south front for monday nov 23

Armenia Is Trolling Russia, Digging Its Own Grave Around The Clock
South Front, Nov 23 2020

As of Nov 23, the Russian peacekeeping force has finished its deployment in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, that included the sending 1960 personnel and 552 units of equipment. The total number of observation posts currently kept by Russian forces in the region is 23. At the same time, planes of the Russian Aerospace Forces have not halted their flights to Armenia. They are currently involved in the deployment of additional equipment and civil defense and disaster response specialists that will participate in the humanitarian aid campaign in Karabakh. While the Azerbaijani side insists that it would demine and restore all territories that it is gaining under the peace deal, the area to which the Azerbaijani military will have no access to will remain within the zone of the responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers and the authorities of the self-proclaimed Armenian Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. Another factor is the return of displaced persons. Since Nov 14, over 9k civilians have returned to their homes under the protection of the Russian military. Most of the activities needed to avoid an acute humanitarian crisis are now being conducted with direct involvement or under the supervision of the peacekeepers.

Meanwhile, the Armenian government, led by Nikol ‘The Basement’ Pashinyan that is openly cracking down on opposition to its rule with force and threats of jail terms, continues demonstrating its brilliant skills in undermining the Armenian regional position and destroying the already weakened partnership with the only guarantor of its statehood and security. On Nov 21, a high-ranking Russian delegation, including Lavrov and Shoigu, visited Armenia and Azerbaijan holding a series of meetings with the leadership of both countries on the current situation in the region and the settlement of the Karabakh question. Accepting the high-ranking Russian delegation, the Armenian side ‘accidentally’ forgot to put out the Russian flag. Such a position of Armenia towards its only real ally in the region that has just rescued Armenian forces from total annihilation in the war with Azerbaijan for Nagorno-Karabakh is at least surprising. In the worst case scenario, it just demonstrates that the government led by the Western puppet is rock solid in its anti-Armenian policy could easily lead to the full destruction of the country’s statehood.

It is interesting to note that the Armenian Foreign Ministry claimed that the absence of the Russian flags is completely fine and this is an ordinary practice for Yerevan. However, the fact that the Russian flag appeared on photos after media drew attention to the incident and that demonstrates that the original situation was not so okay because it revealed the real aim of the current Armenian government. The Russian visit to Baku expectedly led to no diplomatic scandals of such kind and Azerbaijan is now preparing to take control of another district that Armenian forces should hand over to it under the reached deal. On Nov 25, Azerbaijani troops are set to enter Kalbajar District. The Armenian leaders are reaping the benefits of its destructive policies of the previous years.

Karabakh Rambo: Azerbaijani President Drives Armoured Vehicle In Another District Captured From Armenians
South Front, Nov 23 2020

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev was filmed driving an armoured vehicle in Agdam District in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The district was recently handed over by the Armenians to Azerbaijan under the peace deal reached to end the Second Nagorno-Karabakh war. Earlier, the Azerbaijani leader already paid visits to areas captured by Azerbaijani forces in the south of the region, including the Khodaafarin bridge at the border with Iran. Aliyev visits to captured areas are a part of the wider Azerbaijani internal propaganda campaign aimed at showcasing the historic military victory of the country and the return of a large part of areas that it lost during the First Karabakh War.

Russian Peacekeepers Suffered First Casualties In Nagorno-Karabakh
South Front, Nov 23 2020

A Russian peacekeeper and four employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) were wounded, and an Azerbaijani soldier was killed in a mine explosion near the village of Magadiz in the Nagorno-Karabkah region on Nov 23. The incident took place, when a group of Russian peacekeepers, representatives of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan, the NKR Ministry of Emergency Situations, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross were searching bodies of those killed in clashes during the recent armed conflict in the region. Earlier today, a group of Russian sappers started the demining operation in the conflict zone.

Russian Sappers Started Demining Works In Nagorno-Karabakh
South Front, Nov 23 2020

Russia has deployed over 100 sappers and special equipment for a demining opreation in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Nov 23. According to the Russian side, over 100 specialists and 13 units of equipment are already involved in the operation. A brief summary of the recent developments:

  • On Nov 23, more than 100 Russian sappers, 13 units of military and special equipment, including Typhoon-K MRAPs and Uran-6 UGVs sent are set to be deployed in Karabakh to remove mines and IEDs;
  • As of Nov 23, over 10k civilians have returned to Karabakh under the protection of Russian forces;
  • On Nov 22, reports appeared that Turkey is planning to settle families of Syrian militants in the captured territories of Karabakh;
  • As of Nov 23, the Russian peacekeeping force continued its works to assist in restoring the local infrastructure and secure roads in Karabakh.

