Nagorno-Karabakh - the years of tragedy and international mathematics. Final stage
Before the upcoming New Year, the Kremlin sent congratulatory telegrams, among the addressees of which were almost all CIS countries. In a very peculiar way, as if in response, the leader of Armenia N. Pashinyan made an appeal. And, apparently, a fairly large excerpt from his New Year's speech should be cited.
Such a speech was delivered against the backdrop of openly provocative actions by "environmental" and other activists of Azerbaijan, who operate in the zone of responsibility of Russian peacekeepers in the area of the so-called. Lachin corridor. The transport artery that links the interior (Armenian-populated) regions of Karabakh with Armenia itself remains blocked for now. Peacekeepers have to fulfill their duty under conditions of rather strong psychological pressure, examples of which have been repeatedly circulated on the Internet.
This time, the border gold mine became the point of contention, but the point is no longer in a specific factor - if there were no mine, there would be another reason, but in the foreign policy game that several states are playing on this unfortunate piece of land at once. The peculiarity of the current moment is that the military-political combinations are entering their final, final stage, and it is called the "Zangezur corridor", a partial review of the problems of which was placed in the material Zangezur corridor. Forty kilometers of geopolitics. The high-profile murder of an Armenian repairman in the zone of responsibility of the peacekeepers generally escalated the situation to the limit.
It is clear that if there were any other forces in the place of our peacekeepers, they would not respond to the Azerbaijani side by force, but traditionally, at the time of such exacerbations, a threat looms from the other side - economic and political sanctions. But it is precisely such a mechanism that Russia cannot use in relation to Baku in the current difficult situation. Or not yet. This allows other players to intervene in the Karabakh settlement, promising political support for Yerevan and blurring the role of Moscow.
We are actually talking about a kind of mathematical game, where the two sides, Iran and Russia, are striving to complete the thirty-year Karabakh epic with the optimal gain, offering the same to Yerevan and Baku. Azerbaijan and Turkey expect to end the conflict on terms of maximum gain, while Britain is behind them, which, if successful, also receives the maximum geopolitical result in the Transcaucasus. The US and France agree to participate on the side of this triumvirate, reasonably agreeing that it is much more interesting to divide from the maximum than from the optimum. Armenia, in any case, when playing with either side, seeks to get the best result. The only problem is that N. Pashinyan's cabinet is convinced (and is being actively persuaded) that Russia will not be able to act as a guarantor of even the most optimal solution. Therefore, the sooner Yerevan refuses Moscow's intermediary services, the sooner the partners in the person of the fox Alice (London and Paris) and the cat Basilio (Washington) will help N. Pashinyan get his optimum with international fixation.
Consider this speculative scheme in terms of specifics. This spring, during the negotiations that took place on European, by the way, venues, Baku proposes a peace treaty based on five principles, including: recognition of sovereignty and inviolability of borders, mutual absence of territorial claims, refraining from security threats, delimitation and demarcation of the border , the opening of transport links and communications. At first glance, everything is logical. But, as they say, “there is a nuance”, and this nuance lies precisely in the fact that there was no border as such between Armenia and Karabakh. There was no need to set up border posts. At the same time, one must take into account the fact that these are not just borders, but borders in mountainous regions, where every meter, every source, etc. has always been discussed.
In May, with the mediation of Brussels, a delimitation commission was set up, but the process ran into the fact that Armenia again raised a well-founded question of how the status of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh would be guaranteed. The meetings of the commission itself were postponed several times, meetings were held several times in Europe and Moscow. At the same time, Yerevan periodically tries to involve both new and reanimate old structures and formats in the negotiation process: both the Minsk Group, separately, and together the European capitals, and Brussels. In the summer R. Moore (MI6) and W. Burns (CIA) paid friendly visits to Armenia.
They immediately refused to talk about autonomy and some separate status in Baku, and it took some time for Yerevan to remove this thesis from the agenda, but while this issue was being resolved, Yerevan, in turn, did not seek to open a corridor to Nakhichevan, which was supposed to start operating as a result of the 2020 campaign, Baku crushed from different sides, and Yerevan carried out shuttle diplomacy between us and the West.
