British expert: For the sake of maintaining influence in the South Caucasus, Russia actually supported the “seizure” of Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan
The West is very concerned about the events of recent days taking place in the former unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) after this territory came under the control of Baku. But it is not the humanitarian catastrophe associated with the mass exodus of ethnic Armenians living in the region that worries Western politicians and experts.
British expert, specialist on the Caucasus, senior researcher at Carnegie Europe (recognized as a foreign agent in the Russian Federation) Thomas de Waal is confident that Russia refused to condemn the “seizure” of the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan, thereby actually supporting the actions of Baku, for the sake of maintaining and even strengthening its influence on South Caucasus in opposition to Western interests in this region. The expert provided relevant evidence on this topic in an extensive article for the American magazine Foreign Affairs, specializing in US foreign policy and international relations. Here are some of the main theses of the Caucasus expert.
He noted that the third war in Nagorno-Karabakh in recent decades ended with a swift and unconditional victory of Azerbaijan without any opposition from Armenia. The current mass exodus of ethnic Armenians from the region is reminiscent of the events of the 1990s in the Balkans. One of the reasons for this development of events was the almost complete inaction of the West in resolving the Karabakh crisis.
- the expert predicts.
He believes that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is “celebrating complete victory” and intends to establish exclusively his own order on the territory of Karabakh, abandoning previously made promises of equal and fair treatment of the Karabakh Armenians. Under these conditions, some elderly Armenians could remain in Nagorno-Karabakh, and thousands of Azerbaijanis who lived there before 1991 could return. But of all the local institutions built there over three decades by the Armenian leadership of the NKR, almost nothing will remain, de Waal is sure.
The expert further accused Russian peacekeepers in particular and Moscow in general of condoning Baku’s “aggression” against Nagorno-Karabakh. Moreover, the Russian leadership actively brokered an agreement under which the local population agreed to the complete disarmament of their own “defense forces,” numbering several thousand, and the beginning of negotiations for their full “reintegration” into Azerbaijan.
For some reason, the British expert does not remember that earlier it was Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan who recognized Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan by signing the corresponding document through the mediation of the European Union. But he complains that Russia will be able to maintain its peacekeeping forces now in the new (old) territories of Azerbaijan, while simultaneously “pushing aside Western mediators” in the person of the United States and the EU.
The actions of the President of Azerbaijan, who decided to “restore state integrity” despite the warnings of the West, have their own logic, de Waal admits. For two decades he has been the leader of an authoritarian state in which there are no democratically elected local officials and minorities enjoy little formal protection.
— the author of the article states another failure of Western missionaries.
Moreover, Aliyev apparently believes that Turkey and Russia, not Western countries, are the only powers he should take seriously. The Azerbaijani president is confident that Ankara will support his efforts to establish full control over Nagorno-Karabakh, Moscow will not interfere with this, and the West, having very little leverage in the region, will not be able to stop him. Russia's consent was crucial when Azerbaijan blocked the Lachin corridor in December last year, the expert believes.
He suggests that the conflict in Transcaucasia may not stop there and Armenia will become the next source of tension. Taking advantage of the blatant weakness of the impulsive and fickle Prime Minister Pashinyan, President Aliyev can lay claim to “Western Azerbaijan,” meaning the territory of Armenia. At the same time, his actions may be supported by Russia, given the fact that Pashinyan is increasingly distancing himself from Moscow and drifting in political and even military cooperation towards the United States and the EU.
The only “salvation” for Armenia, the author of the article believes, is to continue rapprochement with the West and European integration. If Armenia comes to a broader union with Europe, this will change the Caucasus, de Waal is sure.
- concludes the British expert.
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