The Evolution Of Russia’s Peacekeeping Mission In Nagorno-Karabakh

Map of the 2023 Nagorno-Karabakh war showing Azerbaijan day-to-day advances.

“The conditions under which the Russian peacekeeping contingent was introduced into the region in 2020 have been seriously adjusted.”

On 19 September 2023, Azerbaijani forces launched an operation against the breakaway republic of Artsakh, and within days, succeeded in ending ethnic Armenian control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The excerpted article from the independent news website Kavkazskiy Uzel reports on how Azerbaijani control of Nagorno-Karabakh has impacted the Russian peacekeeping mission.[i] The article notes that Russian peacekeepers dismantled a few observation posts and established new ones, some of which were set up with Azerbaijan to jointly protect the weapons and equipment surrendered by the armed forces of Nagorno-Karabakh. The dismantled observation posts were situated in eastern Nagorno-Karabakh near Azerbaijan. The article also notes, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that its peacekeepers will adapt to the new situation, even as a large percentage of the population in Nagorno-Karabakh has left the region. The mandate of the Russian peacekeeping mission runs through November 2025 and will be automatically extended for another five years unless the governments of Armenia or Azerbaijan request to terminate it. The article notes that the Armenian government signed a declaration recognizing Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan two weeks after Azerbaijan took control of the region, essentially ending support for the breakaway republic. While one of the main tasks of the Russian peacekeeping mission has changed, it appears likely that Russia will continue to operate in the region.


“МИД России пояснил смену постов миротворцев адаптацией к новым условиям (The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia explained the change to the posts of peacekeepers as adapting to the new conditions),” Kavkazskiy Uzel (independent news website reporting on the Caucasus), 10 October 2023.

Peacekeepers are adapting to new conditions against the backdrop of a mass exodus of the population from the region, reported Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

As t“e “Caucasian K”ot” wrote, on October 5, peacekeepers reported on the dismantling of observation posts in the Askeran, Martakert and Shusha regions, and on October 8, the Russian peacekeeping contingent dismantled posts in the Martuni and Martakert regions…

A day earlier, the Russian peacekeeping contingent reported that the Russian peacekeeping contingent had set up 25 guard posts in the North (seven posts) and South (18 posts) areas of responsibility, including 14 jointly with the Azerbaijani side. Peacekeepers are taking part in the protection of warehouses with ammunition, weapons, military and special equipment surrendered by the armed forces of Nagorno-Karabakh, as stated in the bulletin dated October 9.

The activities of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh will adapt to new conditions against the backdrop of a mass exodus of the population from the region, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said today…

As a result of the virtual capitulation of Stepanakert, Azerbaijan gained control over the region. On September 28, the President of Nagorno-Karabakh signed a decree ending the existence of the republic. After the military operation carried out by Azerbaijan on September 19-20, almost all residents left Nagorno-Karabakh, in which, according to various sources, about 120 thousand people lived…If the Russian peacekeeping contingent leaves Nagorno-Karabakh, it must return to Russia, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said today in an interview with the Public TV Channel when asked about the possibility of deploying peacekeepers in Armenia…On October 5, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a declaration recognizing the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, including the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh…


[i] Russian peacekeepers were deployed as part of the ceasefire agreement that ended the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War. For background on the Russian peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh and how Russia uses peacekeeping missions to achieve strategic objectives beyond conflict resolution, see: Matthew Stein “The Evolutionary Russian View Of Peacekeeping As Part Of Modern Warfare,” FMSO’s Foreign Perspectives Brief, 24 March 2023.

Image Information:

Image: Map of the 2023 Nagorno-Karabakh war showing Azerbaijan day-to-day advances.
Attribution: CCA 4.0

Russian North Sea Fleet Deputy Commander Killed in Nagorno-Karabakh

Map of the 2023 Nagorno-Karabakh war showing Azerbaijan day-to-day advances as of 22 September 2023.

“This was a man who belonged to the fleet, and even though he was a political officer, what did he do down there [Nagorno Karabakh]?”

