A Russian serviceman near Dadivank, with house set on fire by fleeing local residents seen in bottom right. RFERL video image grab.

Russian forces continued to deploy in Karabakh, with more than 1,000 personnel already dispatched. Observation posts have reportedly been installed around Stepanakert and in Martuni district to its east in what has been dubbed as southern operational area. On Friday afternoon, Russian forces also entered the Karvajar (Kelbajar) area linking Vardenis and Mardakert and were expected to deploy in Mardakert district over the weekend.

Hours later, NKR president Arayik Harutyunyan assured his Facebook readers that the Mardakert-Vardenis highway, that passes through Dadivank “will remain under control of Armenian forces.” He also met with Yerevan mayor Hayk Marutyan to discuss logistical arrangements for return of Karabakh displaced to Stepanakert, and to support all those who lost their homes.

During the day, Harutyunyan also met with the Russian commander Gen. Rustam Muradov and Red Cross representative to discuss arrangements for exchange of bodies of soldiers killed in fighting with Turkish-backed Azerbaijani forces.

In a video meeting with senior officials today, Vladimir Putin estimated the total deaths in the war to be “in excess of 4,000, including civilians, as well as more than 8,000 wounded.” The number was lower than the “more than 5,000” estimate that Putin mentioned weeks earlier.

The Defense Army of Artsakh has published names of 1,361 servicemen, reservists and volunteers killed in action. Artsakh’s Ombudsman estimated recently there were also several hundred missing. More than 50 civilians have been confirmed killed.