Russia says Armenian troops in Karabakh begin surrendering weapons
Russia has announced that Armenian troops fighting against Baku’s rule in Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region started to give up their weapons to the Russian peacekeepers following a Moscow-mediated ceasefire.
"The armed formations of Karabakh have begun handing over weapons and military equipment under the control of Russian peacekeepers," Russia's defense ministry, which has around 2,000 peacekeeping troops in Karabakh, said on Saturday.
Russia's defense ministry said so far some 800 guns, 5,000 rounds of munitions and six armored vehicles were handed over to the Russian peacekeepers by the Armenian troops.
Representatives of the Armenian secessionists confirmed that they are in peace talks with the Baku government under the supervision of Moscow.
The two sides aim to organize the exit of the secessionist troops in the enclave to Armenia, and the return of civilians displaced by the fighting to the enclave.
The fighting flared up on Tuesday after Azerbaijan launched a military operation in the region, accusing the Armenian-backed troops there of "systematic" shelling, "reconnaissance activities," fortification of defensive positions, and "high-level of combat readiness."
Later, however, the fighting pro-separation Armenian forces reported that the mediation efforts commenced by the command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent stationed in the region had resulted in both sides agreeing to the ceasefire.
However, Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said the "situation remains tense" in the disputed territory despite the Russian-brokered ceasefire largely in place. "There is a hope for some positive dynamics," he told a cabinet meeting Friday.
Pashinyan has blamed the Russian peacekeepers stationed around Karabakh for failing to stop Azerbaijan's Tuesday offensive. However, six Russian peacekeepers were killed in the fighting.
"For a sustainable resolution to the conflict, the rights and security of the population in Karabakh must be guaranteed," his spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said in a statement.