Yesterday, the Armenian Ministry of Defence (MOD) stated that Russian troops had been deployed in a certain part of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. The statement by the MOD confirmed the presence of Russian border guards in the north of the Tavush region, particularly in the area of Voskepar/Askipara – an exclave subject to negotiation between the two sides – for the purpose of building rear support facilities for border guards. It added that the process was being carried out within the framework of Armenian-Russian co-operation. This comes after a meeting between the Armenian Minister of Defence, Arshak Karapetyan, and the head of the peacekeeping unit of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in Karabakh, Lieutenant General Rustam Muradov, which took place yesterday.
Following weeks of increasing tension and frequent border clashes culminating in an “immense firefight” in which both sides reported casualties, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a Russian brokered ceasefire on 28 July. However, both MODs subsequently reported breaches in the agreement, prompting the prime minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, to suggest on 29 July that Russian troops should be deployed along the length of the border, allowing for “demarcation and delimitation work without the risk of armed clashes". However, while these most recent developments have led to a stronger Russian presence in the Tavush region, this should not be seen as in indication the Russia will agree to Pashinyan’s requests for Russian troops along the entirety of the border. In a press briefing yesterday, Alexander Bikantov, the deputy director of the information and press department of the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that while “Russia gives priority attention to this topic and continues to provide active mediation efforts aimed at resolving the border dispute […] one of the problems in the implementation of the deployment of border guards along the border is the lack of international legal registration, which is superimposed on the lack of mutual trust of the parties.” Bikantov added that “We believe that only the immediate start of work on delimiting and subsequently demarcating the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan can ensure a steady de-escalation on the border”.
In other developments, the Armenian minister of defence, Arshak Karapetyan, yesterday reportedly ordered the elimination of any Azerbaijani servicemen trying to cross the border. Armenpress reports that during a session of the board under the MOD yesterday, Karapetyan decreed that Armenian soldiers should open fire immediately on any enemy soldier attempting to advance on the Armenian border or add military positions.