Artsakh President Thanks Putin For Help In Ending Karabakh War, Russian Defense Minister Visits Azerbaijan
South Front, Nov 23 2020

On Nov 22, all Russian observation posts are active in Nagorno-Karabakh. Peacekeeping efforts are separated in 23 observation posts in the zones of responsibility: 12 in the “South,” eleven in the “North.” The return of refugees is being monitored. 1,718 refugees returned to Nagorno-Karabakh from the territory of Armenia. Since Nov 14 2020, 8,895 people have returned to their former residences with the assistance of Russian peacekeepers. The first humanitarian convoy of the Russian EMERCOM arrived in Stepanakert to provide assistance to the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh, accompanied by Russian peacekeepers. 45 tons of construction materials were delivered: 627 m2 of glass and 40 m3 of lumber. More than 100 specialists from the International Mine Action Center of the Russian Ministry of Defense went to de-mine Nagorno-Karabakh. A video of the deployment was shared:

On Nov 21, Russian Defense Minister Gen Sergei Shoigu paid a working visit to the Republic of Azerbaijan and met with President Ilham Aliyev. Shoigu informed Aliyev about the deployment of the Russian contingent of peacekeeping forces in Nagorno-Karabakh. He said:

Dear Mr President, I am grateful to you for taking the time to meet with us to discuss urgent issues. Time is moving dynamically fast after the adoption of the statement by the leaders of the heads of state of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. I believe that not much time has passed since the historic statement, but the peacekeeping forces have already taken the positions that were determined, at 23 posts. The main highways have been taken under control to ensure security on the contact line. The return of refugees has begun. All the work that has been established to date, of course, gives results. During this time, the ceasefire is being observed, and I am confident that it will continue to be so.

The President of Azerbaijan highly appreciated Russia’s efforts to stabilize the situation and the actions of Russian peacekeepers in the region. He said:

We will discuss issues related to the implementation of the trilateral statement signed by the presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Armenia. In our opinion, the provisions of the statement are being implemented successfully and this once again demonstrates the readiness of both the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides to put an end to the long-standing conflict and reach a political settlement. I would like to express my gratitude to you, as well as to the Russian leadership, President Vladimir Putin, for your active participation in the preparation and adoption of this important document.

In a rare admission, Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan expressed gratitude to Putin for his assistance in ending the war. His entire statement is below:

Thanks to the efforts and actions taken by the top leadership of the Russian Federation, it was possible to stop the bloodshed in the zone of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict. We express our gratitude to the Russian Federation and special gratitude to the President of Russia Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin for mediating efforts to stabilize the situation and for the assistance provided in the ceasefire and the end of the war, the restoration of peace and stability in our region. In accordance with the decree of the President of the Russian Federation, Russian peacekeeping forces were brought into the territory of our Republic. As of today, the Russian peacekeeping contingent has completed its deployment and has begun to fulfill the tasks assigned to it, becoming an important stabilizing factor in the difficult situation around our republic. Effective cooperation has already been established with the command staff of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh, headed by Lieutenant General Rustam Muradov.

The fulfillment of the main tasks of maintaining peace, stability and security of our citizens requires high professionalism and resilience from the personnel of the peacekeeping contingent, which is sometimes associated with a risk to life. On behalf of our people, I would like to express my gratitude for the work done and efforts made to stabilize the situation, create favorable conditions for establishing and maintaining peace, and solving various problems. Highly assessing the contribution and efforts of the Russian Federation to stabilize the situation, I would like to express my special gratitude for the caring attitude towards the fate of the people of Artsakh, the humanitarian assistance provided and active participation in the restoration and development of the Republic of Artsakh.

