"Azerbaijani provocations are inevitable" - Armenian analysts on Baku's goals
Escalation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border
Azerbaijan is staging provocations at the border, expert circles in Armenia believe. Accusations that have recently become more frequent from Baku about shelling from Armenia are part of this strategy. Official Yerevan daily denies information from Baku, and Armenian analysts call Azerbaijan’s statements “information terror”.
The Azerbaijani press has announced a “special operation in Karabakh” with the aim of liquidating the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army. Ambassador-at-Large Edmon Marukyan reacted to the situation, saying that “Azerbaijan is spreading misinformation in an organized and consistent manner in order to give the appearance of legitimacy to another border provocation.”
He stated that international actors who are interested in peace talks between Yerevan and Baku and a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should respond in a direct manner in order to prevent Azerbaijan’s provocations.
Comments from Armenian experts on the current situation.
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Karen Hovhannisyan, military expert
Azerbaijan’s “Achilles heel”
“Azerbaijan is pursuing the same policy it pursued before the 44-day war. It has also made statements that Armenia allegedly violated the ceasefire, trying to legitimize possible military actions.
This tactic is inherent is from Turkey’s playbook, both in Syria and Iraq, and Azerbaijan has followed the example.
Now with such statements, Azerbaijan is trying to legitimize possible military action against Armenia in order to demand concessions both from Nagorno-Karabakh and from Armenia proper.
Now Azerbaijan is aiming at the Vardenis area of Armenia. Azerbaijan is well aware that the Karvachar region [in Azerbaijan Kalbajar], located next to Vardenis, is its “Achilles heel”. Any military failure would be here. That is why they are trying to adopt a more successful position here during this period.”
Medium-term tasks of Baku
“Azerbaijan’s goal now is to take control of strategically significant heights and target Armenian settlements.
But these are short-term goals. More seriously there would be large-scale military operations, which both Azerbaijan and Turkey, having territorial claims on Armenia, are preparing.
Azerbaijan and Turkey are not limited to wanting a link to Nakhichevan through Armenia according to “corridor logic”, that is, without Armenian control of this road. They want a land border between them. This is their ultimate goal.
Everything else, starting from the corridor, ending with strategic heights and Artsakh, are intermediate goals. And they would not be averse to the presence of a Russian military base in Armenia. There are already precedents.
This is demonstrated by Aliyev’s repeated statements to the effect that “if Armenia does not peacefully fulfill agreements, we will use our fist.” Azerbaijan will resolve issues by military means.”
Suren Surenyants, political scientist
Creeping war is Baku’s main tactic
“After the tripartite statement of November 9, 2020, which put an end to the second Karabakh war, Azerbaijan has repeatedly achieved success using creeping war tactics. Thus they took the villages of Khtsaberd and Khin Tager in the Hadrut region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Through provocations and “gas terror” [cutting off the gas supply to NK during March, the coldest month], it solved the problem of the village of Parukh. And in early August of this year, the issue of changing the route of the Lachin corridor was solved by the same method, Armenian residents being forced to leave the city of Berdzor [Armenian name for Lachin] and nearby villages.
There is no doubt that Azerbaijan will again use this tactic. And the timing is right. Russia is completely bogged down in the Ukrainian war and won’t turn its attention elsewhere, and Armenia does not have the resources to resist.
Azerbaijan is engaged in information terror. They attribute to Armenia things it didn’t do, and this is done to justify Azerbaijan”readiness for preventative measures.”
It is obvious that Azerbaijan is preparing the scene for a new escalation or provocations, which we will witness in the very near future.”
New concessions from Armenia
“I suppose that Azerbaijan either was dissatisfied with the lack of agreements in Brussels at the Pashinyan-Aliyev meeting, mediated by the head of the European Council, Charles Michel. Or it wants to achieve the disbandment of the Karabakh army. At this point it is difficult to say exactly what goal it is pursuing. But one thing is clear: Baku is pressing on Armenia and it is trying to open a “trade front” with international players.
I don’t think a large-scale war is going to happen due to lack of certain conditions. Azerbaijan has solved its main tasks, and has not received permission for a full war from any geopolitical powers.
A large war would be contrary to both Russia and Turkey, which had no plans for this due to being engaged elsewhere. Rather, Baku will go for a two or three-day escalation after which it will demand new concessions.
It is possible that this time the escalation will not be in Artsakh, but in Armenia itself. And although the propaganda is about Vardenis, the escalation itself could be elsewhere, depending on what Baku wants to achieve.”
Baku’s corridor ambitions will be decided within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union
“I don’t think that Baku will demand a corridor through Meghri. Baku won’t receive an extraterritorial corridor, and not because Armenia is against it, because it does not have the resources for resistance anyhow, but because Syunik is not Parukh [villages in Nagorno-Karabakh]. Syunik is of strategic importance and a territorial or border change in Syunik would change the strategic balance throughout the region.
According to agreements on opening roads, enshrined in the November statement on end of the 2020 war, Azerbaijan demands the “Zangezur corridor” from Armenia – a road that will connect Azerbaijan with its exclave Nakhichevan. The Armenian authorities have repeatedly responded that they are ready to open roads, but are categorically against the loss of sovereignty over the roads implied by the term “corridor”.
This does not suit anyone, including major players; it is only in the interests of Baku. Iran is against such changes, the European Union is against it, Russia too.
This may be a “Russian corridor”, when the road remains under the control of Armenia, Armenia carries out minor customs control, while the main control functions are transferred to the Russian border service. This is stated in the statement of November 9, 2020.
Azerbaijan does not have to obtain its “corridor” by military means.
It’s possible Moscow and Baku will resolve this issue differently. If Azerbaijan signs a free trade agreement with the EAEU, then this road will automatically function according to EAEU norms, and Azerbaijan’s goals will be partially achieved. FormallyArmenia will have no territorial losses, and will formally retain its sovereignty in this territory.”