Attrition continues within Russia’s officer corps as Russian commanders die on the battlefield, even beyond Ukraine and Syria.[i] According to the Norway-based news outlet The Barents Observer, deputy commander and political officer of Russia’s Northern Fleet submarine forces, Ivan Kovgan, was killed in Nagorno-Karabakh on 20 September.[ii] The article noted that Kovgan was deployed to the disputed region as the deputy commander of the Russian peacekeeping contingent. Kovgan’s SUV reportedly was struck by Azeri artillery, killing him and four other Russian servicemembers. It is unclear whether the strike on the Russian peacekeepers’ vehicle was intentional or a mistake as a result of the fog of war. In any case, the event prompted an immediate apology from Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev to Russian President Putin and the promise of an investigation. The article also noted that residents of the Kola Peninsula, where Kovgan resided, were shocked that he would have even been selected to serve in Nagorno-Karabakh. While units from the Russian Northern Fleet have been deployed to Ukraine, some with catastrophic consequences,[iii] the death of Kovgan while on a less-risky peacekeeping mission is an unexpected blow. Russia has lost many high-ranking officers in Ukraine, and losing another senior officer in far-off Nagorno-Karabakh is costly.


Atle Staalesen, “Deputy Commander of Russia’s Northern Fleed submarine forces is killed in Nagorno-Karabakh,” The Barents Observer (Norway based naval news focused news source), 22 September 2023.

Kovgan was only days away from completing his assignment in the disputed territories between Armenia and Azerbaijan when his car came under attack. He and four more Russian servicemen were killed.

A photo reportedly taken on the site of the attack shows a Russian military SUV type UAZ Patriot that has crashed into a rocky hillside. At least four bodies can be seen in and around the vehicle.

The lethal attack came from Azerbaijani forces and took place on the 20th of September as part of a major onslaught on Armenia-backed forces in the region. It is reported to have taken place near the settlement of Canyataq in the northeastern corner of the self-proclaimed republic.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev in a telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin the following day apologised for the killings and assured that an investigation will be initiated and the guilty troops punished.

But for many locals in Gadzhievo it appear a mystery that a top officer from the Northern Fleet’s submarine forces was on duty in the far-away Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Who sent this first rank captain to that place???” a man writes in a comment on local social media in Gadzhievo. “This was a man that belongs to the fleet, and even though he was a political officer, what did he do down there??? After all, he was our naval political officer with both body and mind!” he underlines.Ivan Kovgan had reportedly been two months in Nagorno-Karabakh when he was killed. He was serving as Deputy Commander of the so-called peacekeeping forces that have been deployed in the area since the second Nagorno-Karabakh war of 2020. Back home in the Kola Peninsula he was Deputy Commander of the Northern Fleet’s submarine forces with responsibility for military-political operations.


[i] Russia has lost several senior officers in Syria since 2016, including most recently Colonel Oleg Pechevisty, who was killed in May 2023. See: Isabel Van Brugen, “Russian Colonel Killed After Direct Strike on His Command Post – Reports,” Newsweek, 29 May 2023. and “Администрация Подпорожского района (Administration of Podporozhye district),” ВКонтакте (InKontact) Russian online social media and social networking service based in Saint Petersburg). 27 May 2023.

[ii] For additional information from the Russian perspective on the renewed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh and presence of Russian peacekeepers, see: Kirill Strelnikov, “Прощание с Карабахом: уроки трагедии с двумя стульями (Farewell to Karabakh: lessons from the tragedy with two chairs),” RIANovosti (state-owned domestic Russian media outlet), 21 September 2023.; “Messages appeared on the Internet about an attack by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces on a warehouse of Russian Peacekeepers, Top War (English language Russian military news focused media website, part of Military Review (Военное Обозрение)), 23 September 2023.

[iii] The 200th is one of two Arctic infantry units subordinate to the Northern Military District’s 14th Army Corps, the 14th Army Corps is Ground Forces unit subordinate to the navy command, and as part of the Northern Military District it is subordinate to the Northern Fleet. For an investigative news piece on the fate of the 200th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade in Ukraine see: “‘Wiped Out’: War in Ukraine has decimated a once feared Russian brigade,” The Washington Post, 16 December 2022.

