- Famil Ismailov
- Editor de BBC News Russia
Clashes between the two former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno Karabakh region had escalated since late September, and Azerbaijan clearly had the upper hand over Armenia.
The Azerbaijani forces had just taken the city of Shushá (Shushi in Armenian), from where you can see the capital of Karabakh, Stepanakert (Khankendi en azerbaiyano).
There was fierce fighting and heavy casualties, but with strategically placed control of Shusha, the Azerbaijanis would certainly have had the upper hand in the battle for the capital.
With their troops on that high ground, the remaining Armenian forces in Karabakh would have been an easy target for Azerbaijani artillery.
Then all of a sudden the russians intervened, negotiating a peace agreementonline Y putting up his peacekeeping troops on the terrain, and Stepanakert.
Before that, everyone thought that Turkey it was the country leading the game with its open support for Azerbaijan (Turkey and Azerbaijan share close ethnic and cultural ties).
It all started Monday night when the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia met online and negotiated a nine point agreement to end hostilities in Nagorno Karabakh.
Azerbaijan appeared to be winning the war, and Azerbaijani forces had retaken most of the Azerbaijani provinces that had been under Armenian control since 1994.
The three leaders agreed that the Armenian forces would withdraw from the remaining occupied regions surrounding Nagorno Karabakh, over which Azerbaijan will regain control.
The Russian peacekeepers will separate enemy troops and ensure that hostilities do not resume.
The Russians will also ensure a runner of 5 km Wide connecting the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh with the Republic of Armenia. But it is not clear how it will be governed in the future what remains of the Armenian-controlled Karabakh.
The advance of Azerbaijan
The Nagorno Karabakh conflict itself is the result of the rise of national identities after the fall of the Soviet Union.
The two newly independent countries, Azerbaijan and Armenia, used the weapons left behind by the Soviet army to fight each other, and the Armenians were more successful: By the end of 1994, they had control of Nagorno Karabakh and seven surrounding regions of Azerbaijan.
There was around one million refugees, since the populations were expelled from both sides.
And so the conflict remained, frozen, with sporadic skirmishes from time to time, until September 27 of this year, when Azerbaijan launched its bid for retake your lost territory.
Very soon, it became clear that the balance of military power between the two sides had drastically changed.
A new resource bonanza had provided Azerbaijan with decades of wealth following the discovery of oil and gas in the Caspian Sea.
Azerbaijan invested that money in rebuilding the economy and some called Baku “the Dubai from the Caspian “.
But the government of Azerbaijan also used a lot of money to completely rebuild the military.
Over several years, they spent billions of dollars buying better tanks, more artillery, and most importantly, modern technology: Azerbaijan is the first country among the former Soviet republics to widely use drone technology on the battlefield.
In the first days of the war, which started in September, Azerbaijan eliminated air defenses on the front line, and then had complete freedom to use drones to eliminate Armenian defenses and attack armor and personnel along the front line. .
The role of Russia and Turkey
Having deployed their forces, Russia is now in full control of the situation on the ground.
There will be a total of about 2,000 paratroopers, and neither the Armenians, nor the Azerbaijanis nor the Turks would do anything that would endanger the lives of Russian military personnel.
But then, because the troop Russian I don’t knowthey ensnared before?
We don’t know for sure, but there is certainly no affection between the Armenian prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, and Vladimir Putin.
Pashinyan is a very successful populist leader. Importantly, he came to power thanks to popular protests in a “color revolution,” and Putin sees those changes of government as Western-inspired coups.
Nikol Pashinyan was annoyed by the degree of trust that Armenia placed in Russia and disputed the influence of Armenia’s powerful northern neighbor against the West.
His political future now seems to be in question after what can only be seen as a catastrophic defeat: including the president of Armenia, Armen Sarkissian, has denied all knowledge of the ceasefire agreement.
But the agreement is already in force and you can see that Russia has claimed control of the situation in its traditional sphere of influence.
Russia was trying to keep the balance between the warring sides, by being linked to Armenia with a collective security treaty, but insisting that Armenia is not under attack and that the fighting be kept within Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders.
Turkey, a member of NATO, had openly supported Azerbaijan, even promising to send military aid if requested.
The possibility of a confrontation between Russia and Turkey in the South Caucasus was too real. But it is perhaps the same kind of careful game that was played in both Syria and Libya, when the military and political interests of Turkey and Russia were sometimes contradictory but always found common ground.
The same seemed to be happening now in the South Caucasus, when Russia intervened at the last minute and managed to get on the ground to make sure that whatever happens, it doesn’t happen without their agreement.
So in a sense Russia can be seen as a victor in the conflict, as can Azerbaijan.
In Baku it is certainly presented as a great victory, although some people on social media are angry that Azerbaijan did not take advantage of its advantage: it did not end operations to take all of Nagorno Karabakh.
But this dissatisfaction is unlikely to hit the streets because the overwhelming atmosphere is victory.
The Azeri government is seen as victorious because has regained its territory and it also ended the limbo of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijani refugees who have been waiting almost 30 years to return to the places where they lived.
In Armenia, despite resentment that the Russians did not intervene earlier and avoid losses, it is understood that the result could have been much grimmer: no would stay Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh if the fighting had continued.
And it seems that the United States and the European Union have been completely left out of this peace agreement.
Armenia’s occupation of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone could not continue forever. But at the same time, it is the Armenians in that area who had to bear the heaviest burden of the war.
So what does the future hold?
It is good news that no more soldiers and civilians have to die unnecessarily, and good news for all internally displaced Azerbaijanis who can return to their home villages, which have been empty for almost 30 years, and for the civilians of Nagorno Karabakh who can also go home.
But there is no indication of the current or future state of NagornoKarabakh, its administrative or legal or police systems. It was a self-proclaimed republic, not recognized by anyone, not even Armenia.
However, the bigger question is how the two nations, who now hate each other much more than a month ago, are going to live much closer to each other.
With the war and the amount of blood spilled and the violence displayed on both sides, I am afraid that many years will pass before the two neighbors can withlive as they should.
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Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.