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Azeri Soldiers Detained, Freed In Armenia


Armenian -- Armenian army officers at a new border post in Syunik province bordering Azerbaijan, December 11, 2020.

The Russian military announced late on Monday that it has secured the release of two Azerbaijani army soldiers detained after crossing into Armenia at the weekend.

The Defense Ministry in Moscow said they were detained by officers of Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) near the village of Tegh in Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province. It gave no details of the incident.

A ministry statement said the Azerbaijani servicemen were freed at the request of Russian peacekeeping troops stationed in and around Nagorno-Karabakh.

The NSS and the Armenian Defense Ministry did not comment on the incident on Tuesday. Tegh’s mayor, Nerses Shadunts, confirmed the detentions but said he is not allowed to disclose their circumstances.

“The situation here is not tense right now,” Shadunts told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “There is no panic among local people. Everything is normal.”

“As for our border guards and army, you can conclude that everyone was on duty and vigilant and properly did their job,” he said.

Tegh is located close to the so-called Lachin corridor that connects Armenia to Karabakh and is controlled by the Russian peacekeepers. The rural community also borders the rest of the Lachin district which was handed back to Azerbaijan under the terms of the Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement that stopped the war in Karabakh on November 10.

During the six-week war Russia deployed soldiers and border guards to Syunik to help the Armenian military defend the region located southwest of Karabakh against possible Azerbaijani attacks. One of the Russian border guard posts was set up near Tegh.

Russian troops also patrol sections of the main regional highway straddling the Soviet-era Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

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