Special Addition: Battle For Artsakh 2 - Autumn, 2020

Իմ հետևյալ Խոսքերը և արտահայտությունները հիմնականում ուղղված են այսօրվա ռեժիմին եւ մեր ազգի արեւմտամետներին եւ ռուսատյացներին (այսինքն նրանք ովքեր իմ կարծիքով հասցրեցին մեր երկիրը այս օրին) և ոչ թե երկրի զինված ուժերում ծառայող երիտասարդներին, որոնցից շատերը այսօր ցավալիորեն նահատակվում են Արցախի սահմանին վերոհիշյալ տականքների մեղքերի պատճառով:
 
Ձեզ մի խափեք հայրենասիրական կենացներով, երգերով կամ պարերով, իրավիճակը շատ լուրջ է և վտանգավոր: Ադրբեջանցիները կարող են 10 անգամ ավելի կորոեստներ դան, բայց վերջին հաշվով մենք ավելի մեծ վնասով ենք դուրս գալու: Ասեմ ավելին, եթե նրանք ճակատ բացեն Նախիջևանում և Տավուշում իրավիճակը շատ ավելի է լրջանալու: Բայց հույսով եմ դա չեն անի քանի որ Ռուսաստանը այդ ժամանակ հաստատ կխարնվի հարցի մեջ: Այնուամենայնիվ, վերջին հաշվով այս ամեն ինչը Նիկոլի (եւ նրա հոգեւոր քաւոր Լեւոնի) իշխանության հետևանքն է: Մեզանից շատերը սպասում էին այս պատերազմին հենց որ Նիկոլը իշխանության եկավ: Ես երկու տարի առաջ մարդկանց փորձում էի զգուշացնել որ Նիկոլին այս պատճառով իշխանության բերին եւ այս պատճառով էլ սկսեցին հալածել/հետապնդել Քոչարյանի նմաններին: Քաղաքական դավադրություն էր: Երկու տարի իզուր փորձել եմ զգուշացնել մեր տգետ ոչխարնէրին որ շատ վատ ճանապարհի վրա եք: Ցավալին այն է, որ հիմնականում հերոս Արցախցին է կրում և վճարում Պաշտոնական Երեւանի մեղքերի եւ սխալների հետևանքների գինը: Ցավալին այն է, որ անմեղ երեխաներ են մերնում սահմանին, այլասերված եւ արեւմտամետ իշխանության եւ նրանց ապուշ կողնակիցների մեղքերի ու սխալների պատճարով: Ինչ լավ կլիներ այդ հերոսաբար նահատակվող երտասարդների փոխարեն Նիկոլը եւ իր ուսուցիչ Լեւոնը եւ նրանց բոլոր տականքները սատկեին:
 
Քոչարյան
ի եւ Սարգսյանի մասին
ի
նչ ուզում եք ասեք, բայց միեւնույն ժամանակ ընդունեք որ նրանց իշխանության օրով նրանք վարպետորեն կարողացան խուսափել այս տեսակ լայնածավալ եւ կործանիչ պատերազմից:
Փորձեք պատկերացնել ինչ պես կլիներ եթե Սարգսյանը կամ Քոչարյանը լիներ այսօր երկրի գլխին ու պատերազմից հետո (մանավանդ հարյուրավոր կամ հազարավոր մահերից հետո) հայտարարեր ազգին որ Արցախի որոշ տարածքներ ադրբեջանցիներին են հանձնելու: Ի՞նչ կանեիք: Իհարկե երկիրը տակնուվրա կանեիք: Բայց մենք այսօր ունենք «Ժողովուրդի ընտրյալը» իշխանության գլխին: Հետեւաբար, երբ Արցախի հողեր
ը հանձնելու օրը գա (հավատացեք որ այդ օրը գալիս է, եւ համենայն հավանականությամբ դա լինելու է Նիկոլի օրով) այդ գործը շատ ավելի հեշտ է լինելու: Հիշեք խոսքերս:

Ասեմ ավելին,
նրանք որոնք ուզում էին Ռուսներից հերանալ, կամ էլ ոնց-որ ասում էին «Ռուսներից ձերբազատվել» թող հիմա տեսնեն ինչ կարող է լինել հարավային Կովկասում առանց Ռուսի: Թող մեր ազգի բազմաթիվ անասունները հիմա հասկանան ինչ կարող է պատահել առանց Ռուսների ռազմական եւ տնտեսական աջակցությաբ: Հայաստանը ամեն ինչով կախված է Ռուսաստանից բայց մեր աննորմալները դեռ վոր են խաղցնում
արեւմուտքիի համար, ոմանք էլ նույնիսկ քուրքերի համար: Հայաստանը ամեն ձեվով կախված է Ռուսաստանից բայց մեր աննորմալները երկիրը լցրին արեւմտյան վարձկաններով: Ձեզանից շատերը փորձեցիք անել ամեն-ինչ ձեր ուժերի մեջ որ փչացնեք Հայաստանի հարաբերությունները Ռուսաստանի հետ: Քանզի մեր հասարակության մակարտակը շատ ցածր է ընկնել հետխորհրդային շրջանում ձեր դավաճանական օրակարգը որոշակի չափով հաջողեցրիք: Այո, Ռուսը դեռ երաշխավորելու է Հայաստանի անվտանգություը (քանի որ մեր երկիրը բարեբախտաբար ռուսների համար կարևոր դեր է խաղում տարածաշրջանում) բայց միևնույն ժամանակ իմացեք որ Ռուսը լուրջ վերապահումներով եւ դժգոհությամբ է վերաբերվելու հայերի հետ մեր երկրի բազմաթիվ պրոֆեսիոնալ ռուսատյացների եւ արեւմտամետների պատճառով:
 
Այ՜ տականքներ հիմա տեսնու՞մ եք ինչ կարող է լինել եթե Ռուսական բանակը չլիներ Գյումրիում եւ Թուրքը Հայաստան ներխուժելու կամ Երեւան ռմբակոծելու վախը չունենար: Այ՜ տականքներ հիմա տեսնու՞մ եք ինչ կարող է լինել եթե Մոսկվան պարբերաբար չմատակարաեր ժամանակակից սպառազինություն: Այ՜ անասւններ հիմա հագկանու՞մ եք ինչպես Ռուսական բանակի առկայությունը Հայաստանում տալիս է մեր երկրին հնարավորությունը կենտրոնանալու Ադրբեջանից բխած սպառնալիքի վրա: Այ՜ տականքներ ձեր «ժողովրդավար» «առաջադեմ» «արդարապաշտ» եւ «մարդասեր» արեւմտյան տերությունները ու՞ր են: Այ՜ անասուններ, արեւմտյան աշխարհը մեր ազգի գերեզմանն է: Արեւմտյան տերությունները ինչպես միշտ թքած ունեն ձեր վրա, բայց դուք էժանագին պոռնիկների նման դեռ վոր են խաղցնում նրանց համար: Ծիծաղելին կամ ասեմ ցավալին այն է, որ այս թեժ պատերազմը որ տեղի է ունենում Արցախում ԱՄՆ-ում լուրերի վրա էլ չի: 
 
Ու՞ր են հիմա մեր ռուսատյած եւ արեւմտպաշտ հերոսները եւ հերոսուհիները: Մեր Ռիչարդ Կիրակոսյանի, Ժիրայր Սեֆիլյանի, Պարույր Հայրիկյանի, Հակոբ Բադալյանի, Լևոն Բարսեղյանի, Հրանուշ Խառատյանի, Ստեփան Սաֆարյանի, Իգոր Մուրադյանի, Վարուժան Ավետիսյանի, Արման Բաբաջանյանի, Արա Պապյանի, Արթուր Սահակյանի, Ռուբեն Հախվերդյանի, Գարեգին Չուգասզյանի, Արկադի Վարդանեանի, Ալեք Ենիգոմշյանի, Դավիթ Սանասարյանի, Անուշ Սեդրակյանի, Լեւոն Շիրինյանի, Արթուր Սաքունցի, Զարուհի Փոստանջյանի եւ Տիգրան Խզմլյանի նման մեծամիտ արեւմտամետ եւ ռուսատյած «հայրենասերները» ու՞ր են, այդ հոգեկան հիվանդները եւ հինգ դոլարանոց մարմնավաճառները ովքեր խոստանում էին բոլորիս որ մենակին էին Արցախը փրկելու եւ Թուրքիայի սահմանը պահելու երբ ձերբազատվեինք Ռուսներից: Այ՜ տականքներ ինչ՞ու սահմանին չեք: Վերջին հաշվով դուք եւ ձեր նմանները հասցրեցին մեր երկիրը այս ողբերգական օրին:
 
Մեզանից շատերը, նույնիսկ այդ տվում բարձր պաշտոն զբաղեցնող ռուսներ ու ռուսահայեր, փորձում էին ըզգուշացնել ձեզ Նիկոլի եւ նրա Սորոսական թրքամետ բիճերի մասին, բայց դու համառորեն արհամարհեցիք, չլսեցիք, չընդունեցիք, հայհոյեցիք, վիրավորեցիք... Դե՝ժող ջան, հիմա առանց բողոքների, առանց գանգատների, առանց ռուսներից օգնություն պահանջելով եւ իհարկե «դուխով» վճարեք ձեր տգետության, հետամնացության, կարճատեսութան եւ արեւմտամետության գինը: Թույլ տվեք ավելացնեմ, այդ երիտասարդների, այդ անմեղ զոհերի արյան մեջ նաեւ ձեր ձեռքերն է թաթախված: Հիշեք որ քաղաքական տգիտությունը շատ ծանր գին ունի: Թույլ տվեք կրկնեմ, ինչ ուզում եք ասեք, բայց միեւնույն ժամանակ մի բան գիտակցեք - Սարգսյանի եւ Քոչարյանի օրով այսպիսի արյունահեղություն տեղի չունեցավ: Նորից ասեմ որ, մի կերբ տեղավորվի ձեր դատարկ գլխերի մեջ - քաղաքական տգիտության գինը շատ ծանր է: Հիմա տեսնենք «ժողովրդի ընտրյալը» ինչպես է փրկելու Արցախը:
 
Սա Նիկոլի պատերազմն է: Այսքանը լավ իմացեք: Սրա համար Նիկոլին եւ նրա Սորոսականներին և արևմտյան վարձկաններին իշխանության բերին: Սակայն, այս ամեն ինչի մեջ ամենաանհանգստացնողը այն փաստն է որ մինչ այժմ Նիկոլի կարավարությունը ամբողջ կարողությամբ չի հասնում Արցախի պաշտպանությանը: Ընթացքում մենք կորցնում ենք տարածքներ և բազմաթիվ կյանքեր: Ին՞չ եղավ «Արցախը Հայաստանում է և վերջ»-ին, ին՞չ եղավ «Նոր պատերազմ նոր տարածքների դիմաց»-ին...
 
Վերջին հաշվով, այսօրվա պատերազմը ինչ-որ չափով համապատասխան պատիժ է մեր քաղաքականապես տգետ ու կարճատես ժողովուրդին: Վերջին հաշվով, արժանի ենք: Մեր նման հետամնաց ու կարճատեւ ու նյուտապաշտ ու քաղաքականորեն անգրագետ մի ժողովուրդ ավելի լավ պայմաներում իրավունք չունի ապրելու: Ցավալին  նաեւ այն է, որ մենք որպես ազգ մեր անցյալ սխալներից  չենք սովորում:
 
Այն ամեն ինչը որ ժառանգել եիք Խորհրդային Միությունից - համաշխարհային մակարդակի գիտությունից մինչև համաշխարհային մակարդակի արվեստ, համաշխարհային մակարդակի կրթությունից մինչև համաշխարհային մակարդակի արդյունաբերություն - ընդամենը մի քանի տարվա ընթացքում քանդեցիք, ոչնչացրիք, աղավաղեցիք: Այդ մեծ ժառանգության վրա քաքեցիք թողեցիք, երկիրն էլ աղբանոցի վերածեցիք: Եւ այդ ամենը արեցիք հանուն ինչ՞ի, իհարկե հանուն Ամերիկյան/Բրիտանական խոստումներինի, հանուն Մարլբորոի, հանուն Կոկա Կոլաի, հանուն Մերսեդեսի, եւ իհարկե հանուն մի քանի դոլար ձեր ջեբին: Որպեսի ավելի լավ հասկանաք իմ միտքը ասեմ այլ կերբ: Մեր խորհրդային և ռուսական անցյալը մեզ տվեց Արամ Խաչատուրյան, մեր ներկա անկախությունը մեզ տվեց «Սուպեր Սակո»:
 
Վերջին հաշվով, այսօրվա Հայաստանի բոլոր ցավերի, բոլոր անհաջողությունների պատճառը մենք եք: Այսօրվա մեր ցավալի իրավիճակը վերջ-ի-վերջո մենք ստեղծեցիք, մեր կարճատեսությաբ, մեր գոռոզությամբ, մեր արեւմտամետությամբ, մեր օտարամոլությամբ, մեր թրքամետությամբ, մեր ամբարտավանությաբ, մեր փառասիրությամբ, մեր նյութապաշտությամբ, մեր անբարոյականությամբ, մեր նախանձությամբ, մեր տգիտությամբ, մեր անտարբերությամբ, մեր հետամնացությամբ, մեր բամբասանքներով, մեր հնդկական սերիալներով, մեր «Հայկո Մկո» զավզակություններով, մեր «գողական» եւ «ռաբիզ» մշակույթով, եւ իհարկե մեր «հեղափոխական դուխով»: Հիմա էլ «դուխով» դիմացեք «ժող ջան»: Եւ իհարկե չմոռանաք Իվանին կանչելու երբ ժամանակը գա որ արդեն չեք դիմանում:
 
Առնվազն չորս տարի ունեինք Արցախի անվտանգության խնդիները լուծելու համար։ Չե՞ք հավատում ինձ, գոնե լսեք նախկին գեներալ Սամվել Բաբայանի երկու հարցազրույցներին, մեկը 2016-ի մայիսից իսկ մյուսը 2016-ի հոկտեմբերից: Բայց իհարկե ասողին լսող է պետք: Բացի ԱՄՆ-ում և Եվրոպայում վոր վաճարելուց, այն էլ շատ էժան գինով, ոչ մի բան մեր քաղաքական մարմնավաճառներ չարեցին: Մեր զիբիլները նույնիսք փորձեցին ձերփազատվել Ռուական պաշտպանությունից: Հետո էլ մեր հետամնաց ու զոմբիացված ժողովուրդը 2018 թվականին մեծ համբավով ու մեծ ուրախությունով ընդունեց երկրի իշխանությունում Սորոսականներ, Գլոբալիստներ, Թրքամետներ, Արեւմտյան վարձկաններ, պրոֆեսիոնալ Ռուսատյացներ եւ առհասարակ դավաճաններ: Արցախում էլ վերջերս հայտնվեցին արեւմտյան աշխարհի հետ կապ ունեցող անձինք: Եւ ահա տեսեք ուր ենք հասել:
 
Այնուամենայնիվ, առաջին օրվանից ակնհայտ էր որ Նիկոլը եւ նրա արևմտյան կողմից ֆինանսավորված Սորոսական մանկապարտեզը այս պատերազմը հաղթելու ոչ մի լուրջ նպատակ չունեն, ոչ էլ հստակ եւ հեռատես քաղաքական ուղղություն կամ տեսլական ունեն: Ընդհակառակը, այս ռեժիմը աստիճանաբար նահանջում է: Ադրբեջանցիները արդեն Արցախի հարավը վերցրել են, շուտով էլ Լաչինի դուռն են ծեծելու: Հորիզոնում ոչ «Արցախի ճանաչում» կա, ոչ «նոր պատերազմ նոր տարածք» կա, ոչ էլ Գյանջաի նավթամուղերն են հրթիռակոծում, ոչ էլ Արցախի փրկությանն են հասնում Հայաստանի զինված ուժերը նրանց ամբողջ ներուժով: Թուրքական և իսրայելական ԱԹՍ-ների դեմ էլ անփորձ եւ անպաշտպան քաղաքացիական կամավորներ են ուղարկում, մեռնելու: «Հայրենասիրական» կոչերով եւ սրտաճմլիկ ելույթներով Նիկոլի ռեժիմը ընդամենը մեր պարտության հիմքն է տնում: 
 
Ընդացքում էլ Նիկոլի հոգեւոր հայր Լեւոնը իր կյանքի 26 տարեկան տարածքներ զիջելու նպատակին է հասնում 20 տարեկանների արյան գնով։
 
 «Ժող ջան» վերջին հաշվով այս ողբերգությունը եւ գալիք պարտությունը Արցախում դուք ձեր ձերքերով բերեցիք երկրի գլխին: Քաղաքական տգետությունը եւ կարճատեսությունը միշտ բարձր գին է ունեցել: Քան՞ի անգամ եվս եք սովորելու այս նույն արյունոտ դասը: Հետևաբար, հալալա ձեզ: Ներեցեք ինձ իմ վիրավորական եւ գռեհիկ արտահայտությունների համար, բայց մեր անասունների հետ խոսելու ուրիշ ձեվ ես այլեւս չեմ գտնում: Համենայն դեպս, հիմա մնած ասել ընդամենը մի բան - Հայոց ազգի քաջ զինվորը, Ռուսական զենքը ու Աստծո Խաչը մեզ պահապան -
 
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It is said that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time-to-time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Armenia's tree of liberty is once again being watered amply this fall. I salute all the young men and women who are giving their lives in the defense of our homeland in Artsakh with the words of Garegin Njdeh - Մահ չիմացեալ մահ է, Մահ իմացեալ՝ անմահություն. Our martyrs are now immortal, and I sincerely hope that our tree of liberty has just grown a bit stronger as a result as well.

All major political events - including financial/economic collapses, including "pandemics", including assassinations, including revolutions, including wars, et cetera - are preordained without exception. The same would naturally apply to the Second Battle for Artsakh which commenced on the morning of September 27, 2020. I initially hoped that the fighting would not be the big one we were expecting for the past 26 years. However, by the third or fourth day into the fighting, it became all too apparent that it indeed was the war we feared would come one day. As of this writing, about three weeks into this war, large-scale battles are raging all along the length of Artsakh's border with Azerbaijan. There are many thousands of casualties on both sides, including dozens of civilians. Two Moscow-brokered ceasefires have thus far failed. Azerbaijani drones have been shot-down near Yerevan. An Armenian warplane was shot-down in Armenia's airspace. Stepanakert, the capitol city of Artsakh has been bombarded. The iconic Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shushi has been deliberately hit by missiles. Armenians have responded by shelling Azerbaijan's second largest city, Ganja. Turkish military advisors and Islamic mercenaries from the Syrian theater are participating in the war. As in 2016, Israeli-made armaments are taking a high toll on Armenian forces. The good news, if there can be any in a tragic situation like this, is that after about three weeks of full-scale combat Baku's armed forces have thus far NOT been able to make any major breakthroughs. Armenian forces in Artsakh have suffered significant setbacks in southern regions, but Artsakh proper's main defensive lines are holding for the most part. But, it is still too early to celebrate as the situation on the battlefield remains fluid.
 
Overall, I am impressed with the professionalism, proficiency and fighting spirit of the Armenian soldier. I am impressed with Artsakh's battlefield command-and-control apparatus. I am also very thankful for the massive amounts of armaments that Armenia received from Russia in recent weeks which, in hindsight, was obviously sent in preparation of this war. Without these modern armaments and a steady supply of ammunition Armenia/Artsakh simply would not be able to withstand warfare of this intensity and volume. At the end of the day, however, I know that it is the quality of military personnel behind such weapons system that makes the difference on the battlefield. We Armenians are by nature cunning, intelligent, spirited, vengeful, resilient and of course street-smart; this gives us Armenians the edge in wartime. It's been a little over two weeks into this war and Baku's lavishly armed military backed by Turkish military advisors, Syrian mercenaries and Israeli state-of-the-art weaponry have not yet been able to make any major inroads into the mountain fortress of Artsakh.
 
A war of this nature is rare, some aspect of this war are in fact unprecedented
 
One thing that has captivated me about this war has been its conventional and modern nature. Many people do not realize this, but we have not seen many conventional wars in recent decades. In recent times we see more of what is known as hybrid wars (a variable mix of military warfare, financial warfare, cyber warfare, psychological warfare, information warfare, etc). We also see a lot of proxy wars, where one paramilitary group or irregular force representing one political interest fights another paramilitary group of irregular force representing another political interest. Sometimes we see conventional armies fighting a guerrilla army or armed extremist groups as in Syria. What we are seeing in Artsakh today is a relatively large-scale, conventional war between two well organized, well equipped, well trained and modern armies employing combined-arms-warfare. 
 
What we are seeing is classical warfare. And as in all classical wars, artillery has proven once again to be the undisputed god of war. Combat reconnaissance units and forward observation teams are locating enemy troop and armor formations and reporting their coordinates. Soon thereafter barrages of artillery shells and missiles are raining down on the targeted area devastating everything within its vicinity. Azerbaijan's armed forces has suffered terrible losses in personnel, infrastructure and hardware in this manner. Also as expected, Artsakh's anti-tank teams have worked wonders on the battlefield as well. They are wreaking havoc on Baku's armored units. It still do not understand why Baku's military leadership (who we know is being assisted by Turkish military advisors) is still sending large numbers of armor against well-armed, well-prepared and well-dug-in defenses in mountainous terrain. Regardless of why, we should nevertheless be happy. Moreover, for the first time in military history we are also seeing extensive use of guided artillery shells and precision strike medium and long-range ballistic missiles by both sides. Also for the first time in military history, we are seeing the extensive use of military drones by both sides.
 
Drones used by Armenian forces in Artsakh are for the most part rudimentary devices used primarily for battlefield reconnaissance. Azerbaijan's state-of-the-art Israeli and Turkish made combat drones on the other hand are proving very deadly, as Artsakh's military does not yet seem to have any effective countermeasures against them. Going on an offensive in mountainous territory against well-prepared defenders is extremely difficult. The attacking side will need much greater resources in men and military hardware than the defender and the attacker still not guaranteed success. Baku seems to have solved the historic problem all attacking militaries have against well-prepared defenders in difficult terrain. Baku's Turkish and Israeli made attack drones seem to have leveled the playing field. This is why the Azerbaijan's military has able to go on the offensive in mountainous territory against a well-prepared enemy and still be able to register some success on the battlefield within three weeks. In any case, armor losses on both sides have been so high that it has western military observers visibly worried. Billions of dollars worth of armaments have been destroyed on both sides thus far. All in all, both sides in the battle for Artsakh 2 are suffering terrible losses.
 
In my opinion, the cross-border skirmish that took place in April, 2016 was basically a trial run for this war. We therefore knew what was coming, but we did little to prepare for it. Some war veterans tried to warn us, but we didn't listen. In my opinion, if the mini-war that took place in April, 2016 was a trial run for this war, this war can be seen as a trial run for Israel's war against Lebanon's Hezbollah and/or Iran which may come at some point in the not too distant future. Nevertheless, what we are seeing take place in Artsakh is the dawning of a new age in warfare. Military experts will be studying this war for many years to come. It already started. The following is a look at the combat taking place. This is what war looks like -

To keep things real/objective, the following is what the Azeri military is showcasing -
Azərbaycan Ordusunun bölmələrinin ələ keçirdiyi düşmənə məxsus zirehli texnikalar
The Second Battle for Artsakh is much bigger than the first war that took place between 1988 and 1994. The first war was mostly guerilla type warfare between poorly equipped and poorly organized militia groups. It was a time when Armenia and Azerbaijan did not have fully formed armed forces. I would even go as far as saying that the amount of ammunition used in this war in just two or three weeks is probably more than all of the ammunition used in the first war. Needless to say, this war is also incomparably larger than the fighting that took place in April, 2016. What happened back in 2016 was more-or-less a border skirmish. Baku was basically testing some of its new weapons system it had purchased from Turkey and Israel. From a historical perspective, this war is also much larger than the historic battle of Sardarapat in 1918. In my opinion, this war is bigger than anything we Armenians have fought by ourselves and for our lands in perhaps over 1000 years. From an international standpoint, the world has not seen this type of conventional warfare since 2003, when Anglo-American-Jews invaded Iraq. And the one prior to that was the first Iraq war in 1991. And the one prior to that was Israel's invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982. The Russian-Georgian war in August, 2008 had the potential to be a conventional war but it never materialized as such. That war was essentially a total rout of Georgian forces that ended in 3 days. When the Russian military unexpectedly intervened to help Abkhazian and South Ossetian irregulars, Saakashvili's American/Turkish/Israeli trained and equipped troops basically abandoned their positions and ran away. All other wars in the past 30 or so years, such as Syria, Donbass, Libya, Kurdistan, Yugoslavia, Lebanon, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Chechnya were for the most part conventional armies or paramilitary groups fighting irregular forces or terrorist groups. What we are seeing in Artsakh today are two well-trained and well-armed militaries engaged in full-scale, combined-arms-combat along a very long front. In a nutshell, what we are seeing in Artsakh today is what conventional warfare actually looks like, and there has not been too many of them in recent decades. What we are seeing today in Artsakh is also a new generation of war. Thus far, Artsakh's defense forces have been performing admirably well against Azerbaijan's blitzkrieg which, as noted above, is being assisted by Turkish military advisors, Islamic mercenaries from Syria and very advanced Israeli-made weaponry. However, there is unsettling news from the war-front.
 
It's been almost three weeks into this war and Armenia has not yet started using its military potential to defend Artsakh. Artskah's defense forces are thus far only trying to preserve/maintain their positions against a relentless Azeri attack. As of this writing, and I hope this will change soon, there has not yet been a major counterattack against the invaders. Armenia has not yet made any serious effort to turn-the-tide of the war and place Baku on the defensive. Consequently, many lives and a significant amount of territory has already been lost in Artsakh.
 
Nikol's regime is not using the full potential of Armenia's armed forces to defend Artsakh
 
I am not talking about Yerevan resorting to drastic measures that may escalate the situation, such as bombing targets in or near Baku, I am talking about standard defensive and/or offensive steps that Armenia is capable of taking but is choosing not to. Allow me to elaborate: As of this writing, Armenia's armed forces has not used its newly delivered air superiority fighters (the Russian made SU-30 SM) to intercept Azeri warplanes and helicopters attacking Artsakh's front-line positions, although an Armenian SU-25 was shot-down over Armenia allegedly by a Turkish-16. As of this writing, Armenia has not made full use of its quite capable air defense systems to intercept large caliber missiles and rockets being fired at Stepanakert and Shushi, even though a lot of civilian as well as religious structures have been destroyed or damaged. As of this writing, Armenia's military is not helping Artsakh's military carry-out counterattacks in order to outflank and encircle Azeri military units that have apparently penetrated into Artsakh held territory in the south-east along the Iranian border. Israeli made Harop "loitering" or "suicide" drones and Turkish made Bayraktar TB2 attack drones in particular are taking a very high toll on Armenian troops and armaments. Armenian forces stationed in Artsakh thus far seem defenseless against these state-of-the-art weapons systems. Preliminary estimates suggest three-quarters of all Armenian losses have been  due to these combat drones. As of this writing, Armenia's armed forces have not deployed anti-drone weapons systems that they possess, such as the Russian made Avtobaza and Krasukha Electronic Warfare complex, to neutralize this serious threat facing Artsakh's military. As of this writing, Armenia's armed forces have not brought the ground war into Azerbaijan to put pressure on Baku and also to put the Azeri military on the defensive. As of this writing, Armenia is not using its precision guided ballistic missiles to destroy Ganja's gas/oil pipelines. Regarding this last point: An official in the current regime, I believe it was Arman Babajanyan, who is of course a Western grant recipient like so many in Armenia's political landscape today, some months ago spoke strongly against targeting Baku's oil/gas pipelines in the event of a war, more-or-less saying that an act like that will turn the "international community" against Armenia.
 
Even Armenia's Defense Ministry is now reassuring the "international community" that Azerbaijan's Western financed energy sector (the real reason why we have this war in the first place, and the reason why Baku can afford sophisticated weapons systems) will not be targeted. This is the height of incompetence or treason. Armenia's defense ministry seems compromised as well. Military officials in Yerevan are trying to spin the situation as best as they can to make it look as if everything is okay. All the while, more-and-more soldiers are getting killed and more-and-more territory is being lost.
 
For the past three weeks I have been hoping that Armenia's defense ministry was simply waiting to wear-down and deplete Azeri forces before it began any serious counterattacks to encircle invading Azeri troops and bring the war into Azerbaijani territory. After three weeks of intense fighting and significant amounts of losses, a major counterattack has not yet materialized. Artsakh's military is small and they have limited resources. Stepanakert is only capable of carrying-out localized counterattacks of limited scope. Artsakh by itself is not strong enough to turn-the-tide of this war against Baku. If Stepanakert remains in a defensive posture as it has been, through attrition Azeri forces will gradually grind-down Artsakh's defenses (mostly notably in Artsakh's vulnerable south) and slowly continue advancing towards Armenia's border. Artsakh therefore needs DIRECT assistance from Armenia's military. By saying direct assistance I am not referring to civilian volunteers, I am instead referring to modern weapons systems that can turn-the-tide of this war. It has been three weeks into this war and such help has not yet arrived. Something needs to be done because every day Stepanakert is losing territory.

I am not a military strategist but just from looking at the map I see a long, narrow Azeri salient that has formed in the south along the Iranian border.
 
Such salients in times of war are very vulnerable to outflanking attacks. If done properly, Armenian forces can cut-off large numbers of Azeri forces and encircle them. This must however be done without weakening Artsakh's defenses in the north and the east. Artsakh's northern and eastern sector's need to continue holding their positions. Those areas can be defended more effectively. Thus far, Artsakh forces have fared well in those areas. With the northern and eastern sectors secured, a large force can be assembled in central Artsakh. This force can then start an offensive towards Hadrut and Horadiz, all the way down to the Iranian border. If successful, large numbers of Azerbaijan's military units and armaments will become trapped and therefore vulnerable to destruction. Because Artsakh's military is small, such a counterattack can only be done without weakening other sectors. Such a counterattack will also need effective air defenses. Artsakh therefore needs direct help from Armenia, and it needs it NOW. As of now, the Azeri salient is exposed and vulnerable to a counterattack because they have not yet had the time to reinforce their positions. The longer Armenia's military leadership allows the Azeri invasion force to remain in the territory, the more difficult it will be to dislodge them at a future point in time.
 
Nevertheless, I very clearly see the potential of a major Azeri defeat in the south. Thus far, however, Nikol's regime in Yerevan does not seem interested. What Nikol's regime seems to be doing is killing large numbers of civilian volunteers (perhaps hundreds) by sending them as cannon-fodder against Israeli and Turkish drones. This is the height of incompetence or treason.

Nikol and his Soros clowns need to be pressured to recognize Artsakh so that Armenia can properly use it armed forces to defend Artsakh and repel the invaders. I reiterate: The longer we allow Baku to hold on to the territories they have taken recently, the harder it will be to push them back at a future date. Artsakh's military alone does not have the manpower or the resources to do the job. Armenia needs to get involved. Nikol's regime needs to be pressured to take Artsakh's defense more seriously. Nikol's regime needs to get serious about Artsakh's defense. By saying serious, I am not talking about sending scores of inexperienced civilian volunteers to die fighting against Turkish and Israeli drones, I am talking about recognizing Artsakh, I am talking about transferring serious military capability into Artsakh, I am talking about bombing Ganja's oil/gas distribution networks, I am talking about bringing the war into Azerbaijan. If what I have outlined above is not done, then the territories Azeris have captured recently will remain in Baku's hands, and we will continue losing more lives and more territories in the coming days or weeks.

I have been warning about all this for over two years now: The LAST THING we needed during a war like this was a Western-financed liberal/pacifist opposition journalist who avoided military service when he was young and who worked many years for Levon Petrosyan. The LAST THING we needed was a government populated by professional Russophobes and Globalists. The following articles highlight the warnings Armenia was receiving shortly before this war -
As noted above, Armenia has not yet used its full military potential to protect Artsakh. Other than sending conscripts and civilian volunteers, Armenia's armed forces has largely kept itself out of this war. As a result, Armenian forces in Artsakh have suffered several thousand casualties, hundreds of millions of dollars in armament losses and significant amounts of territory.
 
Some will make the excuse that Armenia cannot get directly involved militarily because Armenia does not officially recognize Artsakh and it therefore does not have a "defense pact" with Stepanakert. In other words, the claim is Yerevan cannot be "legally" involved in a war that is between Artsakh and Azerbaijan. Incidentally, those who make these types of claims are more-or-less the same people that also bitterly complain that Russia is not helping Artsakh. And some will inevitably make the excuse that "Putin did not allow Nikol to send in Armenia's military". Ultimately, both are bullshit excuses/explanations. Regarding Armenians favorite topic of "international law" and "international community": "International law" is written by the strong to control the weak and the "international community", Anglo-American-Jews in particular,  does not care if Armenia or Artsakh lived or died. Those with normally functioning brains already know this. Just like how Yerevan has been quietly sending soldiers and older armaments to Artsakh for the past 30 years, Yerevan can use back-channels and covert methods to send more modern weapons systems and larger numbers of professional soldiers to the war-front. And if it is indeed Moscow that is causing problems in this regard, then THIS would have been the best time to disobey Moscow.
 
At the end of the day, and regardless of everything else, it is up to Armenia to protect Artsakh as Artsakh is too small to do it alone. At the end of the day, Nikol is the person in power now. So, whatever goes wrong in Artsakh, he needs to be held accountable.
 
Besides, whatever happened to Nikol's now famous "Artsakh is Armenia" and "Aliyev is an educated man" diplomacy? Whatever happened to Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan's now famous "new war, new territory" deterrence strategy? Actually, where is Armenia's defense minister? We are in the midst of a major war and he and his promise to liberate more territories in case Baku started a war are MIA (missing in action). I see the defense minister's subordinate, Artsrun Hovanissyan on a daily basis. However, I have not seen Defense Minister Tonoyan since the start of this war. It seems as if he and his deterrence strategy are being somehow suppressed. I do not know if it is connected to this matter in any way, but three days before the start of this war Azeri news media floated the idea that Defense Minister Tonoyan may be preparing a revolution against Nikol. This report is most likely disinformation and/or psy-ops put out by Baku. Nevertheless, it's worth a look -
I seriously hope that I am proven wrong in my observations in this regard, as we still do not know full details of that is happening on the battlefield. I seriously hope that Armenia's defense ministry is waiting to perhaps wear-down and deplete Azeri forces before it begins a serious counterattack inside Azerbaijani territory. I seriously hope that Armenian forces are waiting for the order to bomb Ganja's oil/gas pipelines. As of this writing, however, Armenia does not seem to be using its full military potential to defend Artsakh against this full-scale military assault by Azerbaijan. If my assessments prove correct, is Armenia's restraint in his war a result of miscalculation and/or incompetence - or is there something sinister happening behind-the-scenes in Yerevan? If Armenia's restraint in this war proves deliberate and politically motivated, that would suggests to me that this war may not only be preordained (i.e. decided to take place well in advance) but also predetermined (i.e. it's outcome also decided in advance). Therefore, I am slowly beginning to believe that this war is at some level being macro-managed somewhere from above and beyond, and that may not be good news for Armenia and for Artsakh.
 
I have a feeling that this war is being macro-managed to convince Azeris that their military, despite how modern, is unable to take Artsakh proper, and convince us Armenians that our military, despite how brave, is unable to hold on to all the territories.
 
This, in a nutshell, may very well be the international community's answer to Armenia's and Azerbaijan's maximalistic politics. In any case, what I know for sure right now is that Nikol's government is not properly defending Artsakh. Armenia's armed forces are not directly getting involved in the fight in order to turn-the-tide of the war, stop the loss of territory and put Baku on the defensive. Artsakh's military is capable of defending its territory but it cannot counterattack. Artsakh's military is very small and it possess mostly standard, Soviet era weaponry. Artsakh needs Armenia's military's direct and active assistance in this war. Nikol is thus far missing in action in this regard. Knowing him and his political connections, I suspect it's intentional. I am glad that people have started to wake-up in this regard. There are war veterans now asking Nikol to get out of the way of the war effort in Artsakh and allow generals to fight the war -

Let's recall that throughout history Armenia's main Achilles Heel has been not its fighting forces (we all know the names of the great military leaders we have given to the world going back thousands of years), it has been Armenia's self-destructive and shortsighted POLITICS. It is no different today. As much as I would like to restrain my criticism of Armenia's government in a time of war, I am unable to do so in this case because of the duplicitous nature and the vile character of the current ruling administration in Yerevan.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan (I prefer calling him just Nikol) may or many not be a deep Russian agent. Him having connections to Russian intelligence is pure speculation that first began emerging when Nikol's government after having come to power did not quickly begin the process of breaking Armenia's umbilical cord to Russia as it was expected to by Westerners. But there is a logical/earthly explanation behind why he did not and that is - he could not. That simple. He was unable to break Armenia's ties to Russia because he most probably knows that Armenia would collapse as a result and he along with his entire family would most probably be killed. We do however know three things about Nikol that are not based in speculation but can in fact be proven in court: 1) Nikol was one of Levon Petrosyan's top officials and he even led Levon's unsuccessful color revolution in 2008. 2) Nikol operated an opposition newspaper with direct financing from the CIA-founded National Endowment for Democracy (NED). 3) Nikol immediately populated his government with Soros grant recipients, Globalists, homosexuals and Russophobes as soon as he came to power. These are the three facts we know about Nikol. So, as the famous American saying goes: When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck. Nikol may still one day come out as one of the most brilliant double agents that has ever worked for Russian intelligence. But, for now, let's just stick with what we know about Nikol. Everything about the man, from his crazy eyes to his bitchy voice, from his wife to his mentor Levon, from his neo-Bolshevik comrades to his NED connections, stinks to high heaven. I do not trust him. So, while I would naturally refrain from criticizing Armenia's leader in a time of war, Nikol is not that leader and this is not that time.
 
Nikols needs to be placed under constant watch by true patriots
 
Nikol needs to be placed under CONSTANT pressure in order for him not to screw-up Armenia and Artsakh anymore than he already has. In other words, he and his handlers (regardless of who they are) need to be cognizant of the fact that he is disliked by real patriots and that he is being closely watched. I should also add here that recent elections in Artsakh has brought pro-Western individuals into politics in Stepanakert as well. There have been a lot of disconcerting signs coming out of Yerevan as well as Stepanakert in recent times. But, for now, I am just going to stick to discussing the head of the snake. The last thing we needed during a major war like this was a "commander-in-chief" who was a deserter from the military, who had ties to Washington's NED and who has populated his government with George Soros agents and Russophobes.  Even Armenia Fund's director today is a Russophobe. The last thing we needed during a major war like this was a "commander-in-chief" who worked many years for a criminal/traitor like Levon Petrosyan. Ultimately, I believe this is Nikol's war. His rise to power made this war inevitable in my opinion. I made my feelings about this matter known over two years ago almost as soon as Nikol was put into power after what clearly looked like a political conspiracy. Please revisit my blog commentaries from the time -
A lot of us knew this war was coming. Former Artsakh general Samvel Babayan even predicated the modern nature of the war that would take place. I now believe Nikol also knew this war was coming. He may have found out about it however AFTER he was allowed to rise to power. If I had to guess, I would say the following picture was around the time when Nikol was told by his handlers in the West that he will preside over a bloody war that will see the return of certain territories in Artsakh to Azerbaijan. Incidentally, in case the reader did not know, seated next to a slumping, already defeated looking Nikol is an "educated person" -



In my opinion, this war is why a scoundrel like Nikol was put in power. He therefore has a task to perform. He most likely knows he will be killed if he deviates from the path that was chosen for him. We do not know however if Nikol is a "patsy" (an unsuspecting dupe) or an agent serving foreign interests. If Nikol is killed after this war, we may never find out.