Image Information:

Image: Map of the 2023 Nagorno-Karabakh war showing Azerbaijan day-to-day advances as of 22 September 2023.
Attribution: CCA SA 4.0 Int

Armenia Questions Continuing Its Membership in Russia-Led Regional Security Body

Before the meeting of the leaders of the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. From left to right: CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas, Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, and President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon

“After Russia’s refusal to intervene in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the fall of 2020, Armenia’s confidence in the benefits of participating in the Collective Security Treaty Organization has weakened to the point of threats to leave the CSTO.” 

Armenia has long considered ending its membership in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) due to a perceived lack of support from the organization following numerous clashes with its neighbor Azerbaijan, which is not a CSTO member. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s statement on 22 May that Armenia is considering leaving the organization marked the latest in a series of disputes between Armenia and CSTO leadership that could be a turning point for its role in the organization. The accompanying excerpted article from the independent, Caucasus-focused website Kavkazskiy Uzel provides a look at the issues Armenia has with the CSTO. The article notes “the degree of Armenia’s unfriendly rhetoric towards Russia has been rising” since the CSTO refused to intervene in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War. In the fall of 2021, Pashinyan made a comment that “Armenia was not going to consider the possibility of leaving” the CSTO, but this position has changed since then. The article notes how the organization and Russia responded to recent incidents between Armenia and Azerbaijan. From Armenia’s perspective, clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2022 should have triggered the CSTO’s collective defense clause, but the organization declined to intervene. This damaged Armenia’s already tenuous relations with the CSTO in addition to straining Armenian-Russian relations, as Armenian officials believed Russia has failed to pressure Azerbaijan to stop attacks against their country.[i] The article also notes that Pashinyan refused to sign a CSTO declaration in December 2022, declined to host a previously planned CSTO joint military exercise in Armenia in 2023,[ii] and refused to host CSTO observers. Armenia’s relations with the CSTO have become bad enough that the CSTO Secretary General became concerned that Armenia will withdraw from the organization.


“Главное о критике Арменией ОДКБ и Кремля (The crux of Armenia’s criticism of the CSTO and the Kremlin),” Kavkazskiy Uzel (independent news website), 23 May 2023.

After Russia’s refusal to intervene in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the fall of 2020, Armenia’s confidence in the benefits of participating in the Collective Security Treaty Organization has weakened to the point of threats to leave the CSTO. The “Caucasian Knot” has prepared a report on how the degree of Armenia’s unfriendly rhetoric towards Russia has been rising… 

During the aggravation of the Karabakh conflict in 2020, Armenia turned to the CSTO for help. In response, Moscow stated that it could not help, since the borders of Armenia were not violated, the war took place on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. During the 2020 war, the Kremlin limited itself to political support for Yerevan, and then sent peacekeepers to the Karabakh conflict zone…In the fall of 2021, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, commenting on Armenia’s criticism of the CSTO in connection with Russia’s position on the conflict in Karabakh, stated that Armenia was not going to consider the possibility of leaving this organization. However, two years later, Armenia’s rhetoric on this issue changed.  

In the spring of 2022, Nikol Pashinyan accused the CSTO of not properly responding to the actions of the Azerbaijani military in the Sotk-Khoznavar sector. “The way the CSTO reacted to what happened was a failure for the organization itself. Contrary to existing procedures, the CSTO has not decided to conduct monitoring at the site at the moment, justifying the long-standing fears of the Armenian public that an organization important for the security of Armenia will not do anything at the right time,” said the Armenian Prime Minister… 

According to Pashinyan, during the discussion of security issues in the CSTO, he received clear assurances that the Armenian border was a “red line” for the organization, but “it turned out that red lines exist only in words.” “This is important not only for Armenia, but also for the CSTO, because if you say that there is no border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, then there is no CSTO, because the CSTO has a zone of responsibility, which is defined by borders. If there is no border, then there is no area of responsibility; if there is no area of responsibility, then there is no organization,” Pashinyan said. 

On November 23, 2022, Nikol Pashinyan refused to sign the declaration of the Collective Security Council (CSC) of the CSTO and the draft decision on assistance to Yerevan. The reason was the lack of a clear political position of the organization on the issue of Azerbaijan’s actions… 

In January 2023, Nikol Pashinyan stated that Yerevan considers it inappropriate to hold CSTO exercises in Armenia. “The Armenian Defense Ministry has already informed the CSTO Joint Headquarters in writing that we consider it inappropriate to conduct exercises in Armenia in the current situation…” he said.  

