In the summer of 1992, Azerbaijan conducted the only successful military operation against the Artsakh Defense Army. Then, the forces of Russian paratroopers and military personnel of the 4th army of the former USSR captured the Shahumyan district and part of the Martakert district of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
Azerbaijanis call Martakert Aghdara, and the operation itself is called Aghdara Operation. The success of the operation was ensured by the total technological superiority of the advancing Russian and Azerbaijani – against 6 tanks, 4 infantry fighting vehicles, and 1 armored personnel carrier of the Armenian troops in Martakert, Russian and Azerbaijani military threw 160 armored vehicles into battle (including 80 tanks).
In total, in June 1992, an army of more than 10,000 Russian and Azerbaijani soldiers was thrown against the 1,600-strong Armenian troops defending Shahumyan and Martakert.
One of the creators of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan and co-chairman of the Social Democratic Party Zardusht Alizadeh in his book “The End of the Second Republic” writes:
“The mixed Russian-Azerbaijani army triumphantly entered where necessary. The mercenaries received their royalties, and the Azerbaijani units committed plunder and wrote victorious reports about the heroic victory… They triumphantly marched through Martakert and ruined its villages. The district’s population was fleeing.
The militants did not show noticeable resistance. But after the ‘troops of Rahim Gaziyev’ ‘liberated’ Martakert which was immediately renamed Aghdara [White Hollow], the militants went on to a counterattack and drove the Azerbaijani troops out of Martakert. Apparently, something went wrong in their [Azerbaijanis’] relations with the Russian military.”
The Azerbaijani defense minister would admit that in 1992, Russian paratroopers captured Martakert for Azerbaijan.
“Do not forget about the Aghdara Operation conducted by the Russian paratroopers. The Armenians received quite a beating there. But the order to assist us had been given precisely by Grachev [Russian defense minister at the time]. Do not forget that then, we liberated 52% of the territory of the former NKAO. And this was thanks to the support of the Russian troops,” former Defense Minister of Azerbaijan Rahim Gaziyev said in an interview with the Vesti.az news agency.
“Thanks to my good relations with Grachev, we received much more than had been envisaged when dividing the property of the Soviet troops (that had left the country in just three months),” he added.
The former minister recalled that in May 1992, he had gathered 2,700 volunteers and hired 37 experienced officers from the 104th Airborne Division of the Russian Armed Forces for training. The training had taken place at the military base in Geran.
It was Russian general Vladimir Shamanov who played the most important role in this battle. After Shamanov returned to Russia, the Armenians took the city back (June 27, 1993), launching attacks on the Azerbaijanis from several directions.
The Russian New Times magazine writes about the nature of Shamanov’s activities in Azerbaijan: ‘Alexander Cherkasov from ‘Memorial’ said that he had encountered Shamanov’s subordinates in June 1992. The paratroopers hacked the Armenian defense for Azerbaijanis in the Martakert region. A number of division officers would then flaunt Azerbaijani orders. Similar orders may be seen on Shamanov in ceremonial photographs.’
By June 17, as Alexander Cherkasov writes, it has been managed to capture and destroy the Armenian villages of Buzlukh, Manashid, Erkech, Armenian Borisov, Kharhaput, Karachinar, as well as the Russian village of Russian Borisy. According to the testimony of local residents who managed to escape, dozens of people were killed. On June 14, the settlements of Shahumyanovsk, Gulistan, and Verinshen were surrounded and bombarded from Grad rocker systems.
More than 10 thousand people have found themselves in an encirclement. By blocking the only highway connecting the region with the rest of Nagorno-Karabakh, we deprived the Armenians of the opportunity to evacuate civilians… On the Azerbaijani side were the units of the 23rd division of the CIS troops… The fate of 3 thousand inhabitants is unknown…”
“What was unsuccessful, Cherkasov writes further, was to get into of the village of Gulistan. Various explanations were put forward for that – somewhere were fights; somewhere were attacks by Armenian combat groups; elsewhere, soldiers were shelled from grenade launchers; the road was mined, and there were not enough forces for mine clearance; finally, somewhere, forces were accumulating for a further offensive, and going to these locations was forbidden to maintain secrecy…
The last forced confession was almost true. It was there that the paratroopers from the 28th Ganja airborne regiment were located, and it was them who provided such a rapid advance to the Azerbaijani forces. This regiment was commanded by Vladimir Shamanov.
However, soon, the secret was revealed since the paratroopers received high Azerbaijani awards, which along with their whereabouts was widely covered by the media. And at the headquarters of the Azerbaijani Goranboy battalion, I had a glimpse of a cross with a Russian officer who had planned those offensive operations…”
It is worth noting that at that time, the Armenian fighters did not even have enough anti-tank weapons. However, as soon as the NKR Defense Army received military equipment, the situation at the front changed sharply.
Despite the superiority of the enemy in numbers and military equipment, the NKR Defense Army units counterattacked and knocked out Azerbaijani troops from Kelbajar (April 1993), Martakert (June 1993), and Aghdam (July 1993). Furthermore, in August 1993, Fizuli, Jabrayil, Kubatly, and Zangelan in November came under the control of the Defense Army.
Neither superiority in numbers nor the assistance from thousands of mercenaries from among the Afghan and Chechen fighters, Russian and former Soviet troops, as well as Turkish military experts and volunteers helped the Azerbaijani troops.
The Armed Forces of Azerbaijan were defeated and lost about 28,500 people killed and missing, not to mention that they lost control over a number of territories. The losses of the Armenian side amounted to about 6,000 dead soldiers and civilians.
Posted by Karen Hakobyan (unfortunately, his Facebook profile has been deleted)