The statement of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia and the President of the Russian Federation dated November 9 (the night of November 10) 2020 summed up a certain line, both during the Second Karabakh War and the 32-year Azerbaijani-Armenian confrontation.
The Second Karabakh War was transformed into a global geopolitics, as the final phase of the Azerbaijani-Armenian confrontation leads to serious changes in the balance of power, both in the South Caucasus and in the Greater Caucasus region.
It is the historic victory of Azerbaijan in the Second Karabakh War and the capitulation of Armenia that will be the starting point for the process of forming a new security system in the Greater Caucasus region.
Additions of victories
For Azerbaijan, the historic victory is the entry into the state border with Armenia with the complete liberation of seven districts and the city of Shusha and the actual blockade of Khankendi (Stepanakert).
During the Second Karabakh War, Azerbaijan achieved strategic success by capturing the plains in the south of the theater of operations (TDM) and taking control of the border with Iran. Further hostilities took place in mountainous, forested areas, which complicated the advance of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces. In Yerevan, it was expected that the existing superiority of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces in manpower and military equipment would not be enough for a decisive offensive in the direction of the cities of Shusha and Khankendi (Stepanakert). At first glance, this is impossible given the open border with Armenia, which gives Yerevan the opportunity to send reinforcements to Karabakh, both from the militia — «volunteers» and regular units of the Armenian Armed Forces, which can be considered Karabakh military formations. There are also opportunities to deliver modern weapons to Armenia. Therefore, Yerevan sought to turn the Second Karabakh War into a protracted phase, and to turn it into a positional one while increasing Moscow’s military and technical support.
However, Vladimir Putin did not consider it necessary or possible to repeat the experience of the odious Boris Yeltsin. During the First Karabakh War in the main areas of the 1992, 1993 and 1994 campaigns, the strike group consisted of units of the Russian Armed Forces.
During the Second Karabakh War, within 1,5 months, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces liberated 4 previously occupied Armenian Armed Forces in 4 districts — Fizulinsky, Jebrailsky, Gubadlinsky and Zangilansky, a significant part of Hadrut district, part of Khojavend (Martuninsky) and Askeran districts the city of Shusha. It should be borne in mind that the city of Shusha is located 11 km from Khankendi (Stepanakert). The liberation of the city of Shusha opened operational opportunities for the Azerbaijani Armed Forces to liberate Khankendi (Stepanakert), as well as the highway connecting Karabakh and Armenia. The fighting took place in the immediate vicinity of Khankendi (Stepanakert) — at a distance of 2-3 km from the city. If the fighting continues for several days, the Armenian side would lose the rest of Karabakh. In these circumstances, the Armenian leadership, represented by the Prime Minister of Armenia N. Pashinyan, made the only right decision — capitulation on Azerbaijani terms.
Zeroing of the OSCE MG
The three-party statement said nothing about Ankara’s involvement. However, on November 3, 10, a special agreement was signed between the Ministries of Defense of Russia and Turkey on the establishment of a joint monitoring center for compliance with the ceasefire. An agreement on the establishment of a special observation mission has been reached between the two heads of state, Vladimir Putin and RT Erdogan.
The activity of this monitoring corps is regulated by the Fifth Article in the joint statement of the heads of state of Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia.
Thus, the representatives of the Turkish Ministry of Defense will monitor the ceasefire. The experience of joint patrolling and cooperation between Turkey and Russia in the field of monitoring the observance of the ceasefire has been developed in Syria.
Today, the geopolitical situation in the Black Sea-Caucasus region is such that without Turkey it is impossible to completely end the Azerbaijani-Armenian Karabakh conflict, which presupposes a political settlement of this long-standing confrontation.
Moscow’s consent to the TR’s participation in the monitoring group is explained by the fact that Moscow depends on Ankara in resolving regional conflicts in Syria and Libya, as well as in maintaining security in the Black Sea-Caucasus region.
Russia’s attempts to distract Ankara from the Karabakh issue by intensifying hostilities in Idlib, Syria, or Sirte, Libya. The current military-political situation in Syria and Libya still demonstrates the pragmatism of all foreign players involved in the conflicts, including Russia and Turkey. For example, in Syria, Russia is interested in cooperating with Turkey. Otherwise, the Russian-Turkish conflict could lay the groundwork for greater US and NATO involvement in the Syrian crisis, with all the ensuing negative consequences for Moscow.