Commenting on the possibility of Armenia’s withdrawal from the CSTO, Nikol Pashinyan replied that the Armenian side would be guided by the state interests in this decision…“When the CSTO Secretary General arrived in Armenia in 2022, he told me that the CSTO was concerned that Armenia would withdraw from the Organization. I said that this concern is out of place, but there is another concern that the CSTO may withdraw from Armenia. My assessment now is this: the CSTO, willingly or not, is leaving Armenia. And this worries us,” Pashinyan repeated… 

On May 22, 2022, Nikol Pashinyan confirmed at a press conference that the issue of Armenia’s withdrawal from the bloc remains on the agenda… 

He also explained why Armenia refused CSTO observers, being a member of this military bloc. “The CSTO mission does not operate on the territory of Armenia for the simple reason that, in fact, the organization does not indicate its vision of the territory and borders of Armenia. 90 percent of the problems stem from this,” the prime minister said.


[i] For more background on the strained relations between Armenia and Russia, see: Matthew Stein “Armenia Acquires Indian Multiple Rocket Launcher System Amid Delays in Russian Deliveries,” OE Watch, 11-2022.

[ii] For more background on Armenia’s refusal to sign the CSTO declaration, see: Matthew Stein “Armenia Takes Another Step Away From Russia,” OE Watch, 2-2023.

Image Information:

Image: Before the meeting of the leaders of the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. From left to right: CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas, Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, and President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon 
Attribution: CCA 4.0 

Ongoing Clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh Threaten Fragile Truce

Azerbaijani protesters during the 2022 blockade of the Lachin corridor.

Azerbaijani protesters during the 2022 blockade of the Lachin corridor.

“Thus, the corridor was blocked by two checkpoints — an “ecological” and a “peacekeeping” one. The peacekeepers are not letting ecologists enter Stepanakert, but they’re also not interfering with their blocking of the highway.”

On 5 March 2023, a clash took place in the Lachin Corridor, which connects Armenia with the Armenian-occupied region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The fight between Azerbaijani soldiers and Armenian policemen left five dead. The Lachin Corridor remains the only road connecting ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia following the ceasefire agreement that ended the 2020 war. The blockade is being carried out by so-called “ecologists” from Azerbaijan, who have stated they are concerned that mining operations in Nagorno-Karabakh are having a negative environmental impact on the region. However, there have been reports that the “ecologists” are likely working for the government of Azerbaijan. The incident brought increased attention to Azerbaijan’s ongoing blockade of the Corridor, which effectively cut off a significant lifeline for ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. The blockade also raises questions about the role Russian peacekeepers have in the Lachin Corridor, as well as Armenians who are using routes outside the main road in the corridor to travel to Nagorno-Karabakh. While the incidents have not spiraled out of control into a larger conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, they have added to what has been an unstable situation since the 2020 war ended.[i] The accompanying excerpted articles provide a look at the issues causing incidents in recent months between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces.

The first article from the independent English-language newspaper Novaya Gazeta Europe is a reporter’s account of traveling to Nagorno-Karabakh and includes interviews with regional analysts on the situation since the blockade by Azerbaijani ecologists began in December 2022. The author details numerous issues for those trying to travel to Nagorno-Karabakh via the Lachin Corridor, including the cost to be escorted there and having to pass through multiple checkpoints. The author points out how “Azerbaijan is building very expensive roads from its side, carving tunnels in the mountains,” as part of an effort to not only cut off the Lachin Corridor, but also control additional routes to Nagorno-Karabakh. Another analyst interviewed for the article claimed that Armenians are using the corridor to transport military cargo and that vehicles continue to travel to Nagorno-Karabakh despite the ecologists’ blockade. The article also notes how the blockade has remained in place even after outside efforts to end it, including Putin’s attempt to maintain leverage in Nagorno-Karabakh and the wider region through the appointment of ethnic Armenian Ruben Vardanyan to the office of State Minister in Armenia. Vardanyan was later dismissed, reportedly at the request of Azerbaijani President Aliyev during negotiations to end the blockade. The second article from Armenia’s state news agency Armenpress offers insight into an 11 April incident near the Lachin Corridor. While the article presents only the Armenian perspective, which blamed Azerbaijan for instigating the incident, the article notes that the Armenian military had been carrying out engineering work. It is unclear if this work is for a road or a defensive position, but it is taking place near the corridor. With the ongoing blockade by Azerbaijani ecologists and both Armenia and Azerbaijan constructing and using roads in and around the Lachin Corridor to their own advantage, additional skirmishes are likely, increasing the chance of escalation to a wider conflict.


