The problem with "stated goals" of the Russian peacekeeping force in Nagorno-Karabakh is that there were a lot of statements from concerned parties regarding them, but not a lot of actual agreements that would empower them to actually do something.
The ceasefire was flawed from the start - the ceasefire agreement (official Russian version) states:
- A complete ceasefire and all hostilities in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are announced from 00:00 Moscow time on
November 10, 2020. The Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of
Armenia, hereinafter referred to as the Parties, stop at their
positions [note: in Russian version it is more clear that the positions in question are the ones held at the moment of the ceasefire].
- The peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation is being deployed in parallel with the withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces.
The duration of the stay of the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian
Federation is 5 years, with automatic extension for the next 5-year
periods, if none of the Parties declares 6 months before the
expiration of the period of intention to terminate the application of
Of course, Armenia interpreted this as "our forces stay where they are, and Russians will see to that", and Azerbaijan, on the other hand, just as obviously expected Armenian forces to be removed from Nagorno-Karabakh, and replaced with Russian forces - who, as Baku was keen to remind everyone willing to listen, were only there temporarily. This clearly demonstrated that both sides of the conflict saw the ceasefire as only a prelude to round two.
And - this agreement has absolutely zero directions on what the peacekeepers are supposed to do when "round two" actually starts and one of the sides does break the ceasefire.
But the actions of Russian forces were also dictated by the presidential order of November 10, 2020 №695 “On measures to enforce peace in Nagorno-Karabakh” (in Russian), and following Resolution on usage of military unit of Russian Armed Forces in Nagorno-Karabakh (likewise) by the Federation Council (translation mine):
- Grant agreement for the President of Russian Federation to deploy to Nagorno-Karabakh on November 10, 2020 a military unit of Armed Forces of Russian Federation with necessary armament, military and special vehicles in accordance with common statement by the President of Republic of Azerbaijan, the Premier-Ministor of Republic of Armenia and the President of Russian Federation of November 9, 2020 with the goals of compliance to agreements on cessation of fire and other hostile activities on Azerbaijanian and Armenian sides, of avoidance of mass death of population of civilian population of Nagorno-Karabakh, and avoidance of inflicting significant damage to civilian infrastructure.
To sum the above up, Russian peacemakers were to:
- Make Armenians and Azerbaijanis comply to the trilateral ceasefiree agreement. Somehow. Preferrably without offending either;
- Prevent as much civilians from dying as possible;
- Prevent damage to civilian infrastructure.
And they still get no directions on the scenario where the ceasefire loses the "cease" part. So the troops attempted to walk the line between the two belligerents without taking any side, which predictably led to a rain of critique from both sides. Considering the first (and arguably - main) goal was undermined by the very wording of the agreement - it is safe to say the outcome was predictably abysmal, with peacekeeper outposts acting as evacuation zones for the civilians when the ceasefire finally broke down.