"Soft reconnaissance" in Lachin corridor
“Soft reconnaissance” in Lachin corridor
A group of Azerbaijani environmentalists and journalists blocked the road in the Lachin corridor for several hours. The conflict was resolved only after Andrey Volkov, commander of the Russian peacekeeping forces in Karabakh, arrived. According to an Azerbaijani expert, official Baku is conducting “soft reconnaissance in order to check the reaction of peacekeepers to the possible installation of posts in the Lachin corridor.”
- Ilham Aliyev: “Our position is clear and precise. Karabakh is Azerbaijan”
- “Azerbaijan is negotiating with Russia on the Zangezur corridor.” Comment from Baku
- “Azerbaijan and Armenia have entered another phase of contradiction.” Opinion from Baku
About three hours later Andrey Volkov, commander of the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation in Karabakh, arrived at the scene and the sides managed to agree on the opening of the road.
According to the statement of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan, employees of this department and employees of the state service for property issues under the Ministry of Economy and AzerGold CJSC, “having crossed to the territory temporarily controlled by Russian peacekeepers, held discussions with the command of peacekeepers at the headquarters of the peacekeeping forces located in the city of Khojaly.”
The press service of the Ministry of Ecology noted that during the talks “serious concern and dissatisfaction of the Azerbaijani side was again expressed that on the territory of Azerbaijan, temporarily controlled by Russian peacekeepers, economic activities are illegally carried out on the illegal exploitation of mineral deposits, which entails consequences for the environment.
The importance of monitoring and inventorying property at mineral deposits and conducting environmental proceedings was especially noted.”
Why are Azerbaijani environmentalists upset?
According to Azerbaijani media, which published CCTV footage from the Lachin corridor, from November 10 to 14 eight trucks daily passed along the road from Khankendi to Armenia. The same cars were heading from Armenia towards Khankendi on November 16-18.
According to information available to Azerbaijan, these trucks from mines located near the village of Gulyatag of the former Aghdere region (attached to the Terter region) in Karabakh transport the gold mined there.
Illegal gold mining in Karabakh without the knowledge of Baku carried out by the Base Metals company, which has its office in Khankendi, media say.
What did Volkov say to Azerbaijani journalists?
Taking advantage of the opportunity, Azerbaijani journalists who met with Andrei Volkov tried to find out from him the reasons for using outmoded toponyms on the maps of the Russian Defense Ministry.
Recently the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry has published statements almost daily accusing the Russian Defense Ministry and the peacekeeping contingent of “distorting the Azerbaijani names of settlements in Karabakh.”
“Once again I declare that we adhere to all toponyms. We write Khankendi everywhere, we write Agdere. On the maps of our General Staff, the names remain from Soviet times — Stepanakert, Mardakert. Everything that concerns toponyms, we respectfully write them the way they sound in Azerbaijan.
In all documents of the Joint Russian-Turkish Monitoring Center, toponyms are written only with those names that were sent to us by Azerbaijan. On the website of the Russian Ministry of Defense, the names are spelled differently. You can also check our documentation,” Volkov said in his response to Azerbaijani journalists.
When asked why “toponyms are indicated incorrectly” on the website of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, Volkov replied that he was not responsible for this.
“Pulse Check Successful”
The pulse check by the Azerbaijani authorities was successful, political scientist and head of the Atlas analytical center Elkhan Shahinoglu saus:
“Armenians understand that one day there will be posts of Azerbaijani border guards and customs officers on the road linking Armenia with Karabakh. That the road remained closed for three hours on Saturday and employees of Azerbaijani departments were negotiating with Russian peacekeepers on the road is an example of this. The pulse check was successful.”
According to Shahinoglu, the continuation of negotiations at the office of peacekeepers in Khojaly is “a message to the Armenians that they should get used to seeing Azerbaijanis there.”
“It is interesting that the Armenian authorities met Saturday’s news with composure and there was no harsh reaction. Mostly the Armenians living in Karabakh were worried. They are at a loss and are trying to find an answer to the question of what the Russian military will do if suddenly Azerbaijan takes control of the road – will they observe or resist, will the trips of Azerbaijani officials to Khojaly and Khankendi become a common thing or not?”
“Russian soldiers watched in confusion”
The thing here is not environmental issues, political commentator Fariz Aliyev says.
“I don’t think that the incident that took place in the Lachin corridor is about some kind of environmental problem. Yes, a mine is illegally exploited in the former Aghdere region. But before that, other sources of minerals in Karabakh were also illegally exploited for decades.
In my opinion, Azerbaijan is conducting soft reconnaissance. Not even in combat, but simply with the participation of ordinary citizens. In order to test the reaction of peacekeepers to these circumstances.
And what did we see? The reaction of the Russian military is almost nill. They watched in bewilderment what was happening there
And Volkov’s presence did not seem to have the expected effect. Volkov also did not know what to do and how to act. He talked with those who closed the road, agreed with their arguments and invited them to negotiate.
It is also interesting that the peacekeepers indisputably recognize the territory of their service as Azerbaijani land.
And now let’s imagine that Azerbaijan enters the Lachin corridor not in the person of environmentalists and journalists, but in the person of border guards or the same special forces. What will happen in this case? Based on what happened last Saturday, the peacekeepers will simply observe what is happening and Azerbaijan will successfully establish its posts there. I don’t see any other scenario,” Aliyev said.