Russia refutes Turkey’s claims about inclusion in peacekeeping force for Nagorno-Karabakh

MOSCOW / GENEVA — Despite denials by Russian officials, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar reiterated today that Turkey will participate in the peacekeeping force to monitor the progress and implementation of the Armenian–Russian–Azerbaijani agreement in Nagorno-Karabakh.

On Tuesday, the Kremlin said that the tripartite statement of the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia on the cessation of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh contains no possibility of deploying Turkish peacekeepers in the region, which would be considered a provocation by Armenia.

Russian presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that, “The three parties did not agree on the presence of Turkish soldiers in Nagorno-Karabakh,” noting that the text of the released statement contain no mention of Turkish peacekeepers.

“No peacekeeping units of the Turkish Republic will be dispatched to Nagorno-Karabakh,” said Russian Minister of Foreign Affaris Sergey Lavrov, as reported by TASS. “There is a clear provision on that score in the joint statement of the leaders [of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia on complete termination of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh].”

According to Lavrov, Turkish observers will be present, and restricted to, the premises of the Russian-Turkish ceasefire control center being created in Azerbaijan.

“The mobility of Turkish monitors will be restricted by the coordinates to be set for the location and deployment of the joint Russian-Turkish monitoring center in the territory of Azerbaijan, that part of it which is not close to Karabakh and is to be agreed on separately.”

When asked about the statements of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar that Turkish peacekeepers would, in effect, be operating alongside as their Russian counterparts, Lavrov responded, “This concerns the center that will be stationary and will operate without sending out any missions. It is true that at this center proper Russian and Turkish specialists will be working on the parity basis.”

United Nations human rights experts have warned of Turkey’s disturbing role in the Nagorono-Karabakh conflict and have demanded it withdraw its mercenaries from the region.

“The UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries said there were widespread reports that the Government of Azerbaijan, with Turkey’s assistance, relied on Syrian fighters to shore-up and sustain its military operations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, including on the frontline,” read a Wednesday statement by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. “The fighters appeared to be motivated primarily by private gain, given the dire economic situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, the UN experts said. In case of death, their relatives were reportedly promised financial compensation and Turkish nationality.”


Thousands have been killed in the latest round of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Fighting intensified in late September as Azerbaijan, bolstered by Turkish support and Syrian mercenaries, launched an all-out offensive against the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The presence of Syrian mercenaries has been officially denied by Turkey and Azerbaijan, but mounting open source evidence has confirmed their presence on the frontlines.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a decades long dispute over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. From 1988 to 1994, a war was fought between the majority ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh backed by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan. By the wars end, Armenian was in full control of the territory with few exceptions, including areas of Azerbaijan outside Nagorno-Karabakh connecting the enclave with Armenia.

In July of this year, clashes erupted after an Azerbaijani patrol attempted to cross the border and were met with fire from Armenian forces. Artillery and drone strikes were exchanged between the two sides for days, resulting in over a dozen casualties.

Turkish involvement in the conflict has escalated the levels of violence, with the recent fighting the deadliest since the outbreak of war in the 80s.

With a population more than three times that of Armenia’s and a modernized army equipped with drones, loitering munitions, and guided munitions purchased from Turkey and Israel with its vast oil wealth, Azerbaijan is much better positioned in the conflict.

Turkish involvement has been key to Azerbaijan’s success.

Turkish military exports to Azerbaijan increased six-fold in 2020, with $77 million in sales of drones and other equipment in September alone according to figures compiled by the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly.

Turkey’s military exports to its ally Azerbaijan have risen six-fold this year, with sales of drones and other military equipment rising to $77 million last month alone before fighting broke out over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, according to exports data.

Most of the purchases came shortly after the skirmishes in July of this year.

In August, Turkey and Azerbaijan held large-scale military exercises in Azerbaijan which involved nearly a dozen Turkish F-16 jet fighters. Several apparently stayed behind in an effort to “deter Armenian attacks”, according to Azerbaijan’s 17-year President Ilham Aliyev.

Armenian officials, however, have claimed that a Turkish F-16 shot down an Armenian Su-25 ground-attack aircraft in late-September.