In my opinion, this war is also why President Serj Sargsyan fomented unrest in the country in 2018, indirectly elevated Nikol into the political limelight and then quietly stepped out of the way. Nikol (and Levon Petrosyan, behind the scenes) was then allowed to get the country into this situation. Nikol may have done it wittingly or he may have done it unwittingly. Regardless of his intentions, his regime basically got us to where we are today. In other words, President Sargsyan knew this war was coming at least as early as 2016. He therefore washed his hands of it and a patsy/dupe or an agent was then put in power to preside over the war. This war will most probably end with Official Yerevan agreeing to land concessions at some point in the future. Ultimately, this war is a result of a political conspiracy against Artsakh. Russian's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned our sheeple some months ago about secret deals being made between Nikol and Aliyev. Lukashenko also seemed to be doing the same by indirect means. Russia Today's Margarita Simonyan also tired to warn our sheeple about the growing trend of anti-Russian sentiments in Armenia, and did so on more than one occasion. Armenia's politically illiterate peasantry, still filled with hate towards the "Karabakh Clan" and incited by Western/Turkish agents, did not take any of this seriously. In any case, it seems that Presidents Sargsyan and Kocharyan would not put themselves in this position, and that is why Nikol was brought into the picture in 2018. Nikol may therefore be a patsy or he may be an active part of the political conspiracy. Whatever the case may be, this is Nikol's war. By saying this I am not absolving the previous two presidents from all guilt. Every single presidency Armenia has had in the post-Soviet period has been terribly flawed and corrupt. That said, Levon Petrosyan remains in a special category that can only be described as high treason, and Nikol was his obedient servant for a long time. I am therefore not surprised that Nikol's regime was signaling its willingness to concede lands merely a week into a war that Armenia's defense ministry claims to be winning -
I do not care in what context Nikol said these words. Our nation's leader should NOT be talking about land concessions in a war that is ultimately about land, while full-scale combat is going on, and especially when our side is supposedly doing very well. This is an outrage! This is treason! By talking about land concessions - in the middle of a hot war - Nikol is giving Aliyev the encouragement and impetus to continue this war in order to give Baku more leverage during negotiations which will naturally take place afterwards. Precious lives are being lost in the process. No matter how one looks at it, Nikol's choice of words is a form of capitulation in the middle of a war. This war is the biggest opportunity we had in 26 years to take additional lands if only to offset land losses we have suffered recently. This war is also the greatest opportunity we had in 26 years to annex or recognize Artsakh. We were promised more lands if a war broke out. We were also told Artsakh was Armenia. Nikol's regime however has thus far done none of it, the war has not been brought into Azerbaijan and Artsakh has not been recognized. If the fighting stopped tomorrow, Artsakh would technically be the loser. Thus far, about three weeks into this war, Baku is winning.
 
Nikol's regime has been a disaster for Armenia from day one. And it's only getting worst. Having gotten themselves in a historic mess, and clearly seeing that Western powers (those who many of Nikol's officials served for most of their lives) do not actually care if Armenia/Artsakh lived or died, Nikol's regime, a well-known den of professional Russophobes, is also now signaling its willingness to accept a bigger role for Russia in Armenia and Artsakh -

If Armenia was going to politically cave-in like this after a couple of weeks of warfare - and also begin begging for Russian help - then why didn't we agree to deploy Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh and handover the "5 territories" to Baku BEFORE all this bloodshed and destruction? We had 26 years to settle this matter. If Armenia is doing so well militarily, as we are constantly being told, then why is it barely over one week into this war and our nation's leader is talking about "concessions" and not "new territories" as we were assured prior to the war? And if Armenian forces in Artsakh are not doing so well militarily, then why has Nikol not yet used the full potential of the Armenian military to turn-the-tide of the war and bring the war into Azerbaijani territory and force Baku to instead talk about concessions? These are questions that I do not yet have any answers for. For now, what I know for sure is that Nikol and his Soros-financed kindergarten in Yerevan is not who we needed in power in a time of war. Nikol's regime is a liability for not only Armenia but for Artsakh as well. This regime needs to be ousted, and the sooner this is done the better. From the looks of it, Nikol's domestic troubles may have already started -
It obvious, to me at least, that we Armenians have once again fallen victim to a sinister conspiracy, and the head of that conspiracy inside Armenia is none-other-than Nikol and of course Levon Petrosyan. I have a feeling however that none of this will register with a majority of our sheeple. This is because we Armenians as a people today are severely dumbed-down, our primal hatred towards the "Karabakh Clan" still clouds our reasoning, and our egos will never allow us to admit fault. But, imagine what would have happened if it was President Sargsyan that announced to the Armenian world that Yerevan is ready for land concessions so early in a war and especially after so much blood was spilled. Armenia would have been turned upside-down by its citizenry, of course incited/goaded along by the country's Western-financed political forces. To their credit, both presidents Serj Sargsyan and Robert Kocharyan were able to avoided a war of this scale. They used their time in power to merely prolong the status quo (which was favorable to Armenia) and of course accumulate wealth in the process. Nevertheless, I reiterate: If we are agreeing to land concession now after so much death and destruction, why didn't we agree to land concession years ago to AVOID bloodshed like this in the first place? Was it because both presidents Sargsyan and Kocharyan were so disliked by a vast majority of Armenians and they had very little legitimacy and therefore political weight? Was it because both presidents, veterans of the first war, would not agree to such a plan? Perhaps both. Nevertheless, ask yourselves: What better person than Nikol - the ultimate "people's choice" - to preside over land concessions?
 
Simply put: The "international community" in collaboration with political forces inside Armenia gave us Nikol in order to make the concept of land concessions palatable. And if we are indeed going that route, then what a waste of precious life this war was?!
 
We needed to do everything in our power to avoid a war of this scale. I am not a pacifist. I am a realist. I believe that a self-respecting nation must build a powerful military but it then needs to begin praying every day it never has to use it. This kind of advice or wisdom is especially important for a small nation like Armenia. Yes, we need to have a powerful military because we live in a very dangerous neighborhood. But we must also do everything in our power, including sometimes taking painful measures in peace time, to avoid a major war. As I said, I am very impressed with the professionalism and fighting spirit of our men and women. But this war is a tragedy, especially if land concessions will be agreed to afterwards.
 
Let me also remind the reader that this war is not a video game. We should also not be treating this war as a sports competition where one enthusiastically keeps score. The Azeri military is capable and it has a lot of money and resources behind it. Thank God our soldiers are in defensive positions in mountains. Artsakh is indeed a mountain fortress. That said, even if Azerbaijan looses 10 times more soldiers than us, Armenia/Artsakh will still come out the main loser after all this. Armenia/Artsakh is a tiny country with a tiny population with a tiny economy. Thanks to Russia's support, lost military hardware can be easily replaced, but the large number of lives lost this war is a tragedy for a small country like ours. Think of each young soldier killed as a family that will never form. We needed to be politically smart enough and manipulative enough to avoid a war like this. We knew as far back as 1994 that one day this war would come. We therefore had 26 years to do something about it. As petrodollars poured into Azerbaijan, Baku eagerly embarked on a grand rearmament program. Baku's military potential was gradually building afterwards. In recent more years, we saw Baku starting a war of attrition against Artsakh. We knew Baku was rapidly bolstering its forces all along the front. We saw the rhetoric coming out of Baku turn more-and-more warlike. We then saw that in 2016 Baku was ready and willing to try to resolve the festering dispute through military means. As noted earlier in this commentary, the fighting that took place on April, 2016 was a trial run, as well as a warning in my opinion.
 
We knew that a much bigger war was yet to come. We also knew that Moscow wanted to station its peacekeepers in Artsakh in order to have a more direct, hands-on role in the strategic and volatile region. We also knew Turkey and Israel wanted to make deeper inroads in Azerbaijan -
 
 
Every time the Kremlin floated the idea of Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh, we eagerly shot it down. Instigated by our Western-financed "nationalists" we essentially turned the term "Russian peacekeepers" into a racial slur of sorts. We said to Moscow, thanks but no thanks. We asked Moscow to just guard the border with Turkey and leave Azerbaijan for us to worry about. To reinforce Artsakh's defenses politically, we instead made "Kill Dim" cartoons. And in doing so we also made one of the gravest mistakes in war, which is to NEVER underestimate the enemy. There are two cardinal sins in warfare: The first one is to overestimate your war fighting ability. The second one is to underestimate the enemy's war fighting ability. We even did our best to insult and disappoint Russian officials (i.e. those who actually make our nation's existence in the south Caucasus possible) by saturating Armenia with Western organizations, politicians, activists and agendas.
 
But ask yourselves: What are the chances that a war like this would take place if Moscow was in a much more powerful position in the region and if Russian peacekeepers had been stationed between Artsakh and Azerbaijan? In my opinion, very little. It's difficult to imagine how a war like this could have materialized had Russia had a military presence in the region. A Russian troop presence in Artsakh may not have solved the dispute but it could easily have prolonged the "no war, no peace" or rather the status quo for us, which primarily served our interest. And that would have preserved the precious lives being lost today. Needless to say, Russian boots on the ground in Artsakh would have also satisfied the strategic interests of our strategic allies in Moscow. Now, not only have we suffered serious losses both in lives and armaments, in the end we will inevitably suffer land losses as well. We had 26 years to solve this problem. There could have been an easier, less painful way. We did not seriously explore it, and here we are today.
 
At the end of the day, this war happened essentially because both Armenia and Azerbaijan ventured too far from Mother Russia. There is always a high price to pay for political illiteracy and/or mistakes. We Armenians in particular have been paying a very high price for our political illiteracy for the past two thousand years.
 
As I said many years ago, we could try to do things the easy way or we can do it the hard way. Our Western funded/led "nationalists" - namely the so-called "Sasna Dzrer" terrorist group and its supporters around the world, the so-called "Armenian Renaissance" and its supporters around the world, Washington's now defunct PFA and its "fellows", Edik Baghdasaryan's Hetq, Hakob Badalyan's Lragir, Vartan Oskanian's Civilnet, Levon Barseghyan's Asbarez journalists club, the late Igor Muradyan, Stepan Vardanyan, Arman Babajanyan, Aleq Yenigomshyan, Ara Papyan, Daniel Ionisyan, Stepan Safaryan, Anush Sedrakyan, Varujan Avetisyan, Manvel Sargsyan, Arkady Vardanyan, Artur Sahakyan, David Sanasaryan, Paruyr Hayrikyan, Zaruhi Bostanjyan, Artur Sakunts, Tigran Khzmlyan, Shant Voskerichyan, Hranush Kharatyan, Raffi Hovannisyan, Levon Shirinyan, et al - did their utmost best to sabotage all efforts by Moscow and Yerevan to deepen their relations and find a least painful solution to this dispute. The aforementioned "nationalists" and "patriots" have always been more concerned about undermining Moscow's influence in Yerevan and Stepanakert, than actually worrying about Armenia's and Artsakh's security or future. 
 
We knew Moscow is or rather should be the alpha and the omega of the south Caucasus, but we somehow forgot it or simply chose to ignore it. We also knew that while the Kremlin treated Armenia as a strategic ally, it would also never risk losing Azerbaijan to Turkey or anyone else. Instead of investing all our national resources inside the Kremlin in an effort to reach a serious deal with Russian officials, regardless of how unsavory it may have been for us, we instead acted condescending towards them; I would even say backstabbing. If the Kremlin was serious about stationing Russian troops in the Artsakh theater, and we know they were, we should have sought ways to allow them. If Moscow could really guarantee peace between Yerevan and Baku in a so-called "land for peace" deal, we should have explored that as well. 
 
Regarding the concept of land for peace, I would like to bring up Israel as an example because I know how we Armenians love to compare ourselves to Jews.
 
Simply put: If Israel could be made to pull out of lands that is controlled even though they are "Israel" and they were victorious over their enemies, I think so could we. Let's recall that Israel was pressured to make peace with Jordan and Egypt by giving up land ultimately because the Western world did not want to totally trash their ties with the Arab/Muslim world (similar to how Moscow does not want to ruin its ties with Baku). Israel even pulled out of Gaza in 2005 and southern Lebanon in 2000 without any peace negotiations. Moreover, political considerations is also why Tel Aviv has not outright annexed Jewish populated portions of the West Bank. Think of Israel's fertile Golan Heights region, a militarily strategic territory that Tel Aviv will never give up, as Artsakh proper plus the two territories connecting Artsakh to Armenia. Think of the rest of the 5 territories around Artsakh as all the territories Tel Aviv was willing to give up for peace and normalization. If, and I admit that is a big IF, we could have been guaranteed peace, recognition and normalization, I think we should have seriously explored it. At the end of the day, we do not know if we could have reached a mutually beneficial deal with Baku because I don't believe our leaders ever took it into serious consideration. I believe there were times during the past 26 years when Baku may have been open to discuss a mutually beneficial deal. I would like to point out here that the infamous Goble Plan which was put on the table by Washington D.C. in the mid 1990s was beneficial for Baku, but it was suicidal for Armenia. Moreover, the American peace deal by-passed Moscow. The assassination of October 27, 1999 put an end to it.
 
Whatever peace deal that needed to be made had to be made with Russia (and Iran) and not the West. Moreover, Armenia's strategic border with Iran had to be preserved under all costs. The same applies today.
 
Once again, allow me remind the reader that Russia is the ONLY nation on earth that makes Armenia's existence possible. Despite its "complimentary politics" theatrics we all know that Official Yerevan has NO real alternatives to Russia. Moreover, besides acting belligerent with Moscow, a portion of Armenian society acted maximalistic and underestimated not only Baku's military but also that of Ankara's influence in Baku. Concurrently, another portion of Armenian society (namely those connected to various Western-financed NGOs, Nikolites and Levonakans) acted as if Azeris and Turks could potentially be Armenia's best friends. In short: There was no clearly defined, Armenia-centric political direction in Yerevan. There was no political vision. There was no political flexibility. There was no political wisdom. There was no political foresight. From both ends of the political spectrum in Armenia we saw mostly rigidity, maximalism, extremism, naivete, shortsightedness and Turkophilia. In fact, Turks and Azeris even had an easy time of recruiting agents to work for them inside Armenia. Some of them were revealed. Some of them remain unrevealed.
 
We are not a visionary people. When it comes to politics, we are not farsighted, flexible or manipulative. We instead prefer to boast and beat our chests, similar to what Arabs and Kurds do. While we Armenians are a very talented and resilient people, we are also a very emotional people. Emotional minds tend to be rigid. Rigid minds tend to be unimaginative. Armenian minds therefore tend to be shortsighted and maximalistic. Because we have not yet developed a genuine political elite and also because we are so captivated by gods of Democracy and Capitalism, our collective traits have a negative net-effect on our politics. In a nutshell, that is why although we knew this day was coming we did little if anything to stop it. Yes, presidents Kocharyan and Sargsyan are also guilty to a significant degree. Official Yerevan needed to have done everything in its power to encourage a larger role for Moscow in Artsakh during the past 26 years. I am not saying this in hindsight, I have been saying this for many years. Mislead and distracted by our Western-financed "nationalists" we did the opposite. And here we are. Today, Nikol is bringing the project started by Levon in the early 1990s to its logical conclusion.
 
By keeping Russians out, Armenians had a hand in creating a vacuum that Turks and Israelis filled
 
Because of reasons x, y and z we did not want to see Moscow play a bigger, more hands-on role by putting boots on the ground in Artsakh. Political forces in Armenia as well as in the Diaspora did their best to make sure Yerevan kept Russia out of Artsakh. Not only that, we Armenians also took every opportunity to attack and slander Russian officials for trying to establish good relations with Baku. For years I have been trying to explain to our stubborn peasantry that better relations between Moscow and Baku was actually beneficial for Armenia because its most likely alternative would be better relations between Baku and Ankara.
 
Numerous self-styled "politicians", "journalists" and "political observers", in other words politically illiterate morons such as Raffi Hovanissian, Richard Giragosian, Arthur Sahakyan, David Boyajian, Jirayr Tutunjian and Edmond Azadian in the North American Diaspora and Western agents in Armenia such as Zaruhi Bostanjyan, Paruyr Hayrikyan, Stepan Safaryan, Varujan Avetisyan, Manvel Sargsyan, Aleq Yenigomshyan, David Sanasaryan, Levon Barseghyan, Ruben Hakhverdyan, Jirayr Sefilyan, Stepan Vardanyan, Arman Babajanyan, Ara Papyan, Artur Sakunts, Arkady Vardanyan, Anush Sedrakyan, Hakob Badalyan, Garegin Chukazyan, Levon Shirinyan, Daniel Ionisyan, Hranush Kharatyan, et al, did their utmost best to misrepresent, criticize and attack Moscow for trying to develop better relations with Baku - when it was in Armenia's long-term strategic interests to have Moscow develop leverage over Baku. There were voices that tried to reassure Armenians that close relations between Moscow and Baku actually served Armenia's interests, Armenia's peasantry however would have none of it. All these factors helped create a vacuum.
 
And, as we are now seeing, this vacuum was filled not by "truth, justice and the American way", which is what many Armenians were actually hoping for as a hedge against what is seen as Russia's "overbearing influence" inside Armenia, the vacuum was instead filled by Erdogan's Islamic mercenaries and Israel's military industrial complex. The signs however were there all-along. We knew Baku was actively flirting with Ankara and Tel Aviv. We knew Turkey wanted to cause trouble for Russia. We knew Israel wanted to cause trouble for Iran. We also knew that the Turkish military was deployed in Nakhijevan. Men like Armenia's Second President Robert Kocharyan and Menua Harutunyan were warning Armenian society about a growing Turkish threat to Armenia and Artsakh and the strategic importance of Russian-Armenian relations merely days before the war erupted -
How could our leadership not understand that Artsakh faced a threat not only from Baku but also from Ankara and Tel Aviv? How could our leadership not see that the United States has for the most part been absent and/or impotent in the south Caucasus, starting at least as far back as the summer of 2008? By sabotaging efforts by Moscow to introduce a Russian military presence in the Artsakh theater, Official Yerevan played a role, however big or small, in creating a strategic vacuum in the south Caucasus. This vacuum inevitably allowed Turkey and Israel to set deeper roots in Azerbaijan. In my opinion, President Serj Sargsyan gets the brunt of the blame in this regard for it was during his time in office when the issue of Russian peacekeepers kept being brought-up in public, only to be shot-down each and every time. To be fair, however, President Sargsyan did not have the political legitimacy or the public support to accept such a proposal by the Kremlin, especially since, as noted above, the concept of Russian peacekeepers was already turned into a bad word inside Armenian society by our Western-financed traitors posing as "nationalists". In other words, while we were too busy trying to appease the Western world - of course to show the Kremlin that Armenia had "options" when everyone, including Kremlin, knew Yerevan did not - it was Ankara and Tel Aviv that actually took the strategic initiative by increasing its presence in Azerbaijan. While some of us were fantasizing about beating Azerbaijan all by ourselves and some of us were fantasizing about embracing Azerbaijan, it was Ankara that took the initiative by moving in and fanning the flames of war among Azerbaijan's political establishment. This was a consequence of our lack of vision and foresight in politics, as well as our "complimentary politics".
 
Consequently, Erdogan's Turkey has just upped-the-ante in the south Caucasus just as it has been doing in northern Iraq, northern Syria, Libya, Cyprus and the Greek islands. Needless to say, Israel is also trying to establish a footing there as well. Both Russia and Iran, already embroiled in a number of serious endeavors, are now in a predicament. President Putin already made a statement about the instability being brought near its borders. Konstantin Zatulin, the Russian head of the CIS, warned Russia will go through Georgia, despite Tbilisi's blockade, to provide military assistance to Armenia if needed. And Tehran has begun deploying military units near its border with Armenia and Azerbaijan -
What Erdogan is doing in the south Caucasus, Russia's backyard, is a very high-stakes gamble. Ankara is clearly maneuvering to open a new front with which it thinks it can attain leverage over Russia and Iran. Needless to say, Anglo-American-Jews are excited. They are also doing their best to spread disinformation. That excitement however may be short-lived. Depending on the reactions from Moscow and Tehran, as well as the performance of Armenian troops on the battlefield, Erdogan's ambitious plan can potentially backfire on both Ankara and Baku. Needless to say, this was a high stakes gamble for Aliyev as well. By allowing such Wahhabist-Islamic militants from the Middle East into Shiite and secular Azerbaijan, Baku is not only damaging its relations with Moscow it is also sowing domestic troubles. Aliyev in particular is now in a very precarious position. In a sense, it is a "do or die" situation for him. Nevertheless, Moscow and Tehran are currently in somewhat of a political and military predicament which, as I have already mentioned, Armenian officials going as far back as Levon Petrosyan had a hand in creating. Needless to say, Georgia has been the biggest problem in this regard. As if they do not have enough things to worry about, Moscow and Tehran now have to preoccupy themselves with a serious war raging in the south Caucasus. Let's remember that a Russian predicament in the south Caucasus is a danger first and foremost to Armenia, not Russia. Let's also remember that any weakening of the Russian factor in the south Caucasus is first and foremost a danger to Armenia, not Russia. We as a people should have learned this lesson one hundred years go. What's more, this conflict also has the potential to bring Russia out of its neutral position vis-à-vis Yerevan and Baku. I am not sure if that is actually a good thing in the long term. We need more Russian leverage over Baku, not Turkish.
 
One of Armenia's core national interests needs to be to always secure a favorable position for Russia in the south Caucasus, regardless of how unsavory it may at times be, because its alternative would pose an existential threat to Armenia's security. I reiterate: Without a strong Russian presence in the south Caucasus, without  closer Russian-Armenian relations, the region has the natural tendency to revert back to being a Turkic and/or Islamic cesspool. Armenia's "independence" from Russia will by-default make it dependent on Turkey. Now you know in a nutshell why our "nationalists" and our Westernizers have been preaching Armenian independence from Russia. I am glad that calls to bring Armenia closer to Russia has already started -
Gurgen Yeghyazaryan is a serious man and he is one of the main representatives of the Russian camp in Armenian politics. He is basically calling on Armenia today to unite with Russia. This means the process back to Mother Russia, perhaps in some federation format, has start. I thought such calls were still far into the future. Had I heard this call in my youth I would have gone into an angry rage. Today, after 30 years of one disappointment after another, one bad government after another, one war after another, one revolution after another, cultural decline, population decline, economic decline, educational decline, etc. I can't say I am not very happy. Armenia devolved/degraded severely during the past 30 years. Encouraged along by Western agents in our society, the country's great Russian/Soviet heritage was squandered, wasted and essentially turned into rust and dust. Armenia today is gradually turning into a third world cesspool in front of our eyes. Classical Armenian and classical European culture is not only dying in post-Soviet Armenia, it is actually being replaced by Afro-American and Turco-Kurdish elements. At the end of the day, we need to remember who our neighbors are. Let's remember where the south Caucasus is located. Let's remember that we have longstanding, historic disputes within our neighborhood. Let's for once also come to the realization that without a strong Russian presence in south Caucasus, the entire region in question has the natural predisposition/tendency to turn into a Turkic and/or Islamic cesspool. Despite our best efforts, Armenia, on its own, will NOT find peace, stability or prosperity. In a landscape where the Russian factor is not very powerful, Armenia will at best continue barely surviving and periodically facing wars.
 
As a nationalist, Armenia's long-term health and well-being are my main concerns. I therefore look forward to some form of merger with the Russian nation, albeit with conditions: Armenia keeps its national language, its alphabet and its armed forces. If we can maintain our national culture and our military, I wholeheartedly welcome any form of union with the Russian nation. At the end of the day, Armenia belongs in the Russian world politically, economically, militarily and CULTURALLY. Armenia long-term health and well-being as a nation and as a culture depends on it.

Russia remains Armenia's one and only ally in this world
 
Getting back to the war: Predictably, our professional Russophobes today (as well as mindless idiots who parrot them) are now cynically asking: Why isn't Putin's Russia helping Armenia and Artsakh? In other words, those that have done their best to drive a wedge between Russia and Armenia, and in the process ruined Armenia from a civilizational/cultural standpoint during the past 30 years, are now in-effect mocking Armenia's and Artsakh's core security interests. A more apt question would be, why isn't Armenia using all its military capability to defend Artsakh? That said, our professional Russophobes are right in that due to a number of geopolitical factors Russia will not get directly involved in the war in Artsakh. Russia has a defense pact with Armenia, not Artsakh. There was never any illusion about this. Had Artsakh been annexed by Armenia back in 1994 it may have been a different story today, but it was not. Had Russian troops been stationed in Artsakh it may have been a different story, but they were not. Artsakh is therefore Armenia's fight. We all knew this. That is in fact how WE wanted it. Moreover, Russia has normal relations with Baku. Moreover, Russia is in the OSCE Minsk Group and has to therefore maintain an appearance of neutrality. Nevertheless, what our professional Russophobes don't tell us is that Moscow is supplying Armenia's armed forces the advanced weaponry and the ammunition that it needs to fight a large-scale conventional war like this. Needless to say, a lot of this help is indeed reaching Artsakh. What our professional Russophobes also don't tell us is that without such help, Armenians would not be able to resist a major conventional war like this. What our professional Russophobes also don't tell us is that other than Russia there is no power on earth that is ready, willing or able to supply Armenia is low cost (and sometimes free) modern weapons systems. The following is a look at the nature of Russian support Armenia has been receiving just in recent weeks -
Սյունիքում ռուս սահմանապահներն ակտիվորեն աշխատում են

«Պետք է Վրաստանին հստակ բացատրենք, որ անհրաժեշտության դեպքում իր օդային տարածքով պետք է ուժեր և միջոցներ ուղարկվեն Հայաստան». Զատուլինը՝ ԼՂ-ում ՌԴ-ի հնարավոր գործողությունների մասին

Ռուսական հրթիռները կուղղվե՞ն Ադրբեջանում գտնվող միջազգային ահաբեկիչների վրա

Десантная операция России в Арцахе: возможно ли это?

Нужно срочно вышвырнуть Сороса и его соросят из Армении!

Russian expert: Rearmament of Armenian air forces is as important as close cooperation with Moscow
Russian Special Flight Squadron presidential fleet aircraft lands in Yerevan
Jewish Press: Russia Must Stop Arming Armenia
Russian Arms Sales To Armenia And Geopolitical Effects – Analysis
Kavkaz-2020: Russian military exercise sends message to South Caucasus
Equally important, by guarding Armenia's frontier with Turkey, Moscow provides the Armenian military the freehand to concentrating all its effort on fighting Azerbaijan, which is comparatively the lesser threat. That Yerevan may not be using its full potential to help Artsakh in this war is all-together another story. In any case, as the reader can see, Moscow is very much involved in this fight, albeit behind-the-scenes and indirectly. Yet, Armenians will be still asking where is Russia? And anti-Armenian interests around the world will be exploiting the matter by muddying the water - 
Again, Moscow will not send its troops to fight alongside Armenians in Artsakh as the territory does not directly fall under Russia's protection. The Battle for Artsakh itself has to be therefore fought by us Armenians. Had Armenian officials annexed Artsakh in the early 1990s, perhaps it would have been a different story today. Had Artsakh been made part of Armenia soon after Baku capitulated in 1994, at the very least, Armenia would be forced to use all its military potential to protect the territory today. Despite Nikol's populistic bluster, despite him publicly announcing that Artsakh is Armenian (essentially asking Baku to attack), Nikol's regime has not yet seriously considered officially recognizing Artsakh's independence or uniting with it through annexation. It may still happen, but no signs of it yet. The signs we do see from Nikol's regime revolve around its willingness to make concessions.

This is a historic opportunity to recognize Artsakh
 
Speaking of annexation and recognition, allow me to also say this: In the past, presidents Kocharyan and Sargsyan both avoided recognizing Artsakh's independence or annexing it in order to avoid a war. At the very least, that was the official excuse. It did make sense. Yerevan at the time understood that any attempts to recognize or annex Artsakh would likely trigger a war with Baku. Armenia did not want to go that route. A war was avoided. The status quo was maintained. Foreign funded/led extremist groups such as "Sasna Dzrer", as well as certain "nationalist" circles inside Armenian society, called on Yerevan to officially recognize or annex Artsakh NOT for sake of Armenian nationalism per se, but to undermine the Russian administered status quo and therefore weaken Moscow's position in the region. The reader may recall that in 2015 Sasna Dzrer even tried to bring a color revolution of sorts to Artsakh but failed. I am not talking about genuine but politically naive nationalists, I am instead talking about professional agents seeking to sabotage Russian-Armenian relations under the guise of Armenian nationalism. Incidentally, similar considerations during the Cold War saw Western intelligence support nationalistic movements inside Soviet Armenia as well as other Soviet republics. It was naturally done to help facilitate the collapse the Soviet Union and not because Anglo-American-Jews really cared much about Armenian nationalism. 
 
In any case, now that the war we were all waiting for but hoped to avoid has started, our so-called leadership in Yerevan should bring it to its logical conclusion. In other words, Nikol's regime needs to respond to Baku's full-scale military aggression against Artsakh by quickly recognizing Artsakh's independence or simply annex it. What will Azerbaijan do, start a war?!
 
It can't get any worst than this. Turkey will NOT open a front from its territory because doing so will surely bring Russia and perhaps Iran into the fight. Turks are aggressive but they are not stupid. A full-scale war with Azerbaijan is therefore as bad as it can get, and we are right in the middle of one right now. Therefore, it is high time for Yerevan to recognize Artsakh's independence or simply annex the territory. This is the BEST opportunity we have had in this regard since 1994. I reiterate: For the past 20-plus years Official Yerevan refrained from recognizing Artsakh simply to avoid a major war. Now, no such restraining factor exists. Not recognizing Artsakh in 1994 was as a major mistake. However, now that Baku has started a war not recognizing Artsakh today, and providing it with better military means to defend itself, can only be called CRIMINAL and TREASONOUS. It has been three weeks since this war started. Why isn't Nikol's government recognizing Artsakh? Didn't Nikol publicly claim "Artsakh is Armenia" one years ago? By saying what he said he essentially opened the door to the resumption of hostilities. Moreover, didn't Nikol's defense minister publicly claim "new war new territories"?
 
Well, the war we were trying to avoid all these years is now fully upon us. As of this writing, Armenia has NOT yet used its full military potential to protect Artsakh, ostensibly because Armenia does not have a "defense pact" with Artsakh similar to what Armenia has with Russia. Let's put all the diplomatic/political bullshit aside and get down to business. Artsakh's life is at stake. The lives of tens-of-thousands of Armenians are at stake. This is a historic moment for Armenia, and the LAST thing we Armenians needed was a "commander-in-chief" who was a Western-financed opposition journalist, a liberal/globalist, one of Levon Petrosyan's activists and one who also avoided military service in this youth. Basing my opinion on Nikol's character and pedigree, I do not believe he is ready to recognize or annex Artsakh. Instead, Nikol, like his spiritual father, Levon, will most probably put Artsakh on the auction floor in the aftermath of this war - IF - political forces inside Armenia do not rise up against him.

There is yet another geopolitical nuance that I would like to add here. If in the past Moscow did its best to stop the resumption of a major war and maintain the status quo in the territory because Armenia closely cooperated with the Kremlin, that factor no longer exists today. After Nikol's rise to power, after Armenia getting saturated by Western activists with a clear anti-Russian bent, Moscow no longer has the reason or the motivation to do Armenia any extra flavors like maintaining the status quo a few more years. We may therefore see Moscow allow this fight in Artsakh reach a critical point and then come in and clean-up the mess. In other words, at least on the surface, because Armenians/Armenia proved to be politically incompetent, unreliable and problematic for Kremlin officials, Moscow may allow Armenian noses to get bloodied somewhat to teach us a lesson in politics (the punishment I speculated was coming), and then simply step-in to secure its interests. This is also an opportunity for Moscow to show-off its CSTO. This, in a nutshell, is why I kept saying the Kremlin is taking a step back and allowing us to soil ourselves with our pro-Western tendencies. In other words, they were allowing us the proverbial hanging rope because for our Western fetish.
 
Potentially, Moscow can gain a lot from the current war, as Russians are the maters of not letting any crisis go to waste. In the big picture, however, let's never lose sight of the fact that ultimately this war was brought to us by Nikol's NED and Soros funded regime. The Kremlin is merely doing its best, as it always does, to manipulate and exploit the situation to its benefit. Let's also understand that this war happened ultimately because Armenia ventured too far from the Bear protection.
 
As expected, the cost for this war has indeed been heavy for both sides, and we are just about three weeks into it. As noted earlier in this commentary, the fundamental concern here is that Azerbaijan can afford the high price. About three weeks into this war, Armenian forces in Artsakh have suffered thousands of casualties. Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of armaments have been destroyed. Significant amounts of territory has been lost, especially in the southern districts along the Iranian border. We do not yet know the actual extent of the territorial loses but some estimate suggest 400 square kilometers. For whatever reason Armenia is not yet using its full war fighting potential to repel Azeri forces. The longer Armenian forces wait to counterattack, the more difficult it will be to dislodge Azeri forces from the territories they have taken. Moreover, Armenian forces are not yet making any efforts to bring the war into Azerbaijan's territory, as was promised. The Israeli and Turkish made combat drones Baku is using against Artsakh is taking a heavy toll on Armenian forces. At the current pace, that is with Armenia staying out of the war, if this war is not stopped in the next few weeks, Artsakh will lose of more territory. Artsakh's resources are limited and our soldiers there are human; there is only so much they are able to take.
 
Geopolitics is a game of chess, and we Armenians did our best not to be one of the players
 
We know that war is an extension of politics by other means. We also need to understand that geopolitics is at its core a chess game. As in chess, there are players, there are proxies (i.e. game pieces) and there is a board or rather a geographic territory where the competition is played-out. Nations can be part of the competition as players or they can be part of the competition as game piece or proxies. The Artsakh conflict is similarly a chess game. However, the players are not actually Armenia and Azerbaijan, the players instead are Russia, Iran, Turkey and Anglo-American-Jewish interests. This is because both Yerevan and Baku were unable to fully merge with Mother Russia during the past 26 years. We therefore became proxies for larger powers. Consequently, Armenians and Azerbaijanis are merely the chess pieces today, and the territory of Artsakh is unfortunately the bloody chessboard.
 
Instead of striving to merge with one of the main players of the game, we did the exact opposite. We deliberately put ourselves in a position where we are simply one of the game pieces. Worst, we turned our lands into the chessboard or the field of play.
 
Two thousand years ago our forefathers did the same. Armenia was turned into a battlefield between the East and West of that time (i.e. Rome and Persia). Armenia was ravaged for hundreds of years as a result. Our forefathers at the time kept allowing themselves to be placed in the great geopolitical competition of the time not as players but as game pieces. Armenia, needless to say, was the field of play. Like father, like son. It's the same situation today. In the big picture, that is why we now live on only 10% of our historic territory. That is why we were stateless for almost one thousand years. That is why we suffered a genocide. And that is why Armenia is in steady decline today once again. If we want to be one of the  players instead of the one being played, the ONLY option we have as a people is closer cooperation/collaboration with the Russian Federation (in whatever form). And if we don't want closer union with Russia, then we will remain one of the  chess pieces, and we will continue experiencing these types of tragedies from time-to-time.
 
If geopolitics and one of its manifestations, war, is indeed a chess game then soldiers, unfortunately, are the pawns. The loss of every single Armenian life, especially those that have not yet formed families, is a tragedy. Armenia is a tiny enclave of 2.5 million people in a vast sea of Turkic/Islam. Each dead young soldier is a family that will never form. During the first war in the early 1990s, most of the fighters were middle aged men. Most of them already had children. Today, most of the deaths on the battlefield are 20 year old, single men. Thus far, around 500 families will never form. The longer this war takes, the higher will the number get. It's depressing just to think about it. That said, we need to realize that a nation that is incapable or unwilling to shed the blood of its youth in a defensive war will not enjoy or rather does not deserve statehood. In the big picture, this is what geopolitics is all about. This is how major nations operate. We wanted independence, we got it. Now, we have to fight for it. We are in the "big leagues" now as they say. If we want to have statehood, we need to be part of the game, and the game calls for sacrificing your young. It sounds evil and barbaric, and it is. But, on earth, this is how humanity developed from the beginning. Let's not forget that this is the devil's world.
 
The price for political illiteracy is very high. Anglo-American-Jewish influences are deeply corrosive. We are suffering greatly because of our political illiteracy and our love for all things western. The most worrying part is the realization that very few people in today's dumbed-down Armenian society understands any of this. We therefore will continue paying a high price. Politically, economically, genetically, culturally, etc., we Armenians belong to the East. We as a people desperately need to understand this at a deep level. The only way we can be one of the players club so to speak is if we unite with the Russian nation. But if we want to go it alone and be part of the geopolitical game as game pieces, then we need to understand that this is how it will be. Men like Gurgen Yeghyazaryan and Zori Balayan understand history and they understand the nature of the game. Their calls for closer union with Russia is actually a nationalistic/patriotic call. As long as Armenia get to keep its language/alphabet and its armed forces, I don't care what form the union in question should be. In any case, I hope we as a people have finally learned the lesson that we cannot rely on the Western world for anything.
 
