Op-Ed: what to expect from the military confrontation in Karabakh
“Everything depends on our troops” — director of the Caucasus Institute and political scientist Alexander Iskandaryan in an interview with JAMnews on the possible outcomes of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and on Russia’s position.
“War has broken out. The global response has been rather apathetic.
America is approaching a very important election and President Trump is sick with COVID-19.
Europe is dealing with the post-Brexit situation, the loss of capacity for crisis management in the European Union and the problems associated with it.
Russia has the Belarusian crisis, sanctions, the continuing problems with Ukraine, and issues related to the Nord Stream.
NATO is handling the crisis connected to the fact that Turkey is actively participating in the conflict in our region.
Plus, everyone is dealing with the political components of the epidemic.
Geopolitically speaking, this was an ideal moment to escalate. Everyone has turned the other way.
Therefore, political statements, public appeals and phone calls will all be completely ineffective if we want to start solving the problem.
Azerbaijan knew in advance that the French president, the Minsk Group co-chairs, etc. would call. But this won’t do anything, as they do not have tools to affect the situation.
There are different ways to influence in the situation, some transparent and direct, some less so. At one point, we might have been able to prevent a war altogether. But this is no longer the case.
There are many ways the situation could pan out:
• The war could be drawn out and both sides exhausted to the point that further hostilities are impossible.
• Military activity may decrease, after which it will remain low.
• One side may emerge victorious over the other.
There are many possible variants, and they all depend on the balance of forces on the fronts and military successes. Anything else – involving other forces, co-chairs or anyone else – will not work very well.
Russia’s policy has been to avoid choosing sides between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
This has always been the case. Russia needs both Armenia and Azerbaijan in different ways, in completely different areas. Both countries are of value.
Making an unambiguous choice in favor of one side or the other will lead Russia to lose both.
Therefore, Russia is biding its time.
And only if the situation becomes catastrophic, not for the Armenians or Azerbaijanis, but for Russian interests, will Russia intervene.
If a serious war breaks out on Armenian territory, Russia will be forced to intervene, simply because it, together with Armenia, are members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the CSTO. Then Russia will have no choice but to react.
But Russia doesn’t really want to do this and is still waiting and observing the situation.
This is actually the reason why Azerbaijan still has not done this [touched Armenian territory]. But it also depends on the outcome of the fighting, and everyone will have to go all in.
In summary, everything depends on our troops”.