Enraged by pro-Azeri statements of Russian opinion makers on liberated peak in Karabakh, Yerevan sends extra troops to separatist region

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 4 July 2018
Enraged by pro-Azeri statements of Russian opinion makers on liberated peak in Karabakh, Yerevan sends extra troops to separatist region

Official Baku has lashed out at Armenia’s heedless plan to second internal troops to the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in an attempt to further aggravate the already volatile situation in the region and to stall sporadic developments around the conflict.

"The move by Armenia's new government is a foolhardy military adventure that contributes to the worsening of the situation. In violation of the international law, Armenia has amassed troops and military hardware in occupied Azerbaijani territories," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hikmat Haciyev said on July 4. (APA news agency, July 4)

The reaction follows Armenian media reports that units of the interior troops of the aggressor nation would be seconded to Azerbaijan’s separatist region for the protection of the so-called borders. Azerbaijan criticized Armenia’s plan and urged it to pull troops out of the occupied territories instead of bringing in new servicemen that in his words clearly demonstrates once again that Yerevan is uninterested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

The news of Armenia planning to dispatch units of the Interior Troops to the contact line in Karabakh surfaced when a group of Russian public and political figures toured Azerbaijan’s restored Cocuq Marcanli village in Cabrayil District and urged Armenia to end the occupation of Azerbaijani lands. Also speaking at a forum in Cocuq Marcanli, several leading Russian public figures and members of the Duma called Azerbaijan as Russia's sole partner in the South Caucasus.

The forum, titled "Baku-Moscow - a geopolitical axis. Azerbaijan is Russia's only partner in the South Caucasus", discussed the Azerbaijani-Russian relations in depth and revealed the latest trends in the Kremlin approach to the new Armenian government. The conference, organized by the International Eurasian Movement, the Azerbaijani community of Karabakh and the Russian community of Azerbaijan and the Russian think-tank group Izborskiy club, also shed light on the latest aspects of Azerbaijani-Russian relations and attempted to update opinion makers on evolving developments vis-à-vis ties between Baku and Moscow against the regime change in Armenia.

Aleksandr Dugin, the leader of the International Eurasian Movement, said that relations between Russia and Azerbaijan became even closer owing to personal relations between Presidents Aliyev and Putin. "Russian-Azerbaijani relations are not only a friendship between our leaders, but a relationship preserved over centuries," he said. The two countries have established a strategic partnership and Azerbaijan is Russia's sole partner in the South Caucasus, he reiterated.

Public figure and expert on the Caucasus region Maksim Shevchenko drew attention to the importance of the region for Russia: "South Caucasus is Russia's gateway to Asia with the shortest way going through Azerbaijan". Relations between Russia and Azerbaijan are promising and prospering, he added, praising the preservation of historical ties in political, economic and cultural spheres even after the demise of the Soviet Union. On his tour of the strategic Lala Tapa peak that was liberated from the Armenian occupation in the April 2016 flare-up in Karabakh, Shevchenko said he is proud of being in the liberated territory. He also added that President Vladimir Putin is irritated by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan who replaced Russia’s closest ally Serzh Sarkisian after April-May velvet revolution in Armenia.

Igor Korotchenko of the Natsionalnaya Oborona military journal hailed cordial ties between the two neighbours: "We love Azerbaijan, and firm ties have always been, are and will be between us". The new realities in the world have brought the two countries even closer and this situation is not against any third nation. He pointed out the importance of unity to fight international terrorism to ensure stability and security in the South Caucasus to prevent cyber threats. In remarks about the Karabakh conflict, the military expert said Russia favoured a peaceful solution to the Karabakh problem and that it will always back Azerbaijan's independence.

Aleksey Yezubov of the Russian State Duma said Nagorno-Karabakh has been recognized as an integral part of Azerbaijan, and relations between Baku and Moscow are based on irreversible friendship and fraternity. Valery Korovin of the Izborskiy club believes that Russia and Azerbaijan are the only reliable partners in the Caucasus.

State Duma member Dmitry Savelyev highlighted the importance of an unconditional return to Azerbaijan of Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven occupied districts around it. He added that Russia lost faith in Armenia, and Azerbaijan is Russia's only permanent partner in the region and that Armenia is in a lamentable economic and political state as opposed to Azerbaijan's rapid development. He called for more active Russian involvement in the settlement of the conflict.

MP Aleksey Yezubov of the ruling United Russia party said Russia and Azerbaijan are fraternal and allied countries and they should be together in a union. Armenia should return five districts back to Azerbaijan. “Putin has said it and this is Russia's unchanged position" and "Karabakh is an inalienable part of Azerbaijan,” he said.

Strati experts for their turn believe Moscow is sending out signals that it could support Azerbaijan in the Karabakh resolution if Baku decides to side with the Kremlin and join the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization.