Deployment of the contingent of Russian peacekeepers in the region after the November 10 statement signed at the end of the 44 days of the war of 2020 was a unique opportunity in terms of showing how sincere Russia is in its mediation activities towards the settlement of the conflict and proving what it aims for in the statements and calls made over the past 30 years.
But of course, the main expectation from the Russian peacekeepers temporarily deployed in Azerbaijani territories was to support the implementation of the provisions of the November 10 statement. Unfortunately, as before, Russia and its Army did not mislead the people of Azerbaijan this time either. Russian servicemen whose aim was peace, draw attention mostly for turning blind eyes to the steps that hinder peace in Karabakh.
The main factor is that, in accordance with the 4th article of the trilateral statement, when the peacekeeping contingent was deployed in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, the removal of the illegal Armenian armed forces had to be ensured in parallel. But despite to years passed, there is still no concrete result.
Russian peacekeepers, in accordance with the statement dated November 10, neither try to withdraw illegal Armenian armed groups from Azerbaijani territories nor demonstrate a neutral position in their activity. On the contrary, weapons and ammunition are transported from mines used to pollute the territories of Azerbaijan and are delivered to them via corridors and roads which are under the temporary control of Russian peacekeepers. Just a week ago, the fact of revealing mines buried by illegal Armenian armed groups in the Northern part of Saribaba at height of the Lachin region proves it. These mines, produced in Armenia in 2021, confirm the transportation of weapons and ammunition to the separatist forces through the Lachin corridor, which Azerbaijan has put under the control of Russian peacekeepers for humanitarian purposes.
Russian contingent, which was sent to the region for a limited period-5 of years, with a limited number of military servicemen had to create a condition for building confidence between the sides by protecting the peace. First of all, they were required to implement their commitments, and demonstrate neutrality. However, the mistakes committed by the command of the peacekeeping contingent, as well as the Ministry of Defense of Russia against Azerbaijan in the past, do not justify the expectations in this direction.
Presentation of residential areas of Azerbaijan with so-called Armenian names can be shown as an example. Noting Aghdara and Khojavend regions as Mardakert and Martuni by the Russian Ministry of Defense not only supports the attempts of Armenians to change the historical toponyms of the Azerbaijani people but also casts a shadow on the alliance relations between the two countries. This also contradicts the official position of Russia.
The Russian peacekeeping command understands very well that the toponym issue is sensitive for Azerbaijan. The people of Azerbaijan remember well that the Armenians called our historical homeland under occupation with ugly names, and these so-called names served no other purpose than to increase the humiliation of the occupation at that time. But what is the purpose of the Russian Ministry of Defense to show its territories with such fictitious names? It is clear that it does not serve peace. Therefore, the Ministry of Defense of Russia, the peacekeeping command should correct its incomprehensible position on this issue and adapt it to the official position of Russia.
Azerbaijan rightly does not accept the existence of 3rd type military formations, so-called institutions and toponyms in its territories, in the regions where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily stationed.
In addition, the Russian Ministry of Defense takes a one-sided, biased position and shares slanderous information about the violation of the ceasefire by the Azerbaijani Army in its bulletins. Azerbaijan does not include the facts presented by the Ministry of Defense regarding the violation of the ceasefire by illegal Armenian groups in its bulletins. The area where the mines buried by the illegal Armenian armed groups were discovered on Sarıbaba Heights is inspected with the participation of the commander of the Russian peacekeeping contingent, but this fact is not reflected in the report of the Russian Ministry of Defense. Maybe Comrade Volkov believes that he carried those mines to Sarıbaba height in the beak of birds?
In the meantime, the separatist regime has already begun to accept the presence of Russian peacekeepers in the region as its own presence, as a guarantee of the continuation of the de facto situation, and is doing everything in its power to prolong it. There is no doubt that the purpose of the illegal Armenian gangs hiding behind the Russian soldiers and shooting at the Azerbaijani soldiers a step away from Khankendi is to create an artificial need for the presence of peacekeepers by creating an image of continued tension in Karabakh.
Although the command of the Russian peacekeepers knows this, it does not put any pressure on those groups. On the contrary, by disseminating unrealistic information about our army, and presenting historical Azerbaijani toponyms with fictional names on its maps, it violates its neutrality and prolongs the life of the unpleasant atmosphere. Don't the peacekeepers understand that with their behavior, they have become a tool of a handful of separatists and an illegal Armenian group? Or does this situation benefit them?
It can be said with certainty that the only goal of both the Armenian leadership and the separatist factions in Karabakh is to extend the mandate of the Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh. Prime Minister of Armenia Pashinyan also openly declares that the mandate of the Russian peacekeepers, who have been engaged in activities inconsistent with the peacekeeping mission for the past two years and are losing the trust of the Azerbaijani public day by day, will be extended for an indefinite period.
However, the purpose of this contingent should not be to serve to prolong the life of the levers of influence by maintaining the vitality of enmity between Armenians and Azerbaijanis.
The people of Azerbaijan clearly expect impartiality from the Russian peacekeepers. This is possible only when it is based on the norms of international law, especially the principle of territorial integrity of countries, and at the same time, as indicated in the November 10 statement, the removal of illegal armed groups from the territory of Azerbaijan.
In the last two years, Russian peacekeepers have continuously taken an incomprehensible position and failed to live up to expectations, raising the question "Does Azerbaijan need peacekeepers?" Official Baku will probably evaluate the issue of extending the peacekeepers' mandate from this aspect.
The peacekeeping activity of the Russian military contingent in Karabakh has many parallels with the 30-year peace negotiations. Rather than serving the establishment of the principles of historical justice and international law, the mentioned negotiations were turned into a tool that helped perpetuate the de facto situation of Armenians in the occupied territories. One day, Baku ran out of patience and ended the decades-long occupation in 44 days with the strength of its own wrist.
It is well known to us that Armenians turn all concepts of peace into a means to achieve their goals. Having turned "peace negotiations" into a tool for 30 years, Armenians now intend to exploit "peace activities" for their own purposes. But common sense says that the separatists and their patrons should draw conclusions from the military-political course of the past period.
Both the Armenians and the peacekeeping contingent should work not to maintain the de facto situation, but to work for sustainable peace in the region and to understand the sensitivity of Azerbaijan to its territorial integrity, like every other state.
The Azerbaijani army inflicted a humiliating defeat on the Armenians, who were trying to strengthen themselves by building fortifications and building defensive walls for 30 years. A small anti-terrorist operation is enough for the Azerbaijani army, which now sees Khankendi in its grasp, has taken control of Lachin and Kalbajar, and has experience in modern warfare, to completely neutralize these illegal armed groups.
The fact that Armenians, who previously believed in eternal occupation, now believe in eternal peacekeeping activities serves nothing but planting the seeds of future tensions. The further existence of Armenians in the territory of Azerbaijan is possible only with a stable peace achieved within the framework of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. It is good that the Russian peacekeepers understand this and organize their activities in this direction and return to their countries when their term ends.