On September 19, Russia’s Presidential Administration sent guidelines to state-run and Kremlin-aligned media on how to cover Azerbaijan’s renewed offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh, according to a report by independent publication Meduza, which obtained a copy of the document.
According to the guidelines, Russian media outlets were advised to accuse Armenia and Western countries of Azerbaijan's attack on Nagorno-Karabakh. They were also suggested to highlight “the Armenian leadership recognizing Azerbaijan's sovereignty over Karabakh”, referring to the words of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on recognizing Azerbaijan's “territorial integrity.” In reality, Pashinyan said that such recognition was possible on the condition that international security guarantees would be provided to the region’s Armenian population.
“Most likely, the Armenian Prime Minister's statement was pushed through by his Western ‘partners,’ who should fully share the responsibility for the consequences with him. The decision of the Armenian leadership, which itself radically changed the status of Karabakh, became a signal for Azerbaijan to act, and now Baku perceives the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh as an internal one,” the guideline reads.
These views have already been featured in articles by Komsomolskaya Pravda and Lenta.ru.
The guidelines also advise taking a particular angle on Russian peacekeepers, who should have prevented the military conflict, but did not do so, as they have “observer” status, and to tell more about how they help in “evacuating civilians” specifically mentioning that locals found “shelter” in an Orthodox church located at the Russian peacekeepers’ base. Media outlets were also encouraged to mention the Russian army’s alleged achievements in Ukraine as part of their Karakabh coverage.
On September 20, Telegram channels belonging to the Russian Defense Ministry and the Russian peacekeeping corps shared images and videos of peacekeepers assisting refugees at their base. The reports claim that 2,261 civilians, including 1,049 children, are currently being hosted at the facility. These posts, however, do not acknowledge that these individuals were forced to flee their homes due to Azerbaijan's military aggression. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Azerbaijan acted “within its own territory.”
Cover photo: Refugees at Stepanakert airport near the Russian peacekeeper base on September 20, 2023.