According to a report by the ISW, recent military incidents in Nagorno-Karabakh caused alarm around the world. Azerbaijan’s military launched an operation on September 19, according to the country’s defense ministry. Despite Russia’s historical ties to Armenia, the Russian government decided not to send its peacekeepers to the conflict.
Russia’s response to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Senior Russian officials, such as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, confirmed that they were in close contact with the Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities. Maria Zakharova, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, stressed the importance of the already signed Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijan trilateral agreements of 2020 and 2022 as a path to peace. She called on all parties to end the bloodshed and made clear that Russian peacekeepers would continue to carry out their assigned tasks in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Unclear rules of engagement: Russia’s peacekeepers without clear protocols
In addition, Andrei Kartapolov, chairman of the Russian State Duma Defense Committee, noted that peacekeepers were not authorized to use weapons unless they were directly threatened. Interestingly, Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh lacked clear protocols on the use of force, according to a Kremlin-affiliated miblogger. This blogger highlighted that they would instead rely on the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh peace agreement.
Russia’s mixed attitude to Armenia’s ties to the West
However, there were also voices within Russia that criticized Armenia’s proximity to the West. Both Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, and RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan expressed such views, although senior Russian government officials did not publicly support them.
Finally, the ISW report emphasized that given the war in Ukraine, developments in Nagorno-Karabakh were unlikely to be a top priority for the Russian military and would not have a direct impact on Russian military operations in Ukraine.