Hadrut operation

Hadrut operation

Right before that, the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia were to meet on October 9 in Moscow with the mediation of Russia. The meeting of the parties took place as the fierce battles continued on the front. At that time, an unexpected statement came from President Ilham Aliyev. In his address to the nation on October 9, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev spoke about the newly liberated territories and negotiations with Armenia: “I would like to bring to your attention the names of the liberated settlements: the town of Hadrut, and Chayli, Yukhari Guzlak, Gorazilli, Gishlag, Garajalli, Afandilar, Suleymanli and Sur villages. The liberation of these villages and the town of Hadrut is our historic victory. Azerbaijan is liberating the occupied territories. Good news comes from the frontline almost every day. Every day, our soldiers and officers perform their combat missions with dignity. At the same time, they are capturing more and more commanding positions. They are taking over strategic heights. Thus, the operational plan is being fully implemented. The operational plan is based on modern combat principles. But we are giving the occupier probably the last chance to leave our lands. I think that today’s meeting in Moscow will clarify many things. They must accept the basic principles.”

This address signaled the end of the war. The talks, which began in the evening, lasted 11 hours, and the parties finally agreed on a ceasefire. Spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova shared a copy of the ministerial statement on her Facebook page. The document says:

- A ceasefire is declared from 12:00 (GMT +4) on October 10, 2020 for humanitarian purposes for the exchange of prisoners of war and other detained persons and bodies of the dead, mediated and in accordance with the criteria of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
- The specific parameters of the ceasefire regime will be agreed upon additionally.
- The Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia, with the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, on the basis of the basic principles of settlement, are starting substantive negotiations with the aim of reaching a peaceful settlement as soon as possible;
- The parties confirm the invariability of the format of the negotiation process.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in an interview with Russia’s RBK TV after the ceasefire was signed: “Therefore, I think that the military part, or its first stage, has come to an end, we have now come to a political settlement. The key factor for the durability of the ceasefire will be that Armenia must come to terms with the fact that these territories belong to Azerbaijan and that it will not make any attempts to recapture them by military means.” The statement that concluded the lengthy negotiations in Moscow did not involve the Armenian side making concessions on the territories and was met with a mixed reception by the Azerbaijani public. However, the events that took place a day later showed that this meeting and statement were just an imitation. Very few experts noticed it at that time. One of them was Colonel Igor Strelkov, a former employee of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). Strelkov attributed Azerbaijan’s non-compliance with the ceasefire to it having an upper hand in the war: “The battles for Hadrut are taking place now, there is fighting in the north for one of the two roads that connects Karabakh with Armenia. The Azerbaijanis are advancing, albeit slowly, they have good chances. Armenia, on the other side, is yielding, albeit slowly and with heavy fighting. Azerbaijan had no intention of complying with the ceasefire. It was signed only in order to demonstrate their supposed peacefulness. This was necessary to avoid accusations that Baku is the aggressor. Armenia would very much like this ceasefire to hold, as a truce would allow it to keep up to 90% of the territory that they controlled before the start of the offensive. But in the course of two weeks of battles, Azerbaijan created the conditions for its future gains. Armenia is hanging by a thread, the Azerbaijani military can break through both from the south and from the north, creating the threat of a complete blockade of the core of Nagorno-Karabakh—Khankendi, Shusha. Then the position of the Armenian troops will get a lot worse and the likelihood of concessions will increase dramatically.” After the end of the war, the second president of Armenia Robert Kocharyan said that the reason Azerbaijan broke the ceasefire was that “Azerbaijan had the upper hand. No leader will abide by the ceasefire if he is winning the war.” In his book Life and Freedom, Kocharyan explained that the Armenian side had violated the ceasefire in 1993 to attack Agdam as they had advantage over Azerbaijan, who was going through a political turmoil at that time (Kocharyan, 2019:105).

