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On September 27, the first open regional war started in the South Caucasus region since the conflict in the South Ossetia in 2008. The 2008 conflict started after the Georgian attack on South Ossetia, which led to the Russian peace-enforcement operation and the defeat of the US-backed Saakashvili regime. The 2020 war became the result of the Armenian-Azerbaijani standoff for the Nagorno Karabakh region. Azerbaijani forces have been advancing in Nagorno-Karabakh to restore control over the area.
HINT: The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic a de facto independent state with an Armenian ethnic majority established on the basis of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic as a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh War (February 1988 – May 1994). This territory is de-facto controlled by Armenia, while Azerbaijan still seeks to restore control over the region.
An intense fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces has been ongoing in the Nagorno-Karabakh region since early September 27. According to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, the country’s forces have already captured at least 7 villages, located close to the Iranian border.
Azerbaijani forces have been actively shelling positions of Armenian forces and territories controlled by them, including the capital of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic – Stepanakert.
Both sides claim that they caused multiple casualties and destroyed dozens of equipment pieces of the ‘enemy’. Azerbaijani sources even destroyed Armenia’s “S-300 system” in their Twitter claims. In turn, Armenia claims that it destroyed at least 21 military drones of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijani strikes on positions and equipment of the Armenian military:
The Azerbaijani Parliament approved the martial law bill, while the country’s president Ilham Aliyev already signed it.
“I have said many times, and I want to say today that we must resolve this issue so that the people of Azerbaijan are satisfied with this. We must restore historical justice. We must do this to restore the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan,” Aliyev said at a meeting of the Security Council.
“I have repeatedly said that we do not need an incomplete solution to this issue, this conflict. We are on our own land, we do not need the lands of other countries. But we will not give our land to anyone. I have repeatedly said that we will never allow the creation of a second so-called “Armenian state” on Azerbaijani soil. We will never allow this, and today’s events show it again,”Aliyev added.
Destroyed Azerbaijani military equipment:
The address to the nation made by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan clearly signs that Armenia is in the state of an open war with Azerbaijan:
The enemy must understand that all Armenians stand behind Artsakh today. The Prime Minister’s message to the people
Proud Citizens of the Republic of Armenia, Proud Citizens of the
Proud Armenians of the Diaspora,
Sisters and Brothers,
The Artsakh Republic has been under aggression by the Azerbaijani armed forces since early this morning.
The peaceful population of Artsakh, the capital Stepanakert, the civil infrastructure of the Artsakh Republic are being bombed. There are already casualties and injuries, including among the civilian population.
Using heavy weapons, artillery, infantry, the enemy attacks the positions of the Defense Army in all directions. The Defense Army is currently fighting stubbornly and honorably fulfilling its task of defending Artsakh by taking action based on the situation.
Dear people, The
dictatorial regime of Ilham Aliyev has resumed hostilities. It is a war declared for the Armenian people. It is a war against our independence, freedom and dignity.
The Armenian people are ready for that war. Because he has always soberly realized that the hatred, enmity and hatred with which the Azerbaijani dictatorship has been feeding its people for decades could not lead to any result other than war. The dictatorship of Azerbaijan has become a hostage of its own anti-Armenian policy and today tries to justify its own propaganda promises to resolve the Karabakh conflict by military means.
The Armenian people are ready to strike a worthy blow at the enemy. The Republic of Armenia is the guarantor of the security and independence of the Artsakh Republic. And the Republic of Armenia today stands behind Artsakh with all the potential of its population and state system. We will make every effort possible and impossible to keep the borders of our homeland inviolable, to protect our freedom and independence. As of 1994 The Republic of Armenia, a signatory to the ceasefire agreement, will take necessary actions in the political, diplomatic and military arenas to ensure the physical security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and to impose peace on the enemy.
At the moment, the enemy is already suffering significant losses of human and military equipment. Azerbaijan must realize that the combat effectiveness of our army is higher today than ever. The enemy must understand that all Armenians are behind Artsakh today.
We are united as always. We are united, as we have been in all the crucial moments of our history, when the enemy has threatened our existence, our identity and our values. The dictatorial authorities of Azerbaijan must understand that it is impossible to bring the Armenian people to their knees. We have had many crucial moments and overcome many difficulties in our millennial history. Our case is fair and this criminal encroachment will also receive a worthy counterattack.
