PUTIN'S top nuclear submarine commander has been killed after his truck was riddled with bullets in Azerbaijan.
Captain Ivan Kovgan died after the Azerbaijani army opened fire on the vehicle packed with Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The 52-year-old was deputy commander of Russia’s Northern Fleet submarine force based in the Arctic.
Colonel Tagir-Murod Karaev from Russia’s Radiation, Chemical and Biological Defence Forces died in the same incident.
Four other Russian servicemen were also killed when the UAZ Patriot vehicle was blasted by Azerbaijani forces.
“Their vehicle came under fire. Everyone was killed,” a source said.
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Those responsible for the shooting of the sub commander and other peacekeepers have been detained.
They are expected to face criminal charges.
Azerbaijan's president Ilham Aliyev apologised to Putin for the killing of Kovgan and the other peacekeepers – and promised compensation for their families.
"In order to investigate all the causes, the investigative authorities of Azerbaijan and Russia are working on the spot," the defence ministry in Baku said.
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It called for "patience" during the probe.
The killings came as Azerbaijan launched a military operation to gain control over Nagorno-Karabakh – a mainly Armenia province.
Azerbaijan regained control of the breakaway region in a deadly two-day military offensive.
It came after Kim Kardashian warned of the potential for genocide against ethnic Armenians in the area.
The reality TV star, of Armenian descent, said: "Sadly, the potential for genocide of Armenians Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh is worse now because of full-scale attacks by Azerbaijan on the civilian population after months of blockade & starvation."
"We appeal to the US government & international community to intervene immediately to prevent a humanitarian disaster," she added.
In 2020, a Russia-brokered armistice ended a six-week war between Azerbaijan and the separatists in the region – and 2,000 Russian peacekeepers were sent to the area to monitor it.
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