The situation on the southeastern borders of Armenia, where hostilities between Armenians and Azerbaijanis began the day before, remains tense, said CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas. Earlier, Yerevan orally called on Russia for help under the 1997 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance. Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow will continue to act as a mediator in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.
The escalation of the conflict in the Syunik region of Armenia began on November 13-14. In Yerevan, they believe that the Azerbaijani authorities, taking advantage of the fact that there is no official border between the two countries, once again decided to push their borders deep into the Armenian territories. In total, the Azerbaijanis advanced about two kilometers and captured 4 Armenian strongholds. As a result, local residents have nowhere to graze their livestock.
In Baku they assure that there was no offensive at all. On the contrary, it was the Armenian army that fired at peace-loving Azerbaijan for several days, which in the end could not stand it and decided to give the aggressor an adequate response.
Russia, which is both a military-political ally of Armenia and a mediator in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, decided to refrain from assessing who was the first to start. On the evening of November 16, the RF Ministry of Defense reported that Minister Sergei Shoigu had convinced his colleagues in Armenia and Azerbaijan to stop provocations on the border. However, similar statements were made by representatives of the United States and EU countries.
Be that as it may, during the hostilities 13 Armenian soldiers were captured, 1 soldier was killed, another 24 disappeared (according to rumors, their corpses may lie in the gray zone). In Yerevan, they say that they were able to destroy 4 armored personnel carriers, 1 Israeli-made Sandcat armored vehicle, 5 military vehicles KamAZ, Ural, UAZ. Azerbaijanis recognize 7 killed and 10 wounded from their side.
The battles were fought for the dominant heights in the area of the Yerevan-Goris highway – this is the only way from Armenia to Artsakh (the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic). In particular, the shells exploded 5 kilometers from the Armenian village of Ishkhanasartsy. In the same area, there is a base of Russian peacekeepers, which they need to rotate their contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh. In this regard, some believe that Azerbaijanis are close to taking control of the last artery connecting Stepanakert with Yerevan. After that, they will be able to close the lid of the Karabakh cauldron at any moment, in which not only Armenians, but also peacekeepers will find themselves. Moreover, it will be possible to help them only from space.
It should be noted that even until November 16, the Azerbaijanis had their strongholds at the dominant heights in the area of the Yerevan-Goris highway. For this reason, high earthen ramparts stretch along the road, which are designed to prevent Azerbaijani snipers from shooting at passing cars.
Fighting clashes on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border have been going on since May 2021. Azerbaijan seeks to take control of all the dominant heights, water sources, pastures, mines. The promotion is carried out in those places where until November 2020 Armenia bordered with Artsakh. In Yerevan, they emphasize that the Azerbaijanis have already seized over 40 square kilometers of their republic.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have no approved borders with each other, but until the last Karabakh war, Yerevan did not worry about this and did not even build any fortifications there. Why, if just behind the mountain there is a “second Armenian state”? Now a strategic enemy is located there. And this adversary has cards (possibly fake) depicting borders that make Armenians’ hairs stand on end.
Azerbaijan offers Yerevan to sit down at the negotiating table and jointly decide who will get which part of the disputed territory. Everything is very peaceful and diplomatic. There is only one nuance: first, Armenia must recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, which means Artsakh’s refusal to fight for independence.
Experts interviewed by MK believe that a full-fledged war between Armenia and Azerbaijan is hardly possible in the foreseeable future, but Yerevan still has nothing to rejoice at.
“There will be no global war, because there is a presence of Russian peacekeepers and an agreement between Russia and Armenia on mutual assistance. In these conditions, any military action is associated with a high risk of involving Russians in them. It is too dangerous for Azerbaijan. If we look at the events of November 16, we will see that it was the factor of Russian mediation that played a decisive role in stopping the shooting, ” political analyst Alexei Makarkin told MK .
Nevertheless, in his opinion, local hostilities will periodically arise, because Baku seeks to improve its position on the border with Armenia, which is essentially a front line. “The peacekeeping mission was sent to Nagorno-Karabakh for 5 years. In fact, this is a very short period, which has already expired by 20%. In 4 years the question will arise: whether to extend the stay of the peacekeepers or not. By this time, Baku wants to strengthen its negotiating positions as much as possible. The maximum program can be the creation of a military foothold for a further offensive, which can begin at the moment when the period of stay of the peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh expires. Accordingly, the closer to this day, the more active Azerbaijan will be ”.
Political scientist Arkady Dubnovbelieves that Russia does not have a 100% ability to forestall the desire of one of the parties to resolve the conflict by military means. In his opinion, this was evident in the 44-day war and the events that unfolded after it. “One side of the 2020 war believes that it has received less benefits from its victory. Accordingly, she has a choice: either endlessly insist on the diplomatic path, or use her superiority in force. Yerevan asks Moscow to intervene, but Russia absolutely does not want to enter into conflict with the strengthening Turkic Union, in which, along with Azerbaijan and Turkey, there are two CSTO members – Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. This means that Armenia will have to make economic, political and infrastructural concessions in negotiations with Azerbaijan, ”political analyst Arkady Dubnov told MK.