Not war: what are the causes and consequences of the deterioration of the situation in Karabakh

Volunteers at the Assembly point in the city of Askeran in Nagorno-Karabakh

Who started it: the war of the versions

The situation in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict escalated in the night of Saturday, April 2. First, it became known that the armed forces of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) helicopter was shot down by the armed forces of Azerbaijan, reported the Armenian side, immediately accusing your opponent in the beginning of the offensive on all line of contact. Baku, in turn, claimed that he acted in response to the occurrence of the Armenian side.

Thursday Azerbaijan declared the capture of some strong points. Yerevan denied it. But on Sunday, the NKR defense Army reported that during the offensive, liberated the strategically important post in the direction of Talish, on the eve of the occupied Azerbaijani forces.

Divergent versions of the parties and the losses of the enemy. For 1 and 2 April the losses of the Azerbaijani party made more than 200 dead, is spoken in the message of the defense Army of Nagorno Karabakh. The Ministry of defense of Azerbaijan in their reports acknowledged the deaths of only 12 of its troops. According to Baku, the Armenian side has killed and injured more than 100 military. The defense army of Nagorno Karabakh the loss was not discovered. And the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan discussed the only 2 April: 18 dead, 35 wounded.

In just two days, the Azerbaijani army lost 14 tanks, more than five APCS and IFVs, summed up the results of the day April 3, the Armenian defense Ministry. The Ministry of defense of Azerbaijan recognizes the loss of one helicopter Mi-24 and damaged on a mine one tank, reports that the Armenian side were destroyed ten tanks, 15 guns and reinforced engineering structures.

On the line of contact, there are no independent observers, said the expert on political processes in post-Soviet countries, Arkady Dubnov, to obtain objective information from areas impossible.

20 years without war

The current borders of Nagorno-Karabakh has developed as a result of the war, which lasted from 1991 to 1994, and included not only the territory of the Autonomous Nagorno-Karabakh region, which in Soviet times was part of the Azerbaijan SSR, but also seven districts of Azerbaijan. Civil campaign for office populated mostly by Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan began in 1987 after the outbreak of inter-ethnic clashes in Armenia and Azerbaijan. In a full-scale military action of the conflict has passed in 1991. A truce was signed in 1994, Azerbaijan lost up to 13% of its territory, Nagorno-Karabakh gained de facto independence that is not recognized by any country except Armenia.

First Deputy defense Minister of Armenia David Tonoyan said that the enemy has taken unprecedented since 1994 actions. “The number of incidents is growing one year, today’s not a sudden worsening of the situation. In 2014 for the first time since the freezing conflict was shot down the helicopter in the beginning of December last year for the first time tanks were used. We see raising the bar of violence”, — says Sergey Markedonov, associate Professor of the Department of foreign regional studies and foreign policy at Russian state University for Humanities.

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The Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Karabakh is often called “frozen”, but this is an incorrect term, indicates Thomas de Waal from the Carnegie. The 1994 ceasefire was holding on solely on restraint and the political calculations of the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, decided that the resumption of war is not in their interest, so the line of contact around Nagorno-Karabakh has long been a relatively quiet area, where lightly armed soldiers sitting in trenches behind barbed wire, but recently the situation became more threatening, he said.

Over the past decade Azerbaijan has spent billions of dollars on the purchase of new weapons: helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, MiG fighter jets and heavy artillery, a lot was purchased from Russia, Armenia also strengthened the defense, and also mainly at the expense of arms purchased from Russia (at a discount), de Waal points. This technique gradually moved up in the conflict zone, where 20 thousand soldiers on both sides have only six unarmed OSCE observers.


Photo gallery
The intensification of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh



On the night of April 2 in Nagorno-Karabakh fighting resumed. The parties accuse each other of provocations. The Azerbaijani defense Ministry said that during the fighting killed 12 Azerbaijan…

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What’s next?

The international community is trying to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for almost a quarter of a century. Engaged in the OSCE Minsk group, co-chaired by Russia, USA and France. On Tuesday in Vienna to be held the next meeting of this group. But until now, few parties managed to achieve. In 2009, the Minsk group proposed to the parties the basic principles for a settlement include the return of the territories surrounding Nagorno Karabakh to Azerbaijani control, the granting Nagorno-Karabakh an interim status, guarantees of security and self-government, the security of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh corridor connecting them.

Last year, the negotiation process has intensified: in particular, in autumn in Yerevan and Baku was visited by Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Then “Kommersant” wrote that one of the options of the peace plan looks like this: Armenians return to Azerbaijan the control over the majority of captured Azerbaijani territories around Karabakh, while maintaining the Lachin corridor linking the Republic of mountainous Armenia, and possibly another corridor. Baku, according to this embodiment, does not officially recognize Karabagh to be independent, but agrees not to force the issue militarily. Guarantee the implementation of agreements could be the placement in the conflict zone of international peacekeepers (the UN or CSTO), and the demilitarization returned to Azerbaijan areas. However, none of the parties had not expressed a public willingness to discuss and support such a plan, and the NK authorities insist that any discussion you first need to include them in the negotiating group.

While the logic of the parties are diametrically opposed, said Alexander Krylov, a senior researcher of the IMEMO, Russian Academy of Sciences: Azerbaijan demands the return of all the territories, Karabakh indicates that a referendum was held, the prerequisites for convergence is not, on the contrary, from both sides of recent years is the escalation of rhetoric, there is a growing militancy.

Now neither Russia nor the US nor the EU do not need defrosting of the Karabakh conflict, Markedonov says: “the Key players will do everything possible to stop it, not in their interest to the complication of the agenda when overwhelmed by other issues.” My disapproval of the current escalation of the conflict was expressed by the President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the EU representative for foreign policy Federica Mogherini.

Russia, an ally of Armenia, including military-political bloc the CSTO called for moderation. The Ministers of foreign Affairs and defence of Russia Sergey Lavrov and Sergei Shoigu on 2 April held talks with his counterparts in Azerbaijan and Armenia. Russia remains the most influential third force in the Karabakh conflict, but it does not control the situation in the combat zone, indicates de Waal. Moreover, Moscow could not force either Armenia or Azerbaijan to use its army as she needs, military units subject only to the presidents of their countries, so that the influence of Russia on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict less than you think, experts say.

“The most dangerous thing is that Nagorno-Karabakh could become another field of the real struggle between Russia and Turkey,” warns an expert on political processes in post-Soviet countries Arkady Dubnov. Ankara is headed by such a strong leader like Recep Tayyip Erdogan will not be able to support its allies in Baku, and this, in turn, can cause a reaction in Moscow, which is allied with Armenia, he says. On Saturday, Erdogan expressed support for Baku.

Russia in Armenia

In Armenia Russia has a military base in Gyumri and an airbase at the Erebuni airfield near Yerevan. The press service of the southern military district on 20 February reported that Russia sent aircraft on a military base Erebuni fighter fourth generation MiG-29, upgraded MiG-29S and upgraded transport helicopter Mi-8MT, have undergone a major overhaul.

Close cooperation with Russia is a major part of the plan of Yerevan for the protection of the disputed Karabakh region, writes the Stockholm Institute for peace. Russia supplies Armenia large amount of weapons, last year the Russian government announced plans to allocate a loan to Armenia to $200 million to buy them.