Map of the Russian peacekeeping command in Karabakh as of Dec. 13, 2020. Courtesy of the Russian Defense Ministry

On December 13, commander of the Russian peacekeeping forces in Karabakh, Gen. Rustam Muradov commented on the clashes in Karabakh’s southern Hadrut district, focused on the villages of Hin Tagher and Khtsaberd. He claimed that the situation in the area “was normalized” following the arrival of Russian forces there, though it did not appear that Armenian control over the villages was restored.

According to November 9 cease-fire agreement both sides’ forces inside Karabakh’s autonomous borders were to remain at their positions, and Azerbaijan’s move into Armenian-controlled villages was a clear violation.

Notably, the Russian peacekeeping command updated its map to now include the Hin Tagher (Hin Taghlar (Хинтаглар) on the map) and Khtsaberd area into its area of operations. However, implication of this remained vague. Thus the village of Vank, where the Dadivank monastery is located in the northwest of Karabakh autonomous borders was also included into the peacekeeping ареа, but it is no longer under Armenian control.

Meantime, Armenia’s foreign ministry reported attempts by Azerbaijani forces to enter villages of Metshen and Hinshen located inside Karabakh’s Shushi district and just east of Lachin (Berdzor); there were conflicting reports from the area throughout the day.

For its part, Azerbaijani officials claimed guerrilla-style attacks on its forces in the Azerbaijani-controlled portion of Hadrut district. Thus, on November 26 three Azerbaijani soldiers were reportedly killed and two wounded in the village of Tsor (Sur), about 3 kilometres south of Hadrut; and on December 8, another serviceman was reportedly killed near Hadrut itself. Note that this statement was released in apparent effort to justify Azerbaijani advance in Hin Tagher/Khtsaberd area, which is about 15-20 kilometres west of Hadrut.