By Vafa İsmayilova
A new Russian peacekeeping commander has been introduced to Azerbaijani Defence Minister Zakir Hasanov, the Defence Ministry reported on September 10.
At the meeting with Hasanov, the outgoing commander of the Russian peacekeeping forces temporarily deployed in Azerbaijan, Lieutenant General Rustam Muradov, introduced newly-appointed commander Major General Mikhail Kosobokov.
The meeting with peacekeeper officials focused on the latest situation on the Azerbaijani territories, where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily deployed.
Earlier, Azerbaijani presidential aide Hikmat Hajiyev said that "some discussions" on additional legal mechanisms for the mandate of Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh are still underway.
He noted that the activities and operations of Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh were carried out in line with the trilateral declaration signed by the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian leaders on November 10.
The presidential aide added that the November 10 trilateral agreement established a "political and to some extent legal framework" for peacekeeping forces.
"As for additional agreements and additional legal mechanisms on the mandate of peacekeepers, the parties have had initial contacts and some discussions are still ongoing," Hajiyev said.
He stressed that all territories in Karabakh are Azerbaijan's sovereign lands.
"All of Karabakh is the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan, the international community recognizes Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and sovereignty, and in accordance with the November 10 statement, peacekeeping forces have been temporarily deployed in a certain part of Azerbaijan's Karabakh region," the presidential aide underlined.
About 2,000 Russian peacekeepers have been deployed for five years in Karabakh under the Moscow-brokered trilateral cease-fire deal signed in 2020. The signed agreement obliged Armenia to withdraw all its troops from the Azerbaijani lands that it had occupied since the early 1990s.
The deal also stipulated the return of Azerbaijan’s Kalbajar, Aghdam and Lachin regions. Before the signing of the peace deal, Azerbaijan liberated 300 villages, settlements, city centres, and historic Shusha city that had been under Armenian occupation for about 30 years.
On August 11, 2021, Azerbaijan urged the Russian peacekeepers to end the illegal deployment of Armenian troops on Azerbaijan’s territories under their temporary control.
Later on August 14, President Ilham Aliyev reiterated that Azerbaijan has recently identified that Armenian troops are being sent to Karabakh via the Lachin corridor that is controlled by the Russian peacekeepers and stressed that this contradicts the 10 November 2020 peace deal signed by Baku, Moscow and Yerevan.