We are well aware that the Azerbaijani dictatorship may launch military operations in the direction of the borders of the Republic of Armenia and resort to various provocations to completely destabilize the situation in the region. This is the reason why a state of martial law and a general mobilization have been declared in the Republic of Armenia by the decision of the government.
I call the attention of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and the international community to the seriousness of the situation. The outbreak of a large-scale war in the South Caucasus, which we are now on the verge of, could have the most unpredictable consequences. It could go beyond the borders of the region and reach a much larger scale, threatening international security and stability.
I call on the international community to use all its levers of influence to refrain from any possible interference by Turkey, which will ultimately destabilize the situation in the region. Turkey’s aggressive behavior, which was especially dangerous during the events of July and continues today, is a matter of serious concern. Maintaining such a dangerous stance by Turkey has the most devastating consequences for the South Caucasus and the surrounding regions. The international community must work together to prevent the dangerous development of events and to refrain from any attempts to destabilize the region.
Today we are in serious danger. The situation is getting worse with the epidemic. Therefore, the seriousness of the moment requires the vigilance of all of us. Our victory depends on the individual effort and behavior of each of us and our united, collective.
I call on everyone to show the highest level of discipline and high civic awareness. And we will win.
Long live Freedom,
Long live the Republic of Armenia , Long live the Republic of
Artsakh , Long live
us and our children, who will live in a Free and Happy Armenia, a Free and Happy Artsakh.
Glory to the Armenian Army.
Eternal glory to the Armenian soldier.
Armenia also declared the martial law and the mass mobilization. Armenian reservists already started their deployment to the frontline:
NATO, and thus the United States – the ‘best friend’ of the pro-US Pashinyan government, called on the sides to avoid the escalation and return to the ceasefire regime. Therefore, the ‘demoratic leadership’ of Armenian was forced to ask help in Russia, which has for years been a guarantor of the Armenian sovereignity. Pashinyan made a phone call to President Vladimir Putin to discuss the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“The Russian side expressed serious concern over the resumption of large-scale armed clashes. It was noted that it is now important to take all the necessary efforts to prevent further escalation of the confrontation, and most importantly, it is necessary to stop military operations,” the Kremlin press service said.
In the current conditions, and taking into account the apparent pro-US stance of the Armenian political regime, it is unlikely that Russia will employ any active military measures to put an end to the Azerbaijani advance in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. At the same time, if Azerbaijani or Azerbaijani-Turkish forces enter Armenia itself, Russia will intervene in the conflict to rescue the Armenian statehood.
SouthFront reviwed a possible scenario of the Armenian-Azerbaijani(Turkish) war in the 2008 analysis released after the coup in which the pro-US Pashinyan group seized power in Armenia:
The question arises, why did Russia choose a course for complete self-elimination and non-interference in the current crisis in Armenia?
Some believe that this may be linked to the possibility that the Russian leadership has drawn a lesson from mistakes made during previous actions in post-USSR states, for example from their failure in Ukraine or their partial failure in Georgia. So, the Russian nonintervention could well be linked to concern for its public image.Another point of view is that Russian strategy is based on the realpolitik approach. In the current regional situation, Russia will gain revenue from any developments of events in Armenia. The following scenarios or their hybrids are possible:
1) If the new Armenian leadership changes the country’s foreign policy course, or even breaks the military base agreement with Russia or withdraws from Russia-controlled international organization, Azerbaijan would, earlier or later exploit the new conditions to take back what it sees as its own lost territories – the Nagorno Karabakh region and nearby areas. The restoration of territorial integrity is one of the key foreign policy and military tasks of Azerbaijan and the ruling family of Aliyev. Turkey, still a NATO member state and a formal US ally, supports Azerbaijan in this intention.
If Armenia loses Russian support and an armed conflict over the Nagorno Karabakh region resumes, Azerbaijan’s forces are likely to take control of this area within 1-2 weeks. Certainly, the US would voice protests against the Azerbaijani actions and present an ultimatum to Azerbaijan but only if its forces enter into the territory of Armenia. In this scenario, Russia would act similarly and then, after the expected new internal crisis in the country triggered by military defeat, Russia would restore its influence in the region.