 

Fighting around Hadrut

Russian war correspondents in Karabakh did not believe that Aliyev’s tweet about Hadrut’s capture was true. Alexander Kots, war correspondent for Komsomolskaya Pravda, and Semyon Pegov, founder and war correspondent of the WarGonzo telegram channel, released a photo taken in Hadrut after an official announcement of the town’s liberation. Pegov also said that the WarGonzo team had just returned from Hadrut and the town was under the control of the “Karabakh Defense Army”. However, it turned out that the first photo of Kots and Pegov at the entrance to Hadrut had been taken on October 6-7. The day after President Ilham Aliyev’s tweet about the capture of Hadrut, it became clear that fighting for the town had begun from the Armenian sniping posts northwest of Hadrut. Hadrut resident Lara Safaryan recalls those days: “On October 9-10, the men were simply ordered to leave the town. Several dozen remained even though they didn’t have proper weapons. Most likely, later some of them were killed, and the rest were taken prisoner.” Igor Strelkov was the first to mention the Azerbaijani army entering Hadrut on October 10: “According to reports, Azerbaijani troops entered the town of Hadrut this afternoon.” The Armenians’ first report of the Azerbaijani special forces entering the town says: “As an act of sabotage, the Azerbaijani army dispatched 200 infantrymen across the neighboring hills, possibly in Armenian uniform, which is why they were not recognized right away. Then they began to shoot in all directions, killing civilians, and tried to raise their flag over the town administration but failed. The local militia, including the mayor of the town, fought back until the arrival of the Karabakh special forces and snipers, who drove the saboteurs out of the town. The saboteurs dispersed throughout the vicinity, but they did not stop trying to capture the town.” On October 12, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan made the following comments about the Hadrut battles during a meeting with representatives of foreign countries and international organizations accredited in the Republic of Armenia: “You all know that after the public appeal made by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, a ceasefire statement was adopted by the Foreign Ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, and Azerbaijan does not abide by the ceasefire. The ceasefire was to take effect on October 10 at 12:00. Prior to the ceasefire coming into force de jure, Azerbaijan was conducting high-intensity hostilities, which de jure is not a violation of this ceasefire statement. However, at 12:00, the ceasefire was to come into force, and at 12:05, Azerbaijan launched an attack on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, making an attempt to capture the town of Hadrut. At the moment, hostilities are underway around Hadrut, and the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army is trying to drive out the sabotage groups that tried to capture Hadrut. At the moment, the situation is tense, especially in the southern part, and there is practically no ceasefire to speak of.” According to the Armenian officials in Hadrut, Azerbaijan’s attack on Hadrut was not supported by artillery fire or tanks, and it seems that the group’s goal was simply to show their presence. Azerbaijan, in turn, accused Armenia of violating the ceasefire. The Ministry of Defense issued a statement“Despite the humanitarian ceasefire regime, the units of the armed forces of Armenia, after concentrating their forces, attempted to attack in different directions of the front. In the daytime, the enemy made an attempt to attack from the side of the Tugh village in the direction of Hadrut and from the side of the Aragul and Banazur villages in the direction of Jabrayil. As a result of the preventive measures taken by our units, the enemy, suffering heavy losses in manpower and military equipment, was forced to retreat. Due to well organized defense our units were able to stop the enemy’s advance and defeated him, luring into a trap. As a result of the military clash, 38 enemy servicemen, 2 BM-21 “Grad” MLRS, 7 pieces of artillery and 2 trucks with ammunition were destroyed. Currently, our troops maintain an operational advantage along the entire length of the front.” 

On October 11, the Azerbaijani special forces were seen in the hills south of Hadrut this time. From this day on, the Azerbaijani special forces started taking the heights west of Hadrut. On the same day, a coverage of the situation in Hadrut was broadcast on Armenian Public Television. The video shows no fighting in the town. Armenian military drive the journalists around, but when they hear a gunshot, they take refuge in a building or basement on the side street. On October 11, Semyon Pegov took a trip to Hadrut to show that the town was still under the control of the Karabakh Defense Army. The driver wanted to stop when the car reached the spot with the Hadrut signpost, but Pegov advised against it: “Don’t stop, Sanya, a sniper can hit us here. They warned us. Let’s go into town.” The car stopped anyway, and Pegov made a brief report: “We are currently at the entrance to Hadrut and we are standing in an open area, which is not recommended. There are snipers here. But the fact is we are here.” The footage indicated that the main heights in the west were already under the control of the Azerbaijani Army. On October 12, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense released video footage of the village of Suleymanli in Jabrayil District, which meant that the army was moving to Hadrut from the south and west. There the army began to move in the direction of Yukhari Guzlak, and from there to the villages east of Hadrut. From that day on, the Azerbaijani Army attacked in great numbers, as confirmed by the spokesman of the Nagorno-Karabakh separatists Vahram Pogosyan on his Facebook page: “The enemy has concentrated large forces in this direction and is trying to enter the town. The Defense Army of Karabakh is fighting hard for every inch of land.” 