The evil empire remains all talk and no action 
 
There may very well be a Satanic and/or a Kabbalistic component to what's going on as well. We all know that Hollywood is one of the world's centers of Satanism and Kabbalism. The following decoding of "Lady Gaga's" mysterious music video featuring Armenian motifs was posted 2 days before the war. In the explanation, disregard the fire at Yerevan's annual Film Festival. The fire in question is currently burning in Artsakh -
Speaking of Satanism and Kabbalism, I would also like to make a point about mainstream news media in the United States. This is one of the biggest conventional wars in recent history, and it holds within it the potential to turn into a world war, and yet the news media in the United States is virtually silent. In a big SCREW YOU! to our pro-American idiots, there is a virtual blackout in American news media about the war. We all know that if a homeless dog gets abused somewhere in the world, it quickly becomes major news in the United States. Apparently, Armenians are considered less than homeless dogs in eyes of Uncle Sam. In fact, Washington DC and London have also been silent. Imagine how much noise Western politicians and their news media organs would make if a single homosexual had gotten beaten-up in Artsakh. Also consider how intense the Anglo-American-Jewish coverage has been of the Syrian war - of course on the side of Turkish-backed Islamic/Wahhabist terrorists. We all know that Anglo-American-Jewish interests, Turkish interests and Islamist-Wahhabist interests have complimented each other for a very long time. And we all known that money talks in a cesspool like Washington DC -
No matter how one looks at it, this is clearly a slap in the face by Anglo-American-Jews that Armenia's Westernizers and Russophobes fully deserve. Yes, we all know the cabal that controls the news media, the entertainment industry and politics in the Western world, particularly in the United States. Regardless of who controls what, I say screw the American empire. Rejoice in the knowledge that the Satanic/Kabbalist empire is slowly dying. Once the big Satan dies, the little ones in Europe in the Middle East will die as well. Therefore, we all need to embrace Blacks and Hispanics, as they are doing God's work. And in a big SCREW YOU! to our equally stupid pro-European Armenians, our European Union and NATO partners have been missing in action as well; but Armenian troops will still continue enthusiastically conducting military drills with them -
Many American-Armenians are having a collective orgasm because President Trump sort of knows what an Armenian is -
And as for our Greek friends: Well, we can at least rejoice in the knowledge that candy from Greece are now reaching the frontlines in Artsakh -
The great shock to many Armenians here is, how could the United States and the European Union ignore Armenia's current plight when Armenia is now a "Democratic" country, a country that is also now trying very hard to be a "pluralistic" country. Not to mention, Yerevan now enjoys "high ratings" in various Western indexes!!! How could this be?!?!?! How could our favorite people favor a Dictatorship over a Democracy? -
What a bunch of idiots we are. About ten years ago, now CIA pension-recipient Paruyr Hayrikyan was advising Armenians that if Armenia became "Democratic" then and only then would Uncle Sam send its "aircraft carriers" to protect Armenia in case the dictatorship in Baku started a war. Throughout his life this mentally disturbed yet highly respected champion of Armenia's independence from the Soviet Union was also trying to convince us Armenians that "Russians are worst than Turks". Here is the mentally ill former CIA operative in 2011 warning Armenians that Armenia needs to become Democratic if Armenians want military help from the United States in time of war -
Paruyr Hayrikyan - Pastark Akumb part 1
Paruyr Hayrikyan - Pastark Akumb part 2
The good news is, Cold War dinosaurs like Paruyr Hayrikyan are no longer relevant in Armenia. The bad news is, the problem Armenia has today is the new regime. Nikol's government has saturated Armenia with agents and activists that are directly and/or indirectly working not only for Anglo-American-Jews but also for Turks and Azeris. This subversion runs through all layers of Armenian society, not just the government. Armenia's official television and radio stations continue to have an unmistakably clear Western-bent in all their programming. Their focus continues to remain on North America and Western Europe. Their interviews and discussions continue featuring large numbers of anti-Russian activists posing "historians", "experts", "political observers" etc., as  well as other Western grant recipients. Armenia Fund (Հայաստան Համահայկական Հիմնադրամ) is similarly hijacked. Foremost, I want to say that I have already made a significant contribution to the organization, and I recommend everyone reading this, friend and foe alike, do the same. That said, I want the reader to also know that the Nikol appointed head of the organization is none-other-than Haykak Arshamyan, a pseudo-historian, a fake nationalist and a well known anti-Russian activist. Under this Hay-kak character, the organization is intentionally belittling, ignoring and misrepresenting our largest and most affluent Diaspora, the two-plus million strong Russian-Armenian community. I have written about this Hay-kak in this blog in the past. Read the following 2011 article appearing in one of the most prolific anti-Russian propaganda outlets in Armenian society, Lragir, which should instead be called Լրա-կլիր, to have a better understanding of who Nikol appointed as head of something as important as Armenia Fund -
In a state of total war and desperately dependent on Russia for survival, Armenia's regime continues to do its best appeal to the Western world. If these people are not traitors, how can they be so damn stupid? Treason and stupidity has always ran deep in Armenian politics. As expected, Nikol's "Democratic" and even "homo friendly" Armenia has completely and utterly failed to impress Anglo-American-Jews. Congratulations to all "Velvet revolutionaries"! Is this why we have been totally trashing Armenian culture as well as the great heritage left to us by Armenia's Russian and Soviet periods for the past 30 years? This is why we have been persistently turning our backs to Russia, the only country on earth that makes our existence possible in a Turkic/Islamic cesspool like the south Caucasus? Is this why we have for the most part ignored our most reliable neighbor, Iran? BBC and Radio Liberty (Armenia's most popular news media) not only can they not even say the "G" word, they cannot even apparently get themselves to unequivocally say Azerbaijani forces shelled the Armenian cathedral at Shushi -
Notice the concise wording on the report put out by Russia's RT -
What we are seeing take place in Artsakh is a historic war. What we are seeing is also a war of civilizations, even if BBC or CNN of Fox refuses to properly cover it. This war will reveal who are Armenia's friends and who are Armenia's enemies. This war will also reveal even to the most stupid Armenian alive today where Armenia's core security interests lie. Let's once again recall that Armenia is dependent on Russia economically and militarily. Armenia's is also dependent on Russia for all its energy needs. Russia guards Armenia's border with Turkey, allowing Armenia to concentrate its resources on countering the threat from Azerbaijan. Moreover, Russia hosts the world's largest and most affluent Armenian Diaspora. Simply put: Russia makes Armenia's existence possible in an impossible region of the world. Other than Armenians, Russia is also the ONLY nation on earth that is ready, willing and able to shed the blood of its soldiers for Armenia's territorial integrity. Armenia cannot afford flirting with Western powers anymore. Western powers and their toxic culture have proven corrosive for Armenia during the post-Soviet era. Armenia is suffering a cultural/civilizational decline as a result. Armenia cannot be allowed to venture too far from the Bear's presence.
 
The South Caucasus is too violent. Armenia cannot go on like this. As long as pan-Turkism and Islamic Wahhabism/Salafism continues to exist in the south Caucaus, Armenia will not be able to develop or prosper. The country will never become a haven for Armenians worldwide. After this round of bloodshed, the primal hate that currently exists between Armenians, Azeris and Turks will only increase. One seldom sees the kind of deep rooted barbaric hate that currently exists between Armenians and Azeris. Watching this war has been like watching gore porn. Showcasing corpses of soldiers fallen on both sides have been a big part of this war. One seldom sees this kind of hate and cruelty. What hapened to our humanity? What happened to a soldier's honor? I didn't expect this by Armenians. It's as if this war has suddenly sucked the humanity out of us. I don't care if the other side acts like barbarians. I also don't care if the other side started it. We are not, or rather should not, be like them. All this is very concerning as it does not bode well for the future. This amount of hate will carry forward for generations to come. Let's not forget that we are neighbors. Even if the war is stopped now, the hate will continue, the calls for revenge will continue, and there will eventually be another war. We can't live like this.
 
A remote, tiny, impoverished and landlocked Armenia will not survive very long in this kind of climate. If Armenia is not placed FULLY under the Russian umbrella (in whichever form), we can lose the country within our lifetimes. We seriously need to start thinking about Armenia's long-term prospects in the south Caucasus after this war ends.

Ultimately, this war was made possible because Armenia ventured too far from the Russian Bear. This war is proof that Armenia has made itself vulnerable in front of the region's predators because Armenian officials did not have the wisdom or foresight to increase Russia's presence not only in inside Armenia but also in Artsakh. This war is proof that Armenia needs a larger Russian presence. This war is proof that Armenia cannot survive in the south Caucasus without Russia. This war is proof that Armenian politics/diplomacy has utterly failed the country. This war could have been avoided, or at the very least it could have been delayed a few more years as we continued to bolster Artsakh's defenses. Nikol's ominous rise to power in 2018 and his machinations behind-the-scenes made this war imminent. Despite their sins, both real and perceived, both presidents Kocharyan and Sargsyan avoided a destructive war like this. Now, we have a very serious situation on our hands and, in my opinion, our Western-financed "nationalists" and "revolutionaries" have the blood of Armenian soldiers on their hands.
 
Nikol must now be pressured to do three things

Nikol is a cunning scoundrel. Armenians, generally speaking, are idiots when it comes to politics. This war is why Nikol is in power today. Because he enjoys the people's trust, he can therefore easily deceive, mislead and betray without much effort. Bare in mind that before being put into power, Nikol was actually quite anti-Russian. He was part of the agenda that created and propagated the slur "Karabakh Clan". He also expressed the desire to return Artsakh controlled territories back to Azerbaijan. Just before this war, Nikol was actually also quite pro-Turkish/Azeri. He unconditionally wanted to open the borders with Turkey. He publicly announced Aliyev was an "educated man". He was apparently also holding secret meetings with Aliyev. Nikol persecuted war prominent war veterans like Kocharyan and Khachaturov. He put a  lot of pressure on the "yerkrapah" war veterans union. His wife was even publicly lamenting the deaths of Azeri soldiers. Nikol's government was until the very start of this war actively preaching pacifism, demilitarization, liberalism, homosexuality, multiculturalism, globalism, etc. They were shutting down nationalistic programs. And, in true neo-Bolshevik form, they were also going after the Church and its leadership.
 
All this, while Baku was rapidly building-up its military potential and drastically increasing its Armenophobic rhetoric.
 
Now, because a major war has started and hundreds of Armenians have died defendiong Artsakh, Nikol and friends have suddenly changed their tune. These NED and Soros funded neo-Bolsheviks are suddenly sounding nationalistic. In my opinion, Nikol and company are saying the right things to save their skin. Nikol in particular knows that he can get killed if he says or does something that may cause the sheeple to wake-up and see who he really is. Moreover, he still needs to maintain the people's trust if he is to bring them to the next, negotiations phase. Nikol is therefore very cleverly managing this war. He will also look to blame Russia for all his failures and setbacks after this war. In my opinion, Nikol was preparing for it during the past two years. Two years ago Nikol preemptively began blaming Russia for future setbacks in Artsakh. On more than one occasion Nikol insinuated that a major military attack against Artsakh by Azerbaijan will ultimately be Russia's fault because Moscow is the only power that can stop Baku -
Russia Can Prevent Karabakh War, Says Pashinian
And then, Nikol suddenly turned around and basically provoked a war with Baku -

Armenia’s prime minister controversially declared that “Karabakh is Armenia - period”
In American idiom, Nikol was basically "preparing his field of play" and of course "covering his ass". Nikol was meticulously preparing Armenians for today's setbacks in Artsakh, which, as noted above, he and his Western financed agents will blame on Russia. I therefore expect serious internal problems in Armenia after this war ends. So, the nightmare may not end when the war ends. In any case, we need to disregard what this cunning street scoundrel, who made a living via the NED and who worked for Levon Petrosyan, is saying in public and just keep an eye on what he is doing. And what he is doing thus far is very little.
 
It has been about three weeks into this war and Armenia's military has not yet begun directly assisting Artsakh's military. It has been about three weeks into this war and no serious effort is yet being made to use Armenia's powerful military potential to neutralize the deadly drone threat over Artsakh. It has been about three weeks into this war and no effort has yet been made to bring the war into Azerbaijan. It has been about three weeks into this war and Ganja's oil/gas pipelines, Baku's life force, have not yet been bombed. Three weeks into this war and Artsakh is being forced to fight strictly a defensive war and without significant participation of Armenia's armed forces. Thus far, we have many hundreds of dead, throusands of wounded and Artsakh has lost significant amount of territory in the south. If Armenia does not recognize Artsakh's independence and begins directly assisting in its defense, we can potentially suffer a major defeat in the coming weeks. Therefore, we are at a point where true patriots need to pressure the Nikol regime to do 3 fundamental things:
1) Recognize or annex Artsakh
2) Provide direct military assistance to Artsakh
3) Call in the Russians if the war continues to escalate
We must never lose sight of the fact that Nikol is Levon Petrosyan's acolyte. Levon's entire political existence in Armenia has always revolved around settling the Artsakh dispute in accordance with the wishes of the "international community". Let us also not forget the kind of neo-Bolshevik/neo-Marxist trash Nikol brought into Armenia's government in an effort to initially convince us Armenians that Azeris and Turks are our potential friends. Nikol was chosen for this day in history. He will be given more tasks to carry through after this war is over. We therefore need to pay close attention not to his words but to his actions in the coming weeks and months. And we need to hope that there are political forces inside Armenia that can mitigate the danger emanating from today's regime in Yerevan.
 
Nations wage war when they assess that their opponent is weak

Every single ruling administration Armenia has had during the past 30 years betrayed Artsakh in one form or another. However, the first regime (which started the road we are on today) and the current regime (which is bringing it to its logical conclusion) are MOST at fault. Kocharyan and Sargsyan merely did their best to prolong the status quo (that is the best that can be said about them) and of course accumulate wealth in the process. EVERY setback in Artsakh today is ultimately Nikol's fault because he is the one in power today, not Sargsyan, not Kocharyan. And since Nikol is also the so-called "people's choice", the so-called "people" is also at fault to a certain degree. This is why I say Nikol's (and Levon's) supporters now have the blood of Armenian soldiers on their hands. At the end of all this, those in power today and their degenerate supporters will try to put all the blame on Putin, on Russia, on "Serjik", or on "Robik". They will blame everyone but themselves.
 
Nations go to war when they sense weakness in their opponent. Nations wage war when they have assessed that they have the advantage over their opponent. For the past two years, Nikol and his CIA/Soros financed government did their best to preach liberalism and pacifism. For the past two years, Nikol's government did their best to convince us that Turks were not a threat. For the past two years, Nikol's government did its best to paint Baku's dictatorship in a good light. For the past two years, Nikol did his best to populate all sectors of Armenia's government with professional Globalists. For the past two years, Nikol thought that a "Democratic Armenia" would be embraced by Western powers. For the past two years, Nikol did his best to populate all sectors of Armenia's government with professional Russophobes. Everything about Nikol's regime signaled weakness and vulerability from day one. And Baku was ready.
 
Baku had purchased over 10 billion dollars worth of modern weaponry from around the world since 2013. Baku had spent massive amounts of money on lobbying efforts not only in Turkey, Israel, Europe and United States, it's traditional allies, but also in Russia and Iran, which were Yerevan's traditional allies but they lacked a discernible Armenian presence. Baku saw limited Russian and Iranian presence in the south Caucasus. Baku saw that Russia was preoccupied in Syria, Libya, Belarus and Ukraine. Baku saw that Iran was preoccupied in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Yemen. Baku also saw an increased Turkish and Israeli involvement in the south Caucasus. More recently, Baku also saw a Western-funded liberal government come to power in an increasingly unstable Armenia. Baku saw Armenian society becoming increasingly pacifistic, as Azerbaijani society was becoming increasingly warlike. Baku also saw the rise of tensions between Yerevan and Moscow as a result of Armenia's new government. In a nutshell: Armenia now has a liberal/globalist government in power; Russia and Iran have a limited presence in the south Caucasus; Erdogan's Turkey is on a neo-Ottoman offensive throughout the region; Israel is actively plotting against Iran. Aliyev may have therefore calculated that this would be the best time to start a war, a war that in the eyes of Azerbaijan's increasingly Armenophobic population was long overdue. And here we are.
 
As soon as Nikol came to power, Baku's saber rattling began to grow much louder. Soon after Nikol rose to power, a significant amount of strategic territory on Armenia's border with Nakhijevan was also taken by Azerbaijan's military. Yet, not a peep was heard from Nikol and his government about Baku's g. rowing militarismWhat Nikol's CIA and Soros-financed regime instead did was continue preaching pacifism and liberalism. On the eve of this war, Nikol's government was busy opening an embassy in Israel (an openly hostile nation whos weapons are killing a great number of Armenians in Artsakh today) and of course chasing Russian spies. Nikol's government coming to power in Armenia was the best thing that could have happened to Baku, Ankara and tel Aviv. And here we are. Today, Nikol's regime is failing to protect Artsakh. If it is not gross incompetence, then it has to be premeditated treason.

Not recognizing Artsakh in 1994 was as a major mistake. However, not recognizing Artsakh TODAY (and providing it with better military means to defend itself) can only be called CRIMINAL or TREASONOUS.
 
Due to Nikol's incompetence and/or treason, everyday we are losing dozens of soldiers in Artsakh, as well as territory. Artsakh has already lost significant amounts of territory in its southern regions. Where is Nikol's recognition of Artsakh? What happened to "Artsakh is Armenia"? Why is Armenia's armed forces being held back from assisting in Artsakh defense? What happened to attacking Ganja's energy pipelines? What happened to the "new war, new territories" strategy we kept hearing so much about? It concerns me that not many of our severely dumbed-down compatriots are realizing any of this. It concerns me that many of my compatriots would rather enthusiastically count Azeri corpses like a bunch of barbarians. It concerns me that it has been about three weeks since the start of this war and thus far Nikol's regime seems to be doing everything it can not to win this war.
 
I believe it's deliberate. I believe it's premeditated. I believe Nikol was put in power for this day in history.
 
In closing, I would like to reassure you all that Russian officials are currently closely monitoring this war to make sure it does not get out-of-control. Moscow has even sent military units to southern Armenia as a stern signal to Baku and Ankara. Moscow also has its war journalists right on the frontlines in Artsakh. One Russian journalist was severely injured when Azerbaijan deliberately bombed a cathedral in Shushi. And one Russian journalist was just recently in Hadrut with Armenia's Defense Ministry's press secretary, Artsrun Hovanissyan. Moscow is watching attentively. The Kremlin is not happy with this kind of instability on its southern border. The Kremlin is not happy with Ankara's and Baku's adventures in the south Caucasus. Moscow will be forced intervene if this war gets to a critical point. Let there be no doubt about that. Moscow's red-line is Armenia, but Artsakh's defense is Armenia's responsibility. From a tactical standpoint, Artsakh's long-term salvation and how its border will look is now dependent on how well Armenian troops in Artsakh perform on the battlefield, although, as noted above, they are currently fighting with limited help from Armenia. From a strategic standpoint, however, Artsakh's long-term health and well-being will ultimately continue depending on Moscow, or rather the nature of Russian-Armenian relations. That said, even here the performance of Armenian troops on the battlefields of Artsakh will play a determining role. Simply put: The more stubborn the resistence Artsakh's military shows on the battlefield, the more leverage will Armenia have on the negotiations table when the time comes. And that time is indeed coming. Therefore, a lot is now dependent on our soldiers' bravery and sacrifice on the battlefields of Artsakh. God bless them all.

Arevordi,
Autumn, 2020


*** *** ***
 
 Armenian-Turkish War: Review and Analysis
 
https://moderndiplomacy.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/nagorno-karabakh.jpg

Summary:

While the American mainstream media was busy discussing the fly on Mike Pence’s head during Vice Presidential Debate, the Armenian-Turkish conflict entered the second week of violence across the entire line of contact (LoC) between the Republic of Artsakh and Azerbaijan as many regional and extra-regional powers have taken a neutral stand and watch attentively from the sidelines. An attempt by Azerbaijani-Turkish and ISIS-linked formations to encircle Artsakh by taking over its strategic communication highways with the Republic of Armenia while carrying out devastating blows against the Artsakh’s Defense Army in a new and enhanced blitzkrieg strategy has failed dramatically. The Anti-Armenian coalition led by Turkish generals got bogged down in the north and south of Artsakh as the scale of the attack begins to whimper and exhale its last breath. Armenian churches, towns and villages now bear the brunt of a losing barbarian who willingly sacrifices the lives of his own citizens to sustain his bloodthirsty rule in Baku.

In the meantime, Armenia is making waves on the diplomatic front by joining the coalition of states fighting a global war against the international terrorism. This war couldn’t have come at a worse time than presently, when the world is still reeling from the global pandemic of Covid-19 and the economic turmoil caused by nationwide lockdowns that it has precipitated. Although many aspects of this conflict may appear to be clear and well-known there are other aspects of this conflict that haven’t been seriously analyzed and continue to remain mute. This conflict like many others has many twists and turns to it and perhaps it is time to take a closer look at a bigger picture that very few realize. For anyone who is well-versed in global history and world politics it is no brainer to figure out that random events of regional and global implications are very few and far in between. Everything starts with an end in mind and everyone involved is a rational actor. As such, what is driving this conflict and what is going to be its likely outcome ?

Background:

Within the first two weeks of battles that were carefully planned and managed by Turkish generals against the tiny Armenian republic of Artsakh for many weeks if not months Azerbaijani-Turkish militaries and their adjunct terrorist mercenaries from Syria and Libya failed to accomplish their main objectives. Specifically, they failed to take over any region of Artsakh (there are seven of them) and began to lose their initiative after three days of heavy battles in the north and south of Artsakh. The failure to make progress prompted the government of Azerbaijan to transfer the command and control of the war to Turkish generals. By October 9th, 2020, the loses of the combined anti-Armenian coalition exceeded 4,000 soldiers, over 500 tanks and armored vehicles, nearly 200 combat UAVs, 17 combat jets, 16 combat helicopters and 9 MLRS. In the meantime, thousands of civilian homes and important pieces of Artsakh’s regional infrastructure are being destroyed by Azerbaijani-Turkish air force and rocket artillery systems. Dozens of Armenian civilians, among them children and hundreds of Armenian soldiers found their end under the hail of bombs and missiles rained down upon them by the brutal regimes of Aliyev and Erdogan. Despite the odds, combined Armenian armed forces continue to stand their ground.

The war itself started only a few days after large scale Azerbaijani-Turkish military exercises ended while the Russian-led CSTO military exercised named Kavkaz-2020 were still in full swing. Even though the military exercised ended for Turkey and Azerbaijan, Turkey didn’t withdraw any of his soldiers (over 3,000 of them) or any of its military equipment (hundreds of them, including F-16 combat jets). According to Azerbaijani-Turkish planners the attack was supposed to have been a surprise attack yet it wasn’t which explains the difficulties encountered by the enemy on the ground. The Armenian military intelligence had full knowledge about the main directions of the attack which allowed the Armenian side to better prepare themselves to fight off Azerbaijani-Turkish aggression against them. Before the war even began photo and video evidence began to pour into Armenian and Russian media outlets from Kurdish and Syrian sources indicating that Turkish military was actively involved in recruiting Syrian and Libyan jihadist fighters and transporting them to Azerbaijan for the upcoming offensive against the Armenians. After a week of battles corresponding Russian, French and U.S. sources confirmed the presence of ISIS-linked jihadist fighters in Azerbaijan and their active involvement in the aggression against the Republic of Artsakh.

Analysis:

Tactical retreats carried out a few days ago by the Armenian armed forces in the north and south of Artsakh led to unsubstantiated euphoria among Azerbaijani-Turkish troops who for a moment thought that they were winning the war; only to find out later that they were lured into a trap that closed on them so suddenly that only a few managed to escape leaving behind numerous casualties on battle fields along the Araxes River in the south and the mountains of Shahumyan region in the north. Hundreds of pieces of military hardware worth more than a billion dollars found their end in battles against the Artsakh’s Defense Army. The Israeli and Turkish made UAVs have been falling off the sky all over Armenian-Azerbaijani LoC like droplets of water in a rain storm. As Russia, United States and France confirmed the presence of ISIS-linked terrorist groups from Syria and Libya among the Azerbaijani-Turkish formations the war took a different turn by getting out of its sub-regional context and forcefully entering into a greater regional and global context, where a number of nation-states are waging wars against the web of international terrorism hiding under a false guise of religious piety and the end times fatalism.

Not surprisingly this war broke out in the middle of Covid-19 pandemic and nation-wide lockdowns caused by this pandemic, amidst large number of unemployed and on the backdrop of racial, ethnic and religious tensions around the world which have paralyzed concerted international responses to regional challenges including the war in Artsakh. Present international situation is reminiscent of the situation during WW-1 when Armenian Genocide took place while the rest of the world was busy fighting each other. However, unlike WW-1, the Armenian community around the world is much stronger than before and unlike the time of WW-1 the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh are better prepared to defend themselves against existential threats in a very hostile geopolitical environment. Presently the combined Armenian armed forces are better trained and better equipped than ever before which allows them to retaliate against Azerbaijani-Turkish attacks in a very effective manner, causing significant damages to enemy troops and materiel on the ground. This war is unlike the wars of 1988-1994 or 2016.

While the war is ongoing it is worth to take a moment and consider a number of events that preceded the war in order to better understand what is happening right now. Specifically, last month the Republic of Armenia began negotiations with the United States of America over establishing a strategic partnership agreement between the two countries. Sometime in the middle of October they were going to sign this agreement after finalizing different points of the proposed cooperation. However, the war broke out two weeks before the agreement was going to be finalized. Definitely, either one country or a group of countries didn’t want to see a growing American influence in the region and for them resuming war in Artsakh was beneficial, especially when they weren’t going to be directly involved in this conflict. The weakening of Armenia and Azerbaijan was to their advantage as that would allow them to push forward with their own agendas that serve their own national interests at the expense of both sides bleeding out in this conflict. Regardless which side would win in this war the original objective by a number of regional and extra-regional powers to destabilize the region and benefit in the process would be accomplished nonetheless.

It is also worth mentioning that the war followed after a major agreement between Armenia and China a few months before which envisioned the construction of a smart city in Armenia at the cost of $12 billion dollars provided by China within five years. The Armenian-Chinese agreement was taking place within the context of Belt and Road Initiative meant to build road and railroad links across Eurasia to deliver Chinese goods to world markets. Within the same context, about a week before the war in Artsakh the Chinese construction company resumed its work on North-South highway that was going to connect with China-Iran highway traversing across Central Asia within a short period of time. One of the routes under the Belt and Road initiative was going to go through Azerbaijan and another route was going to go through Armenia. Furthermore, the war in Artsakh began in a few days after the largest Chinese embassy in the world opened in Yerevan. At about the same time riots and protest demonstration broke out in Kirgizstan, a country in Central Asia that borders China and which is part of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative as well.

To general populace these events may appear to be random and totally disconnected, however to experienced political observers the resumption of war in Artsakh within given context above may not appear to be random at all. It is meant to keep out new major powers from entering the region while driving out at least one of the traditional powers from the region. If history is any guide a series of major events is anticipated to happen in a near future as this is just the beginning, the tip of an iceberg. What would make their outcomes positive or negative for Armenia will depend on how Armenia reacts to it. Similar events have happened before such as the rise and fall of Roman and Byzantine empires, the rise and fall of Russian, Ottoman and Persian empires, the rise and fall of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall, the beginning and end of the Cold War and so on. For Armenia to survive for another hundred years and forward it must place its hopes upon itself, follow its intuition, strengthen itself at all cost and never forget that it is not only a country, a nation-state but also a civilization that gave rise to other civilizations, and unlike them it continuous to stand strong on its feet, five thousand years after the defeat of its arch-enemy, the ancient Babylon.

Conclusion:

This war is the beginning of a larger war that looms on the horizon. Just like the Artsakh Liberation War set the stage for the significant changes on the global scene such as the collapse of the Soviet Union and the removal of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of Yugoslavia and the end of Cold War, similarly this war is the beginning of a series of significant changes that will take place both regionally and globally that very few may realize. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. This is the end of the post-Cold War era and the beginning of the new world order where a number of countries and international structures will lose their significance while some of them will face their own demise. This conclusion should not be a surprise to any as it is the way of human kind. Interactions among nation-states and coalition of states be that positive or negative are always in a constant flux as the new powers come to replace the old powers while old powers do their best to continue remain in power. The strong countries will survive and the weak will go into the dustbin of history like many that came before them.

The Armenian-Azerbaijani/Turkish war is characterized by the clash of more than two major powers in a very small region yet too significant for its own size. This war is not only a violent clash between Armenian and Azerbaijani/Turkish-ISIS linked forces, but also it is a violent clash between the East and the West, between Shia Islam and Sunni Islam; it is a clash within Shia Islam and within Sunni Islam. It is also a clash between multiple civilizations and a number of competing nation-states and supra-national structures; it is a clash between the past and the future taking place in the present. Only the strength in unity of all Armenians around the world and the fate in its own capabilities which allowed Armenia to exist until this very day will allow the Armenian nation to continue on for another five thousand years against all odds and regardless which country would like to see its demise, be that Azerbaijan, Turkey or anyone else. The Armenian victory in this war is inevitable because there is no other choice.

 
War in Nagorno-Karabakh. Why this time is different
 

The recent outbreak of fighting over the small mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh has a different context than previous clashes or the war in the early 1990s. Nevertheless, regardless of whether or not the current fighting will result in a long-lasting and all-out war, the conflict is poised to remain unsolvable for the foreseeable future.

What many had predicted and most had feared has finally happened. The decades-old conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding districts, which are controlled by Armenia and predominantly inhabited by Armenians, but legally recognised by the international community as a part of Azerbaijan, has entered a new, hot phase. Since September 27th, the two warring South Caucasian republics and the armed forces of the internationally unrecognised Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, allied with Armenia, have been embroiled in intense fighting for already more than ten days.

This time, however, things differ significantly from the many previous skirmishes and military confrontations that have broken out in irregular intervals since the conclusion of the 1994 Russia-brokered ceasefire. This applies to the intensity and scope of the current conflict, the conflict rhetoric used by Baku and Yerevan, as well as its timing. These differences are embedded in major structural changes that have recently unfolded on the global level: the erosion of a US-led unipolar international system and the rise of a multipolar, supposedly more disordered, world have brought about the regionalisation of territorial conflicts and empowered regional and new actors, such as Turkey and Russia. Together, these developments indicate that the current fighting in the South Caucasus is not only of a temporary nature, but could soon reach the level of escalation that resembles the period of 1991-1994 – or possibly even go beyond, when the region was engulfed in an all-out war, with more than 30,000 dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.

But what exactly is different this time?

First, the military clashes between the rivalling countries over the past two and a half decades have mainly taken place along the so-called line of contact and in parts of the disputed territory. Since this past summer, when the two sides engaged in military clashes for a few days, the conflict has expanded. Today, Armenia and Azerbaijan, using high-tech drones mainly of Israeli (Azerbaijan) and Russian (Armenia) origin, are piercing into towns and cities in and beyond Nagorno-Karabakh, targeting populated civilian areas. Armenia is said to have launched missile strikes on Ganja and Mingechevir, two major cities in Azerbaijan, while Azerbaijani forces have been shelling Vardenis and – by allegedly using cluster bombs – most of all Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh. To date, the uncompromising use of state-of-the-art, short- and mid-range weapons systems has caused hundreds of casualties on both sides. As little reliable information is available, and considering the intensity of the fighting, it can be assumed that the actual number of victims is even significantly higher.

Second, the increased potential for further escalation is a result of the assertive and openly aggressive rhetoric voiced by both Yerevan and Baku over the last years. The Armenian prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, who came to power in the spring of 2018 in the wake of Armenia’s Velvet Revolution, said on August 6th, 2019 during a visit to Stepanakert that “Nagorno-Karabakh is Armenia. Period.” Since the outbreak of the current hostilities, he has also repeatedly emphasised that “Artsakh” (the Armenian name of Nagorno-Karabakh) is a “holy homeland” and that Azerbaijani attacks must, therefore, be viewed as a “declaration of war on the Armenian people”.

In turn, the latest statements by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev are equally telling. Statements that Azerbaijan must now “restore its territorial integrity” and that the ongoing military operation will “end the occupation” suggest that Baku is determined to change the status quo by means of military force not seen since the early 1990s. This leads directly to the third major difference compared to past outbreaks of fighting: the issue of timing. Why does the conflict, that has always – and incorrectly – been categorised as “frozen”, escalate at this very moment? Several domestic and trans-regional factors offer helpful explanations.

In Azerbaijan, frustration within the ruling elite and in large parts of society towards the OSCE Minsk process (aimed at regulating the conflict since 1994 and led by Russia, the United States and France) runs deep. The absence of any progress at the negotiation table for more than 26 years, the brief hostilities in July this year, when Azerbaijan had to witness the loss of high-ranking military personnel, in conjunction with the recent announcement by Yerevan to construct another road from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh, led to spontaneous mass rallies in Baku. These were marked by revanchist and ultra-nationalist slogans as well as explicit demands calling on the regime to go to war with Armenia. Protesters even stormed parts of the parliament in Baku, signalling to Aliyev that maintaining the status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh will no longer be tolerated. Likewise, Pashinyan’s power grab in 2018 benefitted from popular disappointment with the previous Armenian regime over the loss of territory in April 2016.

Both countries are also suffering significantly from the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and their already ailing health systems are on the verge of collapse. Whereas the Armenian government managed to transform the previously impressive macro-economic successes into microeconomic growth, at least in the three years up to the outbreak of the pandemic, the corona-crisis has nearly undone all of those gains. The economic situation for oil and gas producing Azerbaijan, where the population has suffered considerable income losses over the past five years, is even more dramatic. Low market prices and corona-related decreases in demand for hydrocarbons, as well as the past depreciation of the national currency, have increased pressure on the regime, which is highly dependent on revenues from oil and gas exports.

While rebooting the decades-old conflict is associated with considerable and unforeseeable risks, it is seen from the point of view of both regimes as a useful political tool to disguise failing legitimacy, poor performance and popularity deficits, at least in the short run. In Azerbaijan, the narrative that the regime has cultivated propagandistically for decades, notably that the “lost” territory must be finally “brought home”, is virtually the only means of uniting an otherwise divided and fractious population.

At least from an Azerbaijani perspective, current trans-regional developments also seem favourable to let the conflict escalate. Perceptions, according to which Russia, which time and again, managed to contain the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, is busy preventing another revolution in the post-Soviet space – this time in Belarus – as well as the imposition of new western sanctions over the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, play a role that cannot be underestimated.

At the same time, for Russia, linked to Armenia through the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) while being a major arms supplier of Azerbaijan, war in the South Caucasus may be a welcome opportunity to hit two birds with one stone: shifting international attention away from Belarus and the Navalny case; while punishing Pashinyan by not offering military support. Since Pashinyan came to power, the Kremlin has been very suspicious of his flirtations with the European Union.

Lastly, a new player has entered the conflict – Turkey. At the end of July this year, the two brotherly states – Azerbaijan and Turkey – closely linked militarily through an agreement on strategic partnership and mutual support and other defence pacts, carried out the largest military manoeuvres to date. The establishment of a Turkish military base in the Azeri exclave of Nakhchivan also appears to be imminent. Both developments serve as a powerful signal to Armenia, but also Russia, that Ankara is now willing to project and exert influence and military power in the South Caucasus. President Recep Erdoğan’s recent statement that Azerbaijan “must take matters into its own hands” as far as Nagorno-Karabkh is concerned and can “count on the support of Turkey”, together with the resolution adopted by the Turkish parliament just a few days ago accusing Armenia of violating international law, suggest that the regime in Baku feels emboldened to push ahead.

Regardless of whether the current fighting will result in a long-lasting and all-out war or not: the conflict over the small mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh is poised to remain unsolvable for the foreseeable future. Both sides are likely to balance each other out militarily and neither one of them will find it easy to sustain the financial costs incurred with protracted intense fighting. From the standpoint of the regimes in Baku and Yerevan, the domestic political benefits of keeping the conflict alive seem in fact significant, as their respective societies lack the readiness to agree to territorial concessions.

Above all, due to their pronounced nationalistic and backward-looking rhetoric, both regimes have, in a certain way, linked their political survival to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue and, therefore, have limited their own room for manoeuvre with regard to hammering out compromise solutions. And lastly: as long as the international community remains unable and unwilling to exert lasting pressure on the protagonists of the conflict to engage in true peace negotiations, the current battles will be just another bloody step towards further armed conflict and more human suffering.

Source: https://neweasterneurope.eu/2020/10/09/war-in-nagorno-karabakh-why-this-time-is-different/
 
Death toll soars as Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict escalates: 'This is a fight against jihadists'
 
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Ever since tensions flared up again late last month, everything from rockets to missiles to munitions continues to crack in and around Nagorno-Karabakh -- the hotly fought-after land parcel bordering Christian-dominant Armenia and Muslim-majority Azerbaijan. And there is little reprieve in sight, with both countries accusing each other of having triggered the renewed clashes.

"It is a full-scale war with all its elements. Heavy fighting on the frontline along with a humanitarian crisis in almost the whole territory," Varuzhan Geghamyan, a 29-year-old researcher in Stepanakert, told Fox News. "Twice, I have seen cluster bombs not far away from our car while driving. There are many unexploded bombs on the streets of Stepanakert and Shushi."

He described the eruption as "unprecedented," charting it as a "fight against the jihadists" -- and one that has propelled the populous underground. While internationally recognized as belonging to Azerbaijan, the region is mostly populated by ethnic Armenians -- sometimes referred to as Armenian "separatists." Yet caught in the crossfire are the civilians not only inside the enclave's capital of Stepanakert but also those living in the surrounding mountains and villages as potent, long-range weapons stem from both sides. The once small but imperial capital, defined by homes carved in ancient stones and wide streets stretching out into teal horizons, is now something of a smoldering heap, with chunks of neighborhoods reduced to ruin and buildings left to blister and burn.

"Chaotic shelling of Stepanakert by Azerbaijani army continuous for already 11 days. So almost whole civilian life is fully conducted in bomb shelters, which resulted in a new humanitarian crisis," Geghamyan lamented.

Some say that it is not only Stepanakert that is being strangled, but that their small villages and desolate farmlands have become fatally wounded places too – and even when they drive to the very edges of their towns, they're forced to wrangle war from the sky.

"There has been so much damage to private property – we are trying to record all losses, but the volume is just too high. It's already in the tens of millions in damages," said Artak Beglaryan, a 32-year-old human rights defender. "We are seeing the use of banned weaponry – like very large cluster bombs – and many human losses because of this. People are scared, they have gone underground, or they are fleeing to IDP camps or to become refugees in Armenia. Even far from frontlines, people are dying."

Beglaryan, himself having lost his eyesight after stepping on a landmine as a child, called -- somewhat darkly -- for the world not to "turn a blind eye" to the ignited conflict. Nonetheless, displacement camps are fast filling with weeping women and small children, still craning their necks and staring into the dark sky – waiting for something to fall. Similarly, on the Azerbaijani side, there are no shortages of faces resembling maps of grief -- the fear and anxiety of the past two weeks evident as the diplomatic process unravels, with little in the way of a concrete solution to stop the bombs raining down.

"Since the very first day, Armenians bombarded our homes, schools, kindergartens and more than 30 peaceful people were killed as a result, and hundreds are wounded," Natig Musayev, a Terter district resident, told Fox News. "But despite artillery shelling by the enemy and casualties among civilians, there is no panic among us, these are our lands, and we will not leave under no circumstances."

He said the past 12 days were spent glued to radios and television screens delineating news from the battlefield, underscoring that more than 30 civilians -- including several school children -- have lost lives and limbs as a consequence of relentless shelling, cautioning the casualty count will only rise in coming days. Yet Musayev insisted he and his neighbors remain clam in the face of the bombardment.

"I am not afraid at all. I am proud because we have a strong army and a strong spirit. We did not want war because nobody wants to see his or her close ones to be killed or become disabled," he continued. "But we have to liberate our occupied territories."

Authorities said this week that rockets had struck the residential region of Ganja, Azerbaijan's second-largest city, with photos circulated on social media showing houses razed and smoke billowing through the sky. Baku has accused Armenia of firing rockets not only from Nagorno-Karabakh but also from its national territory, a charge that Yerevan has adamantly denied. The Nagorno-Karabakh preserve has been a source for skirmishes since the 1994 ceasefire between the two former Soviet nations. The terrain technically rests in Azerbaijan, as per international law, but it is generally defined as being controlled and populated by the ethnic Armenians -- with Armenia's support to run its affairs independently from Baku, the Azerbaijan capital since the Soviet Union fell almost three decades ago.

The prized parcel -- rich in minerals, mulberry groves and alpine meadows --- is a point of patriotic pride for both countries. The OSCE Minsk Group, co-chaired by France, Russia and the U.S., was established in 1992 in a bid to find an amicable solution. While a ceasefire was declared two years later, the dispute languishes. But of particular interest to the international community are the weapons being used from both sides – supplied by different international players and providing a concerning window into the future of aerial warfare. Despite disavowals from both Baku and Ankara, many in the international community have pointed fingers at Turkey for entering the fighting fray on behalf of Azerbaijan and against its long-running enemy Armenia, thus adding increased lethality and potency to the clashes.

