeepers, it’s also about the work of our services – the Ministry of Emergency Situations and Border Service of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB),’ he said.
From September 27 to November 9, Azerbaijani armed forces, backed by Turkey and foreign mercenaries and terrorists, attacked Nagorno-Karabakh along the entire front line using rocket and artillery weapons, heavy armored vehicles, military aircraft and prohibited types of weapons such as cluster bombs and phosphorus weapons.
On November 9, the leaders of the Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a statement on the cessation of all hostilities in Artsakh. According to the document, the parties stopped at where they were at that time. The town of Shushi, the districts of Agdam, Kelbajar and Lachin were handed over to Azerbaijan, with the exception of a 5-kilometer corridor connecting Karabakh with Armenia.
A Russian peacekeeping contingent has been deployed along the contact line in Karabakh and along the Lachin corridor. Internally displaced persons and refugees are returning to Karabakh and adjacent regions, prisoners of war, hostages and other detained persons and bodies of the dead are being exchanged.