Caucasian affairs

I. Azerbaijan: Fruit War or Third World War?

Since 16 April, Rosselkhoznadzor has introduced restrictions on the import of plant products in hand baggage in the baggage of Azerbaijani, Tajik and Uzbek passengers. Such a strict measure (the Rosselkhoznadzor warned about its introduction back in March) was adopted because of the frequent detection in the baggage of guests from abroad of various pests.

“According to the ministry, from 2011 to March of the current year, when supplying quarantine products from Azerbaijan, 9 cases of detection of quarantine objects for Russia were detected, 130 cases from Uzbekistan, 228 cases from Tajikistan.

Caucasian affairs

Pests were detected both in product consignments and in hand luggage of passengers. However, products in hand luggage are not accompanied by phytosanitary certificates, respectively, and the risks of importing pests in this case are higher ”("Messenger of the Caucasus").

Russian political scientist Oleg Kuznetsov believes that there can be no such fruit war, and that all emerging or aggravated fruit issues can be resolved in a bureaucratic manner: “For Azerbaijan, supplying its agricultural products to the international market does not have a serious meaning. Thus, forcing Baku to make any global concessions, for example, by imposing a ban on the import of citrus fruits or pomegranates from Azerbaijan into Russia, is at least silly. Yes, this could have a negative impact on the situation of Azerbaijani farmers or the Azerbaijani diaspora in Russia, half of which is engaged in the wholesale and retail trade of agricultural products. But this will not affect the economy of Azerbaijan or Russia. We have, of course, opportunities to aggravate bilateral relations, but what is their meaning? Therefore, I do not think that a trade war between Russia and Azerbaijan is possible ”("", Bahram Batyev). Kuznetsov believes that Azerbaijan’s sanitary control is sufficiently strengthened, and the problem will be solved.

However, the issue of the “fruit war” between Azerbaijan and Russia is being discussed in the Russian and Azerbaijani media not by accident. In fact, why are we not talking about trade wars between, say, Russia and Tajikistan: after all, the Rosselkhoznadzor has registered the maximum number of cases of pest importation in hand-luggage by Tajik guests?

The fact is that in recent years (or more precisely, in 2009-2012) the friendship of Azerbaijan with the United States and Israel is getting stronger. And these three countries became friends on militaristic grounds. Hence, speculation, and rumors about a trade war.

Israel and the United States are very interested in Iran, which is implementing a program of a peaceful atom, which seems to Tel Aviv and Washington to be not completely peaceful. Israel has long been talking about a close war with Iran: it is assumed that anti-bunker bombs are being bombarded by Israeli and American Iranian nuclear facilities, either this year or next. However, Israel is afraid to act in the region without allies - and is generally afraid to enter into such a dangerous war without the United States. And the United States is on the eve of the elections and is in no hurry to fight. Perhaps Washington, remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is not at all interested in the war with Iran - at least in its own direct participation in it - and therefore even discourages Tel Aviv from pouring it into a bottle. But Tel Aviv is afraid that Tehran is about to make an atomic bomb. What to do? How to be - and whom to take in allies? Here, we could take as an ally someone who could hide behind small America with its bunker bombs breaking through 6 meters of reinforced concrete!

Azerbaijan turned out to be a political actor suitable for the role of mutual ally.

Strategically this is the perfect choice. Just look at the map of the region. The border with Iran, and on the other hand - with Russia. Georgia is also a great friend of America and NATO. Access to the Caspian Sea is an opportunity in the near future (with the help of the United States and Israel, of course) to compete with the Russian fleet, which is far from being as strong as it was during Soviet times.

The Russian navy in the Caspian is “lagging behind other fleets in some modern types of weapons and communications. Say, according to the analytical website StrategyPage, the recent sensational arms contract between Baku and Tel Aviv worth $ 1,6 billion includes Azerbaijan’s purchase of Israeli anti-ship missiles Gabriel with a range of up to 36 km. These missiles have high accuracy, they are difficult to destroy. For Israel’s army, drone drones (UAVs) Heron and Searcher were purchased from Israel, as well as radio reconnaissance equipment - several Green Pine radar stations. These stations are part of the Israeli Arrow-2 missile defense system, which will also be delivered to Azerbaijan over time. Such types of weapons in Russia are only being created.

In 2011, a factory for the production of UAVs was built by Israel near Baku. Orbiter drone production has been already established (range to 50 km, cost is about 600 thousand dollars), and Aerostar drones are preparing for screwdriver assembly (200 km, 1,5 – 2 million dollars). Orbiter drones as part of calculations with the participation of Israeli specialists are already observing in the Caspian Sea, near oil fields disputed with Iran and Turkmenistan, as well as on the land border of Azerbaijan with Karabakh and Iran.