Irina Tumakova, “‘The thing I miss the most? Freedom’,” Novaya Gazeta Europe (independent English-language newspaper), 24 March 2023.

While I was coming down the Lachin mountain serpentine, my phone started vibrating. It was someone from the Russian military base, which, as is commonly believed, maintains peace and security in the small part of Karabakh that is still controlled by the unrecognised republic. “Andrey Valeryevich,” the man from the Russian peacekeepers base introduced himself shortly. “I was told you want to cross over to Stepanakert. Why?”

I explained that I had to see how people in Nagorno-Karabakh are living under the blockade organised by Azerbaijani eco-activists.

“The blockade?” Andrey Valeryevich chuckled. “They’re doing great, better than before! It’s us, peacekeepers, who’re under the blockade. The prices are crazy! Take a dozen eggs — three hundred rubles [€3.6] in Russian money. Isn’t that crazy? Three hundred! These ‘blockade victims’, these Armenians, are the ones selling us eggs at such prices!”

…“There’s a passage to get into Karabakh, but it costs money, 150 thousand [Armenian] drams [about €360] per person,” Armenian politologist Andrias Gukasyan tells me a few days later. “You have to first go to the Russian peacekeepers base in Goris. Why are you so surprised? You’ve come from Russia, you know what it’s like…”

…From the Armenian side, the border is guarded by an Armenian military police post. This is where Karabakh’s blockade begins. There’s another post like that in Stepanakert, in between the two there are Russian peacekeepers and Azerbaijani “ecologists” who organised the blockade.

…Karabakh and Armenia are connected via the Lachin corridor in the mountains. The corridor’s width is stated at 22 km. In reality, it’s a narrow highway where even two cars aren’t always able to let each other pass…Driving here is hard and dangerous, so Azerbaijan is building very expensive roads from its side, carving tunnels in the mountains…

According to the trilateral agreement signed on 9 November 2020, Azerbaijan pledged not to interfere with Armenians’ coming and going to and from Karabakh. The corridor has to remain under the control of Russian peacekeepers, they’re the ones ensuring the aforementioned freedom of movement.

On 12 December 2022, the road was blocked by people from Azerbaijan. They referred to themselves as eco-activists who had to verify the compliance with the environmental protection norms on two Karabakh mines — the Drmbon mine and the Kashen mine…Thus, the corridor was blocked by two checkpoints — an “ecological” and a “peacekeeping” one. The peacekeepers are not letting ecologists enter Stepanakert, but they’re also not interfering with their blocking of the highway…

“After the death of police officers (on 5 March, a car of the unrecognised republic’s police department was shot at, three police officers were killed — editor’s note), we went to the Russian peacekeeper contingent, we wanted to express our protest against everything going on. There’s a lot of blame on our locals too when it comes to the police officers’ death…”

“According to the trilateral agreement, this road is a humanitarian corridor to connect Armenia with Armenian residents of Karabakh,” this is how Azerbaijani political analyst Ilhar Velidaze explains the recent protests in the Lachin corridor. “However, we are able to follow the cargo movement through satellites and we have observed several times that the road is used for military cargo too, as well as soldiers coming in from Armenia. We couldn’t just act indifferently…Unfortunately, the Armenian side is trying to misrepresent the situation as a humanitarian catastrophe,” he notes. “But there’s no catastrophe to speak of. Take a look at the so-called ‘blockade’…During the last three months of the Azerbaijani activists’ protest, the Lachin road was used by over 4,000 vehicles that were transporting various cargo, furthermore, these are heavy-duty vehicles. Can this be called a blockade?”