By then, the Nagorno Karabakh issue would be resolved because it would be in the hands of Azerbaijan, which is supported by Turkey, a NATO member state and a Russian partner in the region.
2) If the new Armenian leadership implements a double standard policy, de-facto conducting anti-Russian actions but keeping a pro-Russian public rhetoric and standing on ceremony, Moscow would get a formal pretext to reshape its presence, first of all military, in the region. Strategically, the military infrastructure in Syria is much more important for Russia. Additionally, Moscow would get grounds for shifting its diplomatic rhetoric over the Nagorno Karabakh issue, thus achieving closer cooperation with Turkey and Azerbaijan. If in this situation, Azerbaijan triggers the resumption of armed conflict over Nagorno Karabakh, Russia would remain a formal Armenian ally and a guarantor of its territorial integrity. Moscow would intervene into the conflict both politically and militarily, but only as far as necessary to prevent violation of Amrenia’s borders. Russia would not contribute military efforts to restore Armenian control over Nagorno Karabakh should the region be captured by Azerbaijan. In this scenario, Russia would keep and maybe even strengthen its position in the region once again acting as a defender of the Armenian nation.
3) If the new Armenian leadership shows political awareness and becomes engaged in not just a formal, but a real strategic alliance with Russia, the development of economic and cultural relations with the West would not detract from this alliance. Then, the Nagorno Karabakh conflict would remain frozen until the next major shift in the regional balance of power or until a political settlement of the conflict becomes possible. Russia would at least maintain its current influence and would maybe further improve its public image. While Armenia keeps a strong military political partnership with Russia, it is unlikely that Azerbaijan would make an open attempt to resume full-scale military hostilities.
4) The most unlikely scenario is that Armenia would fully shift its foreign policy course towards the US and enlist full support from its new “strategic” ally. The Russian military base would be replaced by a US one and the US would become a guarantor of the independence of Nagorno Karabakh or at least a military guarantor of its current undefined status in the case of a new round of military escalation with Azerbaijan. This scenario is extremely unlikely. Yerevan has little to offer Washington in exchange for the inevitable decline of US relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey. US forces are already deployed in the region, in Georgia. A new US military base in Armenia would not change the balance of power in the South Caucasus and the Middle East. Economically, Armenia also has nothing to offer the US. So, the only possible Armenian offer would be blatant anti-Russian propaganda in the Ukrainian or British scenario. In this case, Russia would turn to Azerbaijan, strengthen its alliance with Turkey, actively destabilizing the situation in Armenia itself, creating additional problems for the US in the region.
At this stage, it looks like the Armenian leadership is balancing between the scenario 2 and 3. In the future, the situation will develop depending on the level of strategic thinking of the new Armenian leadership and the inertia of the crisis situation created by Pashinyan, his supporters and sponsors for coming to power.
Analyzing the situation in the South Caucasus, one should remember that “the great game might never end”. A possible shift of Armenian foreign policy would certainly trigger a change in the local balance of power. Following unavoidable fluctuations, the system would return to find a temporary balance at a particular point. The big game will continue.
Some Turkish and Russian analysts believe that if Nagorno Karabakh returns to Azerbaijan’s control, a more stable system would be established in the region. This system would meet the needs of all three major regional actors. This position is based on the premise that Armenia is able to hold the system in its current quality and actually control the disputed territory only thanks to the balance between the formal traditional alliance with Russia and the unspoken patron-client relations between the Armenian elites and the Washington establishment.
Taken as a whole, the political crisis in Armenia is just the continuation of the events of “the Arab Spring” and “velvet revolutions”. It has once again confirmed the growth of global economic, demographic, cultural and civilizational issues paradigmatic to the development of civilization over the past 30 years.
Turkey, a NATO member state and a long-term strategic ally of Azerbaian, already declared its full support to the Azerbaijani advance in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Ankara also promised all needed help, including possible military assistance to Azerbaijan. According to local sources, at least ‘some’ Turkish units and equipment are already in Azerbaijan following the recent joint military drills there. Turkish-backed Syrian militants were also allegedly spotted in Azerbaijan.