Also, the monitoring of the Caspian Sea and land borders involves Hermes-450 UAVs UAVs, which have proven themselves well in reconnaissance operations on the eve of Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia. Azerbaijan acquired 10 of such drones from an Israeli firm in 2009 – 2012. These drone can be installed shock weapon such as air-to-air or air-to-ground and air-to-sea missiles, as well as electronic warfare equipment.

Heron, for example, theoretically could fly 14,8 thousand. Km. If Baku says that this weapon is not directed against Iran, but is exclusively prepared for war for Karabakh, then why, one wonders, buy a UAV that flies a distance of five to six times more than the most distant Armenia from Azerbaijan? "(Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Sergey Konovalov).

Israel cooperates with Azerbaijan in the creation of an electronic intelligence system on the territory of the latter, but also in the creation of a satellite system that can significantly facilitate military operations in the Caspian region.

As a result, the gloomy scenario of a third world war appears to be looming. Alexander Knyazev, a senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, believes that “the emergence of military conflicts in the Caspian will mean“ without any exaggeration and pathos, the beginning of another world war involving the entire space of Central Eurasia ”(Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Sergey Konovalov).

Another quote: "... on preparations for specific military actions against Iran, including a preemptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, is indicated, in particular, by the recent publication of the American publication Foreign Policy, citing informed sources in the US Israel and Azerbaijan. It is about getting Israel the opportunity to use a number of mothballed Azerbaijani military airfields located along the border with Iran. Apparently, Azerbaijan could allow the Israeli Air Force to use these airfields for landing after the bombing of Iranian territory. If there were no airfields in Azerbaijan, the Israelis would have to rely on tanker aircraft, of which they have only a few units. According to retired American general Joe Hoar, this greatly simplifies the task of Israeli aviation, since one of the main obstacles to bombing Iran is removed - a considerable distance separating the two countries. The savings will be about 1,5 thousand. Km. Despite the official denial of this information by the military department of Azerbaijan, it is similar to the truth, since many analysts note that even official cooperation between Israel and Azerbaijan is booming: Israel is the second largest buyer of Azerbaijani oil, and Baku is actively buying Israeli military equipment "(Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Oleg Nikiforov).

Against the background of the gloomy scenario about the “third world war”, written by Israel in co-authorship with the USA and supported, apparently, by Azerbaijan, which the leading experts on geopolitical casting assigned one of the main roles, Baku monstrously inflated the rental prices of the Gabala radar station (tenant Russia): from 7 to ... 300 million dollars.

Political analyst Oleg Kuznetsov refers to such economic plans of Azerbaijan rather calmly: “I think that after the inauguration of Vladimir Putin, all the issues of renting a military base in Gabala by Russia will be resolved. Naturally, the price that was initially offered by Russia will not be paid, since it is already unacceptable for Azerbaijan. But Moscow will not pay the exorbitant amount requested by Baku. Most likely, the parties will come to a compromise solution. The price will be set at the level of the first requests of Baku, when it raised the rent payment twice, compared to the current one ”("", Bahram Batyev).

In this context, the opinion of well-known Armenian military expert Artsrun Hovhannisyan is also interesting:

“From a technical point of view, according to Hovhannisyan, the Gabala radar does not bring any benefit, the station needs, if not a replacement, then at least serious modernization, and the proposal of the Armenian side to deploy a new station on its territory was done very timely. He pointed to the fact that in terms of the trajectory of the radar, Armenia even has an advantage over Azerbaijan, since the coverage in this country can be wider.

At the same time, the specialist expressed the opinion that the problem of the Gabala radar station is not so much military as political. “If Azerbaijan continues to insist on a new rent figure, it’s very possible that Russia will refuse the radar, but I think the problem is more political and with proper political bargaining, Baku is likely to retreat from its position. Russia does not need so much the outdated Gabala, as this little garrison in the territory of Azerbaijan ”("Nezavisimaya Gazeta" with reference to "REGNUM").

The price increase, therefore, is aimed at political weakening of Russia in the Caspian region - and its complete nullification in Azerbaijan. It appears that Azerbaijan has appointed a new rental price not for reasons of super-profit, but solely for political reasons: seeking to reject the Russian Federation from renting the Gabala radar station. Therefore, it is likely that Baku, which is actively assisted by the United States and Israel, will not make price concessions, and Moscow will have to rent an outdated radar station and abandon the “little garrison”.

In addition, Azerbaijan, a NATO partner, is expanding cooperation with the North Atlantic Alliance.

At the international conference "The importance of the Chicago NATO summit: new opportunities for the Euro-Atlantic partnership" in Baku, the head of the department of international military cooperation of the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan, Major General Ramiz Najafov, stated that "in the framework of cooperation with NATO, military reforms are being implemented in Azerbaijan, in accordance with the standards NATO conducts training for Azerbaijani soldiers, as well as military exercises. Azerbaijan is contributing to the international operations of the Peacekeeping Alliance in various regions of the world ... Thus, the Azerbaijani soldiers took part in peacekeeping operations in Kosovo and Iraq, and today Azerbaijan continues to contribute to ensuring security and stability in Afghanistan, rendering this country humanitarian and financial assistance "("", Rasim Babayev, V. T.).

