Russian Peacekeepers Withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh, Peskov Confirms

Russian peacekeepers withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh, marking a shift in the geopolitical landscape of the South Caucasus as Azerbaijan asserts sovereignty over the disputed territory.

Rizwan Shah
Updated On
New Update
Russian Peacekeepers Withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh, Peskov Confirms

Russian Peacekeepers Withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh, Peskov Confirms

Russian peacekeeping forces have begun withdrawing from Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region, ending Moscow's years-long military presence in the disputed territory. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the withdrawal on Wednesday, though he did not provide a specific timeframe for the pullout. Hikmet Hajiyev, a foreign policy adviser to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, also verified that a withdrawal agreement had been reached between the two countries.

The Russian peacekeepers were initially deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh in November 2020 under a Moscow-brokered deal that halted six weeks of fighting between Azerbaijani and ethnic Armenian forces. Despite the deployment, Azerbaijan retook the region by force in September 2023, triggering an exodus of some 120,000 ethnic Armenians living there and the arrest of the breakaway area's ethnic Armenian leaders.

Why this matters: The withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers marks a significant shift in the geopolitical landscape of the South Caucasus region. It underscores the fluidity of regional dynamics and the complexities inherent in navigating the post-conflict situation in Nagorno-Karabakh as Azerbaijan asserts its sovereignty over the territory.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has blamed Russia and its peacekeeping contingent for failing to prevent Azerbaijan's offensive last year, despite Armenia's longstanding membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). In response, Armenia has effectively suspended its ties with the CSTO and is seeking to diversify its security relationships, including by deepening ties with the West.

The European Union and the United States have pledged increased financial and security support for Armenia, which Russia has criticized as an attempt to "drag the South Caucasus into geopolitical confrontation" and undermine the mechanisms of regional security based on the CSTO.

Azerbaijani political analyst Azer Garayev noted that the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers is the inevitable result of Azerbaijan's policy and President Aliyev's strategic approach. "Azerbaijan's relations with Russia are currently at a high level, and the withdrawal of peacekeepers reflects the status of bilateral relations," Garayev said. He added that the Second Karabakh War and subsequent anti-terrorism efforts have led to Azerbaijan fully reclaiming its sovereignty over the region.

The fate of the remaining ethnic Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh has become a major concern, with calls for humanitarian aid and a UN mission to monitor the situation on the ground. A human rights organization has submitted evidence to the International Criminal Court, arguing that Azerbaijan is committing an ongoing genocide against the ethnic Armenians in the region.

Key Takeaways

  • Russia withdrawing peacekeepers from Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region.
  • Azerbaijan retook Nagorno-Karabakh in 2023, triggering exodus of ethnic Armenians.
  • Withdrawal marks shift in South Caucasus geopolitics, as Armenia seeks to diversify ties.
  • EU and US pledge increased support for Armenia, which Russia criticizes as geopolitical confrontation.
  • Fate of remaining ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh a major concern, with allegations of genocide.