At the same time, the Second Karabakh War brought Ankara and Baku to a potential confrontation in the region with Moscow. After all, Yerevan sought to enlist Russia’s military and technical support in the confrontation with Azerbaijan. Moscow is forced to take into account Ankara’s regional interests, as Azerbaijan and Turkey are quite active and effective in tandem. Against this background, Ankara has proposed a new 2 + 2 format: Russia / Armenia + Turkey / Azerbaijan. This does not require the involvement of Turkey in the negotiation process as co-chair of the OSCE MG. On November 9, 2020, President of Azerbaijan Aliyev stated that not only Russian peacekeepers, but also the military from Turkey will ensure compliance with the peace agreement in Nagorno Karabakh. «This is a new control mechanism in which Russia and Turkey will be represented. Thus, Turkey will play a role in the future settlement of the conflict, «Aliyev said.
In other words, the new 2 + 2 format will solve (should solve at least) only one issue: the forms of coexistence of Azerbaijanis and Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh as part of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Even without taking into account «Turkic solidarity», the Azerbaijani-Turkish alliance has a legal basis, as a strategic agreement has been concluded between the parties. It should also be borne in mind that there is no division within the Turkish political elite on the Karabakh issue, as almost all political parties are in solidarity with Baku’s position.
Completion of the process of formation of the Azerbaijani-Turkish veno-political alliance creates a new configuration of geopolitical forces in the Black Sea-Caucasus region. In this regard, the role of London, which is lobbying for the TANAP project — the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline from Azerbaijan through Georgia and Turkey to the Greek border, is being updated. The continuation of TANAP will be TAP — Trans-Adriatic Pipeline from Greece to Italy via Albania. London views Turkey as a regional energy hub. The Mavi Vatan project, or Blue Homeland, Turkey’s ambitious plan for geopolitical dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean, has become a priority in Ankara’s foreign policy.
It is noteworthy that London supports the Azerbaijani-Turkish alliance. Especially since Ankara and Doha, together with Islamabad and Kuala Lumpur as partners, have recently introduced a new emerging geopolitical axis. In addition, on October 16, 2020, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in Istanbul. Both sides signed agreements on military cooperation aimed at raising Ukrainian-Turkish cooperation in the defense industry to the level of a «strategic partnership.» The Turkish-Ukrainian strategic partnership will change the geopolitical balance of power in the Black Sea basin. For example, the partnership between Turkey and Ukraine has become an alliance in the field of defense technology, which involves, inter alia, the sale of Ankara to Kiev anti-ship missiles class «land-sea» Atmaca range of 200 km. Such developments could change the military-political balance in the Black Sea region for Russia if both Ukraine and Turkey deploy these systems on their shores.
Moreover, it was recently Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, not Foreign Minister Movut Cavusoglu, who clearly outlined Turkey’s foreign policy goals: first, “We believe that Turkey and the United States will take a more positive path, as has been the case. once in the past ”: second,“ NATO is at the center of Turkey’s security ”; thirdly, «EU membership remains our strategic goal».
Turkey is not ousting Russia from the South Caucasus region. There will continue to be two strong players in the South Caucasus: Russia and Turkey. Ankara and Baku are not afraid that Joseph Biden has been elected President of the United States. It is important for the United States to maintain allied relations with Turkey. Strengthening the Ankara-Baku tandem in the South Caucasus is in Washington’s interests.
In the current military-political situation around Karabakh, Moscow’s efforts to implement the three-party statement should be aimed at the full and timely implementation of all points of the signed document.
However, chaos is observed in Yerevan. It is obvious that N. Pashinyan is a retiring figure, who, however, continues to fight, and the question is how and when this departure will be arranged.
17 opposition parties in Armenia issued a joint statement demanding the resignation of Armenian Prime Minister N. Pashinyan and the government headed by him.
The prosperous Armenia opposition party intends to cancel Yerevan’s participation in the Nagorno Karabakh agreements through an extraordinary session of the country’s parliament. To this end, the Armenian opposition has prepared a project to deratize the Karabakh agreement. However, even if the Armenian parliament decides to deratize the Karabakh agreement, Yerevan will have to comply with its clauses. The Ministry of Defense of Armenia has already stated that from 05:00 on November 10, 2020 the Armenian Armed Forces together with the Russian Armed Forces are implementing the provisions of the tripartite agreement on ending the Karabakh war reached by the Prime Minister of Armenia, the Presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan…
Rauf Rajabov, Orientalist, Head of 3RD VIEW Analytical Center, Baku, Azerbaijan