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Statement by the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Artsakh on the 30th Anniversary of the Operation "Koltso"

30 years ago, on April 30, 1991, the Azerbaijani authorities launched the operation "Koltso" (Ring), which can rightfully be called one of the bloodiest and most inhuman operations on the deportation of peoples from their historical lands.

As a result of the operation, in the course of which tanks, combat helicopters and artillery were employed against civilians for the first time, hundreds of Armenian villages in Northern Artsakh, as well as Shahumyan, Hadrut and Shoushi regions were devastated and destroyed, tens of thousands of people were deported, hundreds were killed and taken hostages. The fate of many of them remains unknown so far.

The operation "Koltso" became yet another manifestation of Azerbaijan's genocidal policy and the continuation of a series of Armenian pogroms and ethnic cleansing committed in Sumgait, Baku, Kirovabad and other Armenian-populated cities and regions of Azerbaijan, as well as in the settlements of the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Region and Northern Artsakh in 1988-1991.

The operation "Koltso" transferred the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict to a military plane and led to the subsequent full-scale aggression of Azerbaijan against the Republic of Artsakh, which continues up today.

The war crimes and gross violations of international humanitarian law committed by the Azerbaijani armed forces during the operation "Koltso," the 4-day war in April 2016 and the 44-day war in the fall of 2020 imposed on Artsakh by Azerbaijan with the support of Turkey and the participation of mercenaries from various terrorist groups testify that indifference and impunity for crimes against humanity lead to their recurrence.