The Armenian army counterattacked with the involvement of special forces, but the ambushed group was forced to retreat after heavy losses. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev spoke about the situation in Hadrut in an interview with Haber Global: “The Armenians have made several attempts to re-occupy Hadrut. This morning, I was informed that last night a large group of special forces who arrived from Armenia tried to re-occupy Hadrut although from a strategic point of view, this is not particularly important for Armenia–just to take a selfie there and report to its population. The Azerbaijani Army neutralized this unit, and the losses Armenia suffered there that night are exclusively victims of Pashinyan’s irresponsible and predatory policies.” Although the Armenian units in Hadrut were in a difficult situation, the Armenian side reported a successful operation. Spokesman for the Armenian Ministry of Defense Artsrun Hovhannisyan said at the briefing on October 12 that Azerbaijani military had been driven out of the town: “The fighting for Hadrut has been going on for several days. The town of Hadrut is completely under the control of the Karabakh Defense Army. The Azerbaijani military have been thrown back to their original positions”. Igor Strelkov was skeptical of the Armenian claims regarding the elimination of the Azerbaijani special forces in Hadrut: “Does everyone remember Pashinyan’s “triumphant” speech on October 7 about the encirclement and defeat of the Azerbaijani forces that broke through to Jabrayil? In the end, as is clear now, it resulted in the defeat and partial annihilation of the Armenian tank brigade by air strikes, while it was supposed to close the encirclement by going to the rear of the Azerbaijani vanguard units. Now the Armenian troops have been driven back to the mountains. Any sensible commander in this situation would take care of the safety of the flanks before planning a deep breakthrough. Now that the task of securing the flank and rear has been accomplished in principle, and the best forces of the Armenians (including the special forces) are engaged in the fighting for Hadrut, Azerbaijan can push forward. And this breakthrough must be made as soon as possible, before the Armenian units covering this direction gain strength, dig in and camouflage themselves. In the coming days we will see whether I am correct in my assessments of the plan of the General Staff of the Azerbaijan Armed Forces. It looks like Hadrut has not been captured yet—the fighting is taking place on the outskirts of the town. Which does not negate the fact that Azerbaijan has the operational advantage.” Georgian journalist Dimitri Avaliani in his article published on October 12 says: “The Azerbaijani side did not publish video or photo materials confirming the presence of the Azerbaijani military in the town or the Azerbaijani flag over Hadrut. The Armenian side has not yet provided sufficiently convincing evidence that it has finally repulsed the attack and held victory over the battlefield. From the scarce material available at the moment, it can be concluded that the battle for the town continues. The Azerbaijani armed forces are also on the heights around Hadrut, very close to it, which is why the town is under fire and it is unsafe to be on the streets. Some of them might be in the town itself, posing a threat to the Armenian forces and the journalists working there. The battle will most likely continue, since Hadrut, whose liberation has already been announced by the Azerbaijani side, will remain an important target for the offensive.”  

 

The capture of Hadrut

Although the liberation of Hadrut was announced officially, there was yet no concrete evidence that the Azerbaijani Army had taken control of the town. In an interview with Turkey’s Haber Global TV channel on October 12, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev acknowledged indirectly that the town of Hadrut was not under the Azerbaijani army’s control: “The salvation mission of the Azerbaijani Army continues. We liberate new positions every day. It doesn’t matter if these positions are a village or a city. Let there be a hill, a mountain–they are more important than a village or a city. We will return to the cities anyway. The main task for us is to occupy strategic heights. Today, all the neighborhoods of Hadrut are under our control. The town is also ours. A completely different question is whether to enter the town or not. At present, we are not faced with the political task of declaring the liberation of one place today and another tomorrow. In some cases, we liberate villages and towns and announce that after a day or two. There is a tactic behind this.” One the day after this statement, on October 13, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense shared the first video footage of the Azerbaijani army controlling Hadrut. The video showed the view of Hadrut from the dominating heights to the south and west. However, geolocation experts established that the video had been shot in the village of Tagaser, 1 km west of Hadrut (based on the geolocation of the building on which the Azerbaijani flag can be seen at the end of the video). On the same day, the village of Vang was also taken by the Azerbaijani Army. The Armenian side did not comment on the footage, only repeated its previous statements a day later. US historian Edward J. Erickson points out: “The Azerbaijani army closely pursued the retreating Armenians toward Hadrut and, by 13 October, had seized the heights overlooking the town.” On October 14, President Ilham Aliyev announced the liberation of villages east and west of Hadrut (Bulutan, Melikjanli, Kemertuk, Teke, Tagaser). The capture of these villages meant that Hadrut was encircled. On October 14, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan acknowledged the lack of success on the front: “In the 18 days of hostilities, our heroic troops retreated a little in the northern and southern directions. The enemy changed tactics, using sabotage groups to sow panic in the rear. The defense army has control of the situation, inflicting heavy losses on the enemy’s manpower and equipment.” Pashinyan’s statement was far from reality: the Armenian army completely lost control of the situation. Starting from October 14, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces had the strategic and tactical advantage. Ukrainian military expert Yuri Podolyaka commented on the Hadrut operation on his channel: “Judging by the speed of the advancing Azerbaijani army, the Armenians simply don’t have the manpower to cover the entire front line, and they are retreating to new positions. In general, the Armenian command is getting increasingly despondent. They can see that problems are snowballing and a disaster is just around the corner, and they clearly don’t know what to do about it.” 