“Putin sent Ruben Vardanyan to Karabakh as his representative,” Arif Yunusov, Head of the Conflictology Department of Azerbaijan’s Institute of World and Democracy, notes. “He was conducting secret talks about these mines, but they fell through. But for Putin, the main thing wasn’t the mines. Russia, dissatisfied with Pashinyan, assumed that Vardanyan would gain power in Karabakh, the next step being his candidacy as Armenian Prime Minister…You may recall how Presidents [Robert] Kocharyan and [Serzh] Sargsyan came into power, they’re from Karabakh too. Karabakh is a jumping off point.”

Ruben Vardanyan, Russian billionaire of Armenian origin, came back to Armenia in September of last year, went to Karabakh, and was appointed State Minister… In February, it came out that Vardanyan was dismissed from his position, as per the condition put forward by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. That was soon after the UN International Court of Justice demanded the Lachin corridor be unblocked. But the “ecologists” pickets remained.

…When the condition of Vardanyan’s dismissal was fulfilled, Azerbaijan brought forward another one — this one has as much to do with the environment and ecologists (nothing)…“Now, they’re demanding there be a checkpoint built on that road because the Armenians are allegedly transporting weapons into Karabakh,” Arif Yunusov says…

“Азербайджанцы потребовали от армянских военнослужащих прекратить инженерные работы: подробности о провокации в селе Тех (Azerbaijani demanded that Armenian soldiers halt engineering work: details on the provocation in the village of Tegh),” Armenpress (state news agency of Armenia), 12 April 2023.

Presenting the details of the Azerbaijani provocation near the village of Tegh on April 11, Khachatryan said that under the pretext of negotiations, an Azerbaijani car drove up to the Armenian positions from the territory controlled by them and demanded that the Armenian military personnel stop engineering work……On April 11, at about 16:00, on the territory of the Republic of Armenia, near the village of Tegh, Syunik region, a group of servicemen of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, under the pretext of clarifying the border points of deployment, approached the servicemen of the RA Armed Forces, further provoked them, opened fire in the direction of the servicemen and positions of the Armenian Armed Forces…As a result of the Azerbaijani provocation from the Armenian side, there are 4 dead and 6 wounded. As of 0800 April 12, the situation on the front line remains relatively stable.


[i] For more background on incidents between Armenia and Azerbaijan since the 2020 war ended, see: Matthew Stein “The Impact of Territorial Changes in Nagorno Karabakh,” OE Watch, July-2021.

Image Information:

Image: Azerbaijani protesters during the 2022 blockade of the Lachin corridor.
Attribution: CCA 4.0

The Evolutionary Russian View of Peacekeeping as Part of Modern Warfare (Matthew Stein) (March 2023)

(Click image to download brief.)


• Russia views peacekeeping operations as a part of warfare, specifically that they can be
utilized to achieve strategic objectives beyond conflict resolution
• Russia’s past peacekeeping operations have shown how these involved ending the conflict
as quickly as possible and enforcing terms of any cease-fire agreement, including taking
action that favored one of the belligerents as long as Russia remains in the dominant position
• Russia’s Nagorno-Karabakh peacekeeping operation ended a conflict and helped the
Russian government maintain influence in the Commonwealth of Independent States with
a Russian military detachment in place for the foreseeable future, which can help explain
how conflicts involving Russia are likely to end.

“The Evolutionary Russian View of Peacekeeping as Part of Modern Warfare” by Matthew Stein (July 2022)

(Click image to download brief.)


The 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War stood out as a significant chapter in the history of the conflict in the region. Not only did Azerbaijan take control over a large amount of territory, the Russian government deployed peacekeepers as part of the cease-fire agreement between the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan. This marked the first time a peacekeeping force became involved in the conflict over the region and stood as another example of how Russia utilized a peacekeeping operation as a response to a conflict in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The CIS is made up of states of the former Soviet Union and is an area where the Russian government has special relationships and a sphere of influence. While the United States has arguably pulled back from peacekeeping operations in recent years and, as a result, the U.S. military has deemphasized them, Russia views peacekeeping operations as a key part of modern warfare. Like other military operations, Russians consider that peacekeeping operations can be utilized to achieve strategic objectives beyond conflict resolution. This article examines how Russia views peacekeeping operations as a part of warfare, including in its military doctrine and based on past conflicts in the CIS. It also examines how this applies to the most recent conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh and in the peacekeeping operation as a response to civil unrest in Kazakhstan. Insights from this may also inform potential outcomes of the current war in Ukraine.