On 20 September 2023, while returning from an observation post of the Russian peacekeeping force near Chankatagh, a vehicle carrying Russian servicemen came under small-arms fire.
As a result of the shelling, the Russian servicemen in the vehicle were killed.
Ivan Kovgan, the deputy commander of the Russian peacekeeping forces in Nagorno-Karabakh / Artsakh, was killed as a result of an Azerbaijani attack, as reported by SeverPost.
According to the source, on September 20th, in Nagorno-Karabakh/ Artsakh, a targeted attack on a UAZ vehicle of the Russian peacekeeping forces led to the untimely death of Captain 1st Rank Ivan Vasilyevich Kovgan, the deputy commander of the peacekeeping forces responsible for military-political affairs.
Captain Kovgan, who was about to celebrate his 53rd birthday in three days, was known for his service as a naval sailor and his regular position as the deputy commander of the submarine forces of the Northern Fleet in Gadzhievo.
After ten months blockading of Artsakh, the Aliyev’s regime, having completely assured of its impunity, оn Tuesday, September 19, 2023, Azerbaijan began the bombardment of Stepanakert the capital of Artsakh.
Blogger and journalist Alexander Lapshin shared information obtained from his sources regarding the reason behind the shooting of Russian peacekeepers by Azerbaijani troops.
As the video featuring Alexander Lapshin was recorded in Russian, a translation of this video into English is provided below.
“Azerbaijani forces broke through the northern part of Artsakh during the night of September 19th, capturing the village of Drmbon[40.148459, 46.609724] and surrounding the villages of Vardadzor[40.149493, 46.749641], Mets Shen[40.20996, 46.70692], Nerkin Horatagh[40.183222, 46.776635], and Chankatagh[40.13025, 46.76683]. The Armenian side informed the peacekeeping contingent that, according to available information, Azerbaijani soldiers were engaged in mass shootings, rapes, looting, and killings of the living in these mentioned villages. Deputy commander of the peacekeeping contingent Ivan Kovgan, and several other officers decided to travel to these villages to see what was happening. This trip was not coordinated with the Azerbaijani side, as it should not have been, as the route was within the responsibility zone of the Russian contingent. They set out in two UAZ Patriot vehicles.
Near the village of Nerkin Horatagh, close to Martakert, Russian military personnel encountered several local Armenian residents who had been hiding in the forest. These residents pleaded with the Russians to urgently go to the nearby villages of Vardadzor and Chankatagh. According to them, Azerbaijani special forces were carrying out mass killings of civilians. Russian military personnel headed in the direction indicated by the locals and found signs of destruction, numerous Armenian bodies on the streets, and encountered Azerbaijani soldiers who were moving from house to house, searching for survivors to kill. Upon seeing the Russians, the Azerbaijanis aimed their weapons at the peacekeepers and demanded that they immediately hand over their phones, which the Russians were using to document evidence of mass killings committed by Azerbaijani soldiers against the Christian population of Artsakh. The Azerbaijanis also demanded that the Russians leave the “Anti-Terrorist” operation zone. The Russians refused to comply and refused to hand over their phones, stating that they were currently contacting their command in Stepanakert.
Later, an Azerbaijani officer called his superiors, and we do not know the content of their conversation. The Russians were made to wait for about half an hour and were not allowed to leave. Afterward, the senior Azerbaijani officer said that everything was fine, and they could leave with their phones. The source reports that the top military official among the Azerbaijanis instructed his subordinates not to release the Russians because they had witnessed a lot, and they would be neutralized outside the village…
Subsequently, the Russians left the village of Nerkin Horatagh and headed towards the town of Martakert. However, at the junction leading to the village of Vardadzor, which had already been seized by the Azerbaijanis, a second group of Azerbaijanis lay in ambush. This group had previously been involved in looting and killing Armenians in the village of Vardadzor. Azerbaijani military personnel opened fire at point-blank range on the Russian peacekeepers. There were two vehicles involved, and it is unclear what happened to the second vehicle of peacekeepers… when the Russian military personnel lost control and veered off the road in their UAZ, the Azerbaijanis approached and shot at the Russians who were still alive inside the vehicle.
According to the individuals I spoke with, the decision regarding what to do with the Russians who unwittingly became witnesses to the genocide committed by Azerbaijani military personnel was made at the level of Azerbaijan’s State Security Service, under the authority of General Ali Nagiyev. According to them(source) , General Nagiyev personally stated that the peacekeepers should not leave and that the situation with Moscow would be resolved.” – says Lapshin.
In addition to the information shared by Lapshin, Patrick Lancaster has reported further evidence of another incident involving the shooting of civilians. This incident is described by an eyewitness from the Martakert region who was wounded during the incident.