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Russia will maintain lasting peacekeeping presence in Artsakh, says military expert Vladimir Evseev

Head of the CIS Institute Department of Eurasian Integration and SCO Development, military expert Vladimir Evseev believes that Russia will not leave Artsakh after the 5-year term envisaged in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement ends.

Speaking to ARMENPRESS about discussions on whether or not Russian peacekeepers will leave Artsakh or extend their mission after the 5-year term, Evseev said that Russia doesn’t intend to withdraw from Artsakh because otherwise it wouldn’t have deployed its peacekeepers. “Russia has extensive peacekeeping experience in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Tajikistan, Transnistria, and Russia has never pulled out quickly after deploying peacekeepers,” he said.

Evsees noted that now Russian peacekeepers’ mandate is at least for 4,5 years in Artsakh, and over the course of this time the situation could significantly change.

“You are probably aware that hydrocarbon extraction cost in Azerbaijan is significantly growing because first of all oil reserves are being depleted. In terms of gas reserves, mostly due to condensation only 33 billion sq.m. gas is produced in a year, which in terms of volume is gas for one pipe. This is all Azerbaijan can give in a year. American companies have left Azerbaijan, only the UK’s British Petroleum is still there mostly because of political reasons. And in 4,5 years a lot can change. Until the end of this term Russia definitely doesn’t intend to withdraw its peacekeepers, while at the time of the term’s completion a part of citizens of the Republic of Artsakh could possibly have gotten Russian citizenship. The situation could in some sense become similar to that of Transnistria, where Russian citizens live and Russia is present with the purpose of ensuring security of its citizens,” Evsees said.

On August 4, the President of Artsakh Arayik Harutyunyan spoke in favor of a “permanent” Russian military presence in Artsakh.

The 2020 Nagorno Karabakh ceasefire agreement, officially known as the Statement by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia and President of the Russian Federation, stipulates that “the peacemaking forces of the Russian Federation will be deployed for five years, a term to be automatically extended for subsequent five-year terms unless either Party notifies about its intention to terminate this clause six months before the expiration of the current term.”