“On November 10 the Russian peacekeepers embarked on a very difficult mission in Nagorno-Karabakh. Their presence became a guarantee of compliance with the agreements on cessation of hostilities,” Putin said at a meeting with top Russian Defense Ministry officials.
Putin pointed out that the 2,000 Russian troops are also ensuring the safe return of refugees to Nagorno-Karabakh, helping to rebuild the region’s public infrastructures, demining civilian areas and protecting religious monuments.
“They are risking their lives to bring peace back to that land,” he added, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also mentioned the peacekeeping operation in his remarks at the meeting chaired by Putin. “Civilians are returning to their places of residence and rebuilding their homes in completely safe conditions,” Shoigu said.
The peacekeepers set up 23 observation posts in and around Karabakh shortly after Putin brokered the Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire agreement following six weeks of heavy fighting in the conflict zone. They are also deployed along the so-called Lachin corridor connecting Karabakh to Armenia.
The peacekeeping contingent suffered its first casualty last week when a Russian officer was killed in an explosion during a demining operation near the Azerbaijani-controlled Karabakh town of Shushi (Shusha).
In Shoigu’s words, the Russian troops have already defused more than 6,000 landmines and pieces of explosive ordnance. They are also helping the warring sides to exchange prisoners and recover the bodies of soldiers killed in action.