The Kalbajar district that has been controlled by the non-recognized Nagorno-Karabakh republic since 1993 has been handed over to the Azerbaijani side, Semyon Degtyarev, a spokesman for the Russian peacekeeping contingent, said on Thursday.
"Today, the Kalbajar district was officially handed over the Azerbaijani side in line with the trilateral agreements reached by the leaders of the countries," he said.
According to the Russian defense ministry, the transfer process was monitored by Russian peacekeepers. "Servicemen of the Russian peacekeeping contingent ensured security of civilian population and organized the district’s transfer," the ministry said.
The transfer process began at 00:00 on November 25 in line with the trilateral statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and was controlled by Russian peacekeepers, the ministry added, TASS reports.
Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted on September 27, with intense battles raging in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The area experienced flare-ups of violence in the summer of 2014, in April 2016 and this past July.
On November 9, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a joint statement on a complete ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh starting from November 10. Under the document, the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides are to maintain the positions that they held and Russian peacekeepers are to be deployed to the region. The Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh basically comprises units of the 15th separate motor rifle (peacekeeping) brigade of the Central Military District.
The Russian peacekeepers have set up observation posts along the engagement line in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Lachinsky corridor that connects Armenia with the enclave to exercise control of the ceasefire observance. The peacekeeping mission’s command is stationed in Stepanakert in Nagorno-Karabakh. The situation in the area is monitored round-the-clock.