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DECEMBER 2020

How Close Is Too Close? Russia Admits Concern Over Militants In South Caucasus

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How Close Is Too Close? Russia Admits Concern Over Militants In South Caucasus

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The Russian Foreign Ministry does not deny the danger of mercenaries from Syria and Libya participating in the battles in Nagorno-Karabakh “infiltrating” into Russia.

“It is certainly impossible to deny such a danger,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

“There are no trifles in the fight against terrorism. It is important to analyze any risks, including potential ones, to work ahead of the curve,” he said.

“Russian law enforcement agencies are closely monitoring the situation and, as they say,” keep their finger on the pulse,” concluded Syromolotov.

The head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation, Sergei Naryshkin, previously stated that, according to available information, mercenaries from international terrorist organizations fighting in the Middle East are actively pulling into the conflict zone, and they are being deployed in the thousands.

Earlier, leg Siromolotov had a meeting with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Armenia to the Russian Federation Vardan Toghanyan.

The parties exchanged views in the context of the ongoing escalation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.

“The inadmissibility of the transfer of militants of illegal armed groups from a number of countries of the Middle East and North Africa to the region and the need for immediate withdrawal of those militants from the region were highlighted,” the press release stated.

According to available information, thousands of militants are being sent to Azerbaijan from Turkey.

The the trip reportedly 3 months and the salary is $2,000 per month, while the trip to Libya lasts 6 months and the salary is $1,500 per month.

Earlier, Russian President in a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had expressed concern about the involvement of militants in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The Russian President and the Turkish president also discussed developments in Syria and Libya over the phone.

Both Azerbaijan and Turkey are aware that Armenia’s policy in the last few years doesn’t make it easy for Russia to step in and assist Yerevan.

Despite the agreement for mutual defense, Russia will not move in to assist the Nikol Pashniyan government, and especially in a region that Armenia itself doesn’t recognize as independent, and it’s a sort of limbo.

However, as mentioned above, Russia sees the presence of militants in Nagorno-Karabakh and in the wider South Caucasus as a red line, which could warrant it moving in, so that the situation doesn’t deteriorate further.

After all, Moscow has already gone through two Chechen wars against al-Qaeda (as its an open secret that its supporters were quite active).

The endeavor to combat terrorism and contain the potential threat of it spreading towards Russia were also one of the main reasons why it began its campaign in Syria, after it was invited by President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

As such, Azerbaijan and Turkey are more than enough to effectively capture the entire Nagorno-Karabakh, and it is puzzling why they’re undermining their own chances by deploying more militants to the region.

And there’s several speculations for the reason:

  1. It could be that Ankara and Baku have trusted the Neo-Ottoman propaganda too far, and Turkey has become too used to using “cannon fodder” on the battlefield. The obvious examples are Syria and Libya.
  2. Ankara could be interested in further expansion towards Russia’s North Caucasus, and using Syrian-based proxy groups is also a part of this plan. How this will work out? Only time will tell.

Regardless, currently, it appears that Baku and Ankara are on the edge of prompting Russia to take part, and it is to be seen whether they will go too far.

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