As a result, Russia and Armenia found themselves in a peculiar situation. The fact is that the CSTO provides, according to the charter, protection of the territorial integrity of the participants, and peacekeepers are deployed on the border as part of the CSTO mission itself, but the Lachin corridor itself is a matter of agreements between Azerbaijan and Russia: peacekeepers through the CSTO do not have a mandate there, but there is a Russian contingent, but within the framework of tripartite agreements. N. Pashinyan's cabinet, on the one hand, constantly reproaches the CSTO for not fulfilling its functions, but the CSTO itself is in an interesting position - the borders are not delimited, by and large they are there from a formal legal point of view on contested territory.
And in this state, Yerevan shuttles between Europe and Moscow, only the solution of the problem does not come closer from this. And since the issue is being dragged out, Baku is aggravating that since Yerevan does not want to fulfill the agreement on the road to Nakhichevan, and the signing of the peace on five principles is being delayed, then it has the right not to recognize the borders at all and establish them “on the spot”.
I. Aliyev said back in April.
Western elites would not be themselves if they did not try to solve several important tasks at once in this chaos. At the same time, modeling on their part looks quite rational. Yerevan's withdrawal from the CSTO automatically unties Baku's hands in terms of carrying out any operations. Until the Western partners join the "settlement" process in any format, Azerbaijan will pass 40 km of the Zangezur corridor three or four times back and forth. And, having received it, Baku will not release everything back in any case and in any format. You can make partial concessions, but no more. Will they demand more from him? Why, if Turkey and Britain get actual control over the entire Transcaucasus, which suits Washington to the full, and Brussels is working “on the hook” here.
What determines this alignment of forces? From the fact that Turkey will give way in the bargain. What if he doesn't give in? If he does not give in, then there will be scenario No. 2 - it will be possible to form a parallel mission, which will “push elbows” already with the CSTO, in a short time completely making its presence in Armenia meaningless. And either the CSTO or Russia will have to join on the sidelines in the new peacekeeping format, or show the flag, or leave. Even in option number 2, Britain and the United States get direct access to the Iranian border on the river. Araks, and even before the opening of the Zangezur corridor, which Azerbaijan and Turkey need, will be within easy reach, it will simply be much harder for Ankara to manage this route. In option number two, Azerbaijan does not acquire the territory of Syunik, but the corridor opens anyway. Paris, in turn, also in any case (both the first and second) receives reputational benefits by paying back Moscow for all the defeats in Central and West Africa. It should be noted that regarding guarantees for the Armenians, Brussels prefers to use formulations close to Baku rather than the Yerevan version.
In such a configuration, the question of Europe and the United States is to finally convince Yerevan that they will somehow try to do it in such a way that Azerbaijan and Turkey do not have time or cannot take advantage of the time interval for the CSTO exit and the entry of a conditional alternative contingent or military mission , in the conditions of a regulatory framework not approved by the parties.
Iran, for obvious reasons, is not satisfied with any of the described options categorically. The presence of Armenia in the CSTO and a Russian base in the region - yes, but all other options are simply dangerous. Not only is Tehran very closely following the military-technical cooperation between Baku and Tel Aviv, but now the factor of NATO or similar military missions can be added to this. But Iran receives electricity and copper from there, joint ventures have been created, what to do with this? As a result, Tehran keeps an army corps on the border with Armenia, which, according to Iranian representatives, is ready at any moment to stop the advance of Baku's troops towards Nakhichevan. But the question is, if there is no request from Yerevan for such assistance, then what should be done?
For N. Pashinyan’s cabinet, ending the conflict on the terms of the border status quo, under the wing of NATO and respected Western partners, would be an ideal scenario, but the trouble for Yerevan is that Washington and Britain will be satisfied with both the first scenario and the second, it’s not even a secret, that London considers Turkey in the future as its fiefdom. An uncompromising Erdogan is not eternal, and his foreign policy acquisitions can serve as a very significant asset for Britain in future schemes. Poland and the Baltics are in the north, Ukraine is in the center, and Turkish assets are in the east and Transcaucasia. The target bar of the British project is very high. Only now for the cabinet of N. Pashinyan there is an unillusory risk of losing either all or half of the Syunik region.
