Calls For Withdrawal Of Russian Troops From Karabakh On The Rise
With over half and a month in Azerbaijan’s war-torn Nagorno-Karabakh, the Russian military forces with a label of peacekeeping mission has come under bitter criticism in Azerbaijan.
On December 27, an illegal Armenian armed group of six remnants of the Armenian armed forces in the direction of Agdam village of Xocavand (Khojavand) District of Azerbaijan attacked units of the Azerbaijani Army, killing a warrant officer and wounding another serviceman.
“As a result, one of our servicemen, warrant officer Elmir Qanbarov was killed and soldier Emin Aliyev was wounded,” the Defense Ministry said.
Although Armenian or separatist sources denied any gunfight or losses, some independent Armenian sources ruled in the possibility of Armenian militants in the area. On the other hand, several hours after the incident, the Russian peacekeepers said they were checking information about the deadly shootout in the area that is also part of their responsibility.
Simultaneously, the report went viral in the social media though the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry confirmed the news almost after 24 hours, adding that special operation was under way in the territory. Accusations poured, liked the Russian "peacekeepers" have deployed Armenian militants in our territories and provided them with weapons" though Article 4 of the tripartite ceasefire statement of November 10, 2020 stated that "the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation is deployed in parallel with the withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces".
The Russian "peacekeepers" are busy deploying Armenian militants in our territories and providing them with weapons. Their fate cannot be otherwise. I have no other expectations from them. My expectations are from the Azerbaijani government and people. The government and the intelligentsia of the people are silent, some of the social media comments read, blaming trolls.
"Sometimes, they try to silence those who speak out through trolls," a user said.
"The silence of the government and its failure to take any effective steps dictates the attitude of political parties and civil society institutions to the issue," another user said.
“Those who disarmed the Armenian bandits and handed them over to the Russians should have known that they would come again and kill our soldiers,” a user complained.
What has happened in Karabakh over recent days is not arbitrariness or anything else of the "peacekeepers", but a manifestation of systematic and planned activities against the sovereignty of Azerbaijan. In other words, it can be called a "creeping war".
Unfortunately, no single official position is available in Azerbaijan. However, the Armenian provocateurs, openly supported by the Russian army, are intensifying both the ideological and armed struggle against Azerbaijan day by day.
Russia is rapidly increasing its influence in Azerbaijan, pundits claimed, blaming those who backed the Russian mission on the scene. It is also known that the command of the "peacekeepers" in Karabakh can never take a step on its own accord.
All instructions come from Moscow and serve Russia's geopolitical plans. The silence and inaction of the Azerbaijani government in the current situation dictates other actors of the Azerbaijani society to come up with their attitudes on the issue. Unfortunately, the situation here is not heartening either.
Some believe the signing of a military alliance deal with Turkey is of vital importance for Azerbaijan and advocate it and bewildered at the lack of move by the government to bring about it. The situation is deplorable here as well, the military partnership between the two countries is clearly sabotaged. Russia is preparing Armenia for a new war.
Those who brought Russian troops to Azerbaijan for an hour and a half have not been able to establish a military partnership with Turkey for a month and a half. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that if Azerbaijan launches an aggression against the Syunik (Zangazur) region, it would face military pressure not only from Armenia but also from Russia.
Thus, Armenia is not only announcing the address of a new military confrontation, but also announcing that Russia will take part in it. The Russian peacekeepers can never act arbitrarily without the blessing of the Kremlin.
Under such circumstances, Azerbaijan's room for maneuver is limited, and now there are three important steps that could be taken. The first is the unconditional destruction of Armenian provocateurs attacking the positions of the Azerbaijani army; the second is the strengthening of demands for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Azerbaijani territory; and the third is the acceleration of a broad military partnership between Azerbaijan and Turkey.
The first must be done by the Azerbaijani army, the second and third by the Azerbaijani people. All three steps must be taken synchronously. In this matter, we need the unity of the people and the army, as in the war as the war is still going on, experts believe.
Decisive steps vital to prevent such acts of sabotage
Pundit Mahammad Asadullazada believes that Russia is trying to prevent the return of Azerbaijanis to Susa and provocations should be expected from everywhere.
“If the government does not take decisive steps, such acts of sabotage will continue. The Russian government is behind these acts of sabotage. Russia continues to press for the capture of Hadrut and the opening of Xocali (Khojaly) airport. It is also trying to prevent the resettlement of Azerbaijanis to Susa, sending a message that these areas will be dangerous by continuing the terror through the Armenians.
