Azerbaijan, Russia working to disarm separatists in Karabakh
Azerbaijani military and Russian soldiers are working to disarm Armenian separatists, while Baku sent fuel to the Armenian residents in the Karabakh region on Saturday, according to Azerbaijan in Focus, reporting Daily Sabah.
“We are in close cooperation with the Russian peacekeepers, conducting the demilitarization” of the separatists, Azerbaijani army spokesperson Anar Eyvazov told reporters in Shusha.
“We have already seized weapons and ammunition,” Eyvazov added three days after Azerbaijan staged a lightning offensive into the enclave, forcing the separatists to sue for peace and agree to disarm.
Russia deployed several thousand peacekeepers to the region in the wake of a brief but brutal 2020 war in which Azerbaijan reclaimed large parts of the territory and its surroundings.
Those lands had been under the occupation of separatist forces since they won a years-long conflict in the 1990s that claimed tens of thousands of lives.
Russia had been a traditional ally of Armenia in the restive region.
But Moscow is now bogged down in a war in Ukraine and refused to enter the latest fighting.
The separatists agreed to disarm under a cease-fire agreement reached on Thursday.
Eyvazov said the disarmament process “can take time” because some rebels were based in remote mountain districts.
“The priority is the mine clearing and demilitarization,” he said.
Meanwhile, fuel-loaded vehicles belonging to the Azerbaijan State Oil Company (SOCAR) moved to the region from the Aghdam-Khankendi direction.
During the first round of talks between Azerbaijani officials and representatives of the Armenian population in Karabakh on Thursday, fuel and food were requested from the Azerbaijani government.
The Azerbaijani presidential administration had announced that fuel would be sent soon for the heating systems of kindergartens and schools, as well as emergency medical services and fire services in the regions where the Armenian population lives.
Azerbaijan on Wednesday suspended its counterterrorism measures, a day after they were launched to disarm Armenian forces in Karabakh and uphold the 2020 trilateral peace agreement.
Relations between Baku and Yerevan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
In the fall of 2020, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages and settlements from Armenian occupation during 44 days of clashes. The war ended with a Russia-brokered cease-fire, and talks for normalization of ties began.