Azerbaijani media cited an unnamed source on Saturday as saying that the Russian peacekeepers temporarily deployed in some parts of Azerbaijan's Karabakh (Garabagh) region are supplying weapons to the Armenian separatists through the Lachin corridor.
According to the Baku-based Caliber.Az news service, the transfer of weapons has been disguised as “peacekeeping humanitarian aid."
The list of the arms transferred to the zone of temporary responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping mission includes anti-personnel mines, anti-tank mines, automatic small arms, including easel machine guns, sniper rifles, 122mm mortars, ATGM (anti-tank guided missile) “Fagot” (10 units), ATGM “Cornet” (10 units), grenade launchers, portable communication devices, and ammunition.
The peacekeepers have reportedly delivered weapons and ammunition from the Russian 102nd military base located in the Armenian city of Gyumri via the new highway connecting Armenia to Azerbaijan's Karabakh region.
In addition, some types of weapons handed over to the Armenian separatists were reserved from Iran and Syria. Meanwhile, aircraft belonging to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) were expected to arrive on Sunday at the Erebuni military airport near Armenia’s capital Yerevan carrying another bunch of weapons on board. The military hardware will further be transferred to the Gyumri base.
The Russian peacekeeping contingent was deployed in the parts of Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region partially populated by ethnic Armenians following the 44-day war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The contingent of 1,960 Russian peacekeepers is considered to safeguard peace and observe the ceasefire in the region.
Under the tripartite statement signed to end the war, Russian peacekeepers controlled the Lachin corridor connecting Armenia and the Karabakh region and passing through the same-name district of Azerbaijan. However, their supervision over the corridor should have been ended as soon as Azerbaijan puts an all-new highway of the same route into operation.
In August 2022, Azerbaijan commenced the new road to shift the connection between Armenia and the Azerbaijani territories from the traditional corridor to the new route and the city of Lachin finally returned under the control of Baku.
Meanwhile, Russian peacekeepers pledged to withdraw the Armenian armed groups from the zone of their temporary responsibility. However, they have failed to deliver on this task over the past two years.
There are still remnants of the illegal armed formations of the Armenian forces in territories within the perimeter of the peacekeeping contingent’s monitoring zone. The illegal formations have repeatedly resorted to armed provocations against the Azerbaijani military, including the shelling of the army positions, terror activities, and infiltration attempts. Also, they have carried out engineering and fortification works, trying to build new positions, digging trenches, and creating a defensive zone under the direct cover of the Russian peacekeeping contingent.
Shortly after the end of the 2020 war, Azerbaijani troops deployed in the country’s liberated territories discovered a group of more than 60 armed Armenians who had been dispatched from Armenia, mainly its Shirak region, after the end of hostilities. They carried out three separate attacks on Azerbaijan’s positions killing four servicemen and a civilian at different times before being detained by the Azerbaijani forces. Another group of armed Armenians was captured during an attempt to infiltrate the Azerbaijani borders on November 16, 2021.
In November 2021, Armenian citizen Norayr Mirzoyan, who was reportedly involved in the 2020 war, threw an RGD-5 anti-personnel fragmentation grenade at the Azerbaijani soldiers stationed next to the Russian peacekeepers along the Lachin corridor near the Shusha city. At least three Azerbaijani servicemen were injured in the terrorist attack.