Putin has made it clear in an interview that Russia will not intervene in Nagorno-Karabakh at this time. In the meantime, the city of Stepanakert was bombed again and the Red Cross calls on the population to be protected. Azerbaijan will negotiate a ceasefire in Geneva with Russia, France and the US. Armenia will not be present.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised interview that Russia does not currently feel obliged to intervene in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Observers feared that could happen because Armenia had turned to Russia as an ally. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, is openly supported by Turkey.
Putin was referring to an agreement that “does entail certain obligations,” but stated that the conflict is not taking place on Armenian soil. “We are in close contact with the president of Armenia and have not heard that they think we are not fulfilling our obligations,” said the president.
Russia, together with France and the US, is organizing a meeting in the Swiss city of Geneva about a possible ceasefire in the region. These three countries are part of the so-called Minsk group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). He has been mediating in the conflict since 1994. Germany, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Belarus and Sweden are also part of that group.
The negotiations will only be attended by Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Yehun Bajramov. Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian is not coming to Geneva, “because it is impossible to negotiate while military operations continue.” However, the Armenian minister will travel to Moscow on Monday to speak with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
‘Half of the local population displaced’
Indeed, the bombing continues. On the night of Wednesday to Thursday, Stepanakert, the capital of the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, was bombed again by Azerbaijani forces. AFP journalists report this on the spot.
Since the resurgence of the conflict in late September, more than 200 people, including civilians, have been killed. According to Artak Beglaryan, the Armenian Human Rights Ombudsman in the region, half of the local population has been displaced: “ Fifty percent of the population (75,000 women, children, elderly) have had to leave their homes. [en moesten naar, red.] another place in the region or Armenia [vluchten, red.]. ‘ He said that to AFP and later put it on Twitter.
However, Beglaryan is currently unable to substantiate those figures, but the Red Cross also speaks of families hiding underground in unheated cellars or forced to flee. In addition, hundreds of houses, hospitals, schools and other infrastructures such as roads and electricity, gas and communication networks have already been destroyed or severely damaged.
This while winter is approaching and there is a worldwide pandemic. That is why the Red Cross calls on the warring parties to protect the population and to observe the rules of international humanitarian law. The aim of the rules is to limit the humanitarian consequences of a conflict as much as possible and actually determine the rules of the game of war.
‘Based on the information that reaches us today, we are seriously concerned about the humanitarian impact of this new escalation,’ says Laura De Grève, expert on international humanitarian law (IHL) at Belgian Red Cross-Flanders.
The International Red Cross Committee has been active in the region since 1992 and works with the local national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Armenia and Azerbaijan. Currently, the organization provides the most necessary medical aids for hospitals and delivers body bags to the forensic office in Nagorno-Karabakh. Because the area is particularly difficult to access, the Red Cross is currently also in contact by telephone with people at the front line.
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