The Azeri side decided to escalate in Nagorno-Karabakh mere days after a meeting with US State Secretary Anthony Blinken. Writes Drago Bosnic
After months of tensions, on July 31, Azerbaijan accused Armenia of allegedly attacking its military units in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, otherwise known as Artsakh to the indigenous Armenians. Azeri Ministry of Defense claims that Armenian soldiers supposedly opened fire at Azeri troops in Gadabay, Kalbajar and Khojavend. Initially, no casualties or material losses were reported as a result of the alleged attack, although the Azeri MoD later claimed at least one of their soldiers was killed. Azerbaijan claims that it took “retaliatory measures”. The Armenian side denied the accusations and stated that the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is stable.
Nearly 2000 Russian peacekeepers have been deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh to enforce a ceasefire agreement signed after the large-scale Azerbaijani attack on Armenian forces in 2020. The latest escalation is the first one since March when Azeri attacks claimed the lives of at least three Armenian soldiers. This wouldn’t be the first time Azerbaijan is accusing Armenia of attacking its troops. Given the rather difficult position of both Armenia proper and Artsakh, it’s unclear why they would want to escalate against Baku, given the clear superiority of Azeri forces in the last several years. Azerbaijan is most likely trying to provide yet another pretext to resume its offensive in the region, especially now when Russia is preoccupied with its counteroffensive against NATO aggression in Europe.
It’s quite clear Azerbaijan is trying to use the current geopolitical situation to fulfill its long-term goal of capturing the entire territory of the Armenian-populated Artsakh. However, this would require Baku to effectively go against Russia’s interests. Moscow has warned Azerbaijan against escalating the conflict any further. Despite the successful geopolitical game Azeri leadership has been playing for years, balancing between the Eurasian giant to the north, Turkey and the political West, this is reaching its high point and Moscow is highly unlikely to allow further attacks. Back in March, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu warned Baku that the Russian military is more than capable of conducting large-scale operations in multiple theaters, clearly implying that no unilateral Azeri action will be tolerated. Baku complied and halted its attacks.
However, in late July, both Armenian and Azeri delegations visited the United States and met with the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. While there is no way for us to know what exactly the US political leadership told either side, apart from the usual diplomatic statements of “hopes for peace”, the very fact that the Azeri side decided to escalate the situation mere days after the visit is quite telling. It certainly is in the interest of the belligerent imperialist thalassocracy to see any kind of escalation in the former USSR, especially in areas where Russian troops are directly deployed, as this would divert Moscow’s attention away from Ukraine. American intelligence assets have been reactivated all across the former Eastern Bloc to do exactly that, be it Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Serbia/former Yugoslavia, etc.
An escalating conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh would also benefit the US in the sense that it would further undermine relations between Russia and Turkey. Although both countries have been maintaining a sort of “Frankensteinish” geopolitical partnership, compartmentalizing their diametrically opposing interests in one region with converging interests in another, in the long-term, Moscow and Ankara are bound to clash. Erdogan’s attempts to create a combination of a Turkic and Islamic world dominated by Turkey go directly against the interests of Russia, Iran, Syria and other global and regional powers. The political West quietly supports Turkey in this endeavor, or at the very least is not against it. Erdogan’s imperialist fantasies are perfectly positioned to undermine the long-term goal of creating a stable Eurasia, composed of powers such as Russia, India, China, Iran and others.
By having Azerbaijan capture most, if not all of Artsakh, the US accomplishes the goal of having Armenia proper effectively surrounded by hostile countries. Given the sheer belligerence of Turkey and its ally in Baku, it’s highly likely they’d try to attack Armenia itself, which would both eliminate it as a state and allow the Turkic countries uninterrupted access to each other, as well as open the gates of Central Asia for Ankara. To accomplish this, not even the whole of Armenia has to be taken. All Turkey and Azerbaijan need is Armenia’s southern Syunik province. Given that Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a NATO-like security alliance led by Russia which also includes a number of post-Soviet states, this would force Moscow to react.
Such a move wouldn’t only push Russia into another conflict, but could possibly shake the very foundations of CSTO itself, as countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Belarus would also need to respond to Yerevan’s call for collective defense. Russia couldn’t simply ignore Armenia’s fate, as any sort of Turkey’s direct, uninterrupted access to Azerbaijan and further east, to Central Asia, would be even worse for Russia’s interests and strategic security on its entire southern flank, from the south Caucasus to China. This leaves us with only one logical conclusion – Baku is overplaying its hand, as Russia will certainly not allow any changes to the current status quo in the region.
Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst.
Please follow Blitz on Google News channel