It is possible to cut this knot within the framework of the guaranteed optimal scenario for Armenia as a state only if Yerevan clearly and unequivocally chooses Moscow as a guarantor, but Yerevan is not going to do exactly this yet, moreover, New Year’s “congratulations” just indicate that that N. Pashinyan's cabinet needs Moscow's mediation less and less. And in such a situation, there is no practical sense for Azerbaijan to remove pressure from the CSTO mission.
Another thing is that Baku is not going to quarrel hard with Moscow, and this pressure will be carried out with excesses, but still within certain limits. Nevertheless, reputationally and strategically, this does not make it any easier for Moscow. Each incident threatens to develop into a media bomb. Moreover, any friction sooner or later ends in an explosion and escalation. It's like a gun hanging on the wall. And at this time, in Armenia, Western NGOs are also carrying out quite dense information work, that Russia is engaged in Ukraine, that Moscow plays along with Turkey and Azerbaijan, it’s just “buying time”, the results of the NCO are “ambiguous”, the role in 2020 during Azerbaijan’s offensive is insufficient, to protect people, even just physically, Russia cannot, etc., etc.
As a result, a picture emerges where there are Russian peacekeepers on the border and along the Lachin corridor, and they are not in the most, let’s face it, comfortable conditions, and the issues of border delimitation and a peace treaty are being discussed either in Europe or in Moscow, but in a specific and one platform no. In this situation, the question of the effectiveness of peacekeepers will be raised more and more often, and the results from them will be less and less, simply because so far none of the parties is a strategic interest. You cannot play General Strategy with XNUMX players if your counterpart is playing it with XNUMX players.
If you look at the statements of the parties, the dead end is getting closer. Is there a way out of it in an optimal design for us? Not in the long run. But leaving Karabakh itself is unacceptable for Russia today. This is a huge humanitarian and reputational cost, and it will also complicate the situation of Iran, which is a very important and valuable ally for us. And if the current authorities in Yerevan so prefer to work on a variety of platforms, then the well-tested Russia-Turkey-Iran format could well act as a temporary option. He could seriously relieve tension and give time to work on border clearance.
Armenia, with its shuttle policy, does not have much time left. Either to fully support the Russian representation, or by any means to form some kind of international peacekeeping mission as an alternative. In this case, will Turkey and Azerbaijan give Yerevan a chance to calmly drag out time and replace one mission with another? The answer is negative. By and large, even such a scenario still provides for reliance on the frankly goodwill of Moscow, which, to its own detriment, will wait for a replacement. But what can Yerevan offer Moscow for this, and is it ready to offer anything at all? Judging by N. Pashinyan's New Year's speech, he is not ready.
In the fall, at the invitation of its leadership, R. Vardanyan (himself a native of this region) moved to Nagorno-Karabakh, renouncing Russian citizenship. Many observers (especially in Azerbaijan) called him almost a ready-made alternative to N. Pashinyan, but the entrepreneur, without criticizing our peacekeepers, is just in favor of expanding the role of the UN:
And for all the complexity of the relationship between the entrepreneur and N. Pashinyan, this position so far generally strengthens the European vector of Yerevan, especially since the elections in Armenia are still very, very far away. But it is unlikely that R. Vardanyan will be able to somehow speed up these processes - the collective West has nowhere to hurry.
What is Russia to do on this final segment of the confusing mathematical model? If we start from purely statistical game options, then, no matter how strange it may seem, it is possible to get at least some result by an independent and preventive exit from the game, agreeing on this issue with Iran and gaining time from Turkey, without waiting for the final aggravation and final. In this case, from a mathematical point of view, fixing the position on the part of both Moscow and the CSTO in the style of “we warned you” will have concrete and practical weight. Even in an outwardly paradoxical way, this will potentially strengthen the CSTO. With some preliminary preparation of this question, of course, in Armenia itself, rich in mathematical talents, many people understand this. Another thing is that our own politics is still not a tracing-paper of strategies from game theory, and a lot of not always rational choice factors play their role there.
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