Unconfirmed video that allegedly shows Syrian mercenaries in #Azerbaijan heading toward front lines. Reports earlier claimed that Turkey brought Syrian fighters to Azerbaijan. pic.twitter.com/IgwJydfVGw
— Aldin 🇧🇦 (@aldin_ww) September 27, 2020
The Turkish leadership also laid the blame for the current escalation on Armenia. According to the Azerbaijani-Turkish version of the events, Azerbaijani forces are conducting a “counter-offensive” to secure civilians and contain Armenain ceasefire violations.
An overwhelming majority of Turkish top officials and all state media made war-time statements and act in the format of the war propaganda and made calls about the need to deliver a devastating blow to Armenia, seize the Nagorno-Karabakh region and even unite Turkey and Azerbaijan. The general Turkic concept promoted by Turkey in previous years is ‘one nation, two states’. Noneheless, now it is moving towards ‘one nation, one state, one victory over Armenia’.
Hami Aksoy, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, wrote the following in Twitter:
“In this process (situation), Turkey fully supports Azerbaijan as we have a single heart. We will be with Azerbaijan however it wants.”
Bu süreçte, tek yürek olarak Türkiye’nin Azerbaycan’a desteği tamdır. Azerbaycan nasıl isterse, o şekilde yanında olacağız. https://t.co/bjJepTKcGq
— Hami Aksoy (@HamiAksoy2) September 27, 2020
Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kiran declared that what it’s needed (time comes), Turkey and Azerbaijan will unite as “a single nation” and “a single state”.
İşgalci Ermenistan’ın provokatif saldırıları kendi çaresizliğinin dışavurumudur.
Kafkas İslam Ordusu ruhu bugün de diri bir şekilde dimdik ayaktadır. #TekMilletİkiDevlet ‘iz ama yeri geldiğinde “Tek Millet, Tek Devlet” anlayışıyla da kenetleniriz.#Azerbaycan #Karabağ pic.twitter.com/k021ZeyZwc
— Yavuz Selim KIRAN (@yavuzselimkiran) September 27, 2020
Another interesting factor is that reports indicate that the constructive dialogue between Russia and Turkey is currently possible only on the level of foreign ministers. Other representatives of the Turkish side are too obsessed with a war propaganda. Earlier, Turkey decreased to almost zero the import of Russian natural gas and mostly imports Qatari liquefied natural gas. The Turkish government has been also building several LNG plants. At least 2 of them are located near the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, which is being built by the Russians.
The Turkish action in support of Azerbaijan goes fully in the framework of Erdogan’s Neo-Ottoman and Pan-Turkism project. A large part of the Turkish society is inspired and heavily indoctrinated by Turkish(Turkic) nationalism and fully supports the current format of the expansionism. For it, the recent Turkish setbacks in the eastern Mediterranean (the decision to agree on negotiations with Greece regarding the natural resources exploration) and the inability to achieve a decisive victory in Libya (the failure to capture Sirte) and Syria (the failure to defeat the Syrian Army) became a serious problem and limits the Turkish freedom of movement on the diplomatic scene. The current anti-Armenian propaganda and the aggressive support of the Azerbaijani advance on the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is also designed to contain these sentiments and order them into direction, which would fit the current foreign policy agenda of the Turkish leadership.
The military potential of the Azerbaijani-Turkish bloc is much higher than those of Armenia, which will not be able to secure its de-facto control over the Nagorno-Karabakh region without the Russian help. Meanwhile, Moscow, which as an Armenian ally will make steps to protect its statehood, will not likely employ military measures to help Armenia to fight Turkish-Azerbaijani forces in the contested region.
The Washington establishment that helped Pashinyan to seize power is also not hurrying up to assist its ‘new friends’ in Armenia. They see the Nagorno-Karabakh region as a possible point of contradictions between Russia and Turkey (which is useful to promote the US agenda in the Greater Middle East). The instability in South Caucasus, close to the borders of Russia and Iran, also contributes to the geopolitical interests of the United States. Therefore, the Pashinyan government should not expect any real help from the ‘democratic superpower’.
If the regional war between Azerbaijan and Armenia develops and further in the current direction, Armenia could lost at least a part of its positions in the contested region. In the worst-case scenario for the Armenian leadership, Azerbaijan, with help from Turkey, will have chances to restore control over the most of the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region.
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- Azerbaijan Makes First Gains In Emerging War Against Armenia (Map, Video)
- Armenia Imposes Martial Law, Declares Mass Mobilization Amid Full-Scale Clashes With Azerbaijan (Videos)