Russian forces guard Armenian borders in Syunik province
Russian border guards will be deployed at some sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijan border in the Syunik region in southern Armenia, where the border has not been demarked yet.
According to the Armenian ministry of Defence, Russian forces should be deployed on 21 km-long section of the Goris-Kapan highway, which passes through the disputed area, between Armenia and Azerbaijan. They should ensure the safety of this vital road.
As Civil.net reports, Syunik’s community leaders say that a number of their towns and villages have found themselves directly beneath Azerbaijani military units. „People are demanding security guarantees,“ said Gevorg Parsyan, mayor of Syunik’s provincial capital Kapan. On Thursday a number of volunteer military reservists had closed a major highway in protest of instructions from Armenia’s defence ministry that ordered them to leave their military positions by 17:00 on December 18.
On the same day, the Syunik region residents blocked the Goris-Kapan road, demanding to cancel the Armenian Defense Ministry’s decision to transfer the heights near Kapan to the Azerbaijani side. Despite that, Armenian forces retreated from the area’s strategic hights, which are now controlled by Azerbaijani forces. Armenian Prime minister Nikol Pashinyan claimed that the retreat was necessary as there was a likelihood of renewed hostilities the region.
„The people of Syunik remember the war of the 90s. They were also among the first in this war to feel the threat from drones over their heads, so their behaviour is defensive. They know what may follow after the surrender of the territories (in Syunik), what threat they will face. After the surrender of the Armenian positions on the border, Azerbaijani posts were located in such places that they could shoot at residents of the city of Kapan from light arms without any obstacles,“ told Srbui Grigoryan, MP from the opposition party Bright Armenia for Caucasian Knot.
Armenia’s southern Syunik Province borders Iran to the south, the Azerbaijani enclave of Nakhichevan to the west, and as of November 9, Azerbaijan proper to the east. The new eastern border will be established due to the ceasefire agreement signed by heads of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia, which handed over much of the Armenian-controlled territory in the area to Azerbaijan. The border should be established with respect to Soviet maps.
The Caucasian Knot reported that the beginning of negotiations on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border demarcation, which was not held due to the Karabakh conflict, is scheduled for December. Meanwhile, Armenian experts warned that even Georgia has not yet delimited the border with Azerbaijan, and negotiations between Yerevan and Baku will be much more problematic.