A military vehicle carrying Russian peacekeepers came under fire and its crew was killed as Azerbaijan stepped up attacks on the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Moscow confirmed on Wednesday.
In a statement released by the Defense Ministry, officials said the patrol was hit near the village of Dzhanyatag. “A car carrying Russian soldiers was targeted by small arms fire. As a result of the bombing, the Russian servicemen who were on board the vehicle were killed,” the message reads. The number of deaths has not been disclosed.
The incident comes after Azerbaijan launched attacks on Nagorno-Karabakh and its armed forces announced they had effectively taken control of the breakaway region in a lightning offensive operation. A Moscow-brokered ceasefire has since been agreed, and negotiations over the future of the territory are scheduled for Thursday.
The Armenian government has sparked an increasingly violent conflict with the Kremlin, citing inaction by Russian peacekeepers in the region.
Earlier this month, Armenia, once a close ally of the Kremlin, decided to send humanitarian aid to Ukraine for the first time since the Russian invasion began. Yerevan also intended to conduct joint military exercises with the United States.
As Russia is distracted by its increasingly catastrophic war in Ukraine, fears are growing in Armenia about the willingness or ability of President Vladimir Putin’s soldiers to keep peace in the Caucasus. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told POLITICO last week that the peacekeeping mission had failed.
“Due to events in Ukraine, Russia’s capabilities have changed,” Pashinyan said, acknowledging that Moscow was seeking to avoid alienating Azerbaijan and its close ally Turkey, both of which have acquired from the start strategic importance for the Kremlin. of the war in Ukraine.
“Russia will abandon Armenia, it will not fight there, it is not the partner of any country. All the commitments that Russia made to Armenia are no longer worth anything and it will leave it alone in the face of this problem,” Olexi Danilov, secretary of the Ukrainian Security and Defense Council, told the Ukrainska Pravda news site in the continuation of the offensive.