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The diplomatic process surrounding the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani war in the Nagorno-Karabakh region has reached an expected stalemate. The Armenians do not want to surrender. The Azerbaijani-Turkish bloc does not want to drop its chances for a military victory.
On October 30, the sides tried to reach another humanitarian ceasefire brokered by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and once again agreed to exchange prisoners, dead bodies and not strike civilian targets. This agreement collapsed as expected a few minutes after it was reached. Speculations of US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien about the possible deployment of some mysterious Scandinavian peacekeepers looks like wishful thinking.
In these conditions, the pro-Western government of Armenia started to suspect that its NATO allies will not help it in the war with Azerbaijan which is supported by another NATO member state. So, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan opted to write an official request to Moscow complaining that the Armenian pro-Western policies do not help and it is time for Russia to rescue it. In the letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pashinyan remembered that Armenia is formally a Russian ally and asked to ensure the security of Armenia under the existing defense treaties between Moscow and Yerevan. In response, Russia announced that it will provide all necessary assistance to Armenia, if the war comes to Armenia’s territory. Russia still remains the only real guarantor of Armenian territorial integrity.
As to the Nagorno-Karabakh question, Armenia itself does not recognize this territory as an independent sate or as a part of Armenia. Furthermore, after a month of war, Armenia has not officially entered the war in Karabakh and avoided the decision of officially sending its regular troops there.
The situation on the frontline remains critical for the Armenians. Azerbaijani forces continue their pressure in the direction of the Lachin corridor and the second largest town in the region – Shusha. Baku insists that these offensive actions are just a response to the ceasefire violations by Armenia. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry also says that all reports about the usage of white phosphorus munitions by Azerbaijani forces are just Armenian provocations and such munitions can be used by the Armenians themselves to fake the evidence.
The Armenian vision of the situation is expectedly quite different. It says that Armenian forces do not shell civilian targets while the forces of Azerbaijan intentionally target civilians. The Armenian Defense Ministry also reported that the Azerbaijani military has suffered even more casualties after their attacks on Lachin and Shusha. Thus, the alleged number of Azerbaijani casualties reached 6,947. At the same time, Azerbaijan allegedly lost 656 armoured vehicles, 6 rocket launchers, 25 military planes, 16 helicopters and 239 UAVs.
Despite these claims, the Turkish-Azerbaijani bloc keeps the initiative in the conflict. The long frontline and attempts of Armenian forces to protect all of what they currently have instead of concentrating thier main forces on the key positions contribute to the strategic advantage of Azerbaijan because it has an upper hand in manpower, military equipment and it dominates the skies. In general, the Armenians have more motivated infantry but this appears to be not enough.
In these conditions, there are two main hopes for the Armenian leadership:
- A permanent ceasefire and return to the negotiations process with Azerbaijan due to the increasing international pressure on Baku (through diplomatic channels and sanction threats);
- A military intervention by some third party in the conflict on the side of Armenia.
For the second scenario, the main candidate is Russia. Currently, Moscow demonstrates that it is not going to intervene in the conflict militarily if it remains in the territory of Karabakh. At the same time, Turkey and Azerbaijan are also not interested in expanding the territory of the conflict further because this will likely lead to the involvement of some third party in the war that would lead to the military defeat of Azerbaijani forces. Thus, in some scenarios, the Armenians could be directly interested in a Turkish-Azerbaijani attack on Armenian sovereign borders, especially in the area where Russian forces are deployed. Shelling of Armenian territory by Azerbaijan has already taken place and Azerbaijan accused Armenia of using weapons deployed near Karabakh in the conflict. However, now, Yerevan could even more actively involve its troops deployed inside Armenia to strike Azerbaijani forces in Karabakh. For example, Armenia can use its artillery units deployed near the border area. This as well as the public employment of regular troops could become the last try of the Armenians if they really aim to win the war.
At the same time, the actions of the Pashinyan government in the previous years and since the start of the war raise concerns that he and his Soros-linked circle are not really interested in Nagorno-Karabakh. First, they created diplomatic conditions for the Azerbaijani-Turkish advance there and now the Pashinyan government is just playing a propaganda hand as it allows Azerbaijan to recapture the area. In general, this will allow the current political regime in Armenia to make an ever more dramatic turn towards ‘Western integration’ and resolve the ‘territorial issue’ that prevents its further formal cooperation with NATO.