Satellite imagery published this week highlights at least two F-16 Viper fighter jets -- most likely from Ankara's arsenal -- spotted at Ganja International Airport in Azerbaijan earlier this month. The Armenian Ministry of Defense claimed last week that one of its SU-25 military jets was shot down by a Turkish F-16 that departed from Azerbaijan; however, both Azerbaijan and Turkey have refuted that declaration. Moscow is also believed to be playing something of a pivotal part behind the scenes. While Russia has relations with both parties, militarily and diplomatically, it is closer to Armenia and has a base inside the country. But according to Seth Frantzman, executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, the ongoing cross-border battle is being characterized by a "unique type of fighting" -- that is, Azerbaijan's use of armed drones against Armenia's tanks, artillery and military vehicles.

"While armed drones have been used for decades by the U.S. in the global war on terror, Baku's decision to deploy hundreds of new types of drones raises the curtain on the future of war," he noted.

These "new types" are known as "suicide drones" or "loitering munitions," and they function by "swarming" enemy positions. For years, Frantzman noted, Azerbaijan has been acquiring them from Israel in addition to the SkyStriker from Elbit Systems, made in the Jewish state. Baku is also believed to have collected an array of other drones -- such as the Turkish TB2 Bayraktars, a scaled-down rendition of the U.S. Reaper, which has been supplying fighters in Libya, Iraq, and Syria. Zara Amatuni, a regional representative for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), emphasized that the deluge in attacks involving heavy explosive weaponry -- and crashing on civilian turf -- is coming from both sides.

"We are seeing a lot of civilian injuries, including children and the use of heavy explosive weaponry," she said Thursday. "People are moving into shelters and basements, which do not have proper sanitary conditions, and we are observing problems with the onset of winter. Hospitals and schools have been damaged by artillery fire, and the threat of COVID is straining the healthcare system even more."

Amatuni also pointed out that there has been little to no lull in the mayhem, with "the intensity of the dangerous and volatile" situation holding strong. The ICRC is calling for the immediate protection of civilian areas, obligations that must be adhered to under international law And while the likes of the United States, along with France and Russia, have been calling for a quell in the fighting in joint statements, such requests have fallen on deaf ears. The Pentagon and U.S. State Department have granted a range of aid packages to both sides of the conflict; however, Democrats in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have pegged a large portion of the blame on Azerbaijan and NATO ally Turkey for provoking and inflaming the fighting.

In a letter sent last week to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, signed by ranking member Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and 10 other Senate Democrats, a fervent request was made to suspend security assistance to Baku and demand NATO ally Turkey step out of the combat theater. Canada has also announced it is freezing arms exports to Turkey, and Israel has hinted it might also pause commercial sales pending further investigation. As it stands, more than 250 people have been killed in the recent rash of violence, and countless numbers have been wounded. Fears of a broader ripple effect hover, especially if Armenia hits oil and natural gas pipelines in Azerbaijan, which will send a raw ripple effect through the Caucus as the winter frost comes to bare. However, the likes of Musayev paint a very different picture of who is to fault for the fighting.

"Nagorno Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan. The international community must respect the right of these people to return to their homes and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan," he asserted. "We want nothing other than our rights to be restored."


Armenia braced for LONG WAR in Nagorno-Karabakh, PM Pashinyan's adviser warns saying Turkey behaves like ‘regional terminator’
 
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The ongoing fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region is unlikely to end quickly, a top Armenian official has warned. He said Yerevan is preparing for a protracted conflict, not least because of Turkey’s role in events. “We are preparing for a long-term war. Why? Because, I say it again, the main player here is not Azerbaijan but Turkey,” Vagarshak Harutyunyan, a senior adviser to Armenia’s Prime minister Nikol Pashinyan told a Latvian YouTube channel on Monday. Turkey, a close partner for Baku but a historical foe for Yerevan, is “directly involved” in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian-populated landlocked enclave within Azerbaijan. Fierce fighting erupted on the disputed region’s borders on Sunday, with both Armenian and Azeri troops using heavy weaponry, large-caliber artillery, and combat aircraft in the clashes. Harutyunyan, formerly Armenia’s Defense Minister, spoke of the universal conscription call-up recently issued in his own country as well as Nagorno-Karabakh, indicating that he wasn’t convinced the conflict will end any time soon.

The duration of the war will depend on many factors: on how the hostilities will proceed, [and] on the reactions of the international community.

The PM’s aide has further criticized Turkey, suggesting it is using Azerbaijan and “push[ing] it towards war in order to achieve its geopolitical goals in this region.” Ankara “behaves like a regional terminator, and is practically at war with all of its neighbors,” Harutyunyan opined. Earlier, Baku denounced allegations of Turkish involvement in the crisis. “There is no foreign interference,” Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency. Turkey has vocally supported Baku since the border fighting started, with top officials pulling no punches when it came to blaming Armenia for escalating the conflict. Earlier on Monday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Armenian “occupation” of Nagorno-Karabakh – which he described as “Azerbaijani land” – must end to secure peace in the region. So far, there has been no proof presented of any material support provided by Turkey. However, Yerevan claims Turkey had transported some 4,000 Syrian militants to Azerbaijan to help it gain the upper hand in Nagorno-Karabakh. Baku brushed aside these allegations, accusing its arch-enemy of funneling Syria-based “ethnic Armenian militants” into the region.

Source: https://www.rt.com/russia/501915-armenia-prepares-long-war-karabakh/

Call to arms: Armenia declares martial law & TOTAL MOBILIZATION as fighting against Azerbaijan continues

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Members of Armenia’s army reserve were ordered to report to their local conscription office, on Sunday, shortly after their country’s forces engaged in heavy fighting with troops from Azerbaijan over disputed Nagorno-Karabakh. The nationwide conscription call and the introduction of martial law were both announced by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. His Facebook post urged reservists to turn up at their territorial recruitment offices “for the sake of our homeland and for the sake of victory.”  The call to arms and martial law will be put in place because Azerbaijan may decide to attack Armenia, the premier clarified in an address to the nation later in the day.

Comprising around 44,000 active-duty troops – less than half of them conscripts – the Armenian military relies on a 210,000-strong standing reserve. Armenians who have completed military service as enlisted personnel bear an obligation to become soldiers in wartime up to the age of 50. Officers are mandated to remain in the reserve force until they turn 60. The mobilisation comes shortly after intense fighting broke out along the border of Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory wedged between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Both sides reported civilian casualties and blamed each other for starting hostilities that involved artillery shelling as well as the use of combat aircraft and heavy armor.

Earlier in the day, the Azerbaijani military reported the seizure of several strategic locations and settlements along the front line. The claim, however, was quickly rejected by the Armenians. Meanwhile, Baku said it sees no need to follow Armenia’s lead by issuing a full conscription call. Reservists may be summoned by the army, but there’s “no such need” at present, Azeri military officials stated. While populated and administered by ethnic Armenians, Baku considers the region as part of Azerbaijan. Both sides fought a war in the 1990s, triggered by Nagorno-Karabakh’s decision to cede from Azerbaijan following the dissolution of the USSR. Earlier on Sunday, the breakaway region also declared martial law and mobilized its male population.

Source: https://www.rt.com/russia/501841-armenia-military-mobilization-karabakh/

Azerbaijan follows Armenia in announcing martial law after intensive border clashes
 
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Azerbaijan has introduced martial law and curfews, in several regions of the country, following an escalation of border hostilities with the disputed ethnic Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. The order comes into force on Monday. Baku's move mirrors Yerevan’s reaction to the crisis. The government of Armenia declared martial law and ordered the mobilization of reserve troops earlier on Sunday. Authorities in the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic did the same. Deep-seated tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia exploded this weekend after the Azeri side launched a military operation against the Nagorno-Karabakh forces. Baku said it was acting in response to artillery shelling, but Yerevan said the operation was planned in advance and launched under false pretenses, in violation of a ceasefire.
 
Leaders of both countries addressed their respective peoples, seeking to rally public support. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said Baku's troops were “fighting on the Azeri land and crushing the enemy” for the righteous cause of restoring their country’s territorial integrity. Meanwhile, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said his country was prepared to fend off the attack against Nagorno-Karabakh, possibly fighting against Azerbaijan on its own territory. “Our cause is just and the criminal encroachment will be met with a worthy counter strike,” he pledged. Sunday’s escalation is the latest development in a protracted conflict between the two neighbors over Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly Armenian region of Azerbaijan that split from Baku three decades ago. Yerevan supports the self-proclaimed republic but never actually recognized it as a sovereign state. After the latest crisis, this may change, the Armenian prime minister warned.
 

Russia-led military bloc could intervene in Karabakh conflict if Armenia sovereignty threatened
 
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The head of a six-member military alliance that is led by Russia and includes Armenia said on Thursday that the bloc could intervene in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict if Armenia’s sovereignty were threatened, the Interfax news agency reported. The Collective Security Treaty Organisation’s (CSTO) head Stanislav Zas was also cited as saying that the group did not welcome actions by Turkey and other countries in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia apart from ones aimed at fostering peace. 
 

Can Russia Steer the Endgame in Nagorno-Karabakh to Its Advantage?

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Until late last month, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh had been mostly frozen, with occasional skirmishes, for over a quarter of a century. One notable exception was the April 2016 “four-day war,” a brief but intense period of fighting that left over 200 people dead and was followed by claims of victory from both sides. The recent fighting that erupted on Sept. 27 has been much more intense; over 600 soldiers have been killed on the Armenian side alone, along with scores of civilians and an undisclosed number of Azerbaijani personnel.

While the fighting is officially between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population, in reality, it includes neighboring Armenia, which effectively administers the self-declared and unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Another direct belligerent, albeit an unofficial one, is Turkey, which in recent months has conducted joint military exercises with Azerbaijan and has been providing it with military and technical assistance for many years.

There are several reasons why the conflict has flared up again. First is the lack of progress by the so-called Minsk Group, which was set up in 1992 under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to mediate a permanent peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Co-chaired by France, the United States and Russia, the Minsk Group is increasingly seen in the region as ineffectual. Frustration with the lack of progress in resolving the conflict has been more visible among Azerbaijani leaders, who have been arguing for decades that their country’s territorial integrity is being violated by Armenia. Authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh counter that the enclave’s majority ethnic-Armenian population is merely exercising its right to self-determination.

The second factor is the relative disengagement of the United States from the South Caucasus specifically, and from Russia’s “near abroad” in general. U.S. absenteeism under the Trump administration has left the door open for Russia, as well as Turkey, to reassert their influence in the region.

For foreign policy observers, the relationship between Turkey and Russia is an enigma. The two countries have engaged in a delicate diplomatic tango in recent years, at times appearing to work in tandem, increasing their economic and even military cooperation. Their leaders, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, generally share a disdain for the West. Yet they also find themselves on opposite sides of some conflicts, such as in Syria and Libya, and they weathered a serious diplomatic crisis in 2016, when Turkish forces shot down a Russian fighter jet near the Turkey-Syria border.

Moscow has a longstanding desire to expand its influence in the South Caucasus by putting boots on the ground in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Now, they are again at odds in the South Caucasus. Turkey’s open and forceful backing of Azerbaijan against Armenia is widely seen as a challenge to Moscow and a sign of Russia’s weakness in a region where it historically exercised considerable influence. Some analysts have suggested that Russia may have even been caught off guard by the new offensive, and by Turkey’s unprecedented military support for Azerbaijan.

But the Kremlin was almost certainly aware of the imminent military escalation. Even the U.S., with its passive presence in the region, was informed enough to issue a warning through its embassy in Azerbaijan on Sept. 25—two days before fighting erupted in earnest—alerting U.S. citizens of “heightened tensions and recent violence along portions of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.” Moscow, with its deep interests in the region, must have known well in advance of not only the possibility of war, but likely also some details of Turkey’s involvement.

The question that looms large, then, is why Russia, which has a formal alliance with Armenia through the six-member Collective Security Treaty Organization, and which Yerevan views as an important military partner, has been so slow in trying to stop the fighting. It took Moscow four days to issue an official statement asking both sides to deescalate, and almost two weeks to broker a humanitarian cease-fire between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers—which broke down in a matter of hours.

Russia’s foot-dragging is partly a sign of its cool attitude toward Armenia’s reformist prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, who came to power over two years ago after a wave of peaceful protests that have sometimes been called the country’s “Velvet Revolution.” While Moscow formally accepted the transition of power in Yerevan, it regarded Pashinyan with some suspicion, viewing the transition process as somewhat akin to previous “color revolutions” in former Soviet countries, especially the 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia and the Orange Revolution the following year in Ukraine. Those events brought to power pro-Western leaders who attempted to pull away from Russia’s orbit.

The second, and arguably more important reason why Russia has not rushed to Armenia’s side, might paradoxically lie in Moscow’s longstanding desire to expand its influence in the South Caucasus by putting boots on the ground in Nagorno-Karabakh, outside of the Minsk Group framework. To this end, Russia has renewed its push for the parties to adopt the so-called Lavrov Plan, named after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Essentially, it stipulates that Armenia give up most of the territory that it controls in Nagorno-Karabakh, with Russia providing peacekeepers to oversee a phased resolution to the conflict—a proposal that Armenia has repeatedly rejected.

Over the weekend, a second cease-fire, this time mediated by France in coordination with the U.S. and Russia, broke down again. With no end in sight to the fighting and heavy casualties mounting on both sides, Yerevan might be more willing to accept the Lavrov Plan, or some variation of it, allowing Russia to reassert itself as the main security guarantor in the region. Just how easily Armenia will come around to the idea, though, remains to be seen.


Russian Peacekeepers Should Monitor Nagorno-Karabakh Ceasefire - Lavrov

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Russian peacekeepers should be sent to Nagorno-Karabakh to observe a shaky Moscow-brokered ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday. Russia’s top diplomat made the proposal as new fighting erupted between the Caucasus rivals despite a truce that they reached in Moscow over the weekend. According to the state-run RIA Novosti news agency, Lavrov said that a peacekeeping force is needed to observe the ceasefire.

“Not even peacekeepers, but military observers would be enough,” Lavrov told Russian radio stations in an interview, according to the state-run TASS news agency. “We believe it would be absolutely correct if they were our [Russian] military observers” but the final decision would be up to Baku and Yerevan, he said.

Lavrov said he had sent signals to his Armenian and Azerbaijani colleagues that their militaries need to meet to agree on a mechanism to monitor and enforce the Moscow ceasefire agreement. More than two weeks of fighting between the Caucasus rivals has left almost 600 dead, including 73 civilians, according to a tally based on partial tolls from both sides. The Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, overwhelmingly populated by Armenians, has been controlled by Armenians since a 1990s war that erupted as the Soviet Union fell. 

The latest fighting that broke out on Sept. 27 has been the most intense flare-up since a 1994 ceasefire ended the initial post-Soviet war. The search for a long-term solution to the conflict, one of the most enduring problems left after the fall of the Soviet Union, is in the hands of the Minsk Group of regional powers chaired by France, Russia and the United States.


Eurasianet: Amid war, Armenians closely watching the signals from Russia

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The messaging from Moscow has been pro-Armenia but critical of its government. And some Armenians are questioning their leaders’ flirtation, as mild as it’s been, with the West.

Amid their most violent conflict with Azerbaijan in a quarter century, Armenians are looking more closely than ever at their complicated relationship with Russia. While Russian coverage of the war itself has been pro-Armenia, the Russian press has been noticeably critical of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, leading many Armenians to speculate that Moscow’s relatively aloof approach to the conflict is a way to teach their leader a lesson. At the same time, the lack of a strong response from the United States or European countries has reaffirmed for many Armenians that, for better or worse, their best hope lies with Russia.

More than 600 Armenian soldiers have died in the conflict so far, making it by far the bloodiest fighting with Azerbaijan since the 1994 signing of a ceasefire ending their first war. While Azerbaijan’s main ally, Turkey, has been outspoken in its political support and also provided substantial military assistance, Russia – which has a military base in Armenia and has a treaty obligation to defend the country in case of attack – has by contrast taken a relatively neutral stance. Since coming to power in 2018 in what he called the “Velvet Revolution,” Pashinyan has walked a careful line. He has sought to reassure the Kremlin that Armenia’s previous geopolitical orientation, including membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), would not change. But at the same time his government includes many figures with open pro-Western sympathies who come from the world of Western-funded NGOs.

Russian media coverage of the conflict has been correspondingly ambiguous. Many Armenians have paid special attention to the nightly news talk program, “Evening with Vladimir Solovyev,” on Russian state television. The conflict has been the leading topic of discussion on the show, which has mixed support for Armenia as a state with criticism for Pashinyan himself.  On October 9, one guest – Konstantin Zatulin, the deputy head of the Russian parliament’s committee dealing with the former Soviet republics – was speaking when Solovyev interrupted him. “When I’m listening to Pashinyan speak, I don’t understand.” Zatulin answered: “I couldn’t care less what Pashinyan says … but it’s clear that Azerbaijan started the war.”

In an interview with Russian news site ridus.ru, Solovyev explained that while he respects Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev more as a leader, he also appreciated that “Karabakh is a place where Armenians have lived forever” and that Armenia is a Russian ally. That messaging from Moscow has made Armenians wonder what the Kremlin’s intentions might be. And many are blaming Pashinyan for spoiling their ties with Russia.

“Now we will see if Russia is a real ally or not,” said one 20-something, Angela, one recent evening as she sipped wine and surfed Telegram news channels at the downtown Yerevan bar Calumet. “We understand clearly that we are standing alone against dictatorships and terrorists. That was enough for the U.S. and others to bomb Syria, but they don’t have the guts to stand up against Turkey,” she said. “Russia does, Iran does – those are our real allies.”

Her friend Karen jumped in to criticize several moves Pashinyan has made to push away Moscow and Tehran.

“Our prime minister should have been looking at the map and thinking about our national interest when he was flirting with the U.S and Europe. Building an embassy in Israel was an act of disrespect to Iran, which we value a lot. He didn’t ask us, did he?”

Karen continued: “All those criminal cases against Russian companies, the criminal case against the head of the CSTO, they were all slaps to Russia. None of that is in our national interest,” he said. “No matter how the war ends, Nikol’s head is going to roll. This isn’t Georgia or Ukraine and he can’t make us into one.” Since the war began, Armenians’ impressions of Russia have improved overall. One opinion poll has been asking Armenians to rate various countries based on how they reacted to the war; the only country whose rating has gone up as the war has progressed has been Russia.  Even many traditionally pro-Western figures have been coming out more in favor of Russia these days.

“I’ve been talking to Western countries’ ambassadors,” said Edmon Marukyan, an opposition leader and former political ally of Pashinyan who once led an effort to get Armenia out of the EAEU. “One of them, I won’t name who, said ‘in the end geography wins,’ that if we think Russia can help we should ask Russia, they see that only Russia can help us. If the ambassador of a country that has bad relations with Russia says that only Russia can help, I’m amazed how an Armenian walking this earth can’t understand that,” Marukyan told CivilNet on October 15.  There have been signs of a greater accommodation to Russia: the head of the National Security Service, who only had been appointed in June and was perceived as anti-Russia, was removed shortly after the fighting started on September 27.

“So, one step has already been taken towards Russia,” said Hovhannes Iskhanyan, an independent documentary filmmaker. “And the fact that people of American influence have started making pro-Russian speeches means that there are serious discussions inside the political elite to change the anti-Russian propaganda by 180 degrees,” he told Eurasianet. The key, Iskhanyan believes, will be the future progress of the war. “If Armenia gets weaker on the battlefield, Russia’s influence in the country is going to get bigger.”

Yerevan-based analyst Hrant Mikaelian agreed. “If Russia were to take Armenia’s side, it might spoil relations with Azerbaijan and Russia is trying to avoid that,” he told Eurasianet. “If Russia doesn’t aid Armenia, then the development of events is highly dependent on the situation on the battlefield. Relations could sour, or Armenia might become even more dependent on Russia. There’s no clear vision of what could happen because there are too many unknowns.”
 
Source: https://eurasianet.org/amid-war-armenians-closely-watching-the-signals-from-russia

Russian Colonel Zhilin: “This is Erdogan’s war against Russia for the Caucasus”
 
 

The war has started. Azerbaijan attacked Armenia along the entire length of the Line of Contact. As always, it all happened quite unexpectedly for the two neighboring states [countries], but I think that our fabulous intelligence had information regarding the preparations for this war. This war has been in preparation for a minimum of two years. Azerbaijan was being trained by Turkish as well as American specialists. I do not view these military actions as a battle for Karabakh (Artsakh). Karabakh is secondary in this case. This is Erdogan’s war against Russia for the Caucasus. This is Casus belli (an excuse for war), and the way we have been building our relations with Turkey will now cost us dearly. What do I mean? Look at the declarations of Turkey’s leader. They are harsh. They are precise. In fact Erdogan announced that Azerbaijan is a resource for achieving his certain objectives. The objectives are global.

I would like to say that no matter how much fun they make of Mr. Erdogan here, today he is one of the most effective politicians and leaders. He is cynical, he is shrewd, and he and his council are able to foresee situations. If we simply evaluate our relations with Turkey under Erdogan’s rule (I am saying this with a feeling of certain shame), he had us everywhere, wherever it was possible. We labored to build a nuclear plant, we laid pipelines, we opened our markets for him, and so on. Today, after the immense expenses for construction of those gas and oil pipelines, factually, the delivery [supply] has been stopped. We are suffering losses all around. Moreover, this war, which Azerbaijan instigated under Turkey’s pressure, is extraordinarily dangerous for the Russian Federation. We are a multinational state, and while everybody is analyzing whether Karabakh is occupied or unoccupied territory, the danger comes from the Turkish side. Hence Azerbaijan as an arena and a resource also becomes our strategic enemy. Let’s say this in all honesty: Azerbaijan is not a partner. We do not have any partners. We have either those who are consumerists or enemies. This is how the situation stands in the 21st century. 

To say today that it is somehow possible to come to terms with Mr. Aliyev via some political consultations is a delirium [nonsense]. It is a delirium. One can come to terms only by taking a hard position. For example,  we can say behind closed doors that for 72 hours we are closing all Azeri businesses throughout the Russian Federation, starting with markets to all those Food Cities, and so on and so forth. We can work things out with Kurds so that there will be shockwaves in Turkey. We also have other resources that we must implement in order to extinguish this [war]. The developing situation there is catastrophic for us. What do I mean? Both sides now feel extreme mutual hatred. That is obvious everywhere. If, say, in Armenia or in Azerbaijan the policy is to instill hatred toward the neighbor, then even in the Russian Federation the same kids from Azerbaijan permit themselves in my opinion to conduct flagrant actions. We all remember too well that the Food City complex refused to serve Armenians and almost threw Armenians out [of the stores]. You are in a third country, gentlemen! What are you permitting yourselves to do? 

I am further extrapolating this situation. The pressure keeps increasing and increasing. Someone prognosticated a situation as follows. Some strange people with some kind of characteristic accent deliberately storm into a school. It is a provocation. It can be done by anybody— the CIA, by anyone. It can be done by guys [khloptsy] from Ukraine. So, God forbid, they start butchering children from Armenia, or children from Azerbaijan at school. Let’s say it’s been randomly established that there [at school] children from Armenian or Azeri Diaspora study.

What is Russia to do when the Caucasus rises, when Azerbaijani or Armenian Diaspora rises, and all that turns into a bloody mess? Do we have forces to stop all that later, when that process is in full force? What am I talking about? I am talking about that little war. If Erdogan succeeds in reaching certain objectives and if we (God forbid) treacherously betray Armenia, then our authority in Caucasus will become a total zilch [naught]. We will not be able to control the situation there. We will be obliged to… I don’t even know how to act. Because in this case it is about activation of dormant cells. All that exists and all that works against us. Therefore, when this war is discussed, we have to realize that in my view (and I can be wrong): first Ukraine, then Central Asia, then Eastern Europe, then Belarus, then frankly speaking, this little war. All those events are stemming from one united anti-Russian plan. That such a plan exists, I think, our intelligence reported to the political administration. One of the distinguishing marks is that we conducted the Kavkaz 2020 [Caucasus 2020 military exercises] with significantly  (at the last moment significantly) increased potential.Those Kavkaz 2020 exercises were a form of warning: lads, don’t play with fire. They did not heed. Neither Erdogan nor anyone else heard [the warning]. [Voice of the interviewer: “Nor Aliyev. He never grasps warnings.”] Not at all. The consolidation there is on these levels: Washington, Ankara and Baku. A technological lineup on the road to organization of an interethnic nationalistic little war in Russia, a most fierce one from which practically there is no exit, to create within the Russian Federation an explosion which will simply tear apart our country. 

Today we do not have such potential as to counterweight these processes. There is no ideology [or] image of the future. In this case, I think that the situation should be viewed as critical, and every sort of leverage ought to be used first and foremost against Turkey. Because – I underscore – because if over there the circumstances develop in favor of the plan which is being implemented, then we will not lose only Caucasus, but we might lose [our] country.

I would like to address our remarkable Kremlinites with a request. Please ask your advisors, your area specialists to compile a historical document on Russo-Turkish relations. How many times has Turkey been armed against Russia? Who told you gentlemen who sold S-400 to our unconciliatory foe Turkey that these missiles will not be used against our airplanes taking off from Gyumri? Who told you that? Has Erdogan fulfilled even one single promise given to Putin? Do we not see how Turkey attacks us in Syria? Do we not see that Turkey attacks us in Libya, attempting to throw away all our oil resources? Do we not see [Turkey’s] behavior in other areas? Please give me an example: who is as actively acting against Russia today as Turkey does? Even the USA is not acting as actively against us as Erdogan does. I want to say once again that Erdogan is a very strong politician, whoever might make fun of him. Thus far he has only victories. We have only bluff.

 
Russia says Islamist fighters in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict pose threat to Moscow
 
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Russia’s foreign intelligence chief warned on Tuesday that a widening conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave was drawing in thousands of Islamist radicals who posed a threat to Moscow. Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s SVR Foreign Intelligence Service, said that the conflict, which broke out on Sept. 27, was attracting people he described as mercenaries and terrorists from the Middle East. Naryshkin singled out members of militant group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group active in Syria formerly known as the Nusra Front, as well as Firqat al-Hamza, the Sultan Murad Division, and unnamed extremist Kurdish groups.

“We are talking about hundreds and already even thousands of radicals hoping to earn money in a new Karabakh war,” Naryshkin said in a statement posted on the SVR’s website. “We can’t not be worried that the South Caucasus is capable of becoming a new launch pad for international terrorist organisations from where militants could later cross into states that neighbour Azerbaijan and Armenia, including Russia”.

The fighting in the enclave, that belongs to Azerbaijan under international law but is governed by ethnic Armenians, has increased concern that a wider conflict could be triggered, dragging in Turkey, which has expressed solidarity with Azerbaijan, and Russia, which has a defence pact with Armenia.

Naryshkin said a new war in the region was unacceptable to Moscow and said the latest upsurge in fighting was different from previous flare-ups due to its much larger scale and the fact that Turkey had for the first time so openly and strongly come out in support of Azerbaijan. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday accused Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan of stirring up the conflict. Ankara has denied sending mercenaries to take part in the fighting. Sooner or later, Naryshkin predicted that the warring partners under international pressure would agree to a ceasefire and sit down at the negotiating table, a prospect which Ankara has made clear it strongly opposes.


Small outpost is Russia’s first visible aid to Armenia

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The base is small, but would act as a tripwire deterring Azerbaijan from expanding its offensive into Armenian territory.

Russia has reportedly set up a small military outpost on the border of Armenia in an apparent attempt to keep Azerbaijan’s offensive from spilling over into Armenian territory. Foreign journalists have documented the small post, consisting of a few tents and with a Russian flag flying above it. It is located next to Tegh, the last village in Armenia on the road to Lachin, the narrow corridor connecting the country to Nagorno-Karabakh. Neither Russia nor Armenia has officially confirmed the presence of the post at Tegh. No Armenian media has reported on the outpost.

Over the past week, Azerbaijani forces have advanced to close to Lachin (which Armenians call Berdzor), the essential lifeline for Karabakh. It is the only road available for both civilians and military forces to get in and out of the territory, which Armenians have controlled since the early 1990s and which Azerbaijan is seeking to retake. At an October 27 briefing, Armenian Defense Ministry spokesperson Artsrun Hovhannisyan said that Armenian forces had repelled an attack on the area.

“Today, the enemy attempted to carry out attacks in the direction of Berdzor,” he told reporters. It also attempted to approach the border of the Republic of Armenia from the southern direction. All of the attempts were thwarted.”

Soon after the fighting started on September 27, Armenia set up its own outposts in Khndzoresk, a bit further in to Armenian territory. But the Russian deployment is a much more significant deterrence for Azerbaijan; in spite of its small size it would act as a tripwire deterring Baku from triggering a more substantial Russian response. Russia’s relatively hands-off approach has been the source of much disappointment and speculation among Armenians, and there had been multiple reports of a Russian military presence in southern Armenia.

On October 20, news website 1in.am reported, referring to unnamed sources, that “Russian troops have joined Armenian forces to guard Armenia’s borders. According to our information their number is not small.” But another news site, Infocom.am, cited sources in the regional Syunik government saying that the only Russian troop presence in the region were the border guards who have been patrolling Armenia’s border with Iran since 1995.Russia’s efforts are welcomed by Armenians, however insignificant or discreet they might be.

Many in Armenia have become disillusioned with the lax attitude that much of the international community has taken toward the conflict. But Russia has been mostly spared that criticism. The president of the Armenia-backed de facto Nagorno Karabakh government, Arayik Harutyunyan, issued an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin on October 23. He thanked Putin for mentioning, in a recent speech, the Sumgait pogroms of 1988, when Azerbaijanis attacked ethnic Armenians living in that city; it was one of the key precipitating events of the war that resulted in Armenian control over Karabakh and the surrounding territories.

“This conflict did not begin as a conflict just between two governments over a territory, it began with interethnic confrontations,” Putin said at the Valdai discussion club on October 20. “Sadly, this is a fact, when first in Sumgait and then in Nagorno-Karabakh brutal crimes were committed against the Armenian people.”

Harutyunyan responded: “Unfortunately, Azerbaijan continues its genocidal policy to this day. […] You [Putin] are the personality and the head of state who has a huge reputation all over the world and in our region. Taking this into account, I ask you to make all possible efforts to stop the war in the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict zone and resume political processes.”

Putin’s other comments have been more ambiguous, however. He has referred to both Armenia and Azerbaijan as valued Russian partners. And he has specified that Russia’s treaty obligation to defend Armenia – both are members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization – applies only to Armenia itself, not to Armenian-controlled territory in and around Karabakh. The topic of Russian aid has been a hot one in Armenia, and there are widespread rumors of secret Russian military aid, though there is no evidence to support them.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev also has repeatedly claimed that Armenia is being supplied with new weapons. In an October 27 interview with Italian television, Aliyev said that “there are 5,000 Russian troops at the base in Gyumri, and according to the information we have, the base maintains regular arms supply to Armenian armed forces.”

“The most state-of-the-art weapons are being dispatched to Armenia every day,” he said on October 25. “We have a list of such weapons. We have data about the flights: when, where from the flight was performed to Yerevan, and which cargo it carried.”

Source: https://eurasianet.org/small-outpost-is-russias-first-visible-aid-to-armenia
Russia has an arc of instability on its periphery

An arc of instability has appeared in Russia’s peripheral regions to the west and southwest – Belarus, Nagorno-Karabakh and Kyrgyzstan. These regions are vital to Russia’s national security and its capacity to be a resurgent power on the world stage. Belarus is a de facto buffer zone for Russia with the West. Russia cannot afford to let Belarus be sucked into the Western orbit. Moscow claims to have evidence that the color revolution in Minsk was masterminded by the US with its allies in Central Europe – Poland, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Georgia – playing certain assigned roles.

President Alexander Lukashenko has not been a dependable ally, but Moscow has little choice but to back him, since a regime change might install yet another unfriendly regime on Russia’s western borders. Moscow cannot afford to agonize over whether it is on the “right side of history,” although its preference would have been for an orderly democratic transition in Belarus. The Russian focus is now on providing space and resources for Lukashenko’s authoritarian regime to roll back the color revolution and restore constitutional rule. The controversial Alexey Navalny case that appeared at the high noon of the Belarus upheaval remains a mystery. Was it coincidental? As it turned out, Russia’s relations with the European Union – Germany, in particular – sharply deteriorated, which became yet another complicating template.

The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh started in July, triggered by Armenia. It has since led to large-scale retaliation by Azerbaijan, which took the form of a military offensive to regain control of its territory that has been under Armenian occupation for the past three decades. The conflict has serious implications for Russia’s national security insofar as Azerbaijan borders the North Caucasus, which remains vulnerable to Islamist terrorism. Unsurprisingly, the Turkish-Azerbaijani axis causes anxiety in the Russian mind, given President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “neo-Ottoman” ideology and Ankara’s selective use of radical Islamist groups as geopolitical tools. Erdogan has extended blanket support for the Azerbaijani drive to regain control of the Nagorno-Karabakh province. This weakens Moscow’s capacity to influence Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. 

On the other hand, Armenian Prime Minister Nikoi Pashinyan is a slippery politician who rode to power on the wings of a US-backed color revolution in 2018, reportedly financed by George Soros. (Read my Asia Times articles A color revolution in the Caucasus puts Russia in a dilemma, May 9, 2018, and Color revolution in the Caucasus rattles Russian leaders, August 8, 2018.)

Moscow is under treaty obligations to guarantee Armenia’s security but, paradoxically, Pashinyan is charioting that country steadily toward the Western orbit, and gets support from the influential Armenian diaspora in the US and France. Equally, Moscow is also under an obligation to moderate the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the framework of the Minsk Group, which it co-chairs along with the US and France. There is a contradiction here insofar as the Minsk Group will neither be able to satisfy the Azerbaijani resolve to regain control of Nagorno-Karabakh nor pressure Armenia to vacate its occupation of the enclave. 

Azerbaijan views the Minsk Group with skepticism and hopes that Turkey will help break the impasse. The US and France have gladly ceded to Russia the prerogative to represent the Minsk Group. Meanwhile, the US and its Middle Eastern allies – Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt – would hope that sooner or later, the ship of Russo-Turkish entente will hit the iceberg of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and capsize. A rupture in the entente cordiale with Turkey could disrupt Russian strategies regionally – not only in Syria, Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean, but also in the Black Sea, Ukraine, Georgia and elsewhere – and can only work to the advantage of the US. Besides, Russia has a flourishing bilateral economic partnership and business ties with Turkey. 

The United States’ Middle Eastern allies regard Turkey as an existential enemy and estimate that a breakup between Ankara and Moscow would enable them to cut Erdogan down to size. Moscow is genuinely on the horns of a dilemma. President Vladimir Putin invested heavily in a relationship with Erdogan despite the latter’s mercurial nature. Russia is a stakeholder in Erdogan’s alienation from the Western camp and is mindful that any excessive pressure on him might prove counter-productive. Germany is waiting in the wings with a renewed offer to Turkey for EU partnership. Putin is moving cautiously, taking utmost care not to fracture the Russian-Turkish entente. On his part, Erdogan who is a past master in brinkmanship, also made some overtures to Putin last week. 

Erdogan’s phone call to Putin on October 14 signaled his continued interest in working with Russia, not only in the Caucasus but also in Syria, while the Turkish decision, after much procrastination, to test the Russian-made S-400 anti-ballistic-missile system carried a big message to Moscow reaffirming the strategic importance Ankara attaches to an alliance with Russia. But having said that, Turkey would also hope that Russia accommodates its presence in the Caucasus, where the Ottoman legacy is a compelling fact of Turkish collective memory. As a rising regional power, Turkey aspires to expand its influence, which is only natural. Turkey belongs to this region and is not an extra-regional interloper like the US or France. It is futile to try to counter Turkey in its natural habitat. On the contrary, Russia may see an advantage in having Turkey as a constructive partner in the larger interests of regional stability in the Caucasus.  

Compared with Belarus and Nagorno-Karabakh, which remain highly complicated issues, Kyrgyzstan’s color revolution has been tackled with relative ease – for the time being, at least. The ease with which Moscow squashed that color revolution shows that Russia remains the provider of security for the region. The US influence in Central Asia pales in comparison. (See my Asia Times article Moscow derails Kyrgyz color revolution.) 

In the final analysis, the tensions in all three hotspots – Belarus, Nagorno-Karabakh and Kyrgyzstan – are playing out against the backdrop of the deep chill and rivalry between Moscow on one side and the US, the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on the other. NATO is already flanking Belarus and has begun challenging Russia’s pre-eminence in the Black Sea, co-opting Georgia as its Caucasian beachhead. NATO has had a presence in Afghanistan for more than 15 years already. It aspires for influence in the Central Asian region in a post-settlement Afghan setting. Clearly, the high volatility in Russia’s western and southwestern periphery is a manifestation of the geopolitical struggle between Russia and the US. Russia, therefore, needs a counter-strategy. Turkey and Iran can be – and should be – Russia’s natural allies in the emerging regional and international security scenario. There is nothing like absolute security, after all, and the concept of a “sphere of influence” has become outmoded.

 
Renewed Azerbaijan/Armenia conflict a new threat to Russia's delicate balancing act with key player Turkey

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Azerbaijan has never forgotten its 1990s humiliation at the hands of Armenia. Now stronger than its sworn enemy, and emboldened by Turkish support, Baku’s assertiveness is creating a headache for Moscow. Russian president Vladimir Putin once complained that communist leader Vladimir Lenin had placed a ‘time bomb’ under Russia. He had in mind the introduction of the federal principle after Lenin’s Bolsheviks took power in 1917. Lenin gave national minorities their own republics within the Soviet Union. In so doing, he created a situation which allowed those republics to secede from the Union once communist power collapsed.

Soviet federalism brought other problems. The communists granted autonomy to the larger nationalities in the form of 15 ‘republics.’ Smaller nationalities also got autonomy, but of a different form – so-called ‘autonomous republics’ and ‘autonomous regions.’ When the union fell apart, fully-fledged republics got independence, but the autonomous republics and regions within them did not.

Unsurprisingly, many of the smaller minorities were not too happy with this somewhat arbitrary outcome, and attempted to secede from the seceding republics. The result was several wars, the first of which took place in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, an Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan, after it attempted to secede from Azerbaijan and join with Armenia. The war ended in an Armenian victory. Not only did the Armenians drive the Azeris out of Nagorno-Karabakh, but they also captured a swath of Azeri territory linking Armenia with the breakaway region.

Nagorno-Karabakh became a de-facto independent state, albeit one recognized by nobody and entirely dependent on Armenian support. Azerbaijan, meanwhile, has never abandoned its claim to its lost province nor to the territories seized by Armenia. The result has been occasional military clashes between Yerevan and Baku over the past 30 years.

This weekend, violence once again flared up on the front lines between the Armenian and Azeri forces. The Armenian government announced that it had repulsed an enemy offensive and issued a video showing the destruction of several items of Azeri military equipment. The Azeri government, in turn, accused Armenia of attacking it, and declared that it had launched its own counter-offensive in which it had ‘liberated’ several villages. Armenia has now mobilized its army. Many fear the outbreak of all-out war.