Russia should be asked what and who does it support in Nagorno-Karabakh?! If it protects Arayik Harutunyan, Vitali Balasanyan and the Armenian armed forces there, Azerbaijan does not need you.
In his opinion, it was an Armenian military group, which was accompanied into Karabakh by the Russian peacekeepers that attacked units of the Azerbaijani army in Xocavand.
"Thus, the November 10 agreement is violated by the Russian government, and at the same time, the Armenian terror is supported and directed by it. I rule out the role of Armenia in this attack. Nikol Pashinyan is not interested in a war with Azerbaijan in the current situation.
"These attacks were organized in Xankandi by the commander of the `peacekeeping’ forces, Lt-Col Rustam Muradov, to form a policy of pressure against Azerbaijan. The resettlement of Armenians in Xankandi and the protection of Armenian armed forces are part of this plan. In general, the Putin government will try to put pressure on Azerbaijan at any time by developing Armenian terrorism here,” he claimed.
"Russia will increase the number of its troops here and prevent Azerbaijan from gaining control of Xankandi," the pundit said, urging official Baku to demand Russia to withdraw the Armenian armed forces from the territory and ensure the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan in Xankandi.
The events in Hadrut and Tug show that Russia is behind the Armenian terror and that "peacekeeping" forces are Russia's military base in Nagorno-Karabakh. It is already clear that Russia is a threat to peace and security in Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia will increase the number of its troops here and will not allow Azerbaijan to gain control of Xankandi. Last week, Vladimir Putin did not rule out an increase in the number of troops. I would also like to note that Russia has created the current situation by preventing us from taking Xankandi, he opined.
The Azerbaijani Armed Forces should complete the process and clear the Armenian armed forces from all territories. It is obvious that Russian "peacekeeping" forces fully support Arayik Harutyunyan and Vitali Balasanyan in Nagorno-Karabakh, recognize their status and use them against Azerbaijan. Therefore, Azerbaijan must deploy Turkish troops in these areas and continue anti-terrorist operations. At the same time, the Azerbaijani Ministries of Defense and Foreign must inform the public. Because Russia is dragging Azerbaijan into a "creeping" war, the pundit thinks.
"Peacekeeping" forces have an absolute say in Nagorno-Karabakh, and Armenians cannot sabotage without their consent. For this reason, Azerbaijan must conclude a military alliance agreement with Turkey and conduct military operations around Xocavand and Xankandi. It is clear that provocations against our servicemen will continue, there are those who control terrorists hiding in the woods, pundit Elxan Sahinoglu said.
"The Armenian separatists killed an Azerbaijani serviceman yesterday. Heated discussions are taking place in the Azerbaijani segment of the social network, and the Defense Ministry issued a statement a day later at about 1100 o'clock in the morning.
"The Armenian Defense Ministry and Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh have repeatedly stated that they did not violate the ceasefire and did not open fire on Azerbaijani servicemen, claiming that Azerbaijan is spreading disinformation. The statements made by the Armenians are widely spread in the Russian information space, he added.
"It is unacceptable to act as if there was a separate place or organization called Nagorno-Karabakh"
Pundit Araz Aslanli, head of the Caucasus Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (QAFSAM), said that although we did not know the details of the arrival of Russian "peacekeepers" and had estimates of possible benefits and risks, disrespect for our sovereignty was unacceptable.
"Our independence, our territorial integrity, our sovereignty over all our territories are inalienable and sacred for us. How much we can provide at each stage may depend on our capabilities, regional and international conditions and so on. Nevertheless, our line must be correct, our position must be principled. The approach of the Russian official bodies to our territories should not be in the spirit of disrespect for our sovereignty. The official approach of some is not even in line with that of President Putin.
They act as if there is a separate place or organization called "Nagorno-Karabakh", the use of this expression as a name of an independent territory without mentioning Azerbaijan, the treatment of the Armenians living in Xankandi as the leaders of an independent organization, and so on are unacceptable. Just as on August 12, President Ilham Aliyev called Putin and said that his goal was to clarify the issue of weapons transported from Russia to Armenia. Now our Foreign Ministry can take similar steps.
Most likely, something will be achieved. But even if nothing is achieved, at least let them express our sensitivity to sovereignty. The head of QAFSAM is of the opinion that the balanced, patient, careful and cautious nature of our diplomacy is not bad, but not all this should lead to the lack of position.
"Azerbaijan has repeatedly demonstrated its principled position to countries whose strength and capabilities are many times greater than ours. We are obliged to maintain a fine line between patience and principled positions that we have achieved so far. The president should not say everything. The Foreign Ministry must be more careful and principled in respecting our sovereignty," Aslanli added.