The fact of participation of the 366th motorized rifle regiment of the CIS forces dislocated in Stepanakert is spread mainly by the refugees from Khojalu. The report by the Moscow “Memorial” also mentions that the fighting machines with their crews have participated in the assault. There is also an opinion that the participation of the military in the operations was not sanctioned by a written order of the regiment command.31
There an explanation to this entire jumble. Since January 1992 Stepanakert had been continuously shelled with artillery missiles from Shushi, Khojalu and the nearby villages of Kosalar and Jangasaran. No wonder part of the missiles and shells fell in the territory of the military unit destroying and killing several militaries from the regiment personnel. In February 1992 the Moscow radio and television reported on the issue. For instance, only on February 23 there were losses in the 366 regiment including 2 casualties and wounded personnel.32 To provide security of the regiment personnel the commander-in-chief of the CIS joint forces Air Marshall Ye. Shaposhnikov ordered the 366th regiment dislocated in Stepanakert to suppress the weapon emplacements. Worthy to mention that according to the order the suppression of the weapon emplacements had to be realized from the position of the regiment without the right to leave outside the territory of the military unit. The command of the regiment did use the opportunity and in March, before the withdrawal of the regiment from Stepanakert, the inhabitants of the city could see for several times an artillery duel between the Azerbaijanis and the soldiers of the CIS. At the same time the correspondent of TASS was informed in the headquarters of the Transcaucasus military district that the personnel had the right to suppress those weapon emplacements, which fire at the territory of the military unit.33
In reality the personnel of the 366th motorized rifle regiment of the CIS did not take part in the Khojalu assault. As a matter of fact, there was no necessity in it for the Armenian armed formations had their own armored machines. As early as in the beginning of December they undertook disarmament of a Soviet militia regiment, thrown to Stepanakert to provide a regime of state emergency. As a result of this the Armenian detachments got a significant amount of rifle weaponry and several units of armored equipment (armored personal carriers (APC), and other type of military vehicles (BRDM) ). The small part of this equipment, even excluding the trophy equipment taken from the Azerbaijanis, would suffice to succeed in the operation.
We suppose the myth about the 366th regiment participation in the battles for Khojalu was born:
- as a result of the attempts by the Azerbaijani defenders of Khojalu to “justify themselves” to the compatriots;
- because the Khojalu assault was the fist time since the beginning of the conflict that the Armenian armed detachments used military armed equipment.
31 Nezavisimaya gazeta, 18. 06. 1992.
32 Respublika Armenia, 03. 03. 1992.
33 Yerkir, Yerevan, 25. 02. 1992.