Russian Serviceman Killed Clearing Mines In Nagorno-Karabakh

December 18, 2020 20:23 GMT – RFE/RL

Nearly 2,000 Russian “peacekeepers” were deployed to the conflict zone.

Russia has suffered its first casualty in Nagorno-Karabakh since its peacekeepers were deployed to the breakaway region last month under a Moscow-brokered cease-fire deal that brought an end to six weeks of fighting between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on December 18 that the serviceman was killed while demining a road.

The officer died on his way to hospital from heavy wounds after a mine exploded near the town of Susa, which is known as Shushi in Armenian, according to Interfax.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but the ethnic Armenians who make up most of the region’s population reject Azerbaijani rule.

They had been governing their own affairs, with support from Armenia, since Azerbaijan’s troops and Azeri civilians were pushed out of the region and seven adjacent districts in a war that ended in a cease-fire in 1994.

Heavy clashes erupted over Nagorno-Karabakh in late September during which more than 5,600 people, including civilians, were killed. In early November, Azerbaijan shot down a Russian military helicopter on its border with Armenia, killing two crew members.

The sides agreed to a Russia-brokered cease-fire deal that took effect on November 10, resulting in Azerbaijan regaining control over swaths of territory ethnic Armenians had administered for almost 30 years.

Under the truce deal, nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers were deployed to the conflict zone to monitor the agreement and facilitate the return of refugees. Russian military engineers were sent to the area to clear minefields.

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