One explanation for the recent flare-up may be that Azerbaijan feels much stronger than it did when it suffered its defeat at the hands of Armenia 30 years ago. The Azeri economy, benefitting from substantial oil reserves, has outgrown that of its neighbor, as has the Azeri population – there are 10 million Azeris compared with only three million Armenians. Azerbaijan has invested heavily in its military and may feel much more confident about its prospects should matters escalate further.

Another explanation may be the support Azerbaijan is receiving from its primary ally – Turkey. Following this weekend’s clashes, Turkish president Recep Erdogan called on ‘the entire world to stand with Azerbaijan in its battle against invasion.’ Such Turkish support may embolden the Azeri leadership not to back down if things begin to get out of hand.

Russia has officially adopted a position of neutrality in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, and called on all sides to settle their differences peacefully. This has meant supporting the status quo. Since that status quo favours Armenia, in reality this position has meant supporting Armenia, a posture reinforced by Armenia’s membership of various multilateral initiatives sponsored by Russia, notably the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Eurasian Economic Union. The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh thus indirectly pits Russia against Turkey. It also undermines a common narrative that claims that Russia seeks to undermine democracy and promote authoritarian forms of government. After all, Russia’s ally Armenia is a democracy whereas Turkey’s ally, Azerbaijan, is not.

Nagorno-Karabakh is not the only location where Russian and Turkish proxies are clashing. In Syria, Russia has been backing the government of Bashar Assad while Turkey has been propping up the anti-Assad rebels in Idlib province. And in Libya, Russia is said to support rebel general Khalifa Haftar, while Turkey recently sent substantial aid to the government forces in Tripoli to help drive Haftar’s troops away from the capital.

Russia has good reasons, therefore, to regard Turkey as a spoiler, undermining Russian influence in the Caucasus, Middle East, and North Africa. But Russia isn’t the only state that Turkey has irritated in recent years. Turkey currently has poor relations with fellow NATO members, and this provides an opportunity which Russia can exploit for its own advantage. Economic opportunities also beckon in Turkey, as seen by the recent Turkish decision to purchase Russian-made S-400 air-defense missiles.

Consequently, whenever Russia and Turkey have clashed in recent years, the Russian government has sought to rapidly calm things down. Unsurprisingly, it is now taking the same approach regarding the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. On the one hand, Russia needs to stand by its Armenian ally. On the other hand, it wishes to avoid an escalation which would bring it into conflict with Turkey. A restoration of the ceasefire and the status-quo ante thus serves it best. Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs therefore issued a statement declaring that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was “intensively conducting talks to induce the parties to immediately cease firing and start negotiations to stabilize the situation.”

For now, this approach may work. In the longer term, though, economic and demographic considerations mean that power in the Southern Caucasus will likely continue to shift in Azerbaijan’s favor. As it does, Russia’s balancing act vis-à-vis Turkey could become increasingly difficult to maintain.

 
Valdai Club: Armenia in Changing Security Environment: Shaping Geopolitical Future
 
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The beginning of the 21st century was marked by global transformations in international relations. They include, in part, the recent change in the world order, which influences the global security system and the strategic environment in many areas of the world by virtue of a knock-on effect, writes Ruben Elamiryan, Head of the Chair of World Politics and International Relations at the Yerevan-based Russian-Armenian University. 

In this context, one of the key issues in current international relations is the future image of the new world order in 5, 10 or 20 years. Different notions, sometimes mutually exclusive, are used to describe it: a new world order, chaos, polycentric and multipolar world and a world without poles, to name a few. 

Without getting too deep into an academic dispute on formulas, it is still possible to say that the changes in the world order boil down to the consolidation and restoration of Russia’s positions, which were lost after the Soviet Union’s collapse, strategic uncertainty, the EU’s search for a geopolitical future, a shift of the US strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific Region and the growth and expansion of China’s interests and influence.

In this contest, the main challenge for Armenia is to realise the role and place of small and medium countries in the new global and regional environments because the growth of global turbulence and uncertainty and the transformation of the world order have set forth the imperative of revising one’s place and role in international relations and shaping one’s geopolitical future. Armenia’s new 2020 National Security Strategy reads that “the Republic of Armenia implements its foreign policy priorities proceeding from three fundamental, comprehensive and interconnected principles: sovereignty…, the pan-Armenian community…, and cooperation as a means of establishing equitable and mutually beneficial relations with other states.”

Today, Armenia is expanding system-wide and comprehensive cooperation with almost all global and regional centres of power, both on the bilateral and multilateral basis. Thus, relations between Аrmenia and Russia are founded on the principles of a strategic alliance, which cover all aspects of cooperation – political, military, economic, humanitarian, and others. ng together their Russian colleagues on clearing mines in Syria. Armenia hosts Russia’s 102nd military base and the Armenian and Russian military jointly defend the republic’s borders, including its air space. Armenian servicemen are working together their Russian colleagues on clearing mines in Syria.

In addition, Russia accounts for 26 percent of Armenia’s trade and has made large direct investments in that country. It is Armenia’s leading trade and economic partner. At the same time, Russia has the largest Armenian diaspora. According to the 2010 census, about 1.2 million Armenians live in Russia. In expert estimates, this figure may be double that. Russia is also one of the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, which is involved in peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In addition to bilateral cooperation, Armenia is one of the most active participants in regional international organisations promoted by Russia: the CIS, the CSTO and the EAEU. Therefore, Armenia-Russia cooperation is distinguished by sustainable development of allied strategic relations, and is a key element of stability in the Eurasian security system.

The European Union (EU) is another key partner of Armenia. Today, their relations are developing, in part, under the Eastern Partnership programme (EaP). Its implementation was launched in 2008-2009. In addition to Armenia and the EU, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine take part in this programme. It is aimed at developing relations in the four main areas: political and economic cooperation, mobility of the people and energy security.

At present, relations between Armenia and the EU are mostly based on the Armenia-EU bilateral Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which is currently in the process of ratification. It determines practically all areas of bilateral cooperation. In addition to this, the EU is Armenia’s second trade and economic partner after Russia. One more important component of bilateral relations is the EU’s external assistance to Armenia, which grew from 90 million euros at the start of the programme to 208 million euros in 2017. It is also necessary to emphasise that Armenia takes part in the EU’s Trans-European Transport Network (Ten-T programme), which may become an important factor in connecting traffic routes between the EU and China. In addition to strategic relations with the EU, Armenia has special relations with most EU member countries. 

In this context, it is worth mentioning France, which has the third largest Armenian diaspora after Russia and the United States. France is a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group on settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Armenia is also an active member of the International Organisation of La Francophonie. Armenia maintains close cooperation with Greece and Cyprus with a view to ensuring regional stability and security in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean against the current threats, some of which are caused by Turkey’s aggressive activities. Thus, Armenia-EU relations are a strategic factor of Eurasian security in the 21st century, being a guarantor of stability of the European neighbours.

The United States is another key partner of Armenia.

Their bilateral cooperation is determined by a broad range of political, economic, military, social and humanitarian issues. The website of the Armenian Foreign Ministry notes that “the United States occupies an important place in Armenia’s political and economic life. It takes an active part in the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as a co-chair of the Minsk OSCE Group on a par with Russia and France. At the same time, the United States is the biggest donor of humanitarian and technical aid to Armenia.” During his visit to the South Caucasus in October 2018, former US National Security Adviser John Bolton described relations with Armenia as strategically important. The geographical location of Armenia and its neighbours also increase its importance for the United States.

The Armenia diaspora in the United States, which is the second largest in the world, also plays a major role in promoting bilateral cooperation. In continuing the discussion of Armenia’s cooperation with the West (today we can speak about the united West), it is necessary to make special mention of its relations with NATO, which date back to the early 1990s. The current stage of cooperation is determined by the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP). As part of Armenia-NATO cooperation, Armenian units are participating in peacekeeping missions in Kosovo (starting in 2004) and Afghanistan (starting in 2009), thereby contributing to stability and development in Eurasia.

 The People's Republic of China (PRC) is a relatively new geopolitical centre of power in the South Caucasus, but its presence is increasing along with the so-called China’s rise. The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is one of the main formats of cooperation. Launched in 2013, it is in the process of development and only has an indirect link to the South Caucasus. Despite this, the sides are developing versatile cooperation.

Thus, Armenia is striving to integrate into the BRI by building the North-South road connecting the Persian Gulf with the Black Sea. In this way, it can become a link between not only China and Europe but also between the Middle East on the one hand, and Russia and Europe on the other. The construction of a railway between Armenia and Iran will greatly facilitate this. With the restoration of the railway traffic between Georgia and Russia this will create a railway link of the Persian Gulf with Russia and Europe. Importantly, China is building in Armenia its second largest embassy in the post-Soviet space. 

Considering China’s interest in Eurasian strategic stability and Armenia’s striving to develop ground infrastructure with Europe, Armenia may become an important partner and element of the new security system. It is also important to mention that Armenia’s cooperation with the South-Pacific Region is not limited to China and its Belt and Road Initiative. Thus, Armenia is developing multilateral ties with India, Japan and South Korea.

In 2016, Armenia received a status of dialogue partner in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

The Middle East is another key foreign policy vector for Armenia. Being historically part of that region, Armenia preserves close political, economic and humanitarian ties not only with Iran, with which it has a common border, but also with the majority of the region’s countries, starting with Egypt and ending with Qatar. Beginning in 2018, Armenian sappers have taken part in the Russian mission to clear mines in Syria, with which Armenia has traditionally developed partnership relations and which is home to a large Armenian community.

Armenia strengthens ties with Israel, where Armenian embassy was recently opened (previously the residence of the Armenian ambassador was located in Yerevan). The Armenian communities play a major role in relations between Armenia and the countries of the Middle East. Being hard hit by the Arab Spring, they still make major contribution to the domestic political life of their countries and their ties with Armenia. 

The above vectors of Armenia’s relations predetermine the model of its geopolitical future, aimed at developing cooperation with Eurasian global and regional centres of power. Armenia must re-evaluate the strategic environment in the world and the region and adapt its foreign policy strategy, priorities and actions accordingly. In this respect, Armenia should pay special attention to the Middle East as a region of vital interests for Armenia and Armenians. Historically possessing, preserving and developing the strategic knowledge and understanding of that region, Armenia may become an effective link and communicator between the Middle East, on the one hand, and Russia, the West and China, on the other.

Armenia’s civilisational identity

Apart from the current trends, Armenia’s identity is largely determined by its civilisational character.  Historically, Armenia developed for centuries as a local civilisation based on the synthesis of its own values and features with the influence of different cultures, civilisations and religions: starting from Hellenism, Christianity and later the Muslim Middle East, Russian and Soviet culture and Eurasianism. This allowed Armenia to create a unique civilisation that is not only striving but is also capable of conducting dialogue between completely different actors and power centres owing to its strategic insight into different civilisations and cultures. 

At present, there are several projects of Armenia’s future as a civilisation: spiritual Armenia, the Armenian world, a small country – global nation, and fortress Armenia. The leitmotif of all these projects is the idea of Armenia as a civilisational bridge, an actor of international dialogue and cooperation.

Interestingly, this is what Russian poet Valery Bryusov wrote about Armenia: “Two forces, two opposite principles intertwined and merged into a new and integrated entity, directing Armenia’s life and shaping the character of its nation for centuries: the origin of the West and the origin of the East, the spirit of Europe and the spirit of Asia. Put on the threshold of the two worlds, and continuously being an arena of clash between nations, which was drawn by the course of events into the greatest upheavals, Armenia was designed by its very destiny to be a reconciler of two different cultures: the culture that was the foundation of the entire Christian West and the culture that is now represented by the Muslim East.”

These words are reflected in realpolitik as well. Thus, in the preamble to the Armenia’s 2020 National Security Strategy, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan writes that during its entire history Armenia became an arena for the clash of civilisations. Renouncing this approach, Pashinyan believes that Armenia must develop as a supporter and venue of dialogue between civilisations.

Moreover, we can speak not only about dialogue but also cooperation of civilisations, which will be discussed later. Armenia has the strategic experience and knowledge received during its historical and cultural development, the functioning of the communities of the Armenian diaspora and its multi-vector international cooperation for reaching this goal. Thus, the effective combination of mutually supplementary geopolitical and civilisational identities will allow Armenia to develop a sustainable future by acting as a platform of cooperation between Russia, Eurasianism, the West, the Middle East and Asia. A strong Armenia will also guarantee stability in the region by facilitating the implementation of its partners’ long-term interests.

Defining Armenia’s geopolitical future

In the Asia Chessboard programme of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, former US National Security Advisor Steve Hadley described relations between the leading power centres as “competitive coexistence,” which differs from the Cold War term “peaceful coexistence,” and suggested adopting a new set of principles of coexistence.

Expanding on Hadley’s approach, it seems important to introduce a new notion of “cooperation-based coexistence,” which would not only imply the renunciation of the world’s division into the spheres of influence and the adoption of the new rules of the game but will also facilitate the strengthening of the South Caucasus nations and promote cooperation with them on the principles of equal rights and opportunities, openness and honest competition of all interested parties. In this respect, it is important to abandon the approach whereby small and medium countries are forced to make a geopolitical choice of joining the camp of one or another power centre.

Considering the complexity, nonlinear nature and diversity of current international relations and also the deep interest of practically all leading power centres in strategic stability in Eurasia and in the South Caucasus in particular, the development of cooperation-based coexistence will make it possible to avoid transferring the mounting confrontation of the global and regional power centres to the territory of small and medium countries. This transfer creates a threat of regional and pan-Eurasian destabilisation and is contrary to the interests of all actors.

Moreover, the development of cooperation-based coexistence will allow the countries of the region to become centres of stability, and, hence, of dialogue and cooperation between the centres of power and civilisations. In this context, one of the key questions is Armenia’s ability to become one of the links and platforms for developing cooperation-based coexistence in Eurasia. The answer to this question is positive in view of the aforementioned geopolitical features and identity of the Armenian civilisation.

However, this goal can be reached if Armenia is an understandable and reliable partner for all players. In short-, medium- and long-term perspective, Armenia must ensure the absence of any potential threats to its partners, emanating from its territory or initiated with its participation. 

Moreover, the idea of a link and platform for cooperation may be physical in that it can be expressed in the development of the connecting infrastructure and institutes of cooperation, as well as virtual, technological, that is, consisting of integration and division of labour, in particular, in artificial intelligence and robotics. This must be accompanied by the development of the elites carrying strategic insight and the experience of creating Armenia’s sustainable geopolitical future, and by the development of the human capital that meets the challenges, threats and opportunities of the 21st century.

 
Carnegie Endowment For International Peace: Russia’s Stony Path in the South Caucasus

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Summary


We have been through a time of casting away stones. Now is a time to gather stones together.” —Senior Russian Federation Official, Chechnya, 1995

Since shortly after the Soviet Union’s collapse, Russia’s aims and policies in the South Caucasus have been constant, but its capabilities to project power and influence have fluctuated.1 Russia’s engagement with the entire Caucasus region is best characterized as a tide. Its power and influence began to ebb at the start of the Karabakh conflict—with the February 1988 massacre of Armenians in the Azerbaijani city of Sumqayit being the key galvanizing event.2 After that, the tide receded rapidly, leaving even Russian possessions in the North Caucasus without effective central control. The First Chechen War marked low tide, which only began to rise with the Second Chechen War, beginning in 1999. Until about 2004, Russia was too weak and internally divided to project power and influence in the wider Caucasus region in a meaningful way.

To be sure, Russian influence was never gone completely, even during the lowest ebb of the tide. Russia still marshaled greater resources than the new states of the Caucasus could muster, and it threw its weight around. But in the 1990s, Russia did not have a unified governing apparatus, but rather a mass of competing clans among which regional actors could maneuver. For example, after the Soviet collapse, Moscow left the Russian military units in the Caucasus to their own devices. Those units served as mercenaries, arms suppliers, and logistics providers to both sides in the Karabakh conflict. It took a decade for Moscow to reassert its so-called power vertical in the Caucasus, symbolized by President Vladimir Putin’s success in 2004 in finally ousting chief of the general staff Anatoliy Kvashnin.3 Russia’s assertiveness in the region grew steadily thereafter, with sharp upticks after the 2008 war with Georgia and Putin’s return to the presidency in 2012.

But while Moscow has gained the capacity to project more power and influence, the regional landscape has changed. The surge in fighting over Nagornyy Karabakh that began in late September 2020 has demonstrated that Russia is struggling to contend with a vastly more complicated landscape. More external actors are on the scene, most notably Turkey, and all three South Caucasus states—Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia—have adapted their strategies to deal with the new environment. Russia’s increased efforts have had decidedly mixed results.
 
The Baseline

Three factors were evident when the Soviet Union collapsed and continue today, narrowing Russian policy options in the region.
 
Very Different Populations . . .

Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia are all radically different, with varying attitudes toward Russia and Moscow’s rule throughout the Imperial and Soviet eras. For centuries, Armenia has sought Russia’s protection against Turkey and Iran, which ruled most of the Armenian historic homelands.4 This security concern was paramount in the immediate aftermath of the Soviet collapse: the Soviet army had disappeared, leaving the Turkish Third Army as the most potent military force in the wider region. For its part, post-Soviet Russia views Armenia as its closest friend in the region. A large and influential Armenian diaspora in Russia has maintained those positive feelings.

Azerbaijani elites, russified by the oil boom of the late nineteenth century, have largely been friendly to Russia. Thanks to former president Heydar Aliyev—who rose through the ranks of the Soviet KGB and neither feared nor hated the post-Soviet rulers of Russia—a generally positive attitude toward Russia survived the nationalisms of the years immediately following the Soviet collapse. Though post-Soviet Russia was initially suspicious of the expansion of Turkish and Western influence in Azerbaijan, Russia has since forged close energy relations with Turkey. In the early period, these commercial relations took precedence in the Russia-Turkey relationship. More recently, as detailed later in the paper, the increasing ambiguity of Russian-Turkish relations has complicated Russia’s relations with Azerbaijan.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have incorporated friendly relations with Russia into a wider strategy: former Armenian foreign minister Vartan Oskanian described it as a multivectoral approach, in which “foreign policy vectors point in different directions.”5 It entails seeking close relations with and assistance from powers other than Russia, primarily the United States and the European Union (EU). Large Armenian diasporas in the United States and France have aided this endeavor. In contrast, a poor record on democracy and human rights, as well as the Armenian diaspora’s efforts in the United States, have hobbled Azerbaijan. In the United States, congressional legislation blocked most assistance to Azerbaijan until waiver authority was granted in 2001 in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks and Azerbaijan’s subsequent role in assisting U.S. antiterrorism efforts elsewhere.6

In Georgia, nationalism remains centered on the rejection of Russia. Since the massacre of unarmed civilians by Soviet troops in the capital, Tbilisi, in 1989 and the post-independence presidency of former Soviet dissident—and extreme nationalist—Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Georgian society has generally come to view Russia as a usurping occupier. February 25—the day the Red Army invaded Tbilisi in 1921—is still observed annually as Soviet Occupation Day. Georgians explain away decades of fawning over the “occupiers” as one ambassador did: “For all those years that the Russians ruled us, we told them we loved them. And they actually believed us.” Georgian warlords deposed Gamsakhurdia in January 1992 and installed former Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze as a weak figurehead. His tenure as president involved a constant renegotiation of his powers to gain ascendancy over those warlords. In the early 1990s, still at his weakest vis-à-vis the warlords and pressured by Russian support for Abkhaz and Ossetian separatism, he tried to harness, not reverse, the extreme nationalism of his predecessor’s supporters, especially those displaced from Abkhazia by Russian-backed separatists.

For their part, Russians have acted as emotionally as the Georgians, seeing Georgia’s aspirations toward the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the EU as the betrayal of its once advantageous position within Moscow’s empire. During one regularly occurring period of heightened tensions, a normally calm senior Russian diplomat asked, “When the Soviet Union was ruled by people named Jughashvili, Orjonikidze, and Beria, just who was occupying whom?” After the September 11, 2001, attacks, as U.S. troops were arriving in Georgia to train Georgians in counterterrorism, an embittered Russian general, recalling the old times of Russian officers’ warm reception in Georgia over countless song-and-wine-filled supra banquets, said, “The Americans think they will teach the Georgians to fight. In reality, the Georgians will teach the Americans to sing.”

. . . But Very Much Intertwined . . .

Russia cannot deal with Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia in isolation because the countries’ own relations with one another are dense and fraught with tension and conflict. Most salient is the Karabakh conflict, over which Armenians and Azerbaijanis have shed so much blood since 1987. Both sides appeal to Russia for support and view Russian amity toward the other side as a betrayal. In the early years, Russia tried to profit from the conflict, clandestinely providing weaponry and mercenaries to both sides. In 1992 and 1993, Russians backed two coups to install puppets in Azerbaijan, but both backfired. In 1992, former Azerbaijani president Ayaz Mutalibov’s attempt to return from Moscow was thwarted by the nationalist Azerbaijan Popular Front. And in 1993, Surat Huseynov’s revolt against the Popular Front was hijacked by Aliyev, who took power for himself alone.7 Thereafter, Russia stepped back in the region. Since brokering a ceasefire in the Karabakh conflict in 1994, Moscow has limited its interventions to trying (unsuccessfully) to get the sides to agree to a Russia-led peacekeeping force of the sort Moscow installed to control the Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transdniestria separatist conflicts. Russia remains a supplier of weaponry to both sides, and every major arms sale to one provokes protests from the other. Because Azerbaijan’s oil revenues expanded, it has been able to diversify its defense procurements, but Armenia remains dependent on Russia for arms and security guarantees.

Georgia is closely intertwined with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. There are large Armenian and Azerbaijani minorities in Georgia (in separatist Abkhazia, Armenians actually outnumber the Abkhaz). Despite initial nationalist difficulties in Borchaly, an Azerbaijani-inhabited section of Georgia, Georgian-Azerbaijani relations have been good almost since Georgia’s independence—largely thanks to a reconciliation of convenience between two Soviet-era rivals, Eduard Shevardnadze and Heydar Aliyev. Aliyev needed Georgia to enable the western transit of Azerbaijan’s hydrocarbon exports and the import of western goods from Turkey. Shevardnadze needed Azerbaijan to secure oil and gas pipelines to provide both transit royalties and strategic importance to the West.8 He also needed Aliyev to help ensure that the large Azerbaijani population of Georgia reliably voted for Shevardnadze’s political grouping, the Citizens Union.

Georgian-Armenian relations have been trickier. A portion of the Armenian population in Georgia is concentrated in Javakheti, near a large Soviet (later Russian) military base that fueled the region’s economy until it was closed in 2007. From 1992 to 1993, the Javakhk Armenians sought independence, apparently with Russian encouragement. But Armenia’s only transit routes to Russia and the West lay through Georgia, as the Karabakh conflict had closed Armenia’s borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan, so the government of then Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrosyan tamped down Javakhk separatism. Relations between the two countries grew closer after Mikheil Saakashvili came to the presidency in Georgia in 2004, and they have remained friendly under subsequent leaders. 

. . . And Vital for Russia’s Internal Security

To this day, Russian policy in the South Caucasus is intertwined with the North Caucasus—to which Russia has devoted the blood and treasure of generations and which post-Soviet Russia sees as key to the integrity of the Russian state. Russia’s domestic security concerns have intruded on the South Caucasus in a number of areas.

As Russian power ebbed away at the end of the Soviet era, the Russian army—for the first time in centuries—no longer wielded the decisive force in the region. The Turkish Third Army was the most powerful military in the region, and locals adapted to the strategic effects. Russia threw its diminished resources into the Caucasus to suppress the first Chechen rebellion—and met defeat. Russia’s subsequent remilitarization of the region, and its demands to adapt the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty to allow for greater freedom of movement in the Flank, stemmed from its perceived need to redress the military imbalance and reassert power and influence in the region.9 To address Russia’s moves to adapt the treaty, Azerbaijan and Georgia allied with Moldova and Ukraine to form what later solidified into the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development (known simply as the GUAM).

Ossetians, ethno-linguistically and religiously different from their neighbors, have been Russia’s principal allies in the North Caucasus for two centuries. As Russia dealt with a host of ethnic nationalisms in the first years after the Soviet collapse, including Chechen separatism and later an armed Islamist movement, North Ossetia gained strategic importance to, and leverage with, Russian leadership. It has used that leverage to ensure robust Russian support for South Ossetian separatism from Georgia.10

Likewise, other ethnic groups in the mountains of the North Caucasus (for example, the Chechens, Kabardians, and Cherkes) saw in Abkhaz separatism from Georgia the validation of their own ethnic nationalisms. With Russian facilitation, many so-called volunteers made their way to Abkhazia to join the separatist war against Georgia from 1992 to 1993. Among the most effective of these was the Chechen Shamil Basayev, who was later an archnemesis of the Russians but their ally in that struggle.11

During the Second Chechen War, fighters and their families took refuge in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge, which was effectively outside the Georgian government’s control. Russian president Boris Yeltsin called Shevardnadze in November 1999 to demand the reinstatement of Russian border troops in Georgia and passage for Russian military units through Georgia to attack Pankisi from the south. Shevardnadze stalled and then called on the Americans to dissuade Yeltsin. Later, after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the United States sent troops to train the Georgians to restore security in Pankisi, forestalling Russian actions there. Even worse, from the Russian point of view, Shevardnadze made a deal with Ruslan Gelayev, a Chechen commander sheltering in the Pankisi Gorge, to launch an attack on Abkhaz-held territory in 2001. The attack failed, but the Russian authorities viewed this series of events as proof that Georgia was treacherous and untrustworthy.

Lastly, Azerbaijan shares a long border and considerable ethnic overlap with Russia’s Dagestan Autonomous Republic, where Salafist proselytizing made extensive inroads in the 1990s. After some years, a full-fledged Islamist guerrilla movement formed and linked up with the remains of the armed Chechen nationalist movement, which also fell under Salafist influence. When attacks began on authorities in Dagestan, security cooperation with Azerbaijan gained importance for Russian internal security.
 
Developments From Independence to 2012

The stage was thus set early on for a consistent—even static—Russian policy toward the South Caucasus: an economy-of-force balancing act to preserve Russia’s traditional friendship and strategic alliance with Armenia without harming Russia’s economic and security relationship with Azerbaijan; and a constant, emotional, and ever-deepening hostility toward Georgia. Russia views the international arena as a series of camps, each centered by a power whose greatness is confirmed by possessing a camp.12 Russia has been keen to ensure that the new nations forged out of former Soviet republics remain in its camp and has formed multinational institutions to cement those relations. Initially, Russia had hopes that the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), formed when the Soviet Union broke up, might fill the bill. Azerbaijan and Armenia joined the CIS at its inception in 1991. But it was not until 1993 that Georgia’s president Shevardnadze—under Russian military pressure in support of Abkhaz separatism and facing a rebellion by ousted former president Gamsakhurdia—reluctantly acceded. In 2008, Georgia withdrew from the CIS after the country’s defeat in the Russo-Georgian War. With the CIS having little influence, Russia put forward two other institutions to accomplish the task.

The Collective Security Treaty, originally signed in 1992, became the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in 2002, designed as a counterweight to NATO. Armenia joined to relieve its security concerns with regard to Turkey; Azerbaijan and Georgia did not. The Eurasian Customs Union, officially formed in 2000 but active from 2010 onward, also included Armenia but not Azerbaijan or Georgia. In 2014, Russia turned the Customs Union into the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), intended as a mirror image of the EU. Moscow’s ongoing attempts to equate the two organizations on the international stage has had significant effects on the Caucasus, as noted later in this paper.

Azerbaijan was able to avoid joining Russia’s so-called camp thanks to its independent oil revenues, which have grown for both Azerbaijan and other post-Soviet Caspian littoral states. In the early 1990s, Moscow’s ability to project power was low and Russia could only protest ineffectually when littoral countries signed hydrocarbon extraction contracts in the absence of an international agreement to define national rights in the Caspian.13 Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan brought in Western energy majors without fearing Russia’s reaction (Azerbaijan signed its first major contract in 1993). The status of the Caspian was not codified even preliminarily until 2018, and to this day, no treaty covers exploitation of the seabed.14 Russia could not fight ’em, so it joined ’em, settling for sharing in the profits from hydrocarbon development and transit.

For a time in the mid-1990s, the United States and Russia maneuvered against one another through their respective support of pipelines. The United States heavily promoted the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline as an alternative to a Russian monopoly on hydrocarbon transit to the West. However, U.S. doctrine demanded that the pipeline be commercially viable in its own right, and the United States refused to put resources into boosting that viability. Recognizing this, Russia banked on the oil majors’ desire to save money by transporting the oil by tanker across the Black Sea and through the Turkish Straits. But when then BP chair John Browne visited Istanbul and inspected the narrow Bosphorus passage, he decided the route was too risky and threw the weight of the oil majors behind BTC.

Russia’s closest relationship in the South Caucasus remains with Armenia, the country most firmly entrenched in Russia’s camp. It is frequently called a strategic alliance, and for Armenia this is certainly the case as 3,000 Russian troops based in its second-largest city, Gyumri, form a trip wire against Turkish military action.15

While Azerbaijan generally deals with other countries transactionally, another criterion takes precedence: their stance on Armenia and the Karabakh conflict. This is the trickiest situation for Russia to manage: Azerbaijan is Russia’s largest trading partner in the Caucasus, the two countries have important common issues regarding hydrocarbons, and Russia sees a strategic aim in keeping Azerbaijan out of what it calls the Western camp. Therefore, while supporting Armenia, Russia has tried to avoid alienating Azerbaijan, including during the recent surge in fighting. Until 2010, Russia was discreet about its arms sales to Armenia to avoid provoking Azerbaijan, denying reports of large arms transfers when they surfaced in 2009.16 More recently, Russia has started transferring increasingly sophisticated weaponry to both sides and has been more open about its balancing. For example, in 2010, Russia signed a new lease on its military base in Gyumri (extending it to 2044) and agreed to sell S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Azerbaijan.17

As part of this balancing, Russia is involved in attempts to mediate between Azerbaijan and Armenia to resolve the Karabakh conflict. Since 1995, Russia has been a co-chair of the Minsk Group, a body under the aegis of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and composed of a number of countries interested in brokering peace. In 1997, the United States and France joined Russia as co-chairs, and the three countries have conducted all negotiations thereafter without significant input from the other group members. This structure has facilitated Russia-West cooperation to keep a politically insoluble problem from flaring into war and metastasizing beyond the actual frontline states. When Dmitry Medvedev was president of Russia (2008–2012), he poured great efforts into Russian peace initiatives, and with French and U.S. assent Russia came to dominate the process. As part of this campaign, Medvedev also supported the 2008 opening between Armenia and Turkey, Azerbaijan’s closest ally. That rapprochement failed, however, due to opposition from key constituencies on both sides. Ultimately, Azerbaijan and Armenia were not interested in a negotiated solution, and Medvedev’s initiative foundered.18

Russia’s relations with Georgia quickly went into a downward spiral after the Soviet collapse. Russia used substantial military force to ensure the survival and then victory of the separatist rebellion in Abkhazia and leveraged that and a revolt by Gamsakhurdia to force Shevardnadze to accept a Russian peacekeeping force in western Georgia. Still hostile, Russia backed two attempts, in 1995 and 1998, to assassinate Shevardnadze. Until the latter attempt, Shevardnadze had been trying to play Russia and the United States off against each other, but these actions drove Shevardnadze squarely into the arms of the United States.19

The Russians loathed Shevardnadze for his role in the collapse of the Soviet bloc—on one television program, he was reviled as “the Ostap Bender of the Soviet Union,” after the con-man protagonist of the classic Soviet comic novel Twelve Chairs. But that feeling paled beside the emotions stoked in the Russian leadership by the flamboyant and mercurial Mikheil Saakashvili, who ousted Shevardnadze at the end of 2003 and became president in 2004. In that year, Saakashvili also ousted the quasi-independent Aslan Abashidze from his rule over the autonomous Batumi region, which housed a Russian military base. Also in 2004, tensions flared in South Ossetia. Russia retaliated over the next few years, banning the import of Georgian products, banning flights between Russia and Georgia, closing the land border between the two countries, and launching an aggressive campaign against ethnic Georgians in Russia, including Russian citizens, their businesses, and their families. In 2007, Russia closed off most of North Ossetia to foreigners, allowing preparations for war to proceed unseen by the outside world. And in 2008, as tensions flared again in South Ossetia, Russian troops invaded, defeating Georgia’s forces in short order, occupying parts of Georgia outside Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and incorporating these conquests into the separatist statelets, which Russia shortly thererafter recognized as independent.20 But the war also brought the expansion of a new competitor’s presence: the small, neutral OSCE mission was scrapped, and a large new EU Monitoring Mission was put in its place.21 Despite the limitations placed on that mission, the overall EU presence and commitment sharply increased.
Since Putin’s Return

Putin’s return to the presidency in 2012 came with a more assertive foreign policy. New leaders wholly dependent on Russia were installed in the separatist entities Russia supported, including South Ossetia and Abkhazia, replacing long-established leaders who were pro-Russian but possessed their own independent power bases. More importantly, Russia began to treat the European Union—not just NATO—as a strategic rival intent on taking over parts of what Medvedev had called Russia’s sphere of “privileged interests.” Five years earlier, that view had been restricted to the siloviki, or senior officers of the hard power ministries (primarily the military, internal affairs, and security services); after Putin’s return to the presidency, it became Russia’s official policy.
 
Armenia

The Ukrainian crisis of 2013–2014 began with Putin pressuring both Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan into repudiating the EU Association Agreements they had signed and instead joining the nascent Russia-centric EAEU. The pressure on Sargsyan included a Putin visit to Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, to discuss arms sales. Yanukovych’s caving to Putin’s pressure triggered the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine and his eventual downfall. Sargsyan did not immediately face the same consequences. He explained to the nation that security concerns necessitated joining the Russian-led organization—that only Russia could safeguard Armenia from its neighbors. However, after rejecting the EU, Sargsyan immediately tried to placate it. Negotiations eventually restarted on a trade agreement, and in 2017, Armenia signed a Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with the EU.

After a few protests, Armenians fell in line with Sargsyan’s capitulation to Putin’s wishes: they assumed their security expectations would be met and that this change was worth the economic disadvantages of giving up the association with the EU. Indeed, when a few months later Russia occupied Crimea and annexed it after the fig leaf of a controlled referendum, Armenians saw this as a model and justification for future annexation of Nagornyy Karabakh and the surrounding territories. Russia’s actions had called into question all territorial dispositions after the Soviet collapse, which had been agreed among the union republics, codified in the CIS Treaty, and endorsed by the international community. With borders now questioned and Russia more capable of projecting power, it was better to be a close ally of Russia than a potential victim.

But in April 2016, Armenians suffered a rude awakening. On April 1, Azerbaijan began a military operation along the line of contact in Karabakh and, over the next four days, managed to regain a few strategic points occupied by the Karabakh Armenians years before. Russia’s reaction was to maintain its balancing act. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov went to the region explicitly to be a neutral mediator. He brought a ceasefire plan and proposed the Russian peacekeeping force that had been rejected so many years earlier. That approach did not go over well with the Armenian populace. In their view, Armenia was a treaty ally of Russia and had given up European aspirations to stay in Russia’s camp—and, therefore, Russia should be on Armenia’s side. However, as far as Russia was concerned, legally, the combat had nothing to do with Armenia but was between Nagornyy Karabakh and Azerbaijan. The Armenian people did not see it that way, after being convinced by their leaders over a generation that Karabakh and Armenia had become a single polity. Sargsyan, who initially supported the idea of a Russian peacekeeping force, was seen as having sold out Armenian interests. He then had to backtrack, putting fatal cracks in his prestige and authority.

Almost immediately, mutinies and demonstrations broke out, occasionally with a subtle anti-Russian flavor. In July 2016, a group of gunmen calling themselves Sasna Tsrer (“Daredevils of Sassoun,” from an Armenian epic poem) violently took over a police station and held out against government forces for two weeks, demanding Sargsyan’s resignation. Even after they surrendered, they retained widespread support, which translated into a people fed up with the ruling elite and with Russia.22 Other factors—such as a notorious murder by a Russian soldier, price hikes by the Russian-owned electricity supplier, and continued arms sales to Azerbaijan—further exacerbated popular discontent.

In 2017, faced with term limits when his presidency was to expire in 2018, Sargsyan chose one of the standard post-Soviet autocratic solutions to staying in power: establishing a parliamentary system, turning the presidency into a figurehead, and becoming prime minister. Sargsyan and his Dashnak nationalist allies duly won parliamentary elections in 2017, and a figurehead president was in due course elected in 2018. Then the play went off script: the aggrieved populace rose up in demonstrations, and in just over a month, Sargsyan was ousted. Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan was installed as acting prime minister, and new elections affirmed his position later in the year.

So far, this scenario resembles one of the “color revolutions” that Putin had railed against for the previous fifteen years and had tried to reverse through military force in Georgia, Syria, and Ukraine. But instead of condemning Pashinyan (who had sharply criticized Russia during the demonstrations) and lending full support to Sargsyan (one of Putin’s most loyal supporters), Putin was remarkably restrained throughout and had a friendly and supportive meeting with Pashinyan just days after the latter took power, publicly offering him his congratulations and best wishes.

It is possible that Russia blamed Sargsyan for the anti-Russian sentiment following the clashes of April 2016.23 But it is also clear that Pashinyan made efforts to reassure Putin, as he—like the entire Armenian electorate—understood that Russia remained the guarantor of Armenia’s security vis-à-vis its much larger neighbors. He also understood that any rift with Russia would create a vulnerability that Azerbaijan could exploit with regard to Karabakh; Pashinyan knew he could not afford any daylight between Armenia and Russia. He left Armenia in the EAEU and CSTO. He made clear that he would pursue a democratic system, but he “also said that he viewed democracy as a firm belief, rather than a geopolitical orientation, making clear the distinction.”24 Perhaps the fact that Putin knew this as well, implying no major changes in Armenia’s strategic orientation, occasioned his restraint: if there is no threat that Armenia will leave its camp, Russia can continue balancing its policy toward Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is the type of country with which Putin seems to feel comfortable—a stable autocracy whose cautious ruler pursues consistent and predictable policies. Azerbaijan causes few headaches for Russia and demands only that its transactional approach be reciprocated. President Ilham Aliyev began his rule only three years after Putin took over Russia; his father Heydar Aliyev had ruled Azerbaijan for a decade before that, not counting the Soviet period, when he also ruled the country as his own fiefdom. Heydar Aliyev’s time in the senior-most ranks of the Soviet state, Communist Party, and security services nomenklatura made his attitude very different from other post-Soviet rulers, some of whom had been minor provincial apparatchiki in Soviet times and saw Moscow as the source of all power. Heydar Aliyev treated Russia’s post-Soviet rulers without the fealty or fear that some of his contemporaries showed.