On October 15, the Azerbaijani Army entered the villages of Dudukchu, Edilli, Chiraguz northeast of Hadrut and the village of Edisha in the west. As the encirclement narrowed, the Armenians saw that the resistance was futile and left Hadrut that day. On October 16, the Azerbaijani Army entered the villages of Khirmanjig, Agbulag and Akhullu northeast of Hadrut. On the same day, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense released a video shot in the center of Hadrut. The video clearly showed the park in the center of Hadrut, the memorial to Armenian soldiers, and the town administration building. On the same day, the spokesman for the Armenian Ministry of Defense Artsrun Hovhannisyan refrained from answering the question of which side controlled Hadrut. Igor Strelkov describes the footage from the captured Hadrut: “The video shows the Azerbaijani military moving freely around the empty town (there are no sounds of shooting whatsoever, which means that the front line has already moved away from the town). The footage shows that there was no serious street fighting in the town at all, or it was very local and brief. The Armenians probably surrendered the town without a fight because they lost their positions in the south, east and west. Given the technical superiority of the Azerbaijani Army on the ground and in the air, it was more appropriate to withdraw instead of losing soldiers in street fighting in Hadrut. At present, it can be concluded from the trajectory of the Azerbaijani Army that they will try to implement the Hadrut tactics in the Fizuli direction.” Although the fighting for Hadrut ended on October 15, the Armenians attempted several attacks to retake the town. On October 17, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense issued a statement saying that the situation in Hadrut was tense and fighting was continuing. The sound of an artillery duel that began in Hadrut on October 18 could be heard in the city of Shusha, 60 km away. In the clashes that lasted 4 days, the Armenian army was defeated and began to retreat to the north. The statement of the Azerbaijani MoD released on October 22 says: “The D-20 battery of the 155th artillery regiment of the Armenian armed forces, located in the direction of Khojavend, has a large number of wounded personnel. It was identified that there was a lack of vehicles for their evacuation and the roads were closed. The volunteers newly arrived at the enemy’s artillery units located in the north of Hadrut settlement left the firing positions and fled.” The main focus of the Armenian army in the Hadrut direction was the village of Tugh. The Azerbaijani Army was able to take control of the village by the end of October.* Thus, the fighting for the town of Hadrut, which had gone on from October 9 to October 23, came to an end.
 

Analysis

Ukrainian military expert Yuri Butusov describes the Hadrut operation as follows: “The tactics of the Azerbaijani army are based on the identification and consistent targeted destruction of key strongpoints on the front line. To this end, continuous UAV reconnaissance is carried out, with a focus on the targets of strike drones, artillery and MLRS. Fire weapons are highly maneuverable. Strongpoints “soften”, defenders suffer heavy losses, their maneuvers are blocked by the destruction of the supply system, defense forces are forced to disperse. This tactic is used to infiltrate the gaps and joints of the Armenian battle formations, as it happened in Hadrut. Hadrut showed that the Azerbaijanis had prepared for contact battles and independent infantry operations without armored vehicles.” 

