In early November, the Azerbaijani-Turkish advance in the directions of the Lachin corridor and the town of Shusha in the Nagorno-Karabakh region slowed down. The main factors are the fierce resistance of Armenian forces, the complicated terrain, deteriorating weather conditions and overextended communications that run through recently captured territories, where Armenian sabotage units still able to deliver regular attacks. 9 villages, the capturing of which Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev announced recently, are in fact located inside the territory captured by Azerbaijani forces in earlier.
“The victorious Azerbaijani Army has liberated from occupation Chaprand, Haji Isagli, Goshabulag villages of Jabrayil district, Dara Gilatagh, Boyuk Gilatagh villages of Zangilan district, Ishigli, Muradkhanli, Milanli villages of Gubadli district. Glory to the Azerbaijani army! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!” Aliyev wrote on his Twitter account.
Victorious Armed Forces of Azerbaijan have liberated Chaprand, Haji Isagli and Gosha Bulag villages of Jabrayil, Dere Giletag and Boyuk Giletag villages of Zangilan, Ishigli, Muradkhanli and Milanli villages of Gubadli. Long live Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!
— Ilham Aliyev (@presidentaz) November 2, 2020
This showcases the lack of progress of Baku forces in the recent battles.
Commenting on this situation, Armenian sources argue that right now Yerevan has been preparing a powerful counter-attack to push the Azerbaijanis out of the south of Karabakh. The only factor that allegedly stops Armenia from such a move right now is the commitment of the Armenians to the reached ceasefire agreements that Baku blatantly violates. Meanwhile, the Armenian side continues regularly release updates about the losses of Azerbaijan in the conflict. The Azerbaijani military allegedly lost 10 UAVs, 21 armoured vehicle, and 103 soldiers in the recent clashes.
The Armenian military says that despite the technological and manpower advantage, Azerbaijan suffers much more casualties. According to Yerevan, Azerbaijan in fact lost the initiative and all most of its attacks in the recent days were repelled.
Последние данные о потерях противника
— Armenian Unified Infocenter (@ArmenianUnified) November 2, 2020
While the high casualties of the sides are not a secret and widely confirmed by visual evidence regularly appearing from the ground, the claims that the Turkish-Azerbaijani bloc somehow lost the strategic initiative in the war are at least overestimated. Azerbaijani artillery, combat drones and even warplanes still regularly pound fortified positions, manpower and military equipment of the defending forces. The Armenians have not enough means and measures to protect its supply columns and manpower from regular and intense airstrikes.
Azerbaijani artillery units are in action:
A drone strike on the Soviet-era “KUB” air defense system of Armenian forces:
The destruction of 4 Armenian “Grad” rocket launchers:
As of October 3, Azerbaijani forces supported by the Turks and Turkish-backed Syrian militants are still deployed in a striking distance from Lachin and Shusha. Lost of any of these points may mark the collapse of the entire Armenian defense in the area. Any large Armenian counter-attack, if it does not deliver a rapid and devastating blow to the Turkish-Azerbaijani forces, will likely not allow to achieve a strategic success. Instead, it will uncover the existing Armenian units and increase the number of casualties from air and artillery strikes. The dominance in the air also means the advantage in the recognizance and target accusation. In these conditions, small regular counter-attacks mostly aimed at disturbing the advancing Azerbaijani-Turkish units, and undermining their efforts to secure the newly captured positions, look more likely.
Despite the lack of notable Azerbaijani gains in the recent days, the Armenian defense is still in crisis and, if Ankara and Baku succeed in securing the communications and regrouping their forces, the new push towards the Lachin-Shusha-Stepanakert triangle seems to be inevitable.
Armenian forces shot down an Azerbaijani drone over Stepanakert:
On November 1 and 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin also held phone conversations with the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders. The Russian influence and the threat of the Russian military involvement are the main factors that prevent the Turkish-Azerbaijani advance inside Armenian territory.
“On November 1 and 2, Vladimir Putin had telephone conversations with Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan and President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. The participants discussed in detail the issues of settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” the Kremlin website says.
The Turkish leadership continues making fierce statements in support of the Azerbaijani advance, while the rest of NATO is mostly concerned by the US presidential election and the wave of terrorist attacks in Europe. So, the pro-Western Armenian government remains abandoned by its ‘democratic friends’.
The diplomatic attempts to de-escalate the conflict have so far led to little progress as Turkey and Azerbaijan feel themselves too close to the desired military victory. President Aliyev wants to write down his name in the history as the leader that returned Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan, while his Turkey counterpart Erdogan that seems himself as the sultan of the New Ottoman Empire is pretending be the leader of the entire Turkic world and even wider – of all the muslims in the Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asia. The entire Turkish foreign of the previous years was the policy of aggressive advances, confrontations and raising bets. This led to particular diplomatic and economic problems on the international scene and undermined the Turkish national economy. However, it looks that the Turkish leadership believes that the potential revenue of turning the Neo-Ottoman and pan-Turkic declarations into the hard reality will generate the revenue of such scale that would allow to compensate the existing tactical difficulties. Therefore, the Turkish-Azerbaijani stance towards the further confrontation in Karabakh is not something surprising.
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