Staunton, Nov. 20 – Many observers of the South Caucasus are asking whether Russian forces incorrectly called “peacekeepers” by some will remain in the Karabakh region for the five-year term Baku, Yerevan and Moscow agreed to in 2018 now that Baku has restored its full control over that region in the western part of Azerbaijan.
Many would like to see them leave sooner; and Azerbaijani analysts surveyed by the Kavkaz-Uzel portal point to one form of leverage that Baku has. They argue that Turkish troops at the Agdam monitoring center will remain where they are as long as Russian troops are in Karabakh (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/394558).
Given that the Kremlin has never been happy about the presence of Turkish troops in Azerbaijan, that could become the basis for a phased Russian and Turkish withdrawal, with Moscow agreeing to remove its forces from Azerbaijan if Turkey at the same time agrees to remove its as well.
The Agdam Center, which was established at the end of the 44-day war in 2020, no longer has any reason for existence, but last month, Ankara announced it was continuing its military presence there for another year. That means there are both Russian and NATO forces in Azerbaijan at the present time.
Azad Isazade, a former analyst at the Azerbaijani defense ministry, says that Azerbaijan doesn’t need them for its security – the two countries conduct regular joint maneuvers and Ankara could put troops into Azerbaijan quickly in the event of a crisis -- but that Turkey very much wants to show its expanding role as a regional power.
Another Baku analyst, Torgul Dzhuvardy explicitly links the presence of Turkish troops at Agdam to that of Russian ones in Karabakh and says that when the Russian “peacekeepers” leave then the Turkish troops will depart as well. When that will happen is unclear, but most likely it will be before the end of 2025.