According to the Armenian Defense Ministry, Martiros Gyulambarian, a military truck driver, strayed into Azerbaijani-controlled territory in thick fog as he transported food to his comrades manning an Armenian border post near the southeastern town of Goris.
Gyulambarian was found and evacuated on Wednesday as a result of a “search-and-rescue” operation, the ministry said without giving further details.
Senior Armenian lawmakers insisted that the 40-year contract soldier was not captured by Azerbaijani troops. One of them, Armen Khachatrian, confirmed reports that Russian soldiers stationed in the Goris area also searched for Gyulambarian.
“According to my information, they agreed with the Azerbaijani side that their UAZ vehicle carrying a Russian flag will enter Azerbaijani-controlled territory to find and evacuate our serviceman,” Khachatrian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “However, face-to-face fire was opened on them.”
Haykakan Zhamanak, an Armenian daily belonging to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, also accused the Azerbaijani side of firing at the Russian military vehicle. It released photographs of the SUV with at least three bullets holes on its windscreen and rear window.
Two injured Russian servicemen were reportedly admitted to a hospital in Goris on Wednesday and discharged from it a few hours later. The hospital director said he does not know the cause of their injuries.
Russia’s Defense Ministry issued no statements on the reported shooting as of Thursday afternoon. The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said the Defense Ministry is investigating the “circumstances of the incident.”
“I think that we should wait for the results of that investigation,” Zakharova told a news briefing when asked to comment on it.
Russia deployed soldiers and border guards to Armenia’s Syunik province, including the Goris area, during and after the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh. The deployment was aimed at helping the Armenian military defend the strategic region against possible Azerbaijani attacks.