Minsk Group Ex-Co-Chair Blames Baku for Helicopter Downing

Former Russian Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group Vladimir Kazimirov

YEREVAN—In an interview with Tert.am, former Russian co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Vladimir Kazimirov, said that the primary reason for violent incidents near the border between Artsakh and Azerbaijan is Azerbaijan’s refusal to withdraw troops from the “line of contact,” which was envisaged by the ceasefire agreement.

With respect to the Azerbaijani foreign ministry’s statement declaring Nagorno-Karabakh’s airspace a no-fly zone, Kazimirov noted that, after losing control of Nagorno-Karabakh’s territory, Azerbaijan is declaring it an inviolable airspace.

In commenting on Azerbaijan’s refusal to respect the cease fire and allow for the safe retrieval of the bodies of the downed Mi-24’s crew members, which forced the Armenian side into a special operation to recover the bodies, Kazimirov said:

“I am not going to comment on the special operation. Let it lie on the conscience of the side that refused to allow the bodies to be recovered. I would like to speak of the reasons for such incidents. There may be many of them. However, there are primary reasons for the incident. They are of paramount importance because they are the core of the problem. The point is that when, through Russia’s mediation, we were moving toward ceasefire and signed relevant documents. Regrettably, one of the conflicting parties – you guess which one – did not honor its commitments despite its defense minister’s signature on the document. Later it refused to withdraw its forces. So the positions remained close to each other and, a few years later, the same conflicting party began drawing its positions [closer] to the Armenian positions.

“This is the primary reason for what happened. If the troops had been withdrawn and heavy weapons had been, as it were, at a distance, the incident would not have happened.”

Asked if he considered the incident with the Mi-24 helicopter a mere coincidence, Kazimirov said:

“Different incidents have often occurred. A lot of servicemen and even civilians were killed every year only because the troops had not been withdrawn. I stress that this is the primary reason for the incidents, including the latest incident involving the Armenian helicopter. I say nothing of assessing the same side’s refusal to allow for the recovery of the crew members’ bodies or, at least, not to put obstacles.”

Later Azerbaijan declared Nagorno-Karabakh’s airspace a no-fly zone. Asked if it suggested the incident was an unplanned act, Kazimirov said.

“It cannot have been an unplanned act. Baku publicly declared that. After losing control of Nagorno-Karabakh’s territory, Azerbaijan is declaring it an inviolable airspace. It is very dubious revanche. They are guilty of having lost control of many regions. They lost them because they would not stop the hostilities under the UN Security Council’s resolutions. This is one more primary reason.

“I think the latest incident was a gross provocation.”

With respect to US Co-Chair of the Minsk Group James Warlick’s statement that the territory in question is not a “neutral” territory, but a “no man’s land,” Kazimirov said:

“This question should be addressed to Mr. Warlick. I have no right to comment or interpret his words. I should say the following: a neutral zone would have appeared if the conflicting parties had actually withdrawn their troops from the line of contact.”

Regarding the international response to the incident, Kazimirov said:

“I would confess that I have not followed foreign nations’ responses. I have seen the reaction of Armenia and Azerbaijan. But I can hardly say anything about other states’ responses.”


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  1. ED said:

    But US co-chair James Warlick doesn’t seem to wanarealize at al that a terrorist and a criminal action has been order by the fascist Azerbaijani official in Baku – US co-chair James Warlick is insulting Armenian nation when he speaks simply of a “tragedy” / Dear Mr Warlick NO MORE COMMENTS NEEDED AT ALL!!!!!!!!!

  2. Kevin Abrahamian said:

    The former Russian co-chair speaks the truth. Thank God for a strong, Orthodox Christian superpower like Russia that is allied with Armenia through a mutual defense treaty. Meanwhile the French and American co-chairs, former co-chairs and other top levels involved in the Artsakh negotiations like Matthew Bryza are too busy serving sultan aliyev or the Islamists in Syria to comment on Azerbaijan’s violations of the ceasefire. And I haven’t heard a peep out of “pro-Armenian” Americans like John Evans, Nancy Pelosi, Samantha Power, Joe Biden, or the other actors-politicians. Had an American or French official even hinted at blaming Azerbaijan, they would have been hailed as heroic; but when Russia takes steps like recognizing the Armenian Genocide, having their President visit the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial (without making up insulting “it was only a personal visit” excuses immediately afterwards), giving Armenia free weapons, saving the Armenians in Syria from a complete massacre by NATO-sponsored Islamists, or having high ranking Russian officials explicitly hold Azerbaijan responsible for their crimes a significant portion of the pro-western Armenian crowd just brushes it aside.

    God Bless the Russo-Armenian alliance and protect it from all enemies foreign and domestic!

    Kevin Abrahamian,
    Glendale. Greenpeace. Armenian.

  3. Hratch said:

    Why gloss over the claim by the NKR defense minister that the craft was shot down by weapons recently obtained from Mother Russia. Why is it that such a giant elephant in the room is being ignored?

    • Avetis said:

      I suggest you reread what Kevin wrote. The guy seems to know what he is talking about.

    • Gurgen said:

      Would you have been happier if they used the new Israeli missiles instead? Would that have really changed things? Azerbaijan can buy weapons from any country it chooses. They can even begin to make manufacture their own under Turkish licence. Where they got their weapons from has nothing to do with the political reasons that they choose to use those weapons. Silly point indeed.

  4. Mavro said:

    Russia sells weapons to Turks-Azeries, so does the USA, Israel,and Europe. What is the big deal ? If Russia does not sell, the Israelis, USA and Europe will treble their arms supplies to the Azeri-Turks. It is better for Russia to keep arming the Azeries, in that manner we can equip ourselves with the antidotes for those weapons.

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