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Russia Opens ‘Humanitarian Center’ In Karabakh


NAGORNO-KARABAKH -- Russian peacekeepers (R and 3rdR) stop a car at their checkpoint outside the city of Stepanakert, November 13, 2020

Russia officially opened on Friday a center in Nagorno-Karabakh tasked with facilitating the return of the refugees and reconstruction of civilian infrastructure damaged during the recent war stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his decision to set up the Interagency Center for Humanitarian Reaction at a November 14 meeting with senior Russian officials that discussed the implementation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire agreement announced on November 10. Putin said the center will use “resources” of the Russian ministries of defense, emergency situations and foreign affairs as well as other agencies.

The truce agreement led to the deployment in and around Karabakh of about 2,000 peacekeeping forces. They set up posts along the Karabakh “line of contact” and the so-called Lachin corridor linking Karabakh to Armenia.

A senior Russian military official, General Mikhail Mizintsev, said Moscow is now focusing on the region’s return to normality.

“For this purpose, the Interagency Center for Humanitarian Reaction will start fully functioning in Stepanakert today,” he said, according to the RIA-Novosti news agency. Mizintsev added that Russian military personnel will “form the core” of the center.

According to an order issued by Russian Defense Ministry Sergei Shoigu, the center will consist of five divisions tasked with demining operations, housing reconstruction, medical services, transport links and reconciliation of the conflicting parties.

The Russian peacekeeping force announced separately that it has already helped about 4,000 ethnic Armenian refugees return to Karabakh over the past week. It said that on Thursday alone 1,235 of them arrived in Stepanakert from Yerevan in a convoy of 27 buses escorted by Russian soldiers.

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