Ilham Aliyev does not have the experience or ability of his father, but he has inherited that legacy of autonomous sovereignty. If Pashinyan intends to show that democracy is a belief, not a geopolitical choice, the Aliyevs have long since shown that the same is true of autocracy. Azerbaijan and Russia have enjoyed a functional, transactional relationship that is cordial, neighborly, and devoid of emotion. To some extent, Azerbaijan grew ideologically closer to Russia in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, as both countries saw themselves as attacked and undermined by a fifth column of Western-supported civil society and nongovernmental organizations. In 2014, the chief of Azerbaijan’s presidential apparatus—usually considered closest to Russia in the Azerbaijani leadership—published a long, scathing article outlining that worldview. He even implied that charges of human rights violations against a country only proved that its leadership was defending its sovereignty.25

But ideological sympathy never overcame Azerbaijan’s transactional approach to relations with Russia. In 2012, Azerbaijan demanded a sharp increase in the rent Russia was paying for the Soviet-era Qabala radar station. The station was part of the Soviet and Russian strategic early warning system, and therefore the United States favored its continued functioning to help reduce uncertainty about potential missile launches. Nonetheless, Azerbaijan stuck to its price demands, and the Russians eventually closed the station at the end of 2012.26

Apart from its transactional approach, the Azerbaijani leadership has a single prism for judging the actions of all other countries: the Karabakh conflict. Since independence, Azerbaijan has rejected virtually all forms of multilateral cooperation involving Armenia. That has imposed a durable limit on the extent of rapprochement with Russia. For example, Azerbaijan has not joined the CSTO, of which Armenia is a member; to do so, it would have to renounce any military solution to the Karabakh conflict, and it has been a tenet of faith in Azerbaijan that only the credible threat of a military solution can pressure Armenia to negotiate seriously. Nor has Azerbaijan joined the EAEU, as Armenia did. Joining it could limit Azerbaijan’s ability to use its economic leverage to marshal international support on Karabakh and counter Armenian diaspora influence in the West, particularly in the United States and France.

Indeed, because Russia’s annexation of Crimea calls into question the borders of the former Soviet republics—which the republics recognize as state borders under the Alma-Ata Declaration of December 21, 1991—it also calls into question the basis for Azerbaijani claims to sovereignty over Nagornyy Karabakh. Moreover, for the last fifteen years, proposed principles for a negotiated peace in the Karabakh conflict have included a “binding expression of the popular will” as part of the ultimate disposition of the territory.27 The Russia-staged referendum in Crimea drove home to the Azerbaijanis how easy it is for the power with boots on the ground to ensure its desired outcome in such a vote.

All in all, since 2014, Azerbaijan has become, if anything, even more transactional in its approach to Russia. The 2016 offensive in Karabakh, which might earlier have been deterred by reluctance to antagonize Russia, can be seen as one example. The fighting Azerbaijan initiated on September 27, 2020, can also be seen as a transaction with Russia—one made possible by Turkish intervention. To be sure, one aim of the offensive is to regain territory and therefore remove bargaining chips from Armenia’s side of the board. But perhaps the larger aim is to threaten Putin with instability and possibly a region-wide war if he does not force deep concessions on Armenia. Aliyev ignored Lavrov’s initial offer: the return of two provinces, in exchange for Russia being allowed to deploy a peacekeeping force.28 Whatever the outcome, it is clear that to Azerbaijan, Russia is now less of a partner and more of a problem to be solved.

Azerbaijan tries to solve its Russia problem through closer relations with, in particular, Turkey and China. Turkey has long been Azerbaijan’s main advocate in the international sphere. Aside from ethnic kinship (a significant Azeri population lives in Eastern Turkey) and deep historical links before the Soviet takeover, Turkey is quick to cite certain protectorate rights granted under the Treaties of Moscow and Kars (1921). Since independence, Azerbaijan has seen Turkey as a counterweight to Russian power. At present, however, Turkey has its own complex relations with Russia. Turkey enjoys the positive effects of continued close energy and pipeline relations, as well as personal interactions between Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan; but offsetting these effects are sharp differences between Turkey and Russia on the conflicts in Syria and Libya. Azerbaijan seeks to ensure that Turkey’s support vis-à-vis Russia is unwavering. Turkey’s support of Azerbaijan and reported direct military involvement in the autumn 2020 fighting have granted Azerbaijan unprecedented room for maneuver vis-à-vis Russia—both on the battlefield and with regard to Russian mediation efforts. It took the Kremlin almost two weeks to arrange a Putin-Aliyev phone call; a humanitarian truce brokered by Lavrov fell apart almost immediately.

China has increased its engagement with the Caucasus as part of its Belt and Road Initiative, though neither its trade nor investment in the region compare with its far more massive engagement in Central Asia.29 Its main partner in the region is Azerbaijan, which has the largest population, economy, and reserves of natural resources. The partnership makes sense geopolitically as well: although China is now a major trading partner for Armenia and Georgia, Armenia is too dependent on Russia to be pried loose and China is probably wary of Russian sensitivities on Georgia. China has now become the third largest source of imports for Azerbaijan, after Russia and Turkey. Azerbaijan presents the most potential for future political rapprochement, and China, unlike the West, is not burdened with concerns over Azerbaijan’s human rights record. Azerbaijan hopes that as the Belt and Road Initiative progresses, China will increase its use of Azerbaijan for the transit of cargo to Europe—floating cargo across the Caspian and loading it onto the railroad link opened in 2017 between Baku and Kars, in Turkey, via Georgia.
Georgia

Putin once famously declared that he would hang Saakashvili by his testicles.30 That promise remains unfulfilled, but not for want of trying. Saakashvili lost his parliamentary majority in 2012 and was voted out of office in 2013. If Putin thought Saakashvili’s ouster by the billionaire (and, until shortly before then, Russian citizen) Bidzina Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream Party would liberate a wellspring of affection for Russia, he was in for disappointment. The Georgian populace remains deeply suspicious of Russia. In late 2014, NATO initiated a major assistance program, the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, sharply ramping up security cooperation with the Georgian Dream government.31

Russia’s hostile and aggressive policy toward Georgia, too, remains unchanged. As always, the pressure point between Russia and Georgia has been separatism, namely the Russia-backed polities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In the run-up to Putin’s return to the presidency, long-serving local officials in many areas controlled by Russia, especially in the Russia-supported South Ossetia and Abkhazia (and Transdniestria, outside the region), were ousted, with Moscow backing newcomers who had little local support and who would owe loyalty and obedience to Putin alone. At the end of 2011, Edmund Kokoity, who had ruled South Ossetia since 2001, was forced to resign from the leadership and was ultimately replaced by Leonid Tibilov, a veteran of the KGB.32 In Abkhazia, the death of Sergei Bagapsh in May 2011 triggered a premature power struggle that threw the plans off track; in the elections that followed, Moscow’s chosen candidate, Raul Khajimba, was defeated. However, with the intervention of Putin’s fixer Vladislav Surkov, president Alexander Ankvab was ousted in June 2014 and Khajimba was installed.33

By then, Russia had occupied and annexed Crimea and had instigated and supported armed separatist uprisings in Donbass, as well as Kharkiv and Odessa; in response, the West had imposed sanctions. Perhaps this left Putin and his regime less concerned with placating Western opinion, and he moved to annex the separatists in all but name. As early as October 13, 2014—the month after Khajimba’s inauguration—Russia presented Abkhazia with a draft Treaty of Alliance, Integration and Partnership, whose main points were the takeover of key executive departments of the Abkhaz “state” by their Russian homologues, with, at best, nominal Abkhazian security institutions serving as a fig leaf. Russia presented South Ossetia with a draft comprising identical terms at about the same time, though the first public announcement came in November. In the treaties that were eventually signed, the Abkhaz won face-saving concessions from the Russians;34 it took four drafts before the South Ossetians signed, but their version was closer to the Russian original.35 (The close informal relations between South Ossetia and North Ossetia made the words on paper less important.) The stifling embrace of Moscow—and the suspected poisoning of Khajimba’s electoral rival36—led to the ouster of Khajimba in early 2020 and his replacement by Aslan Bzhania, himself a veteran of the KGB.37 In South Ossetia, Anatoliy Bibilov, who had floated between the North and South Ossetian militaries, defeated Tibilov.38

Russian actions have continued to ensure that Georgian resentment over the terra irredenta remains an open wound. The process of borderization continues in South Ossetia: Russian border troops periodically erect new border fences that enclose bits of land hitherto under Georgian control. In July 2015, new border fences cut off part of the strategic Baku-Supsa oil pipeline, the line that carried Azerbaijani “early oil” to market in the West before the main Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline was completed. Russia has not interfered with the oil flow, but the implied threat is clear.39

For its part, it appears that Georgia under Saakashvili tried to return this threat by reopening links with Chechen and Islamist rebel groups in the North Caucasus, as Shevardnadze had done with the Chechen commander Gelayev in 2001. Russia charged in 2009—and again in 2012 after a murky incident in the Lopota Gorge (between the Pankisi Gorge and Dagestan)—that Georgia was arming and training Chechen militants to fight inside Russia. In 2017, several years after Saakashvili was replaced by the less anti-Russian Georgian Dream Party, the Chechen commander involved in the Lopota incident was killed by Georgian security forces in Tbilisi.40

Thus, a cycle of perceived provocations followed by emotional reactions and retaliations continues today. Most recently, a Russian’s mere choice of seating at a meeting led to crisis between the two countries. From June 19 to 23, 2019, the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy met in the parliament in Tbilisi with Orthodox parliamentarians from many countries in attendance. This was presumably intended as a gesture at reconciliation between the Orthodox majorities of Russia and Georgia. On June 20, a member of the Russian State Duma presided over the session and sat in the Georgian parliament chair’s seat. Violent street protests immediately broke out in Tbilisi, disrupting the meeting and forcing the resignation of Georgia’s parliament chair the following day.41 Amid continuing protests against Russia in Tbilisi, Putin ordered the cessation of direct flights between Georgia and Russia—as he had in the run-up to the 2008 war.42 The incident highlights that symbols of power relations evoke both charged emotions and material retaliations and that the pattern of events will be repeated for the foreseeable future.Conclusion

It is hard not to conclude that Putin’s personal overreach in Ukraine has led to suboptimal results for Russia in the South Caucasus. When he resumed the presidency of Russia, Putin increased engagement with the South Caucasus, perhaps hoping to gather some castaway stones closer into the Russian camp. By autumn, 2013, everything seemed to be going his way: Armenia (and Ukraine) had bowed to his demands to reject association agreements with the EU and to sign on instead with the EAEU that Putin had singlehandedly created, promoted, and dominated. Relations with Azerbaijan were on an even keel without much expenditure of effort. And Georgia’s despised Saakashvili had been replaced by a Russian billionaire whose government was floating trial balloons about normalizing relations with Moscow despite Russia’s recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

But relations with all three South Caucasus countries reverted to type after Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. Moscow’s stifling embrace of rulers such as Sargsyan and Khajimba led to popular discontent and their forcible ousters. The precedents set on Ukrainian territory led Azerbaijan to proceed with extreme caution in its relations with Russia. And Russia’s expansionist policies with regard to Abkhazia and South Ossetia have guaranteed the hostility of the Georgian populace and repudiation by what might have been a friendlier government. As observers have noted, major outside powers such as China, Turkey, and the EU have capitalized on local suspicions of Russia. They have developed strong interests in all three South Caucasus countries and have the wherewithal to defend those interests against Russian maneuvering, while also providing the locals with greater room for maneuver. Turkey’s willingness to take a major military role in support of Azerbaijan in the fighting that began September 27 shows that Russian power no longer has the deterrent effect it once did against intervention by outside powers. Russian interests themselves are not yet seriously threatened, but expansion of those interests has been blunted. One can say, then, that Russia’s policies in the South Caucasus and in the wider post-Soviet space have forced it back on the stony path it had been treading for a generation and will probably tread for some time to come.

About the Author

Philip Remler is a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Prior to joining Carnegie, he served at the U.S. Department of State and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). His overseas posts included Ankara, Baku, Chişinău, Grozny, Iraqi Kurdistan, Moscow, and Tbilisi. His career included an extended involvement with the conflicts in the former Soviet Union and in participating in OSCE- and UN-led efforts to mediate them, including the Abkhazia, Chechnya, Nagornyy Karabakh, South Ossetia, and Transdniestria conflicts. He also authored “Chained to the Caucasus: Peacemaking in Karabakh, 1987–2012,” published in 2016 by the International Peace Institute.
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  Why Russia’s hands are tied in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

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Clashes between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops have entered a fifth week as both countries battled to control Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region in the South Caucasus. Nagorno-Karabakh is recognised internationally as part of Azerbaijan but is de facto administered by ethnic Armenians. The war over the region had been considered a “frozen conflict” for decades, leading to international dismay when the long-simmering dispute reignited late last month.

While reported death tolls have been contested by both sides, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said last Thursday about 5,000 people had died since fighting erupted again. Russia, which has a long-standing strategic interest in the region and shares part of its southern border with Azerbaijan, has stepped in as mediator. Kremlin officials moved quickly to invite diplomats from both countries for ceasefire negotiations, resulting in two deals brokered on October 10 and 18 that were each broken within hours of being signed. A new series of talks, this time taking place in Washington last weekend, resulted in a
third ceasefire that was broken on Monday.

Russia’s failure to effectively halt the fighting comes as an irregularity in its foreign policy record. In other territorial frozen conflicts within the former Soviet Union (including Transnistria in Moldova, Donbas in Ukraine and both Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia), Russia is seen as having far greater influence due to its alleged military and political support for the separatist groups.

In Nagorno-Karabakh, however, Moscow’s options were limited by its complicated history in the region as well as its relationship to another regional power: Ankara. “What is really key to understanding the current war is the role of Turkey,” said Mikayel Zolyan, a member of the Armenian parliament. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has loomed large in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Zolyan claimed, with a long history of military cooperation with Azerbaijan and an unstinting support of the smaller country’s territorial claims. This has been a matter of alarm for Armenia, which is landlocked between the two allies.

“On the one side there are nine million Azerbaijanis,” he said. “And on the other there are 80 million Turks. Between them are three million Armenians. Erdogan is trying to dismantle the consensus that has shaped the Turkish border.”

Armenia’s diplomatic relationship with Turkey is virtually non-existent, with long-standing disputes between the two countries over border troubles and Turkey’s non-recognition of the Armenian genocide conducted by the Ottomans during World War 1. Much of the strife over the region dates back to the Soviet Union. “The map of the Caucasus, both North and South, was created by Joseph Stalin,” said Mikhail Minakov, a senior adviser at the American Kennan Institute in Kiev, Ukraine.

The USSR annexed both Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1920, while the two states were still at war over the Armenian-majority Karabakh region (known as Artsakh in Armenia). The Kremlin allocated the territory to the Azerbaijan SSR (a subregion of the USSR) but recognised the ethnic-Armenian majority by creating the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) as an enclave within it. These conditions resolved the fighting for the time being, but national awakenings during the collapse of the Soviet Union, Minakov said “gave impetus to the Armenian-Azerbaijanian conflict”. The clashes intensified when ethnic Armenians demanded either independence or full union with Armenia, and the fighting reached its peak from 1992-1994.

Hostilities died down with a Moscow-brokered ceasefire, but no official peace treaty was settled upon and the conflict was effectively frozen. By then, up to 30,000 had died and over a million civilians were displaced on both sides. Russia continued its involvement in ongoing negotiations by taking part as co-chair (along with France and the United States) of the OSCE Minsk Group, which developed a set of peace proposals called the Madrid Principles. These stipulated the return of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijanian control while providing Artsakh a special, interim status. A corridor to Armenia would also be provided. The proposal, however, met with resistance and failed to produce a settlement.

While some signs of rapprochement emerged in 2018, relations between the two countries soured and tensions are now higher than at any point since the 1990s. Russia has promoted itself an active partner in the stalled peace process, though its capacities as a mediator have often been contested by Azerbaijan.

“Moscow is taking sides in the conflict,” said Turan Gafarli, an Azerbaijani researcher at the Istanbul-based TRT World Research Centre. Moscow maintains a military base near the Armenian city of Gyumri, and both countries are part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Nato-like military alliance that considers an attack on one of its members as an attack upon all of them. “Azerbaijan does not want to play the game by Russian rules any more,” Gafarli said. “Since it does not trust Moscow’s sincerity.”

Putin has since affirmed that its security guarantees to Armenia do not extend to Nagorno-Karabakh. What’s more, Minakov said: “Armenia has worsened relations with Russia after the recent ‘Velvet Revolution’” of 2018, which saw a pro-European coalition take power under the leadership of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. This pushed the smaller nation further away from the Moscow-orchestrated Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Pashinyan, Minakov added “has made several unforgivable decisions against the CSTO”, leading him to be branded by certain Russian media outlets as a “carbon copy” of Petro Poroshenko, a former Ukrainian president known for his antagonistic relationship with Moscow.

Despite Russia’s strained relationship with Armenia, Azerbaijan has nevertheless gone on to strengthen its position through increasing ties to Turkey. The two nations share a common cultural and linguistic heritage, and President Erdogan has promised that he “stands with and will continue to stand with … Azerbaijan with all our means and all our heart”. Turkish support for Azerbaijan has drawn criticism from both Armenia and the international community, especially regarding claims that Erdogan has mobilised foreign fighters and mercenaries from Syria and Libya.

Russia’s ability to facilitate peace in the region may depend on leveraging its relationship with Turkey, but ties between the two countries are themselves famously unstable. Ankara had in fact been in the midst of a foreign policy pivot towards Moscow until a 2015 crisis involving a Russian fighter jet shot down near the Turkish-Syrian border. Opposing positions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict continue to generate tension – making any missteps in Russia’s engagement in the South Caucasus carry the risk of spilling over, affecting its interests in the Middle East and North Africa. In the meantime, the international community has declared its support for the Moscow-brokered ceasefires, the latest of which involved the presence of the Red Cross. Members of the UN Security Council, of which Russia is a permanent member, have urged sides to respect the agreements.

Representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan declared their readiness on Monday to return to Moscow for continued talks on Thursday, but this week’s failed Washington-brokered ceasefire may signal a pivot away from Moscow.  The Kremlin, however, has committed to remaining a relevant player in the peace process, pointing to Vladimir Putin’s controversial nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize last month for legitimacy. Moscow’s resources and attention, however, have been stretched thin by ongoing crises in Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, as well as by recent sanctions relating to the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the devastating second wave of Covid-19. Regardless, peace remains the official agenda according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. “We stand by our viewpoint,” he said at a press conference this month. “A peaceful settlement is not only possible, it remains the only way.”


The war in the Caucasus could turn into a regional calamity

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Fewer than 13 million people live in the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Yet the war that has broken out between the two countries risks turning into a global conflagration. Since fighting erupted a week ago, hundreds of people have been killed, including civilians. Attitudes are hardening on either side, with both countries invoking full or partial martial law while mobilizing their populations for an almost existential conflict. As battles rage, the clashes could yet draw in regional powers Turkey, Russia and others deeper into the fray.

At the heart of the crisis is the long-disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which sits inside Azerbaijan’s borders but has a predominantly ethnic Armenian population and is controlled by factions with close ties to Armenia’s capital Yerevan, as well as a set of other territories that abut the region now emptied of their non-Armenian communities. Periodic skirmishes have broken out over the contested terrain, most recently in July. But the current fighting marks the worst round of violence since the early 1990s, when as many as 30,000 people were killed and thousands more displaced until a 1994 cease fire brought a fragile peace to the Caucasus.

Azerbaijani and Armenian officials blame each other for provoking the tensions and targeting civilians. On Sunday, authorities in Azerbaijan reported Armenian missile strikes hit densely-populated areas in Ganja, the country’s second largest city, killing at least one civilian and injuring four others. Arayik Harutyunyan, an Armenian leader in Nagorno-Karabakh, claimed his forces had fired rockets to “neutralize military targets” in the city, a characterization rejected by Azerbaijani officials.

Armenian officials said that Stepanakert, the main city in Nagorno-Karabakh, was under heavy bombardment from Azerbaijani forces. Journalists reported that many civilians were hiding in bomb shelters as the city weathered a sustained attack. Elin Suleymanov, Azerbaijan’s ambassador in Washington, told Today’s WorldView that his country’s forces were not targeting civilians and accused the Armenian side of indiscriminately bombing parts of his country.

The animosities are deep-seated, and leaders on both sides have rejected calls for talks. “We are facing possibly the most decisive moment in our millennia-old history,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in an address to the nation on Saturday. “We all must dedicate ourselves to a singular goal: Victory.”

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev called for the withdrawal of Armenian forces from territories adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh and accused Pashinyan’s government of undermining the already troubled internationally-mandated peace process involving both countries. The Armenian government “overestimated their so-called importance on [the] global arena, overestimated the possible international support to them and made very serious mistakes provoking us, attacking us and now they are suffering the very serious defeat,” Aliyev said.

Turkey’s staunch backing of Azerbaijan in the conflict has introduced a new edge to the tensions. “As Turkey, with all our means and with all our heart, we stand with fellow and brother Azerbaijan and we will continue to stand with it,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday. “God willing, until Nagorno-Karabakh is liberated from invasion, this struggle will continue.”
 
French President Emmanuel Macron accused Erdogan’s government of crossing a “red line” by sending “jihadist groups” into the fight, a reference to reports of detachments of Turkish-affiliated Syrian rebels appearing on the front lines against Armenian forces. Suleymanov and other Azerbaijani and Turkish officials vehemently deny these claims, insisting that Turkey’s support for Baku is mostly political. He also cited apparent evidence of Kurdish separatists and Lebanese-origin militiamen joining the fight on the Armenian side, which officials in Yerevan also reject.

“Azerbaijan has an organized 21st century fighting force,” said Suleymanov, pointing to the relative sophistication of the Azerbaijani military compared to their Armenian counterparts, who lack the economic resources and military hardware, including Israeli-made drones, made possible by Azerbaijan’s considerable wealth of oil and natural gas. Suleymanov added that “we don’t need additional fighters” who are “disorganized” and can’t even communicate with Azerbaijanis.

When asked about Turkey’s conspicuous boosting of Baku’s cause, Suleymanov claimed there was an “imbalance” in the outside perception of the crisis, which focuses more on the Turkish role than European or Russian support for Armenia. He also lamented attempts to cast the current escalation as a religious conflict, accusing Armenian officials who invoked their Christian faith as a rallying cry of “living in medieval times.”
 
The crisis spotlights the tangled geopolitics of the region. Azerbaijan is a secular nation notably close to Israel and occasionally at odds with Iran. This past week, ethnic Azeris living in northwestern Iran took to the streets in solidarity with their brethren across the border, in some instances clashing with security forces. Senior Iranian officials had to publicly deny allegations that they were sending assistance to Armenia and urged dialogue and an immediate cessation of hostilities.

For Moscow, the situation is even more delicate. It maintains deep ties with — and has sold weaponry to — both countries, but remains closer to Armenia. If the conflict spirals and spreads to flash points far from Nagorno-Karabakh, analysts suggest it raises the possibility of Russia and Turkey pitted in yet another proxy war after backing opposing sides in Syria and Libya. The Russian public, though, is increasingly disapproving of the Kremlin’s foreign adventures and that may limit Russia’s scope for action.

“We use our privileges to be a welcomed party by both Armenia and Azerbaijan,” said Sergey Markedonov, senior researcher at the government-run Moscow State Institute of International Relations, to the Wall Street Journal. “Turkey concentrates only on one side and it creates obstacles for Russia, because it pushes Azerbaijan to make a choice.” The indifference of the West, particularly the United States, to ongoing strife and disagreements may be part of the problem. “Lack of international attention has sent a message to the parties that the conflict matters little outside the region,” noted the International Crisis Group. “In Baku, especially, this has exacerbated frustration with diplomacy.”

“The Americans have withdrawn from this issue,” said Thomas de Waal, a senior fellow at Carnegie Europe, to the Guardian. “If Trump has heard of Azerbaijan, it’s because it’s a place he wanted to build a Trump tower in.
 
Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/10/05/azerbaijan-armenia-clash-turkey-russia/
 
US Air Force-affiliated think tank calls for Washington to “Exploit Tensions in the South Caucasus” where Armenia is
 
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The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is not “complicated.” Although Artsakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, is within the current borders of Azerbaijan, it is 98% Armenian, which is the indigenous nation, but because NATO and Russia both support the status quo, Artsakh finds itself besieged. Now, Turkey is sending its “Free Syrian Army” mercenaries to Azerbaijan where they will be paid $1500 per month to take on the should-be-recognized Republic of Artsakh. Back in 2012 I was hesitant to call the Free Syrian Army as Turkish proxies insofar as they could have been Syrians who were using Turkey for their own ends, but look at them now, neo-Ottoman mercenaries, operating outside the Arab world! How is the US involved? Last year the RAND Corporation published a report titled ‘Extending Russia’ which quite simply calls for starting wars to destabilize Eurasia in collaboration with the Turkish neo-Ottoman project. The report specifically suggests that the US “Exploit Tensions in the South Caucasus.” If you can read between the lines their ‘Plan A’ is obvious – Punish Artsakh until it forces Russia to intervene militarily in defense of Armenian national interests, which is a recipe for war. As for ‘Plan B,’ the US could “induce” Armenia to subordinate itself to NATO’s orbit.

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The goal for the US is that “Russia might be forced to withdraw from its army base at Gyumri and an army and air base near Yerevan,” and it would seem they’re willing to encourage NATO aggression to achieve that by using the lives of Armenians as a bargaining tool in collaboration with the pan-Turkic project.

Source: https://greekcitytimes.com/2020/09/30/us-air-force-affiliated-think-tank-calls-for-washington-to-exploit-tensions-in-the-south-caucasus-armenia/
 
What’s Iran’s role in the Armenia-Azerbaijan clash?
 
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Iran seems to be quietly backing Armenia in the conflict.

Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia in occupied Nagorno-Karabakh are already a geopolitical flashpoint between Russia, which supports Yerevan, and Turkey, which supports Baku. But what role does Iran, a Shia-Muslim majority country like Azerbaijan, which neighbours both countries, have? Experts with a close eye on the conflict think Iran is secretly backing Armenia, a Christian-majority country. Iran has officially called on both sides to cease clashes, offering mediation between the two countries.  

“Generally-speaking, Iran appears to be closer to Armenia in its relations with both countries,” says Bulent Aras, professor of international relations at Istanbul Policy Center-Sabanci University. Aras recounts several factors for Iran’s implicit support of Armenia, ranging from Iran’s political alliance with Russia, to Tehran’s trade ties with Yerevan. But among other reasons, the changing political nature of Iran’s Azeri Turkish population (how the population with Azerbaijani heritage is referred to inside Iran) plays an important role in Tehran’s close connections to Yerevan, says Aras. 

“Increasing Turkish nationalism [among the Azeri Turks] in Iran has been seen as a serious political problem by Iran. Connections and relations between the country’s north [where a sizable Azeri Turkish population lives] and Azerbaijan have been an important factor in Tehran’s political problems with Azerbaijan,” Aras tells TRT World.

Iran’s ‘Turkic problem’

Some Azeris believe that Iran’s Turkic-origin population, which includes Turkmen, Qashgais and other Turkish-speaking groups, might amount to nearly 40 percent. Many Azeris call Iran’s north as southern Azerbaijan, where nearly 20 million Azeris live according to different estimates. Some Azeri nationalists and intellectuals have long defined both northern and southern parts as culturally and socially identical, arguing that they should be joined under a political union. 

“In Iran, due to the enormous Turkish population, there has historically been a political fear that two Azerbaijans, Baku [the capital of northern Azerbaijan] and Tabriz [the capital of southern Azerbaijan] might join at some point,” says Esref Yalinkilicli, a Moscow-based Eurasia political analyst. “On the other hand, in Azerbaijani political memory and foreign policy, the idea of Greater Azerbaijan has always been an important factor,” Yalinkilicli tells TRT World

For centuries, Iran and Azerbaijan had been ruled by Turkic-origin states, from the Seljuks to the Safavids, and eventually the Qajars. During the rule of the Qajars in the 19th century, after losing some crucial battles to the Russians, the Shia-Turkish dynasty ceded some crucial parts of its territories to the Russians - the Aras, or Araxes River, became the border line between the two states, dividing current territories effectively.  While the northern part of Azerbaijan became part of the Soviet Union as the Azerbaijan Republic after the communist Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the southern part stayed under the Qajars. They were replaced by the Persian-origin Pahlavi dynasty, the founding family of current Iran, in the early 20th century. 

The political argument of Greater Azerbaijan has long been a threat for the Iranian establishment, which has used its support of Armenia as a counter-measure to minimise Azeri aspirations in Iran and across the region, says Yalinkilicli. “Iran’s traditional Armenia policy has long been a balancing act against both Azerbaijan and Turkey across southern Caucasia. As a result, behind-the-scenes, Iran backs Armenia,” Yalinkilicli tells TRT World. While Iran has a Shia majority and Azeris are overwhelmingly Shia, Azeris speak a Turkish dialect, which is very close to Turkey’s Turkish, and have established close connections with Ankara since the collapse of the communist Soviet Union. Also, national awareness among Iran’s Azeris has increasingly become more evident as globalism has enabled the country’s Turkic-origin population to connect their brethren living in other neighbouring countries including Azerbaijan and Turkey, says Yalinkilicli.

Iran’s other motivations

However, aside from increasing Turkish nationalism in Azerbaijan, there are also other political reasons for Tehran’s support of Armenia. “Reasons like land disputes between the two countries [Iran and Azerbaijan], increasing nationalism among Azeri Turks, issues regarding how to share natural sources of the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan’s close relations with Israel, [which is an archenemy of Iran across the Middle East] and a political desire to balance Turkey-Azerbaijan relations occasionally lead to some tensions and crisis between Baku and Tehran,” says Aras, the international relations professor. Aras also underlines that Iran’s low-profile Armenian policy, which is officially a mediating position between the two countries, might significantly change should the existing political status quo be altered by the clashes in the occupied Karabakh region, which is disputed between Azerbaijan and Armenia. “We need to pay attention to what Iran would do if the political status quo changes,” says the professor. 

According to recent reports, Azerbaijan appears to have an upper hand in the Karabakh region, gaining some crucial territories during recent clashes. “There is a weak possibility that Iran will militarily intervene in the conflict. But if there is a clear development in favour of Azerbaijan, it could be said that some political groups in Iran would have serious discomfort about that. “But there is a little possibility that Iran would reveal that discomfort in its official policy,” he concludes.

Source: https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/what-s-iran-s-role-in-the-armenia-azerbaijan-clash-40114/amp

Iran's Rouhani slams sending terrorists to fight Nagorno-Karabakh
 
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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday warned that his country will not tolerate the presence of foreign fighters — “terrorists that Iran has fought for years" — near its northern border, where a conflict is raging between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Rouhani did not elaborate but Armenia accuses Ankara of sending Turkish-backed Syrian fighters to the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan. In Syria's civil war, Iran, an ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, is on the opposite side of Ankara, which supports Syrian opposition fighters.

Heavy fighting between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh region since Sept. 27 has killed scores of both servicemen and civilians. Nagorno-Karabakh lies inside Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since 1994, when a truce ended a war that raged for several years and killed an estimated 30,000 people on both sides. The fighting, involving heavy artillery, warplanes and drones has continued despite numerous international calls for a cease-fire.

“Iran will not allow anyone, on some pretext, to bring terrorists that Iran has fought for years to our border,” Rouhani told a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. “It is not acceptable, and we have clearly told this to officials of neighboring nations,” he said, according to the presidential website. Rouhani did not elaborate.

The remarks were Rouhani's first on the issue of foreign fighters sent to the volatile region. Armenia alleges that Turkey, a key supporter of Azerbaijan, is sending mercenaries from Syria to the region — a charge that Ankara denies. The Britain-based monitoring group that tracks Syria's civil war — known as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights — has reported that as many as 850 Syrian fighters have arrived in Azerbaijan. Rouhani also warned that the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia may escalate into a “regional war,” which would “not be in the interest of any country." He referred to Azerbaijan as a brother nation and called Armenia a neighbor and urged for peace.

“We have very good relations with both nations," Rouhani said. “The war should come to the end. We hope stability returns to the region.”

He stressed that the security of Iran's border area is “very important” and that in talks with officials from both Azerbaijan and Armenia, Iran has insisted on restoring security. Iran has occasionally complained that stray mortar shells from the Nagorno-Karabakh fighting have struck Iranian border villages and towns. There have been no Iranian fatalities so far, though a six-year old child was reported wounded and some buildings were damaged. On Monday, Iran’s foreign ministry said it's working on a peace plan to end the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan and warned against the conflict spilling across Iran's border — “a very serious red line for the Islamic Republic that should not be crossed.”

Iran shares nearly 760 kilometers (470 miles) of its border with Azerbaijan and about 35 kilometers (22 miles) with Armenia, with traditionally good relations with both neighbors, though public opinion in the predominantly Shiite Iran mainly supports Azerbaijan.

 
European Council on Foreign Relations:  A captive ally: Why Russia isn't rushing to Armenia's aid

 
Russia appears willing to allow Azerbaijan to recapture some areas around Nagorno-Karabakh, betting on Armenian dependency and Azerbaijani gratitude.
 
The ongoing war between Armenia and Azerbaijan around Nagorno-Karabakh is throwing a spotlight on a new paradox in Russian foreign policy: Russia seems to have been more outraged by the European Union signing a free trade deal with Ukraine in 2013 than by Azerbaijan and Turkey fighting Armenia, a Russian military ally and close partner.

Moscow has spent more than a decade carefully crafting the image of a great power that jealously polices its droit de regard in most of the post-Soviet space, and that of a power that sticks with its allies for better or worse – be it Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine, or Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Belarus. But Russia’s reaction to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict seems a major reversal of both of these tenets of Russian geopolitics. Why has Russia refrained from being at least more diplomatically supportive of Armenia, a fellow member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation? And why do Russian foreign policy statements on the war sound meeker and less critical of Turkey and Azerbaijan, and less supportive of Armenia, than those of countries such as France?

There are several reasons for this apparent paradox. In recent years, Russia – like other international mediators in the Minsk groups – has been become increasingly frustrated with Armenian intransigence in talks over Nagorno-Karabakh. In 2011 the sides agreed on the so-called Madrid Principles, under which Armenia would cede control of seven districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh and engage in talks about the status of the territory itself. The ball was in Armenia’s court when it came to making progress towards the implementation of those principles. Yet the country has maintained a status quo in the conflict that serves it well but looks untenable – continuing to control Nagorno-Karabakh and seven other Azerbaijani districts.

Moscow’s current calculation seems to be that it can have its geopolitical cake and eat it.

Russia’s rather neutral reaction to recent clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan reflects exasperation with its ally’s inflexibility in negotiations. There is a perception in Moscow that, in the last two decades, the balance of power has shifted in favour of Azerbaijan – and that, instead of adhering to a more or less acceptable deal, Armenia has been unreasonable and uncompromising. Russia does not want to pick up the geopolitical tab for that. When I asked a Russian interlocutor why Moscow isn’t more supportive of its ally, they responded in even starker terms: “NATO isn’t supposed to support Turkey’s military adventures in foreign lands, be it northern Syria or Libya, right? So, why should Russia support Armenian military adventures in foreign, Azeri, lands?”

The other issue affecting the Russian response seems to have been the current Armenian government – which came to power after large-scale street protests in 2018, much to Russia’s barely concealed displeasure. Russia’s irritation with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is probably not the main reason for its reluctance to support Armenia more assertively, but it is certainly an important factor.

So, will Russia just stand by and watch its ally be defeated? Yes and no. Moscow’s current calculation seems to be that it can have its geopolitical cake and eat it. By holding off, Russia seems to be offering Azerbaijan some time and space to regain territories that are legally part of Azerbaijan but that have been under Armenian control since 1994. And what about Armenia? From a Russian standpoint, the country will have few options other than to stick with Russia. Even if other states might sound supportive of it now, Armenia knows that Russia remains the only country that would deploy troops to defend it. So, even if Russia lets Azerbaijan recapture some territories, Armenia will have to remain a loyal Russian ally.

It is also very likely that Russia signalled its red lines to Azerbaijan and Turkey, one of which is that Armenia’s internationally recognised border should not be touched. It is less clear if a potential Azeri attempt to recapture Nagorno-Karabakh would cross another of these red lines. It probably would – even though President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia’s security guarantees to Armenia do not apply to Nagorno-Karabakh. If the war escalates – leading to either a dire humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh or a major offensive on Armenia’s internationally recognised border – Russia will be forced to intervene. If the conflict becomes an existential threat to Armenia, Russia is certain to act. But none of these scenarios has come about – yet.

To be sure, Russia’s reluctance to come out more strongly in support of Armenia has gained international attention. And it has significantly damaged Russia’s image in Armenia. This image has been deteriorating for several years. But, of course, such factors matter much more in consolidated democracies in the EU than in parts of the world where public opinion is important but, ultimately, does not always shape foreign policy. In other words, for Moscow, it is good if the population has pro-Russian sentiments, but it is not an absolute goal. Russia can absorb a measure of unpopularity.

To a degree, Russia can hit two birds with one stone by accepting a limited war in which Azerbaijan recaptures some territory but does not existentially threaten Armenia. This does a major service to Azerbaijan without really losing Armenia, which has nowhere to go. Yet such positioning has its costs. Many in the South Caucasus and beyond will remember the spectacle of Russia declining to help an ally, a power such as Turkey allegedly engaging in direct military action against this ally, and Russian foreign policy statements resembling those of countries with limited interests in the region. And, even though Russia does not necessarily do so out of weakness or an inability to take a tougher line on Turkey and Azerbaijan, the Nagorno-Karabakh war shows the degree to which Russia’s short-term geopolitical calculations can make it ignore the interests of long-standing allies.

 
Southfront: Where Is Russia? And Other Rhetorical Questions Being Asked In Armenia
 
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The Armenian government is quite obviously pro-Western, and during the war against Azerbaijan it is still refusing to change this posture despite regular public demands to Russia to provide it with a direct assistance in the war in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

This is an issue for Armenia, since Russia is the only reason Azerbaijan (and Turkey) have not moved towards employing even more severe means in their offensive. However, with Russia’s diplomatic measures to impose the ceasefire in Karabakh obviously experiencing serious difficulties, the moment in which Armenia could simply lose Nagorno-Karabakh is likely drawing near, if the war escalates further. Experts in Armenia, war-related blogs and public activists appear to increasingly be asking the question why the government is refusing to change its diplomatic posture and move towards a closer cooperation with its traditional ally and guarantor of sovereignty.


Instead, when Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan came into power with populist anti-Russian hysteria and a pro-Western agenda, the de-facto policy of Armenia officially turned towards supporting the intentions of such persons:

As such, when no direct military support (in terms of the involvement of the Russain Armed Forces) comes from Russia’s side and Yerevan ultimately loses the Nagorno-Karabakh region, it would likely be because many told that the Russian military and Russians need to go back home.

However, somehow, despite being under a very pro-Western government, the official Armenian propaganda is now questioning why Moscow hasn’t come to the rescue, since it was “obligated” to support it against Azerbaijan in the war for Nagorno-Karabakh.

And, of course, that would make sense, since there is a military deal between Moscow and Yerevan – Russia would come in and assist in the case of a direction aggression on Armenian soil. However, Nagorno-Karabakh is a self-proclaimed independent republic, and the Armenian government has not initiated even initial steps to recognize it or officially make it part of Armenia. As a result, Nagorno-Karabakh is a sort of limbo, for which Russia has no obligation to provide assistance, it is not an official part of Armenia, so a more vocal and reasoned call for assistance needs to be voiced by those same people who were full of pride and excepted that the West would solve its issues simply by rejecting any relations with Moscow.

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The changing geopolitical situation around the world, especially the Middle East, the intensified cultural-ideological and class struggle both within individual countries and globally, continue to provoke reactive political processes. Recently, a new crisis has erupted in Armenia, a state in the South Caucasus. The balance of power, self-perception of local ethnic groups, and the influence of socio-economic and cultural ideological groups on public policy have significantly changed in the country. These changes are multidirectional, increasing the risk of a new armed conflict.

