A “round table” was held in the “MK” dedicated to how Karabakh lived for a year after the 44-day war. It was on that day that the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border escalated to such an extent that the conversation turned to the possibility of a new war. Yerevan appealed to Moscow with an appeal to protect the sovereign territory of Armenia in accordance with the 1997 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Armenia.
The situation at MK was discussed by the Armenian political analyst Hayk Khalatyan and the researcher of the Caucasus Institute Grand Mikaelyan.
According to Armenian experts, over the past year, the attitude of Armenians towards Russia has seriously deteriorated. The main reason was Moscow’s unwillingness to side with Yerevan in the conflict with Azerbaijan. “During the 44-day war in Russia, they said that Artsakh is an unrecognized republic and not a part of Armenia, so Moscow will not use its army. In principle, it looked logical. But in May 2021, Azerbaijani troops appeared on the territory of Armenia, and the Russian Federation again did not intervene. As a result, the Armenian man in the street has two versions of what is happening: either Russia is in collusion with Azerbaijan, or Russia is not as strong as they say on TV, and she is simply afraid of the might of Turkey and Azerbaijan. From this they conclude that one should look for either a more reliable ally, or a stronger one, ”says Khalatyan.
However, the point is not only in the war and the Azerbaijani aggression after it. Early parliamentary elections were held in Armenia, the opposition made a lot of efforts to take power from Pashinyan, but Russia here too took an equidistant position. Because of this, the pro-Russian electorate in Armenia received another blow to morale, Khalatyan notes.
Mikaelyan stated that before the war, the attitude towards Russia in Armenia was good, but in recent years this indicator has begun to decline. “This was partly due to the activities of anti-Russian elements in Armenia, but, in addition, the deterioration of the military-political situation in the South Caucasus made its contribution. The first signal was the April 2016 war in Karabakh, then relations between Armenia and Russia began to deteriorate on the eve of the second Karabakh war. Now, much will depend on how effectively Moscow will cope with the peacekeeping mission. Until we see a full-fledged peace in Artsakh, Azerbaijani troops entered the five regions of Soviet Armenia, and there is no reaction from Russia, ”the expert says.
According to Armenian political scientists, Azerbaijan is acting so boldly only because it sees a passive reaction from Moscow. The military invasion of the Syunik region of Armenia on November 16 became a confirmation of Azerbaijani impudence. While the “round table” was going on in the “MK”, the Armenian army tried to hold back the advance of the Azerbaijani armored vehicles under the cover of artillery in the area of the Yerevan-Goris road. This is the only way that today connects Artsakh with Armenia, and the Russian peacekeepers with the 102nd military base in Gyumri. The absurdity of what is happening was added by the fact that not far from the combat zone there is an airport where the base of the Russian peacekeepers is located.
At about two o’clock in the afternoon, Yerevan officially turned to the CSTO and Russia for help in the fight against Azerbaijani aggression. Two hours later, no reaction from Moscow appeared in the public space. Meanwhile, Yerevan has lost two border posts, there are dead and wounded. “The battles are being fought not in Artsakh, but in Armenia itself. The silence of Russia simply brings closer the day when it will lose its ally in the person of the Armenians, ”Khalatyan said.
“When the Russian peacekeeping mission began in Karabakh, no one thought that there could be such consequences. Moscow overestimated the constructive position of Ilham Aliyev. In terms of handling, Armenia cannot defend its borders, but the Russian military is very close to the battlefield. Russia has formal and informal obligations to Yerevan. Peacekeepers and border guards cannot but react to this situation, ”says Grand Mikaelyan.
According to the expert, the problem is that Russia has not worked out a mechanism for responding to such events, but the Armenians have high expectations. “There can be only one adequate solution: all Azerbaijani troops must leave the territory of Soviet Armenia. How this will be achieved is another question, but the territorial integrity of the republic must be restored, ”he says.
Khalatyan and Mikaelyan believe that by its actions Azerbaijan is demonstrating its indifference to the position of Russia, because it does not believe that Moscow will take any radical steps. “At the same time, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, being a graduate of MGIMO, clearly understands the line that he cannot cross in order not to provoke Russia,” Khalatyan said.
“I don’t know which conflict was effectively resolved with the help of peacekeepers. For example, in Croatia, the conflict resumed, and the peacekeepers let the advancing troops, which eventually destroyed the Serbian land. In Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russian peacekeepers helped local residents in the fight against Georgia, but peace was not achieved. Yes, there was no other way to end the war in Karabakh, now Armenia cannot defend Artsakh in any way. But Russia found itself in a trap, into which it drove itself, ”Mikaelyan says.
According to Konstantin Zatulin, First Deputy of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, after the Karabakh war, Azerbaijan repeatedly violated the status quo on the border with Armenia, taking advantage of the fact that the border between the states was not drawn. This is done in order to persuade Yerevan to sign a border treaty and thereby completely close the topic of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. For many reasons, the Armenian leadership is in no hurry to sign this agreement. “The use of force by Azerbaijan is clearly not in the interests of Russia, but at the same time Russia retains hope and patience. Moscow does not abandon its attempts by diplomatic means to discourage Baku from doing such things. Unfortunately, so far nothing has come out, shootings continue, people are dying. If this continues, there will be an unpleasant prospect of activating the 1997 Treaty, to which Russia does not strive at all. However, an important question arises for Russia … If it is in a military-political alliance with Armenia, this means that Moscow must fulfill its obligations, “he said.
According to Zatulin, “Yerevan’s desire to find protection from Moscow is completely understandable. Moscow’s desire to retain the status of a mediator is also understandable. But sooner or later there comes a moment of truth when it is necessary to determine. In particular, it is necessary to define the characteristics of Azerbaijan and put appropriate pressure on it. So far I am not ready to say whether Russia will regard the border incident as a casus belli or decide that everything can be settled peacefully. I think she will strive for the latter option. “