Historian Arif Yunus explains the superiority of the Azerbaijani army in the Hadrut direction and in the mountains in general as follows: “Having liberated the territory along the entire Azerbaijan-Iran border, the troops of the 2nd corps moved north. And the terrain there is different, mountainous, making it impossible to use armored vehicles and artillery. And here Azerbaijan banked on mobile motorized rifle units, 40-120 fighters each, but particularly on the special forces trained for action in these conditions. The Azerbaijani special forces were also well equipped and had night vision devices, which is why they fought at night. The Armenians did not have such devices, and as a result, the Azerbaijanis shot them as if they were at a shooting range. This is why the Armenians suffered such enormous losses.”  

President Ilham Aliyev on the Hadrut operation: “They were not expecting us there. The Armenian side did not expect us to go this way, it was unexpected for them. And several days after the capture of Hadrut, the Armenian side announced that they still had Hadrut although there were already our people at all heights in Hadrut. The Armenian leadership had a somewhat amateurish understanding of whether the town was taken or not. Having taken all the dominating heights around Hadrut, the fate of this town was essentially decided. And it was only a matter of time when we will physically enter it—with minimal losses again. And only when we showed a soldier hoisting a flag on the local administration building and reporting to me on the capture of Hadrut did the Armenian side run out of arguments to continue making up stories.” 

An Azerbaijani officer tells a RIA Novosti reporter about the capture of Hadrut: “‎In the first weeks of October, there were reconnaissance-in-force missions. We entered Hadrut to explore the area. We got to the center and temporarily retreated. The media portrayed this as Baku’s failure. When we breached the southern flank and entered the town, there was no serious resistance.” The officer believes that the Armenians’ main mistake was that they had too little manpower in the vicinity of the town: “Hadrut was defended by only a few special forces companies and the local militia. The public somehow became convinced that fierce fighting was going on in the town. But see for yourself, Hadrut is intact, the destruction is minimal. A humanitarian corridor was opened for the residents in advance.”

Colonel Said Ahmadov, Chief of the Special Department of the Special Forces of the Nakhchivan Special Combined-Arms Army, who was awarded the Azerbaijani Flag Order, recalls those combats: “Armenians called Hadrut the key to Karabakh. They never thought they could lose Hadrut. Because all the civilians were still there… We fought for Hadrut almost two days. We had casualties there, but the other side lost much more.”

Political scientist Nijat Hajiyev describes the capture of Hadrut in an interview with Izvestiya as follows: “The Azerbaijani army left a corridor for the local Armenian population to exit. Most of the residents had left the town in the first days of the war, but those who stayed finally left by mid-October. There were only a few elderly people who could not move for medical reasons. In particular, we know about two elderly Armenians, a woman and a man of almost 90 years old. They were first taken to Azerbaijan for medical treatment, after which they were handed over to the Armenian side. Fierce street fighting went on in the town for a long time. After the encirclement of Hadrut, pockets of resistance continued to exist in some houses, but all of them were neutralized. Most of the destruction is from this street fighting. Some of the buildings were burnt down by the locals themselves before they left.”

 

The arguments of the Armenian side

Semyon Pegov, the founder of the WarGonzo project, on the fighting in Hadrut: “Certain mistakes were made in Hadrut. Those were not even intelligence mistakes, but rather mistakes in the organization of the defense line, the fortifications. Few expected that saboteurs would enter Hadrut directly through the forest road. I think that this is more of an objective military loss than a political one. Fighting for this town went on more than a week. Saboteurs would enter first, some of them wearing Armenian uniform, they could speak Armenian at the basic everyday level. To avoid confusion, the mobilized men and militia were withdrawn from the town, and the town was cleared by the special forces of the “NKR” Defense Army. As soon as the special forces would begin to defend the town from the saboteurs, a massive artillery attack on the town would start, one UAVs after another… There was no point in risking lives of so many people under fire in the town, so the special forces at some point would pull back, and during this pause another saboteur group would enter, the shelling would stop to avoid hitting their own people. The special forces of the “NKR” Defense Army would come again, and thus the town kept changing hands not one, and not even two or three days. But the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan had more equipment and manpower, and the town ended up under their control eventually. In my opinion, it was not so much the Armenian side’s overestimation of its own forces that made a difference as the underestimation of the enemy’s capabilities, primarily technical ones.” 

