Armenian serviceman surrendered to the Azerbaijani side

By: Laman Sadigova

The Armenian serviceman, whose identity has been revealed by the authorities as Andranik Grigoryan (as per not by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry) crossed over the Azerbaijani-Armenian border while waving a white flag in his hands on March 22.

Grigoryan said he could not contemplate another day in the Armenian armed forces since it meant dying a senseless death, defending a government which cares not for its people. Judging by his words, he was quite confident that his life would end in tragedy should he stay with Armenia armed forces.

He also said that he was not alone in his desire to leave Armenia. Several servicemen would share in his thoughts of defection and would actually be planning to voluntarily surrender to the Azerbaijani side. However, he knows nothing about their fate.

Grigoryan gave information on the state of Armenia armed forces on the ground — shortage of weapons, poor morale, difficult living conditions, and low food supplies and so on…

In recent times, the situation in the army is deteriorating daily, which is confirmed by the high number of suicides and killings among soldiers.

In 2013, 16 Armenian servicemen lost their lives due to top commanders’ negligence. Eight of them died as a result of suicide, four due to illness, three as a result of murder, and one service man died due to violation of rules for handling weapons, the ombudsman’s report show.

Twenty six soldiers have died since the beginning of 2014 – some of them lost their life in non-combat conditions. The society believes that the figure is underestimated.

Armenia and Azerbaijan remain locked in a bitter territorial dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which Armenia-backed separatists seized from Azerbaijan in a bloody war in the early 1990s.

Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized Nagorno-Karabakh territory was turned into a battlefield and zone of aggravated tensions after Armenia sent its troops to occupy Azerbaijan’s lands. As a result, 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territory stands under military occupation. For the past two decades, and despite calls from the international community, Armenia has refused to withdraw its troops and retreat within its national borders.

The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the U.S. are currently holding peace negotiations.