An Interdepartmental Humanitarian Response Center is being established to help resolve humanitarian issues and restore civilian infrastructure. By order of the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, five more centers will be additionally formed as part of the Interdepartmental Center for Humanitarian Response in Nagorno-Karabakh to solve the entire range of humanitarian tasks in Nagorno-Karabakh. Russian servicemen accompany our citizens who had previously left the conflict zone and ensure the safety of convoys with humanitarian supplies. The first humanitarian convoy of the Emergencies Ministry has already arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh. We also express our gratitude to the President of the Russian Federation for his personal active efforts to protect objects of historical and cultural heritage, religious shrines on the territory of the Republic of Artsakh, which are important both for our people and for preserving the identity of various cultures in the world heritage.

Finally, things appear to be going without a hitch, but that is not entirely true, as videos were shared of Azerbaijani soldiers humiliating captured Armenian personnel. There are two videos showing the incident.

Photo Of Russia’s First Ever Prototype Of S-70 Okhotnik Heavy Strike Drone, Alongside Su-57 Fighter Jet Released
South Front, Nov 23 2020

On Nov 22, a photograph was shared online, showing a S-70 Okhotnik-B (Hunter-B), presumably the very first prototype demonstrator of the Russian heavy reconnaissance and strike unmanned aerial vehicle. The photograph was taken back in October at the 929th V P Chkalov State Flight Test Center of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation in Akhtubinsk. It is, as can be seen, next to a Russian Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jet. After a short lull in news, back in October, the Sukhoi company posted on the public procurement website information about the tender for the creation of a ground control center (NPU-70) to ensure the development of the S-70 Okhotnik-B strike UAV. In accordance with the tender application, it is planned to allocate 2.25b rubles (~ $30m) for this work by Sep 30 2025. The documents indicate that the NPU-70 developer must take part in the manufacture of the third and fourth prototypes of the “Okhotnik.” Back then, it was confirmed that one drone has been built. It is, almost entirely certain that it is the drone on the photo.

According to the draft contract, two prototypes of the NPU-70 for the development of the “Okhotnik” should be handed over to the customer in mid-2021, the third in Jan 2022. Preliminary state testing of products is planned to be completed by the end of 2023, and the full volume of GSE is to be completed by Oct 2025, after which it is planned to start organizing mass production. Also, the public procurement portal published data from several more tenders and already concluded agreements under the same state contract with the Russian Ministry of Defense – the total cost of these works exceeds 2b rubles. All contracts are due in Sep 2025. Thus, more than 4b rubles will be spent on the continuation of work on the creation of the heavy attack drone S-70 “Okhotnik.” The S-70 Okhotnik is Russia’s first heavy strike drone. On Aug 3 2019, it took to the skies for the first time. According to “Interfax-AVN” in Aug 2020, the head of the UAC, Yuri Slyusar, said that on the instructions of the Russian Ministry of Defense, the development of the “Okhotnik” would be accelerated, and deliveries to the troops should begin in 2024. Prior to that, it was planned to start serial deliveries from 2025. According to Slyusar, this is “a drone with unprecedented capabilities, the largest combat radius, the widest range of weapons, the widest range of equipment.”

Earlier, Putin said that the Okhotnik’s payload was 6 tons, the flight range was about 6k km, and the height was 18 km. According to open sources, its takeoff weight is 20 tons, making it the heaviest drone currently in development. The dimensions of the “Okhotnik” (length 19 m, wingspan 14 m) are comparable to the parameters of the Su-57. The photograph also provides some insight into that, as the drone appears quite bulky and imposing. The UAV has a flying wing design. Outwardly, the drone resembles the American B-2 strategic bomber. Although the drone is slightly inferior in terms of stealth to the US aviation, it is distinguished by its high speed and maneuverability. These are the most important characteristics, since the S-70 was developed as an addition to the Russian Su-57 fighter. The maximum range of the UAV is 4.8k km, and the speed can reach up to one thousand km/h. The Okhotnik has a lot of free space in the fuselage, which can be used for storing fuel. Such characteristics allow the UAV to accompany the Su-57. If necessary, the S-70 will fly in front of the fighter to interfere with the enemy’s anti-aircraft weapons. The UAV will become a distraction and a hindrance to air defense systems. Earlier, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Russian anti-drone systems are more effective than foreign ones. The advantage of the complexes has been proven back in Syria.

Israeli Battle Tank Flipped Over Near Jordanian Border
South Front, Nov 22 2020

An Israeli Merkava battle tank flipped upside down while it was being loaded onto a truck during a drill in the Jordan Valley, near the Jordanian border on Nov 22.

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