Vahan Savadyan, who was the head of the town administration during the Hadrut battles, names Arayik Harutyunyan as the main culprit in the loss of the town: “Neither Kamo Aghajanyan, nor Ivan Avanesyan, nor their people organized the evacuation of the population. False propaganda was used to cover up the desperate position of the army!” He recalls“I didn’t see a single general organizing defense here. In other areas, sure, generals were conducting military operations. But many simply ran away and never appeared in public. For example, once again, I didn’t see a single general in Hadrut. Vahram Pogosyan called me once. He said, ‘Vahan, the President of Azerbaijan posted on Twitter that Hadrut had been liberated today. Can you give an interview and say it’s not true?’ All they were concerned with was populism instead of organizing Hadrut’s security, can you imagine? Sure, I went to give an interview with a friend, but there was no internet or electricity to record and post it. Instead, we came under fire. Later, Artsrun Hovhannisyan came, took photos and gave interviews in certain places. By the way, Artsrun was also given orders, maybe he didn’t come up with this on his own. But every day he kept saying, everything is fine, things are going well, we will advance soon, we will win and so on. And the public believed and thought that something was about to happen, a miracle would happen any moment now, the leadership would achieve some success. But it wasn’t like that at all.”

The leader of the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians Arayik Harutyunyan says that the they were defeated in Hadrut because the Armenian military fled, too scared of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces: “We are all traitors, we are all to blame. On October 3, I appealed to them and I begged that we should go to the front line, that we did not have enough manpower, but I was left on my own. Ask the National Security Service who stayed with me. 1,500 people fled from Hadrut in the face of several dozen saboteurs. I tried to persuade them to return and fight but it was in vain.”

The Armenian army suffered heavy losses in the Hadrut battles. On October 12, the commander of Hadrut’s defense, Colonel Vahagn Asatryan, was killed, and two days later, a former Prosperous Armenia MP Rustam Gasparyan and his son Rafael Gasparyan were killed in a drone strike. In general, the Armenians attribute the defeat in Hadrut to panic in the army. Fighters of the Azerbaijani special forces, who got into the town in Armenian clothes on October 10, entered some houses and talked to the civilians in Armenian, creating serious fear among both the population and the military. Neither the soldiers nor the officers trusted each other, especially the volunteers from Armenia, who were considered to be either Azerbaijanis or spies working for Azerbaijan. In this situation, the already weak fighting spirit manifested itself in desertion. This is what caused the 1,500 people mentioned by Arayik Harutyunyan to leave the combat zone.

 

Conclusion

Hadrut became the first regional center of the former NKAO proper, whose liberation was announced by Azerbaijan. During the Soviet era, specifically in 1979, Armenians made up 85% of the total population of the district and 90% of the town’s population. Hadrut’s capture by Azerbaijan was a major blow to the Armenians, and about 10,000 Armenians living in the district were forced to flee their homes. In general, the capture of Hadrut dispelled the Armenian myth that the Azerbaijani army would meet a continuous resistance in the mountainous areas, making its inevitable defeat not inevitable at all.

According to the administrative division of Azerbaijan, Hadrut is currently part of Khojavend District. Following Paragraph 7 of the joint statement of the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia signed on November 10, the Azerbaijani government is not carrying out active resettlement in the region.

Be as it may, the Azerbaijani government is not opposed to the return of the Armenian population to Hadrut if the Armenian population accepts its jurisdiction. This largely depends on the resettlement of other regions previously inhabited by Azerbaijanis and now controlled by the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. Hadrut is still a sore point for Armenians. This soreness is especially evident in the views voiced by the candidates in the last parliamentary elections in Armenia. For example, the leader of the Armenia Alliance, the second president of Armenia Robert Kocharyan made memorable, interesting statements during his election campaign in Dilijan: “I am fully confident in the possibility of returning Hadrut under the control of Karabakh, and partially confident in the possibility of returning Shusha. A legal solution is possible within the borders of the former NKAO, and there are appropriate arguments for this. This process can last two years, but serious negotiations require restoring and improving relations with the allies, after which it will be clear if it is possible to resolve these issues. I do not see anyone who can tackle this issue better than me.” This kind of populist rhetoric will change in the future depending on the parties’ negotiations on the status of the region.


Notes

* The liberation of Tugh was officially announced on November 9.

References

Kocharyan, Robert (2019), Zhizn’ i svoboda: Avtobiografiya eks-prezidenta Armenii i Karabakha (Life and Freedom: The Autobiography of the Ex-President of Armenia and Karabakh)