On April 12, an acute internal crisis started in Armenia, a post-USSR nation and a traditional ally of Russia in the South Caucuses since the 1990s. The Armenian opposition triggered this crisis and used it to pursue a regime change, using various, among which unconstitutional, measures. Following a series of street riots from April 15 – May 2, Nikol Pashinyan, an opposition leader and a leader of the neoliberal, formally pro-US political party “Way Out Alliance”, became prime minister. Armenia is a parliamentary republic. Pashinyan gained his post on May 8 using a mobilized pro-opposition minority and pressuring the parliament with riots. The change in power occurred without bloodshed and without the direct actions of external actors.

Despite the formally pro-western position of his party, Pashinyan changed his public foreign policy rhetoric after the situation had entered into a revolutionary phase of the race for power. These changes are based on the need to act in line with the internal political situation and geopolitical reality. The bulk of the Armenian population does not consider themselves as the so-called “liberal thinking part of the middle class” neither economically nor culturally. In addition, there is an acute regional issue – an unresolved territorial dispute over the Nagorno Karabakh region and some nearby areas between Armenia and its Turkic neighbor Azerbaijan, also a post-USSR state. Pro-Armenian forces captured Nagorno Karabakh in the early 90s triggering an armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Further development of this conflict and the expected offensive by pro-Azerbajian forces was stopped by a Russian intervention in May 1994. By mid 2018, Nagorno Karabakh and the nearby areas are still under the control of Armenian forces, de-facto making it an unrecognized Armenian state – Arts’akhi Hanrapetut’yun (Arts’akh).

The 2018 political crisis and further developments did not strengthen Armenian positions over the Nagorno Karabakh issue. At the same time, the political situation in Azerbaijan remains stable. Azerbaijan, despite all existing problems, continues to develop, has a population over 3 times higher than Armenia and the economy is almost 4 times higher than Armenia’s GDP. At the same time, Azerbaijan maintains good working relations with Russia in almost all issues of the bilateral relations. Additionally, Azerbaijan is a natural historical ally of Turkey.

Turkey has recently overcome some of its differences, restored and strengthened its partnership relations with Russia. Additionally, Ankara has reached a tactical compromise with Iran. This along with successful actions in Syria allowed Turkey to significantly increase its influence in the region. Iran has also strengthened its positions through participation in ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. Teheran moved its positions closer to those of Russia and Turkey. In turn, Russia has expanded its activity far beyond the South Caucasus and is now employing an active policy in the Greater Middle East. The activity of these leading regional states has obviously come into conflict with the interests of the establishment in Washington. Each of these three countries, has its own format of relations with the US, which in each chase is characterized as uneasy.

From all the aforementioned regional players, Russia is the only power, which has been a strategic ally and a military defender of Armenia and its interests. Armenia is a member state of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Eurasian Customs Union (ECU). It’s interesting to note that reading Wikipedia articles in different languages, it’s not easy to find info about Armenia’s participation in the CSTO and the ECU, which are crucial for this state. It’s also hard to find out the real role of Russia, Turkey and Iran in the modern history of the Southern Caucasus.

Meanwhile, the importance of the Armenian foothold in the South Caucasus for Russia has decreased. The importance of the Russian military base in Armenia has decreased because of the expansion of Russian military infrastructure in the Middle East, including naval and air bases in Syria. The political importance of Armenia has also decreased because of improved Russian-Turkish relations, which are strengthened by major joint economic projects, including the TurkStream gas pipeline and the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant. At the same time, Armenian has little economic value for the Russian state or private companies. Its only value is found in the nostalgic memories of a part of the Armenian diaspora with Russian citizenship. Additionally to the aforementioned factors, the Russian political leadership seems to be more cautious in forecasting and assessing the course of Armenian foreign policy, analyzing in depth actions and rhetoric of representatives of the Armenian elites. This shift was expected. For a long time, Armenia has pursued a foreign policy that was significantly at odds with the foreign policy position of its formal strategic ally. Furthermore, while enjoying Russian military protection, Armenia has declined to support Russia over key issues on the international agenda. A number of representatives of the Armenian elites, including the diplomatic corps, have claimed in unofficial conversations and remarks that Armenia should move to the pro-US camp.

The current situation is the result of a number of factors, including the social stratification in Armenia and the cultural-ideological influence on Armenia’s youth and elites. For example, the integration of rich Armenian families into the inner circle of the Washington establishment through a large Armenian diaspora in California; constant propaganda aimed at rewriting history and changing its focus; direct financial support of nationalist movements and neoliberal globalists etc. Besides these, another factor is the cultural-ideological dominance of implanted postmodern consumerist values in the post-USSR states.

However, there are objective factors, limiting the maneuverability of the relatively pro-Washington establishment in Armenia:

  • Armenian elites understand that without Russian’s participation region it will be virtually impossible to ensure the presence of Nagorno Karabakh in the zone of influence of Armenia; and possibly, the independence of Armenia itself. An analogy with Israel and its patron, the US, can be useful here. Without direct US support, the existence of an independent Jewish state would be impossible in the current situation;
  • Armenia receives a notable cash flow from Russia through transfers from the multi-million Armenian diaspora, which includes employees as well as small and medium business owners. These people, in general, are still committed to conservative ideology or, by virtue of their age, retain the physical memory of events that took place 20-30 years ago;
  • A number of ethnic Armenians keep large amounts of capital in Russia.

These restrictions do not allow Armenian elites to change foreign policy sharply without incurring painful consequences. Despite the existing inconsistencies, Russia has taken an active position on the Armenian issue. All the necessary measures were taken to preserve Armenia in the orbit of Moscow’s influence. However, this situation changed during the recent political crisis in Armenia. Surprisingly, Moscow distanced itself from the developing events. This Russian attitude has quietly contributed to the regime change carried out by the pro-Western minority. This was done despite repeated remarks by Pashinyan in favor of the Euro-Atlantic integration as the main priority of Armenian foreign policy. Later, during the power seizure, understanding the problems of Armenia and the region, Pashinyan changed his public rhetoric supporting the strategic partnership with Russia. However, his personal position as well as the position of his neoliberal party are well known and are unlikely to have changed. The question arises, why did Russia choose a course for complete self-elimination and non-interference in the current crisis in Armenia?

Some believe that this may be linked to the possibility that the Russian leadership has drawn a lesson from mistakes made during previous actions in post-USSR states, for example from their failure in Ukraine or their partial failure in Georgia. So, the Russian nonintervention could well be linked to concern for its public image.Another point of view is that Russian strategy is based on the realpolitik approach. In the current regional situation, Russia will gain revenue from any developments of events in Armenia. The following scenarios or their hybrids are possible:

1) If the new Armenian leadership changes the country’s foreign policy course, or even breaks the military base agreement with Russia or withdraws from Russia-controlled international organization, Azerbaijan would, earlier or later exploit the new conditions to take back what it sees as its own lost territories – the Nagorno Karabakh region and nearby areas. The restoration of territorial integrity is one of the key foreign policy and military tasks of Azerbaijan and the ruling family of Aliyev. Turkey, still a NATO member state and a formal US ally, supports Azerbaijan in this intention. If Armenia loses Russian support and an armed conflict over the Nagorno Karabakh region resumes, Azerbaijan’s forces are likely to take control of this area within 1-2 weeks. Certainly, the US would voice protests against the Azerbaijani actions and present an ultimatum to Azerbaijan but only if its forces enter into the territory of Armenia. In this scenario, Russia would act similarly and then, after the expected new internal crisis in the country triggered by military defeat, Russia would restore its influence in the region. By then, the Nagorno Karabakh issue would be resolved because it would be in the hands of Azerbaijan, which is supported by Turkey, a NATO member state and a Russian partner in the region.

2) If the new Armenian leadership implements a double standard policy, de-facto conducting anti-Russian actions but keeping a pro-Russian public rhetoric and standing on ceremony, Moscow would get a formal pretext to reshape its presence, first of all military, in the region. Strategically, the military infrastructure in Syria is much more important for Russia. Additionally, Moscow would get grounds for shifting its diplomatic rhetoric over the Nagorno Karabakh issue, thus achieving closer cooperation with Turkey and Azerbaijan. If in this situation, Azerbaijan triggers the resumption of armed conflict over Nagorno Karabakh, Russia would remain a formal Armenian ally and a guarantor of its territorial integrity. Moscow would intervene into the conflict both politically and militarily, but only as far as necessary to prevent violation of Amrenia’s borders. Russia would not contribute military efforts to restore Armenian control over Nagorno Karabakh should the region be captured by Azerbaijan. In this scenario, Russia would keep and maybe even strengthen its position in the region once again acting as a defender of the Armenian nation.

3) If the new Armenian leadership shows political awareness and becomes engaged in not just a formal, but a real strategic alliance with Russia, the development of economic and cultural relations with the West would not detract from this alliance. Then, the Nagorno Karabakh conflict would remain frozen until the next major shift in the regional balance of power or until a political settlement of the conflict becomes possible. Russia would at least maintain its current influence and would maybe further improve its public image. While Armenia keeps a strong military political partnership with Russia, it is unlikely that Azerbaijan would make an open attempt to resume full-scale military hostilities.

4) The most unlikely scenario is that Armenia would fully shift its foreign policy course towards the US and enlist full support from its new “strategic” ally. The Russian military base would be replaced by a US one and the US would become a guarantor of the independence of Nagorno Karabakh or at least a military guarantor of its current undefined status in the case of a new round of military escalation with Azerbaijan. This scenario is extremely unlikely. Yerevan has little to offer Washington in exchange for the inevitable decline of US relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey. US forces are already deployed in the region, in Georgia. A new US military base in Armenia would not change the balance of power in the South Caucasus and the Middle East. Economically, Armenia also has nothing to offer the US. So, the only possible Armenian offer would be blatant anti-Russian propaganda in the Ukrainian or British scenario. In this case, Russia would turn to Azerbaijan, strengthen its alliance with Turkey, actively destabilizing the situation in Armenia itself, creating additional problems for the US in the region.

At this stage, it looks like the Armenian leadership is balancing between the scenario 2 and 3. In the future, the situation will develop depending on the level of strategic thinking of the new Armenian leadership and the inertia of the crisis situation created by Pashinyan, his supporters and sponsors for coming to power. Analyzing the situation in the South Caucasus, one should remember that “the great game might never end”. A possible shift of Armenian foreign policy would certainly trigger a change in the local balance of power. Following unavoidable fluctuations, the system would return to find a temporary balance at a particular point. The big game will continue.

Some Turkish and Russian analysts believe that if Nagorno Karabakh returns to Azerbaijan’s control, a more stable system would be established in the region. This system would meet the needs of all three major regional actors. This position is based on the premise that Armenia is able to hold the system in its current quality and actually control the disputed territory only thanks to the balance between the formal traditional alliance with Russia and the unspoken patron-client relations between the Armenian elites and the Washington establishment. Taken as a whole, the political crisis in Armenia is just the continuation of the events of “the Arab Spring” and “velvet revolutions”. It has once again confirmed the growth of global economic, demographic, cultural and civilizational issues paradigmatic to the development of civilization over the past 30 years.

 
Al Khaleej Today: Turkey’s preemptive war

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Since the battles of Tovuz on July 12 last between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which took place near the area through which the famous Azerbaijan-Georgian-Turkish pipeline passes Baku-Ceyhan, Ankara and Baku may have realized the seriousness of these battles and their oil implications. Since that time, reports have been circulating of a joint Azerbaijani-Turkish mobilization to confront the Russian-backed Armenian threat. So the ground and air maneuvers were repeated in Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan between the Turkish and Azerbaijani armies. And Azerbaijani military units participated in Turkish naval exercises in the eastern Mediterranean recently.And there were many reports that hundreds, perhaps thousands of Syrians, in Idlib and Afrin, belonging to the “Sultan Murad Brigades” and others, went to Azerbaijan for salaries ranging from 500 to 2000 dollars. In fact, pictures, recordings and videos of them were published while they were in Azerbaijan. They have turned into what looks like a “parallel army” of the Turkish army that uses subdued demand wherever Ankara needs it, from Syria to Libya, and today in the Caucasus. But the irony is that these “jihadists” do not like fighting, according to records attributed to them that were published in Turkish media, along with the Azeris “infidel Shiites.” But the use of these undoubtedly raises Russia’s chagrin, which makes them accept the task.
 
Higher military meetings were continuing between Turkish and Azerbaijan officials. In the period immediately following the Tovuz battles, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may have been in the process of adding a new “achievement” to him after he became entrenched in the presence of his forces in Syria and after his advance on the Libyan front, and then raised the voice and grip of the European Union in Greece and Greek Cyprus, and in a move to transform “Hagia Sophia” to a mosque. But apparently, the Turkish plan did not match the al-Baydar account. Instead of accumulating achievements, Turkey found itself on the defensive:
 
1- Russian pressure on Turkey to withdraw some Turkish observation points in Idlib and the Russian-Syrian raids on terrorist sites in Idlib, with a Turkish willingness to fulfill the Russian request in exchange for giving Turkey the areas of Manbij and Tal Rifaat and their vicinity, which Russia refused.
 
2- The situation in Libya changed after the warning of the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and the stopping of the Turkish progress at the Sirte-Jafra line, and then the start of discussions between the Libyan parties according to the Egyptian perception, and the most important thing is the announcement by the Prime Minister of Tripoli, Fayez al-Sarraj, that he would give up his position at the end of October Next October, and what this represents in terms of Turkey losing its first man there, and what the coming developments can bear in terms of an additional decline in the Turkish role.

The Azerbaijani-Turkish desire to move the situation was evident in its complete readiness

3- The tensions in the eastern Mediterranean have reached an unprecedented height with Turkey’s insistence on exploration and work in marine areas that Greece considers to be its subsidiaries. Turkey kept pace with the tension with the “Mediterranean storm” maneuvers with Turkish Cyprus and others in which Azerbaijan participated, with great significance, for the first time. However, the European reaction was strong and threatened to impose harsh sanctions on Turkey at the Brussels summit, which was scheduled to take place on September 24 and 25, but was postponed until next Thursday. The threat of sanctions was followed by a Turkish tactical move to withdraw the exploration vessel “Yavuz” from the Greek island of Mejis, which is very close to the Turkish coast. The move was considered a freezing of tension and opened the door for communication between the Turkish and French presidents, Emmanuel Macron.

What does Turkey want?

1- The Azerbaijani-Turkish preparations have shifted from seeking a new achievement that accumulates what preceded, to an attempt to compensate for the above, and to prepare for an attack that would float the image of “strong Turkey”, not declining. The acceleration was to open the current battle with Armenia in the southern regions of Karabakh (Artsakh) and close to the Iranian borders. What supports this thinking is that the relatively stable status quo does not harm the situation of Armenia or its entrenchment, and it is not in their interest to change it except in the direction of extracting international recognition of the right to entrenched self-determination, and this is not currently on the table. Restoring Turkey’s strong image was accompanied by Erdogan’s media, calling for bombing Yerevan “by mistake” with a missile and declaring that war is the only way to solve the issue radically.

2- Likewise, the Azerbaijani-Turkish desire to move the situation was evident in the full and planned readiness of the Azerbaijani army, which moved immediately and from the first moment to announce the start of the battles, to attack and control many important villages and hills as well as roads in areas in Karabakh, before That the Armenian army takes back part of it, according to news agencies. The Azerbaijani army also bombarded the capital of Artsakh Stepanakrd with several missiles.

3- In addition to restoring Turkey’s strong image, any tension in the Caucasus situation confuses Russia, which for centuries considers the region its backyard and has excellent relations with the two parties to the conflict; Azerbaijan and Armenia. Turkey wants to put pressure on Russia, first in response to Russian pressure on Turkey in Syria, and secondly to Turkey’s dissatisfaction with Russia’s neutral position regarding the Turkish conflict with Greece and in the eastern Mediterranean.

4- Likewise, the high Turkish threats, yesterday, Monday, by Erdogan against Armenia, and the call to return Karabakh to Azerbaijan, meaning to return to the roots of the issue, and the threat also to join Azerbaijan in the battle – is also a pre-emption for the meeting of the European Union after tomorrow, Thursday, and preventing any issuance Sanctions on Turkey, on the basis of stopping sanctions in exchange for an end to tension in the Caucasus.

5- Turkish observers also indicate that Turkey has become a strong competitor to Israel to sell weapons to Azerbaijan, especially the surveillance planes from afar and drones that have proven effective in Libya. The emerging new tension is pushing Azerbaijan to go ahead with the purchase of Turkish weapons, which explains part of raising the Turkish voice on the side of Azerbaijan and repeating the slogan “one nation in two states”, with Turkey’s prior knowledge that entering the war directly is an internationally unacceptable adventure and opens up to great risks for the Turkey itself and on its relations with Russia and the European Union.

These were the details of the news Turkey’s preemptive war for this day. We hope that we have succeeded by giving you the full details and information. To follow all our news, you can subscribe to the alerts system or to one of our different systems to provide you with all that is new. It is also worth noting that the original news has been published and is available at saudi24news and the editorial team at AlKhaleej Today has confirmed it and it has been modified, and it may have been completely transferred or quoted from it and you can read and follow this news from its main source.


Turkey Sends ISIS Warlord to Azerbaijan to Face-Off Against Putin’s Armenian Allies

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On Sunday afternoon, a video depicting a large convoy of Islamist Syrian rebel fighters yelling enthusiastically as they drove off to war circulated widely on Arabic social media. Fighters in the packed trucks, driving quickly past the group of children filming with their phones, could be heard yelling “Allahu Akbar!” and, “Our leader, 'til the end of time, is our master, Muhammad!”

However, what shocked those watching the video weren’t the shouts of the Syrian fighters but rather those of the children filming, who yelled back at the soldiers in a language unfamiliar to most Syrians following their country’s nine-year war. “That’s not Kurdish, right?” said one user in an online group where the video emerged. “If they were Kurds, you think they’d be cheering them on?” responded another with a laugh out loud emoji.

Over the next several hours, rumors swirled that the video was shot in Azerbaijan, a small Turkic-speaking nation lodged between Iran and Russia, and that the Syrian rebel fighters had been sent there to prop up the Azeri government in its war against neighboring Armenia that had begun that day. According to high-ranking Syrian rebel sources that spoke to The Daily Beast, these rumors are true. The fighters that appeared in the circulated video were part of a group of 1,000 Syrian rebel soldiers sent in two batches from Turkey on September 22 and 24.

“500 Hamza Brigade fighters were flown last Tuesday from southern Turkey to the Azeri airbase at Sumqayit [30 kilometers north of the Azeri capital of Baku]”, according to a source within the Syrian National Army (SNA) rebel outfit who requested anonymity. “Two days later, on Thursday, another 500 fighters from the Sultan Murad brigades rebel faction were similarly flown out to Azerbaijan.”

These claims were echoed by the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a Syrian opposition body that monitors human rights violations in the country. SOHR sources suggest more batches of Syrian rebel fighters are preparing to be deployed to Azerbaijan. The Hamza and Sultan Murad brigades are known within Syrian rebel circles as factions that enjoy especially close relations with Turkey, the last remaining patron of the Syrian opposition. Sayf Balud, commander of the Hamza brigades, however, is also known for his checkered past. An ethnic Syrian Turkman from the town of Biza’a in Aleppo city’s northern countryside, Balud originally joined the Abu Bakr Sadiq brigades, a moderate rebel faction near his hometown that received widespread support from Gulf states in the early years of the conflict.

In July 2013, Balud appeared in an ISIS propaganda video after the group successfully captured a city from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). In the video, Sayf appears next to an Egyptian foreign fighter addressing a room full of two dozen captured YPG soldiers, who were assembled before an ISIS camera crew to officially repent for having joined an armed faction that ISIS’ leadership described as being “at war with God.”

By January 2018, when Turkish backed rebel forces launched “Operation Olive Branch” to take over the Kurdish canton of Afrin located in Syria’s uppermost northwest corner, Balud regularly appeared in the group’s propaganda videos as the official commander of the newly formed Hamza brigades. His status as an ethnic Turkman, a small minority within Syria whose likeness to their Turkish kinsmen across the border has pushed Ankara to grant many coveted privileges such as Turkish citizenship and sensitive leadership positions, further endeared Balud to his new patrons.

According to SNA sources, Syrian rebel units now being sent to Azerbaijan by Turkey are almost exclusively led by ethnic Syrian Turkmen. “Sayf Balud is a Turkman. The Sultan Murad brigade’s commander, Fahim Aissa, is a Syrian Turkman, like Balud. Turkey only trusts factions led by Syrian Turkman to carry out these missions. These are sensitive for Turkey politically, and they don’t trust Syrian Arabs to lead them.” Turkey’s intervention in Azerbaijan is indeed sensitive. After a four-year lull in fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, fighting between the two countries erupted anew on Sunday in fighting that killed two-dozen fighters.

Historically the Nagorno-Karabakh region has been internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. But in 1991 Armenian factions within the region declared themselves independent. Three years of war over the disputed territory ended in 1994 with a Russian brokered ceasefire. The newly declared Nagorno-Karabakh republic was soon occupied by Armenia, which has since maintained de facto control of the area. With the exception of four days of fighting in April 2016, Sunday’s clashes were the first major instance of renewed combat between both countries over the status of the area. Both sides accuse the other of having initiated the fighting on Sunday. Clashes continue, with dozens more casualties reported. Fighting alongside the Azeri regular forces were 1,000 Syrian rebel fighters.
 
All About the Oil

Turkey's move to send Syrian rebels to face-off against Armenia, a longtime rival of Turkey, is just the latest in a long string of neo-Ottoman foreign adventures undertaken by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the last 6 months. Ankara has deployed both its armed forces and Syrian proxies to crack down on Kurdish PKK and YPG forces in northern Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan throughout 2020. Turkey has also intervened in western Libya and waters throughout the eastern Mediterranean where its navy has threatened NATO allies France and Greece in an attempt to strongarm both countries and lay claim to gas reserves located within Greece's maritime borders.

In Azerbaijan, Turkey is looking to demonstrate loyalty and prop up an oil-rich regime with which it has maintained close military ties since the 1994 ceasefire. Since 2005, they have launched numerous lucrative oil and gas initiatives including a pipeline that exports 1.2 million barrels of Azeri oil per day to the European Union (EU), earning Turkey upwards of $200 million in annual transit fees. In 2006, this cooperation expanded following the launch of the South Caucasus natural gas pipeline that annually exports 8.8 billion cubic meters of much needed Azeri gas to the Turkish market, a net importer of energy.

In 2011, Turkey began work on an expansive natural gas production network called the Trans Anatolian Pipeline, which is projected to export 31 billion cubic meters of Azeri gas to the EU by 2026. Turkish shareholders, who own a 30 percent stake in the project, stand to make huge profits. Turkey’s push to transform Azerbaijan into a lucrative oil and gas export hub is also motivated by Ankara’s desire to come out from under Russia’s shadow. Turkey depends on Russia for 40 percent of its fossil fuels, a reliance that has forced Ankara to treat Russia as a friendly nation despite the fact that the two countries share almost no common interests.

The “Southern Gas Corridor,” a term referring to the various pipelines emerging out of Azerbaijan, has been heavily cheered on by the EU, which also wants to break its dependence on Russian gas. No surprise then that Russia is on the other side in the ongoing dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. Nagorno-Karabakh is now the third theater where Russia and Turkey find themselves supporting opposite sides in an active Middle East conflict zone. In Syria, Russian support for dictator Bashar al-Assad and Turkey’s support for the country’s rebels such as Sayf Bulad and others led to direct conflict between both countries’ armies earlier this year, resulting in the death of dozens of Turkish soldiers. In Libya, the situation is reversed, with Turkey supporting Libya’s government and Russia supporting Khalifa Haftar, a renegade general and rebel leader who has sought to seize control of Libya’s lucrative oil sector and capture the capital of Tripoli.

In both conflicts, Sayf Bulad and the Hamza brigades have proven extremely useful to Turkey. Thousands of the group’s fighters, including Sayf Bulad, were deployed to Libya last summer to help repel a major assault launched by Russian-backed Khalifa Haftar and in the bargain reclaim territory previously captured by the general. The Turkish backed authority in Tripoli is now safely guarded against external threats, while Turkish companies are set to gain lucrative contracts in Libya’s oil and gas and reconstruction sectors. Within this context of great power struggles, Syria's rebels, once idealistic and seeking to liberate their country from dictator Bashar al-Assad, have found themselves reduced to pawns compelled to serve as mercenaries and shock troops used by Turkey to advance its foreign policy in a world where Ankara finds itself increasingly isolated.
 
 
 US silence on Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict reflects international disengagement
 
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Headlines last week that the presidents of Russia and France were jointly calling for a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh were “heartbreaking” to Carey Cavanaugh, a former US ambassador charged with helping to resolve the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Partly it was because they meant the century-old dispute had flared up again, killing more than 400 people so far, including more than a dozen civilians. But it was also because the US – which, along with France and Russia, forms the OSCE Minsk Group, a troika that has worked to end the conflict since 1993 – was missing from the statement.

“The US wasn’t coordinated into that discussion,” said Cavanaugh, the former US representative to the Minsk Group.

He is among observers of the Caucasus who see in this week’s events the latest example of US diplomatic disengagement from theatres around the world, amid wider fears of a hollowing out of the US state department under Donald Trump.

“The Americans have withdrawn from this issue,” said Thomas de Waal, a senior fellow specialising in the Caucasus with Carnegie Europe. “If Trump has heard of Azerbaijan, it’s because it’s a place he wanted to build a Trump tower in.”

The Trump administration has been largely silent about the conflict. Secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, only commented on it when asked about it in an interview this week, and he was non-committal.

“Our view is that this has been a longstanding conflict between these two countries in this particular piece of real estate,” Pompeo told Fox News. “We’re discouraging internationalization of this. We think outsiders ought to stay out. We’re urging a ceasefire. We want them both to back up. We’ve spoken to the leadership in each of the two countries, asking them to do just that.”

Under the Trump administration, the US has taken a back seat on many major international issues, compared to previous administrations, particularly when it affects the Russian sphere of influence. Trump has consistently avoided statements that would irritate Vladimir Putin. US allies, like the UK and Lithuania, have recently tried to persuade the state department to be more aggressive in its response to the suppression of protests in Belarus and the poisoning of Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny. America’s lack of interest in Nagorno-Karabakh was first flagged in August 2017 when the US appointed its new representative to the Minsk Group, Andrew Schofer, but did not grant him ambassador status – putting him at a lower rank than his French and Russian counterparts.

In a finely balanced, complex regional dispute, that decision risked delegitimising diplomatic efforts, said Cavanaugh. “Maintaining that equality was important, because it gives Armenia and Azerbaijan a sense of balance in the process. You don’t have to worry that Russia is being unduly influential [in the Group], or the United States either.”

US embassies in Azerbaijan and Armenia both issued travel advisories to their citizens, warning of possible heightened violence in Nagorno-Karabakh. Their fears – borne out 48 hours later – were not echoed by Washington. “The US state department wasn’t issuing a statement saying we’re worried about the conflict,” de Waal says, describing it as “missing in action”.

It was not until Thursday – five days since the war erupted – that a full Minsk Group statement was issued condemning the fighting. It compared starkly with US diplomatic activity the last time the two countries clashed in a four-day war in 2016. “In that case we saw the secretary of state calling both leaders,” says Olesya Vartanyan, from the International Crisis Group.

“Secretary [John] Kerry took part in the first summit of the Azerbaijan and Armenian presidents along with his counterparts from France and Russia. And his presence definitely played a role, because they were able to agree on some measures to pacify the situation and prevent new escalations,” she says.

“Since this president [Trump], the interest in this conflict has mainly disappeared, and what we’ve seen is much less shuttle diplomacy going on. The guys who used to represent the US before would go the region and speak to the leaders and sometimes civil society to learn their views, see what could be done, and they were coming up with different proposals. Not all of it worked, but it helped.

“Because when these two sides (Armenia and Azerbaijan) are left on their own, what we’ve seen in the past and recently is there is a bigger possibility for tensions, new clashes and escalations.”

A spokesman for the US state department said in a statement that Washington’s position on the conflict had not changed and that both sides needed to cease hostilities immediately and work with the Minsk Group members to return to substantive negotiations.

 
Newsweek: A Pro-Western Azerbaijan Deserves American Support
 
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One of us is a human rights attorney stridently opposed to Turkish foreign policy in the Eastern Mediterranean and elsewhere; the other is a public affairs consultant who strongly believes Turkey is a key pillar in America's ongoing efforts to roll back the Iranian regime's aggressive behavior. However, we unite in our support of Sunni-majority Turkey's Shi'a ally, Azerbaijan, an unabashedly pro-Western country, as it is unfairly smeared in certain political, diplomatic and media circles for having the audacity to defend itself in the latest round of bloody fighting with its neighbor, Armenia.

Both nations reside in the South Caucasus region, which borders Iran, and had declared their independence from the imploding Soviet Union in 1991. The Soviets had a policy of instigating and backing sectarian tensions, and a Kremlin-backed Armenian invasion of Azerbaijan immediately followed, resulting in the capture of some 20 percent of the latter's territory (the Karabakh region and seven adjacent territories) and ethnic cleansing of the region. Nearly one million Azeris became internally displaced persons. The Khojaly massacre in February 1992, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Azeri civilians, is all but forgotten, as is the historic context for the conflict we have witnessed ever since.

The conflict has flared up numerous times since 1992. But the most recent round of fighting, which began in July and intensified three weeks ago, has been considerably more deadly, and has included efforts to disable a strategically vital oil pipeline that runs from the Azeri capital of Baku through Georgia and into Turkey, the repeated shelling of Azerbaijan's second largest city, as well as reported importing of Syrian civil war combatants by both sides. In promoting a cessation of hostilities, the United States must prioritize its interests in stopping additional civilian deaths and protecting the major energy and transport corridor emanating from the Caspian Sea toward the West. Similarly, Washington must resist the urge to recite talking points that inaccurately—and dangerously—paint the fighting as some sort of religious war between Christian Armenia and brutal Muslim invaders.

While the overwhelming majority of Azeri citizens are Muslim, Azerbaijan, with a population of barely 10 million, is a secular society in which no major religious faiths face discrimination.

Pope Francis visited Baku in October 2016 and declared: "The Catholic Church, even though it has a small presence in the country, is truly present in the civic and social life of Azerbaijan; it participates in its joys and shares the challenges of confronting its difficulties. ...I am, moreover, particularly pleased with the cordial relations enjoyed by the Catholic, Muslim, Orthodox and Jewish communities. It is my hope that the signs of friendship and cooperation may continue to increase. These good relations assume great significance for peaceful coexistence and for peace in the world, and they demonstrate that among the followers of different religious confessions cordial relations, respect and cooperation for the good of all are possible."

There are sizable, vibrant communities of Ashkenazi, Georgian and Mountain Jews, as well; indeed, the first Jewish settlement inside the country dates back to the 7th century C.E. Repeated efforts by the Iranian regime to the south to foment anti-Semitic hate inside the country, including attempted terror attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets, have failed. Intra-communal relations remain rock solid.

And while in 2020, it may seem trendy to come out in favor of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, Azerbaijan forged ties with the Jewish state almost immediately after it declared independence. Cooperation has never flagged, including on military matters, even as Turkey's relations with Israel turned mostly icy in recent years. The volume of trade and cultural exchanges has expanded. The relationship between the two nations is warm and fully engaged, rather than limited to merely defense cooperation.

No wonder Iran, the largest Shi'a country in the world but with ethnic Azeris comprising of up to 30 percent of its population, feels threatened by a tolerant Azerbaijan's continued geopolitical success and therefore supports Armenia.

Moreover, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline delivers 40 percent of Israeli's oil, but is also an important route of hydrocarbon delivery to Europe and a crucial counter to Russia's and Iran's supplies. The Trump administration's crippling sanctions on Nord Stream 2 have created additional economic challenges for Moscow; accordingly, Baku is a direct economic competitor. Additionally, Azerbaijan is a major gas producer and is one of the most energy self-sufficient states in the world. It is no wonder that Russia also backs Armenia against Azerbaijan, which presents a challenge to the Kremlin's primacy in Europe.

Not only must Baku resist pressure from Moscow and Tehran, but it has to play a delicate balancing act between its pro-Western orientation and maintaining its relationship with Ankara. Those who believe that Azerbaijan is simply Turkey's proxy are mistaken. Although President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has offered additional military hardware and technical assistance to his Turkish cousins during the latest events, Azerbaijan, with its vastly improved standing military and sophisticated and effective weapons, needs no foreign legions—nor does it need imported Syrian jihadists. While Turkey's political support is an important booster in international circles, ultimately Azerbaijan is dedicated to an independent political line, which has not shifted despite Erdogan's heated words and information campaign.

It is neither in Washington's interest to change this situation, nor to alienate Baku from the West, nor to ironically make it wholly dependent on Turkey by treating the two very distinct countries as indistinguishable. This simplistic understanding of the complexities of the South Caucasus only plays in the hands of the anti-Western hegemons who seek to divide the Western and Middle Eastern partners over these issues and promote chaos where strategically vital alliances fall into disrepair, thanks to effective disinformation and manipulation of the zeitgeist at the expense of more important geopolitical matters. Whatever one's views are on Turkey's trajectory, pro or con, America must have Azerbaijan's back.

 
Despite Armenia’s emotional appeals, American and Israeli interests are with Azerbaijan
 

 
The ceasefire announced Friday in Moscow between Armenia and Azerbaijan is already coming under considerable stress. But even if it holds up, it is hard to see this long-frozen conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region going back into hibernation. An assertive Turkey, which long provided mostly symbolic and rhetorical support for Azerbaijan, is now providing more direct forms of assistance including arms, mercenaries, and possibly even jet fighters. This is encouraging Azerbaijan to use military force to wrest back control of Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian enclave within its internationally recognized borders.

Neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan borders Israel or any country with an influential Jewish population. Yet the Jewish state and the history of Jewish persecution are inevitably instrumentalized by both sides: Armenians invoke their own 20th-centry experience with genocide to garner sympathy with Jews, and Azerbaijan reminds the world that it was the rare majority-Muslim country to recognize Israel after the fall of the Soviet Union. Baku has since drawn rather close to Jerusalem, which is now its top arms supplier. Armenia’s supporters, meanwhile, by appealing to American Jews, may be trying to peel off support for Azerbaijan in Washington. It is a clash between emotional symbolism and foreign policy realism.

For all the powerful historical allusions Jews may see in the Armenia struggle, the United States and Israel can do very little to help without paying a steep diplomatic price. Pivoting toward Armenia would harm relations with the more strategically valuable Azerbaijan as well damage the principle of territorial integrity in a region where it is already at substantial risk from Russian adventurism. While the desire of Armenians for self-determination in Nagorno-Karabakh is undeniably just, Azerbaijan’s case under international law is more concrete. There is no denying that Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders.

The Republic of Artsakh, the governing authority in the area, is not recognized as legitimate by any state, including Armenia and Russia, having been established by the force of arms in the 1991-1994 Nagorno-Karabkh War. This does not mean the world should endorse Turkish-encouraged hawkishness on the part of Azerbaijan; on the contrary, a sturdy ceasefire and continued negotiations through the Minsk Process must be a top priority. Still, there is no use pretending Armenia can achieve a reliable peace while effectively holding the territory of a neighboring state. That leaves the 150,000 mostly Armenian residents of Nagorno-Karabakh in a most unfortunate plight: the best they can hope for is a return to the “cold peace” that prevailed from 1994 until 2016, but even that is unlikely with increased Azerbaijani confidence and Turkish backing.

Israel takes no firm position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but Azerbaijan’s strong ties to the Jewish state’s defense and arms industries are conspicuous enough for outsiders to draw their own conclusions. Though hardly high profile, Azerbaijan occupies a place of appreciable importance for the foreign policies of the United Statesand Israel. The country is strategically located, bordering Russia, Georgia and Iran. For Israel, having an ally right next door to its arch foe is not something to cavalierly put at risk. And its role in Azerbaijan’s impressive military build-up since the country lost control of Nagorno-Karabakh is conspicuous.

Israel also has ties with Armenia, but they are less extensive, and now under strain. Armenia recalled its ambassador to Israel Oct. 1 after evidence emerged of Israeli-made drones being deployed by Azerbaijan in the conflict. American interests are similarly lopsided in favor of Azerbaijan. Although Congress passed a law in 1992, amid strong Armenian-American lobbying, that severely restricts U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan while it remains in conflict, it was American diplomatic leadership that secured the contract that, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative, “is responsible for about 75% of Azerbaijan’s current oil production.”

Azerbaijani energy, in turn, reduces Southern Europe’s dependency on Russia and serves American objectives. Azerbaijan is also an important U.S. counterterrorism and security partner in nearby Afghanistan. When the full picture of U.S.-Azerbaijan relations are considered, the sensible position for Washington to take on Nagorno-Karabakh looks very much like the status quo: Say all the right things about a ceasefire and a multilateral mediation process, but do not risk our good ties with Azerbaijan for the self-determination of some 150,000 people in Nagorno-Karabakh. The same is true for Israel. Whatever short term measures either country takes to encourage calm and counteract the bellicose influence of Turkey, they will eventually revert back to their previous relationships with Azerbaijan.

Defending American and Israeli ties to Azerbaijan does not, however, require whitewashing the miserable human rights record of its president, Ilham Aliyev. The fact that comparatively free and democratic Armenia, a country that has gone through hell and back, is Aliyev’s adversary makes the case for a strategic rethink even more resonant. But for an American foreign policy that will increasingly take on the character of a great-power competition, Azerbaijan’s strategic location between Europe and Asia and history of support for U.S. objectives are indispensable. For Israel, the threat from Iran will predominate for years to come and Azerbaijan simply has much more to offer than Armenia.

The Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh are a proud and besieged people fighting a just cause. It is a testament to the endurance of amoral calculations in international affairs that neither the leader of the free world nor the state that emerged from the ashes of genocide can do a whole lot to help them. Perhaps it was Henry Kissinger, whose family narrowly escaped Germany just before Kristallnacht, who described the operations of our world best: “The most fundamental problem of politics is not the control of wickedness but the limitation of righteousness.”
 
 
How Azerbaijan is Lobbying Washington to Sanitize its War
 
 
 
As conflict heats up over Nagorno-Karabakh, a tiny Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, a covert battle is taking place on Capitol Hill to win the hearts and minds of lawmakers in Washington. Since hostilities began on September 27, hundreds of lives have been lost as Azerbaijani drones have flown within 20 miles of Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, and an Armenian strike was carried out on a military base in Azerbaijan’s second city, Ganja. 

“The next targets could be oil and gas facilities in Azerbaijan, or Yerevan and Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku,” reports the New York Times, an escalation with the potential to draw in Turkey, Russia, and Iran on opposing sides. Well-armed and financed Azerbaijan is receiving assistance from Turkey, an American ally. Turkish drones and jets have been exacting civilian casualties on Armenians, and as TAC previously reported, Armenians are in danger of ethnic cleansing once again.

“Civilians are bearing the brunt of surge in violence,” reported the International Committee of the Red Cross on October 2. They added, “Civilian deaths and injuries, including of children, have been reported on both sides of the line of contact, and in Armenia.”