According to Najafov, “airfields, warships of Azerbaijan are aligned with NATO standards. R. Najafov also said that the subject of the Defense Policy and Strategy course was started at the Academy of the Armed Forces ("").

It is clear that Baku is pursuing its own interests - the same peacekeeping as any interests of NATO. At the same conference, Deputy Head of Security Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, Gai Mammadov, said:

"Azerbaijan is in conflict with Armenia, and in this context, the application of NATO standards in the National Army of Azerbaijan is facing certain problems, therefore Azerbaijan needs assistance from the Alliance" ... As Mamedov concluded, Azerbaijan expects NATO to strengthen its role in establishing peace and stability in the region "(IA "REGNUM").

Iran in exchange for Armenia?

Thus, renting the Gabala radar station for big money or blockade of unsanitary hand luggage can be a link in one chain: while Russia has almost no influence on Azerbaijan, except for complicating life with private fruit shuttle traders, then Baku has, of course, Israel , The USA and NATO - there is a significant potential for weakening Moscow’s position in the Caspian region.

Ii. Armenia is a friend of the CSTO and NATO. Or NATO and CSTO

Against the background of the old Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, more than one Azerbaijan is moving closer to NATO. It seems that all the former post-Soviet space rushed into this organization. And Armenia does not lag behind Azerbaijan, Georgia or Moldova.

April 12 held a conference on “NATO and new trends in the modern world” in Yerevan. It was organized by the Analytical Center for Globalization and Regional Cooperation. The conference was attended by the Chairman of the Board of the Analytical Center Stepan Grigoryan, a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Gagik Hovhannisyan, the British Ambassador to Armenia Catherine Leach and representatives from different countries.

As the "ArmInfo", the conference was opened by Stepan Grigoryan, who noted the importance of developing relations between Armenia and the North Atlantic Alliance. He said: “Society and the country as a whole should know the world better in order to make the right choice with different tasks in the future. In the 1949 year of NATO members there were only 12, to date, 28 countries are members of NATO, and many more are willing to join the alliance. Armenia provided NATO with troops for the peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan, which proved its support and interest in world political processes. ”

Seven years ago, Armenia and NATO signed the so-called “Individual Action Plan within the framework of cooperation between Armenia and NATO”. Collaborating parties are now implementing part of this plan, envisaged at 2011-2013.

Let us ask ourselves: why does Armenia need NATO? Moreover, two months ago, an agreement was signed between Russia and Azerbaijan on the creation of military-industrial complex enterprises in the region. (However, still, of course, it is too early to judge its effectiveness). Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Tigran Sargsyan told the correspondent "Independent newspaper" Alexander Deryabin has the following: “There are several components of Armenia’s cooperation with NATO. This is, firstly, the technical assistance that we receive from NATO during the modernization of our army, secondly, the training programs of our servicemen, and thirdly, participation in joint projects - our doctors, for example, were in Kosovo. But this is insignificant cooperation in comparison with those partnership programs that operate in our framework of the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization. - O. Ch.). Armenia’s interaction with NATO and the CSTO is a qualitatively different level of integration. Yes, we are striving to establish good relations with NATO, but we do not have deep and long-range goals in this cooperation. Our priority is the CSTO. The mere fact that there is a Russian military base in Armenia, and in 2010, we extended the period of its stay, testifies to our military preferences. ”

Let me remind you that the Collective Security Treaty was signed on 15 May 1992 of the year - due to the growing tensions on the Tajik-Afghan border. The CSTO currently includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The content of the CSTO is paid by Russia. Thus, Armenia, participating in both the CSTO and NATO, is pursuing an ambiguous policy in some way, and, it seems, has recently been inclined towards NATO.

The fact is that at one time “six members of the CSTO (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) under one pretext or another (and, of course, each for their own reasons) declined from formally recognizing the independence of the two former Georgian autonomy.

Since September 2008, much has changed in both the international and the Eurasian agenda. However, the CSTO members have not made any progress in recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Moreover, after August 2008, some of Russia's neighbors were frankly frightened.

Diseases of young nation states? Of course. Artificial phobias and fanned fears? Present and this factor. Not without the desire of the national elites of the post-Soviet countries to maneuver between Moscow and Washington ”(RIA "Novosti", Sergey Markedonov).

The “tacking” described above is an ordinary preference of the stronger to the weaker. Both Armenia and the United States seem to be strong in both Armenia and Azerbaijan, and not the CSTO and Russia.
Oleg Chuvakin
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