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan has ramped up its public relations campaign, employing not one but six of K Street’s heavy-hitting firms, including the Livingston Group, Stellar Jay Communications, BGR, the Podesta Group, and DLA Piper. Last year the country spent $1.3 million on lobbying. Armenia traditionally lobbies through American community groups, and has just one firm working for them, Alston and Bird. The contract was signed September 16, so it’s unclear how much money they will spend petitioning Washington this year, but documents reveal they haven’t spent any money lobbying since 2016.

Azerbaijan, on the other hand, lobbies in much the same manner as a Gulf State—though with considerably less resources—and has a long history of extensive lobbying efforts. In an attempt “to whitewash its dictatorial image…the autocratic government of Ilham Aliyev has unleashed spin-doctors, duped reporters, and led one of the most brazen pushes to abuse American lobbying loopholes of any foreign government,” wrote Casey Michel in 2016. For years, lobbyists on the dime of Azerbaijan have met with universities, think tanks, and members of Congress. They’ve arranged the placement of favorable op-eds in outlets like The Hill, the Washington Times, the Daily Caller, National Review, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. These articles were initially published without disclosing the authors’ financial ties to Azerbaijan.

While oil-rich Azerbaijan’s lobbying slowed after 2016 due to the collapse of its currency, Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) documents reveal a flurry of recent activity aimed at convincing Washington elites that Armenia is the aggressor and that the U.S. should favor Azerbaijan in the conflict. When American lobbying and public relations firms are hired by foreign countries, they are legally required to register their clients with the Justice Department under FARA. They are also required to provide a list of the activities they undertake on behalf of the foreign country.

Azerbaijan’s hired K Street guns are distributing what are euphemistically referred to in FARA documents as “informational materials.” These materials could be more accurately described as propaganda. The documents distributed on Capitol Hill highlight Armenia’s “provocative actions,” its “illegal” role in the conflict, that Armenia allegedly “kills Azerbaijani civilians, including children,” and how “Armenia’s leaders have been actively undermining the ongoing peace process.”

The documents lobbyists distribute on Capitol Hill make some incredulous claims: that “Armenia has long been involved with Middle Eastern terrorism,” that “Azerbaijan has been consistent in urging substantive and result-oriented negotiations in order to achieve a breakthrough in the conflict,” and that “Turkey is not directly involved and is not a party to the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.” That last assertion stands in direct contradiction with reports that Turkey has been heavily involved in the conflict, even going so far as to send 1,000 jihadist fighters from Syria to aid Azerbaijan. 

As TAC previously reported:

On October 2, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that an estimated 150 high-ranking Turkish military officials were stationed in Azerbaijan command centers. Armenia’s National Security Service also publicized intelligence data showing that the Turkish Air Force is directly involved in Azerbaijan’s attacks against Artsakh.

Although Turkey denies involvement, satellite imagery confirms that at least two Turkish Air Force F-16 jets were present at Ganja International Airport in Azerbaijan earlier this month. Baykar, a Turkish drone manufacturer, also supplies Turkish TB2 drones, some of the deadliest flying over Stepanakert, according to the New York Times. Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev said this week that thanks to the drones, “our casualties on the front shrunk…. These drones show Turkey’s strength. It also [shows Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan…empowers us.”

Erdogan has backed Azerbaijan to the hilt.

“Once again I condemn Armenia that attacked Azerbaijani lands yesterday. Armenia must withdraw from the places it occupies. The crisis that started with the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh in the region must be put to an end,” said Erdogan. “Turkey will continue to support Azerbaijan,” he added. Turkey’s “full support” motivated Azerbaijan to reignite fighting in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told the AFP. He added that the current conflict has seen the “active engagement of terrorist groups from the Middle East in the conflict zone,” and he described the role of Armenian forces as a “counter-terrorism operation.”

Turkey’s involvement is so egregious that Canada has halted arms sales to Ankara while it determines whether its drone technology was used improperly by forces fighting in Azerbaijan. But U.S. security aid to Azerbaijan, to the tune of roughly $100 million in 2018 and 2019, has continued unabated.

From Defense News:

  • Last year, DoD awarded VSE Corp., of Alexandria, Va., a $10 million contract for unspecified counterterrorism and intelligence equipment, and in-country training in support of the Azerbaijan Maritime Security Program for the Caspian Sea.

  • Also, Smiths Detection Inc., of Edgewood, Md., was awarded a $16 million contract for X-rays and screening equipment, “to counter transnational threats,” according to the DoD announcement.

  • In August, DoD awarded United States Marine Inc., of Gulfport, Miss., a $7.6 million contract for 15 9-meter, multi-use explosive ordnance disposal response craft.

The U.S. recently supplied aid to Azerbaijan for boats, X-ray scanners, and underwater surveillance gear meant to help the country patrol its border with Iran and the Caspian Sea. Worse still, Armenia’s prime minister Pashinyan has charged that the U.S. is doing nothing to stop its ally Turkey from using American-made F-16 jets against ethnic Armenians in the disputed mountain region. Meanwhile, some of Azerbaijan’s paid propagandists from years past are writing op-eds without disclosing their conflicts of interest. Brenda Shaffer, whose piece previously received an editor’s note and clarification from both The Washington Post and The New York Times, is now writing on the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict for the think tank Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Shaffer had failed to disclose to the New York Times that she had been an adviser to Azerbaijan’s state-run oil company. No disclosure exists on her latest FDD piece, even though it is about how the “Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict Poses Threat to European Energy Security” and Shaffer is FDD’s senior advisor for energy. Shaffer’s piece is hardly neutral, describing the conflict as having begun “following the Soviet breakup, when Armenia invaded neighboring Azerbaijan, captured close to 20 percent of its territory, and turned almost a million Azerbaijanis into refugees.”

The bottom line: these documents are sanitizing Azerbaijan’s role in the conflict and paint Armenia as the aggressor. Even as Azerbaijan carries out a campaign against the Armenian population that might presage another ethnic cleansing, the U.S. continues to supply Azerbaijan and Turkey with millions of dollars in weapons and security assistance.

Source: https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/as-war-rages-azerbaijan-pumps-money-and-propaganda-into-u-s-lobbying-machine/

Azerbaijan running $2.8 billion ‘secret slush fund’ to pay off European politicians
 
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Azerbaijan’s ruling elite ran a secret $2.8 billion slush fund for two years to pay off European politicians and pay for luxury purchases, an investigation has shown. The secret fund, dubbed Azerbaijani Laundromat, operated for two years until 2014 and was used by the government to win favor among international peers, according to the report published this week by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). The cash was allegedly channelled through four U.K.-registered companies, where “lax regulations” allowed for opacity. Though the origin of the money is unclear, the report said there was “ample evidence of its connection to the family of President Ilham Aliyev.”

Up to half of the $2.8 billion came from an account held in the International Bank of Azerbaijan by a secret shell company linked to the Aliyevs, it said. The second and third biggest contributors were two offshore companies with “direct connections to a regime insider,” the report suggests. Neither the Azerbaijan government nor the Azerbaijan embassy were immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC. Other portions of the money are said to have stemmed from Rosoboronexport, the state-owned Russian arms exporter. Rosoboronexport was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

Three European politicians, a journalist, and a businessmen who praised the government are thought to be among the recipients of the cash, as well as officials tasked with fighting Azerbaijani corruption. According to the investigation, which was conducted with a consortium of European newspapers, the money may have been successful in persuading the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to vote against a critical report of Azerbaijan in 2013. At the time the fund is said to have been in operation, the country was facing allegations of corruption and abuses, including the jailing of political opponents and journalists. Funds are also thought to have reached accounts worldwide, including those of luxury car dealerships, soccer clubs, and high-end travel agencies. However, the report noted that “many of these recipients would not have understood the problematic nature of the transfers, and cannot be accused of doing anything improper.”

Before reaching the U.K.-based shell companies, the payments were processed through an Estonian branch of Danske Bank. The Danish bank has admitted not doing enough to monitor the suspicious transactions. The authors of the report said that the extent of the scheme’s use was likely to evolve further as investigations continue. “It is clear that the full extent of the Azerbaijani Laundromat will be explored for years to come,” the report noted.


Armenians Fear Turkey Is Back to Finish Off the Genocide
 
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The fighting in a mountain enclave in the Caucasus escalated Tuesday when Turkish-backed forces shelled five villages including the capital of Stepanakert, according to Armenian officials. Skirmishes broke out on the border of Azerbaijan and Armenia over the weekend and the official death toll is over 100 as a decades-old dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh or the Republic of Artsakh erupted into violence. Artsakh is an ethnic Armenian pocket that was once part of Azerbaijan’s territory but now hews closely to Armenia against the wishes of Turkey, which has lucrative oil and gas deals with Azerbaijan and a long-standing enmity with Armenia.

“We fight not only with Azerbaijan, with Turkey and thousands of its mercenary soldiers from the Middle East,” Masis Mailyan, foreign minister of the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh, told The Daily Beast in a phone interview on Tuesday. “This morning the attackers shelled an Armenian town of Vardenis. This is the continuation of the Turkish genocide against Armenian people. The genocide, that the U.S. Congress officially recognized in a resolution last year, affirming that the Turkey exterminated 1.5 million Armenians.”

Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has fueled the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, but he blames mediators for failing to solve the territorial dispute since a ceasefire in 1994. “The United States, Russia and France have not been able to resolve the conflict for almost 30 years. On the contrary, they are doing everything they can to prolong the problem,” Erdogan said in half an hour speech on Tuesday. “Azerbaijan has already listened to you for 30 years! But whose lands are occupied? Azerbaijan’s!”

Civilians, including women and children, were reported killed on both sides. Tanks burned, armed drones and helicopters were shot out of the sky. The Armenian defense ministry reported that a Turkish warplane took off from Ganja airbase in Azerbaijan and shot down an Armenian jet aircraft Su-25 on Tuesday.

“Turkey has never expressed any regret for the massacre in 1915,” Mailyan said. “Ankara criticized the Western countries for recognizing the Armenian Genocide.” The foreign minister said there was a chance that major powers would be drawn into the growing conflict. “Azerbaijan and Turkey have a program called ‘Great Turan’: Erdogan aims to take control over the South Caucasus, which will weaken Russia’s geopolitical positions,” he said.

While it’s already bad, the worry is the conflict could easily escalate. The fighting threatens to involve Turkey, a NATO country, on the side of Azerbaijan while Russia’s forces back Armenia. “If Armenia officially asks Russia for help, the Kremlin would have to deploy the army, in accordance with the Collective Security Treaty between the two countries,” Mailyan told The Daily Beast, suggesting that even those consumed by domestic politics in the U.S. need to focus to prevent an even more disastrous war.

The nation of Armenia with 2.9 million at home and millions in a diaspora in the United States, France, Russia, and elsewhere, feels very much united. In the first hours of the war, Kim Kardashian Tweeted her support for breakaway Artsakh: “We are praying for brave men and women risking their lives to protect Artsakh and Armenia. The news is misleading, these are not ‘clashes,’” Kardashian, whose family fell victim to the Armenian genocide, warned.

The breakaway region is roughly the size of Connecticut. It is backed by Armenia and its diaspora in the West: at least ten American states, including California, Michigan and Massachusetts, have passed bills recognizing the independence of Artsakh, the Armenian name for the region. Both Azerbaijan and Armenia declared states of emergency on Sunday, for the first time after an escalation four years ago. Erdogan accused Armenia of being “the biggest threat to regional peace,” demanding its capital Yerevan give Nagorno-Karabakh territories back to Azerbaijan.

Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, discussed the conflict with his ally in Armenia, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. While Turkey has almost brotherly relations with Azerbaijan, Orthodox Russia feels very close to Christian Armenia. There are Russian military bases on Armenian territory close to the borders with Turkey and Iran.

While Turkey has an almost pathological hatred of one side in this dispute, Russia has tried to maintain good relations with both sides. It has strong business and political ties with Azerbaijan, a country that borders the often unstable Russian region of Dagestan. To keep Azerbaijan happy, Moscow sold weapons to Azerbaijan for $4 billion in 2016, a move that was widely criticized in Armenia. Last week Armenia joined Russia, China, Iran, and several other Kremlin allies taking part in military exercises called Caucasus 2020, which featured up to 80,000 soldiers. The violence which erupted over the weekend has been brewing for an age. Azeri opposition activists have been talking about the coming war for months.

“Families, kids woke up to a real war on Sunday. We have thousands of refugees displaced from their homes, hiding in shelters,” Anahit Musheghyan, who lives in Yerevan, told The Daily Beast.

None of the compromises Russia has suggested over the past two decades has worked. And peace talks failed in the midst of the pandemic, in July, after several clashes on the Armenia-Azerbaijani border that killed 15 people. More than 100,000 Azeri activists joined the pro-war rallies in Baku, pushing Aliyev to take action. “There is something important to understand about this war: every single Azeri person, without any exclusion, agrees the war is necessary–the war is the only point President Ilham Aliyev gets right: we all want back the territories occupied by Armenians in 1994,” Azeri journalist, Khadija Ismailova, explained to The Daily Beast.

Ismailova, a fearless critic of Aliyev’s authoritarian regime, has spent a year in prison on unjust charges, but when it comes to this attack, she sounds supportive. “I am not militaristic, but it is clear to me that we need to fight,” she said. “The only concern we have is that Vladimir Putin might call Aliyev and tell him to stop advancing. If our forces occupy just a few villages and stop, that would be a huge disappointment. Putin must be talking with Erdogan a lot at the moment, negotiating their issues in Syria,” Ismayilova suggested.

The feeling in Yerevan is equally passionate. “Our country has mobilized 10,000 volunteer soldiers,” photographer Karen Mirzoyan told The Daily Beast on Monday. “As soon as our people heard about Azeri shells killing a grandmother with her granddaughter, many men in reserve joined the forces.”

Armenians have controlled what is internationally regarded as Azerbaijani territory since 1994, so why did Azerbaijan choose this month to advance? Thomas De Waal, the author of Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War, said he thought Aliyev was trying to take advantage of election season in Washington. “Azerbaijan thinks that currently the U.S. is preoccupied with the presidential elections,” he said.


What role is Russia playing in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?



Moscow sells weapons to both Armenia and Azerbaijan but has also led attempts for the battling sides to put down their arms.

Two centuries ago, Russian czars proudly proclaimed that they “liberated” Armenians from the rule of Ottoman Turkey and Iran. Right after World War II, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin planned to invade and annex eastern Turkey to “expand” Soviet Armenia and get access to the Mediterranean. Post-Communist Russia seems to be following the same pattern of “protecting” Armenians from their neighbours – Turkic-speaking ex-Soviet Azerbaijan and its closest ally, Turkey.

And when the festering, decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous breakaway region of Azerbaijan dominated by ethnic Armenians since the early 1990s, reopened in late September, it was Russia that stepped in as a peacemaker. Armenian leaders still think that their best hopes lie with Moscow. “In recent days, Russia could play its role of Armenia’s strategic ally … at the highest level,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in televised remarks on October 14. “I am sure it will keep playing this role unambiguously and undoubtedly, in the best traditions of friendship of the Armenian and Russian people.”

Armenian observers say that their nation – along with ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh – maintains the pro-Moscow geostrategic balance in the Southern Caucasus region that straddles Eastern Europe and Middle East. To them, the biggest flareup of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that has killed hundreds of soldiers and dozens of civilians is a mere resumption of Ankara’s “imperialistic” policies – and anti-Armenian sentiments that led to the mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey a century ago. Armenia and many Western nations call the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians a “genocide”, while Turkey refutes such accusations.

“It is the resistance of Armenians that helps maintain the geopolitical balance” in the region, Boris Navasardian, an analyst based in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, told Al Jazeera. “Otherwise, the world would face yet another precedent, a fait accompli – extermination of some Armenians and expulsion of other Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh and the establishment of Turkey’s dominance over most of the Southern Caucasus,” he said. But the days of Russian czars obsessed with the “return” of Constantinople to Orthodox Christians and upending Ottoman Turkey’s dominance over the Middle East and the Balkans are long gone. These days, the confrontation between Turkey and Russia has no such overtones.

Russia has clashed with Turkey regarding Syria and Libya, but another direct confrontation seems out of sight. And Moscow’s pro-Armenian tilt has not result in severed ties with Baku. Azerbaijani President Ilkham Aliyev studied diplomacy at a prestigious Russian university, and his father and predecessor Heydar Aliyev spent decades working in Moscow as a top KGB officer. But many Azerbaijanis see Moscow’s preference as the main obstacle in settling the oldest conflict in the former Soviet Union.

“It was Russia that helped occupy Nagorno-Karabakh and districts around it, and has all these years stood in Baku’s way to settle the conflict peacefully,” Baku-based analyst Emil Mustafayev told Al Jazeera.

While Ankara pledged to back Azerbaijan, Turkey’s linguistic and cultural sibling, “until the end of the occupation,” Russia seems to be limited to a secondary role, some observers say. Armenia and Russia are part of a security treaty of six ex-Soviet nations, which does not include Azerbaijan, that must help each other militarily in case of armed conflicts. Moscow also has a military base in Armenia, but the Kremlin has not dispatched a single soldier to support the Armenians. After the hostilities began, Russia only conducted navy drills in the Caspian, north of Baku – and hastily said that they “don’t pose any threat and don’t impose restrictions on the economic activities of the Caspian littoral states”.

Russia’s peacemaking efforts have also failed.

Two Moscow-brokered ceasefires inked on October 10 and October 18 were broken within hours, but Russian diplomats rule out a military solution to the conflict. “We stand by our viewpoint – a peaceful settlement is not only possible, it remains the only way,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on October 14. Some see this political inertia as a sign of weakness. “Moscow is almost not reckoned with, it appears like a declining power and doesn’t show any principles, and it is the principles that play a big role in international relations,” Pavel Luzin, a Russia-based defence analyst with the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington think-tank, told Al Jazeera.

The lack of principles is especially apparent when it comes to arms sales. Moscow has for years been shipping weaponry to both Baku and Yerevan. In a buying spree fuelled by petrodollars, oil-rich Azerbaijan spent some $24bn on arms between 2008 and 2018, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a think-tank that monitors military spendings worldwide.  Baku bought tanks, APCs, artillery systems, multiple rocket launchers and drones made in Russia, Belarus, Turkey and Israel.

Yerevan was vexed by Russia’s eagerness to supply arms.

“This is a very painful issue for us. Our nation is very concerned about the fact that our strategic partner is selling weapons to Azerbaijan,” Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan said in 2014. His resource-poor and cash-strapped nation mostly got cheaper and older Russian weaponry – free of charge or on credit, spending a mere $4bn in 2008-2018, but spending up to a fifth of its annual state budget, the SIPRI said. Another explanation of Russia’s indecisiveness is the peaceful 2018 uprising that toppled pro-Russian and allegedly corrupt President Sargsyan and installed former publicist Pashinyan at the helm. He tried to diversify Armenia’s political alliances and sought closer ties with the West.

“Armenia is, in essence, paying for its neoliberal discourse personified by Pashinyan,” Aleksey Kushch, a political analyst based in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, told Al Jazeera. He says that the Kremlin throws its political weight behind separatist regions in the former Soviet Union – in Ukraine’s Donbass, Moldova’s Transnistria and Georgia’s South Ossetia and Abkhazia – as long as their instigators do not veer off a pro-Russian course.

“Russia’s ‘coercion to friendship’ will take place anywhere [in the former Soviet Union] where street revolutions won,” he said using the term “coercion to peace” coined in the Kremlin during the 2008 Russian-Georgian war. The current conflict may have long-term consequences for Moscow’s clout in the South Caucasus. “Judging by the statements of [President] Aliyev that a new era will begin in the region after the war, Baku has finally made serious conclusions about Russia’s role, and its ties with Moscow won’t be the same,” analyst Mustafayev said.

 
Azerbaijanis in Russia slam Armenian idea of volunteers for Karabakh 
 
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The Union of Azerbaijanis of Russia described the Union of Armenians' position as 'bordering on extremism.' Diasporas are controversial in absentia due to the escalation of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. President of the Union of Armenians Ara Abrahamyan earlier told the Podyom newspaper about the plans to send 20,000 Armenian volunteers from Russia to the unrecognized republic.

We are concerned about the position of the president of the Union of Armenians of Russia, Ara Abrahamyan, bordering on extremism, Elnur Huseynov, Vice-President of the Union of Azerbaijanis of Russia, told RBC.

He expressed concern that the Armenian diaspora headed by Abrahamyan 'resorts fo such provocations, attracts Russians, citizens of Russia.'

We have prepared an appeal to law enforcement agencies so that they would pay attention to his statements and actions, Huseynov said.

Co-chairman of the union of Armenians of Russia, David Tonoyan, told the newspaper that the organization was aware of the plans of the Azerbaijanis of Russia to submit an appeal. He specified that the Armenian diaspora in Russia would 'engage in consulting volunteers and help with the rules for leaving in the conditions of closed borders. The day before, the Azerbaijani community in Moscow sent a statement to Russia's FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov, calling Abrahamyan's words an appeal that violates Russian legislation and falls under Article 208 of the Criminal Code (Organization of an illegal armed formation or participation in it). In this regard, the chairman of the community Shamil Tagiyev asks to check the statement of the president of the Union of Armenians for inciting ethnic hatred, extremism, organizing a private military company, and the appeals for the creation of armed detachments and mercenary activities. Since the morning of September 27, intensive shelling has been going on in the region. Yerevan and Baku accuse each other of attacks and provocations.

 
Ռոբերտ Քոչարյանի ջանքերով ու խնդրանքով Հայաստան է հասել մեծաքանակ զենք
 

Hayeli.am-ի տեղեկություններով ՀՀ երկրորդ նախագահ Ռոբերտ Քոչարյանի ջանքերով ՀՀ է ժամանել մեծ քանակությամբ զենք: Նշենք՝ Ռոբերտ Քոչարյանն այս օրերին գտնվում էր Արցախում և նրա կողմից փորձ է արվել հնարավորինս արագ խաղաղություն հաստատելու ուղղությամբ: Մենք այս տեղեկությունը փորձեցինք ճշտել երկրորդ նախագահի գրասենյակի ղեկավար Վիկտոր Սողոմոնյանից, ով այս տեղեկությունը ոչ հերքեց, ո՛չ հաստատեց: Հիշեցնենք, որ սեպտեմբերի 27-ին Ադրբեջանի զինուժը լայնածավալ հարձակում է սկսել Արցախում՝ թիրախավորելով նաև խաղաղ բնակչությանը։ Հոկտեմբերի 8-ի դրությամբ Արցախի զինուժը խոցել է հակառակորդի՝ 16 ուղղաթիռ, 17 ինքնաթիռ, 145 անօդաչու թռչող սարք, 496 միավոր զրահատեխնիկա, հիմնականում տանկեր, 82 ավտոտրանսպորտ, 10 զրահափոխադրիչ, 4 «ՏՕՍ-1Ա» ծանր հրանետային համակարգ, 4 «Սմերչ» և 1 «Ուրագան» տիպի համազարկային կրակի ռեակտիվ կայանքներ: Հակառակորդն ունի ավելի քան 4069 զոհ, ավելի քան 5270 վիրավոր։ Հայկական կողմից, նախնական տվյալներով, կա 361 զոհ։ Ադրբեջանի զինված ուժերը թիրախավորել է նաև Արցախի և Հայաստանի Հանրապետության զինվորական և քաղաքացիական ենթակառուցվածքները, որի հետևանքով Գեղարքունիքում սպանվել է 2 քաղաքացիական անձ, Արցախում վիրավորվել է 80 քաղաքացիական անձ, զոհվել՝ 19 մարդ, վնասվել՝ մոտ 2700 գույք ու ենթակառուցվածք։


«Ռուսաստանից 20 հազար հայ գալիս է զինվորագրվելու հայոց բանակին». Արա Աբրահամյան
 

«Սա Ադրբեջանի և Թուրքիայի լայնածավալ ծրագրված ակցիա է։ Նրանք ուզում են, որ Արցախում ոչ մի հայ չլինի։ Դրա համար նրանք օգտագործում են կորոնավիրուսը։ Ինքնաթիռներ չկան, նույնիսկ մարդասիրական օգնություն ուղարկել հնարավոր չէ։ Այժմ մեզ մոտ մի գիշերվա ընթացքում 20 հազար կամավորից բաղկացած ցուցակ է կազմվել», – ասել է Աբրահամյանը։ Նա հավելել է, որ Ռուսաստանի հայերի միությունը ռազմական տրանսպորտ կխնդրի մարդկանց Հայաստան ուղարկելու համար։ Աբրահամյանը հավելել է նաև, որ հայերի միությունը հակամարտությունը կանգնեցնելուն օգնելու խնդրանքով դիմելու է նաև ՌԴ նախագահ Վլադիմիր Պուտինին։ «Երեկ մենք ժողով ենք ունեցել, մի քանի կետ ենք ընդունել, այդ թվում` դիմել նախագահին (Վլադիմիր Պուտինին,–խմբ.), բոլոր կառույցներին և խնդրել անհապաղ կանգնեցնել այս պատերազմը, որպեսզի Ռուսաստանն օգնի կանգնեցնել հակամարտությունն ու մարդասիրական և այլ օգնություն ցուցաբերի»,– նշել է նա։ Հիշեցնենք` սեպտեմբերի 27-ին ՀՀ կառավարության որոշմամբ, Հայաստանի ողջ տարածքում հայտարարվել է ռազմական դրություն` պայմանավորված Արցախում ու Հայաստանի սահմանների նկատմամբ Ադրբեջանի ձեռնարկած հարձակումներով։ 
 

Ռուսաստանը ավիացիոն ուժեր է տեղափոխում Հայաստան
 
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/10/Mig-29_Erebuni-Ararat%2C2.jpg

Ռուսաստանը ակտիվորեն իր ռազմական օդանավերը տեղափոխում է Հայաստան։ Համաձայն AVIA PRO կայքի տվյալների, որոնք հիմնված են բաց մոնիթորինգային աղբյուրների վրա, որոնք թույլ են տալիս հետեւել օդային տարածքում տեղաշարժերը, վերջին մեկ օրվա ընթացքում Ռուսաստանից Հայաստան են տեղափոխվել մեծ թվով ռազմական ինքնաթիռներ։ Տեղափոխումը սկսվել է Հայաստանի եւ Ադրբեջանի միջեւ առճակատման հերթական սրացումից ժամեր առաջ։ Այսպես՝ համաձայն ներկայացված տվյալների՝ սեպտեմբերի 26-27-ի գիշերը Դոնի Ռոստովի Պլատովի օդանավակայանից Երեւան է ժամանել Ан-124 ռազմատրանսպորտային օդանավը։ Վեց ժամ անց, սկսվել է երկու երկրների միջեւ ակտիվ դիմակայությունը։ Մի քանի ժամ անց եւս մեկ ռազմական օդանավ է Երեւան ուղղվել Ռոնի Ռոստովի վրայով։ Արդեն Հայաստանի եւ Ադրբեջանի միջեւ հակամարտության սկսումից հետո, Հայաստանի օդային տարածքում, թուրքական սահմանի մոտ հայտնաբերվել է մեկ ինքնաթիռ։ Ընդ որում այս ինքնաթիռները հայտնաբերելի են եղել միայն միացված տրանսպոնդերի օգնությամբ։

 
Ռուսական հրթիռները կուղղվե՞ն Ադրբեջանում գտնվող միջազգային ահաբեկիչների վրա
 

Ռուսաստանի օդատիեզերական ուժերը (ՕՏՈւ) նախապատրաստում են հարձակում  Արցախ մեկնելու համար ահաբեկիչների ուսումնական ճամբարների վրա: Ինչպես այսօր տեղեկացրել է «Rusvesna.su»-ն, թիրախները բացահայտված են, Ռուսաստանի օդատիեզերական ուժերը սավառնում են Ղարաբաղում պատերազմի համար ահաբեկիչների պատրաստման ճամբարների վրայով: Խոսքն առայժմ Սիրիայում գտնվող ճամբարների մասին է:

Ըստ ռուսական լրատվամիջոցի հրապարակման, Սիրիայում ավիացիոն և հետախուզական ծառայությունները շարունակում են տքնաջան աշխատանք կատարել ՝ Իդլիբի դեէսկալացիոն գոտում Լեռնային Ղարաբաղի համար ահաբեկիչների ուսումնական ճամբարները նույնականացնելու, հայտնաբերելու նպատակով, անօդաչու թռչող սարքերը երկար ժամանակ կախված են երկնքում ՝ դիտարկելով բանդիտական կազմավորումների ակտիվությանը:

Այդ կապակցությամբ «Rusvesna.su»-ին մանրամասներ է պատմել ռազմական աղբյուրը: «Rusvesna.su»-ն հիշեցրել է, որ մեկ շաբաթ առաջ Սիրիայի հետախուզական մարմինները սկսել են միջազգային ահաբեկչության դեմ պայքարի նոր արշավ, որի շրջանակներում թուրքամետ ապօրինի զինված խմբավորումների անդամները փողի դիմաց հանձնել են «Խայաթ Թախրիր աշ-Շամ» ահաբեկչական խմբավորման իրենց հանցակիցների օբյեկտների կոորդինատները:

Ինչպես ավելի վաղ հայտնել է «Rusvesna.su»-ն, «Ներկայումս անօդաչու ինքնաթիռներն ու գործակալական հետախուզությունը ստացված կոորդինատներում գտնվող ու գաղտնազերծված ահաբեկչական օբյեկտների լրացուցիչ հետախուզություն են իրականացնում: Իդլիբ նահանգից ստացված տվյալների մեջ տեղեկություններ կային այն ճամբարների մասին, որտեղ զինյալները պատրաստվում են Լեռնային Ղարաբաղում պատերազմի համար, որը թուրքերը սանձազերծել են ադրբեջանական զինուժի և ահաբեկչական խմբավորումների վարձկանների ձեռքով:

Ներկայումս ստացված տեղեկատվությունը հիմնականում հաստատվում է. նշված կոորդինատներում հայտնաբերվել են հրամանատարական կետեր, զինյալների ուսումնական ճամբարներ, զենքի պահեստներ, վառելիքի և քսանյութերի պահեստարաններ և անօրինական զինված խմբավորումների այլ ենթակառուցվածքային օբյեկտներ, որտեղ արձանագրվել է բանդիտական կազմավորումների ակտիվություն»:

Եթե ռազմական աղբյուրը «Rusvesna.su»-ին հայտնել, վերջինս էլ հրապարակել է վերոնշյալ տեղեկությունները, ապա հնարավոր է, որ Ռուսաստանի ՕՏՈւ-ն արդեն հարվածներ հասցրել կամ շատ մոտ ժամանակներում հասցնելու է Սիրիայում ահաբեկիչների նշված օբյեկտներին` կանխելով առաջիկայում ահաբեկիչների տեղափոխումն Ադրբեջան ու մասնակցությունը ներկայումս ընթացող հայ-ադրբեջանական պատերազմում:

Կարծում ենք, պատահական չէ, որ Ռուսաստանի գլխավոր դատախազ Իգոր Կրասնովը երեկ կոչ է արել կանխել Ղարաբաղ ահաբեկիչների ներթափանցման փորձերը: ԱՊՀ անդամ երկրների գլխավոր դատախազների համակարգող խորհրդի նիստում նա հայտարարել է, որ անհրաժեշտ է կանխել Լեռնային Ղարաբաղի հակամարտության տարածք վարձկանների և ահաբեկիչների ներթափանցման փորձերը։

«Հիմա առաջնահերթ խնդիրն է մարդկանց պաշտպանելն ու նրանց արժանապատիվ, անվտանգ, խաղաղ կյանքի իրավունքի ապահովումը, այդ թվում՝ հակամարտության տարածք վարձկանների և ահաբեկիչների, զենքի աօրինի շրջանառությամբ հարստացող և ահաբեկչական հարձակումները ֆինանսավորող անձանց ներթափանցման ցանկացած փորձ կանխելու ճանապարհով»,- «ՌԻԱ Նովոստի»-ի տեղեկացմամբ, ասել է ՌԴ գլխավոր դատախազը։

Կարծում ենք, Ռուսաստանի գլխավոր դատախազն այսպիսի նուրբ ու զգայուն հարցում չէր կարող ու չի արտահայտել իր անձնական դիրքորոշումը, նա Ռուսաստանի դիրքորոշումն է արտահայտել հակամարտության գոտի ահաբեկիչների ներթափանցման ցանկացած փորձ կանխելու անհրաժեշտության վերաբերյալ: Լինի այն պարոն Կրասնովի անձնական դիրքորոշումը, թե Ռուսաստանի դիրքորոշումը` արժանի է միայն դրվատանքի ու շնորհակալության:

Այնուհանդերձ, մեզ չեն կարող չանհանգստացնել այն մի քանի հազար ահաբեկիչները (նախնական տեղեկությունների համաձայն, նրանց թիվը գերազանցում է 4000-ը և շարունակում է աճել), որոնց Թուրքիան հիշյալ պատերազմին մասնակցելու նպատակով վարձել, հավաքագրել ու հասցրել է Ադրբեջան: Մի մասին էլ չի վարձել, պարզապես լուծել է նրանց` ջիհադին (սրբազան պատերազմին) մասնակցելու ցանկություն ունեցողների տեղափոխման հարցը:

Խոսելով հակամարտության տարածք վարձկանների և ահաբեկիչների, զենքի աօրինի շրջանառությամբ հարստացող և ահաբեկչական հարձակումները ֆինանսավորող անձանց ներթափանցման ցանկացած փորձ կանխելու անհրաժեշտության մասին, ՌԴ գլխավոր դատախազն արդյոք նկատի ունի՞  նրանց ոչ միայն Սիրիայի, այլև Ադրբեջանի և Արցախի Հանրապետության տարածքում (եթե մեծ թվով այնտեղ ներթափանցեն) հարվածելը, այս պահին դժվար է ասել:

Հուսանք, որ Կրասնովը նկատի ունի նաև ահաբեկիչների հենակետերին, ճամբարներին, գտնվելու այլ վայրերին, ռազմական տեխնիկային նաև Ադրբեջանի տարածքում հարվածելը, քանի որ այնտեղ գտնվող թիրախներին ՌԴ օդատիեզերական ուժերի ինքնաթիռներից կամ Կասպից ծովում լողացող ռազմանավերից հրթիռային հարվածը չի կարող համարվել հարձակում ինքնիշխան պետության` Ադրբեջանի վրա: Այն կլինի հարձակում միջազգային ահաբեկիչների վրա, քաղաքացիների պաշտպանության և անվտանգության ապահովման նպատակով միջազգային ահաբեկչության կանխում: Այն միանգամայն հասկանալի կլինի «միջազգային հանրություն» կոչվածին և չի կարող նրա բողոքին ու հակազդմանը տեղիք տալ:

Վերոնշյալի առումով կարևոր է նաև այն, որ Հավաքական անվտանգության պայմանագրի կազմակերպությունը (ՀԱՊԿ) արձանագրել է Սիրիայից զինյալների հայտնվելը Լեռնային Ղարաբաղի հակամարտության գոտում: Այս մասին, ՏԱՍՍ-ի փոխանցմամբ, երեկ հայտարարել է ՀԱՊԿ գլխավոր քարտուղար Ստանիսլավ Զասը: Պատասխանելով տրված հարցին ու նկատի ունենալով ղարաբաղյան հակամարտության գոտի ահաբեկիչների տեղափոխումը, Զասն ասել է. «Ըստ ամենայնի, այն կա, այնտեղ զինյալներ, վարձկաններ են հայտնվում: Իհարկե, դա չի նպաստում հարաբերությունների կարգավորմանը: Դա որոշակի մարտահրավեր է ներկայացնում կազմակերպության համար»:

Հիշեցնենք, որ հոկտեմբերի 1-ին Ֆրանսիայի նախագահ Էմանուել Մակրոնը հայտարարել էր, որ առկա են ապացույցներ այն մասին, որ չճանաչված Լեռնային Ղարաբաղի Հանրապետությունում մարտնչում են սիրիացի իսլամիստները։ Մակրոնի հավաստմամբ, այս գործոնը լրջագույն ազդեցություն ունին իրավիճակի վրա և քննարկվելու է նաև Եվրամիությունում բանակցությունների ժամանակ։ ԼՂՀ օտարերկրյա վարձկանների տեղափոխման մասին հայտարարել է նաև Ռուսաստանի ԱԳՆ-ն: Ռուսաստանի արտաքին հետախուզության ծառայության ղեկավար Սերգեյ Նարիշկինը նույնպես հայտարարել է, որ Մերձավոր Արևելքի ահաբեկչական կազմակերպությունների հազարավոր զինյալներ են տեղափոխվում ղարաբաղյան հակամարտության գոտի:

Հղում: https://livenews.am/press/2020/60512/09/23/15/
 
 «Պետք է Վրաստանին հստակ բացատրենք, որ անհրաժեշտության դեպքում իր օդային տարածքով պետք է ուժեր և միջոցներ ուղարկվեն Հայաստան». Զատուլինը՝ ԼՂ-ում ՌԴ-ի հնարավոր գործողությունների մասին
 
 https://www.7or.am/images/news/big/2020/10/1603347755_f5f911fd0259b1_5f911fd0259f6.thumb.jpg

ՌԴ պետդումայի՝ ԱՊՀ հարցերով, եվրասիական ինտեգրման և համերկրացիների հետ կապերի հարցով հանձնաժողովի նախագահի առաջին տեղակալ Կոնստանտին Զատուլինը «Լուրերի ազգային ծառայության» հետ զրույցում թվարկել է Լեռնային Ղարաբաղում իրավիճակի զարգացման վերաբերյալ Ռուսաստանի արձագանքի տարբերակները: Ինչպես նշում է «ՌԻԱ նովոստի»-ն, Զատուլինի խոսքով՝ հենց Ադրբեջանը և Թուրքիան են խաթարել խաղաղությունը տարածաշրջանում, որպեսզի հասնեն ռազմական ռևանշի, այդ պատճառով նրանց պետք է հիշեցնել՝ որ պետությունն է առաջատար հետխորհրդային տարածքում: Խորհրդարանականը խոստովանել է, որ վստահ չէ՝ ինչպես պետք է վարվի Մոսկվան, սակայն նշել է մի քանի ենթադրյալ տարբերակներ, որոնց թվում է դեսանտային գործողությունը Հայաստանում:

«Հայաստանի ռազմական ներուժի ցուցադրական ուժեղացման ձևով: ՀԱՊԿ-ին դիմելու ձևաչափով՝ հայկական, ոչ ԼՂ-ի, հայկական տարածքի պաշտպանության համար միջոցներ ձեռնարկելու անհրաժեշտության պատճառով: Բացելով օդային շրջափակումը: Եթե անհրաժեշտ լինի, մենք պետք է հստակ բացատրենք Վրաստանին, որ անհրաժեշտության դեպքում նա պետք է հանգիստ ընդունի, որ իր օդային տարածքով պետք է ուժեր և միջոցներ ուղարկվեն Հայաստան: Սա պարտադրված որոշում է, քանի որ խոսքը Կովկասում գրոհայինների տարածման մասին է, որից կտուժեն և՛ Ռուսաստանը, և՛ Վրաստանը, և՛ մյուս բոլորը: Սպառնալիք է առաջանում հայ բնակչության մեծ զանգվածների համար, որը պատմականորեն հիշում է ցեղասպանությունն այդ շրջանում: Մենք պետք է միջոցներ ձեռնարկենք»,-ասել է Զատուլինը:

Հղում: https://www.7or.am/am/news/view/199874/