Russia v. Turkey in Nagorno-Karabakh
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
Does the three strikes and you’re out rule apply to over a month of Azerbaijan launched/Turkish supported fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK below)?
Despite Russia’s best efforts to halt fighting in the enclave, it continues without letup.
Sergey Lavrov’s discussion on the conflict with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu belies the seriousness of the situation for Yerevan and Moscow.
Despite the claim by Russia’s Foreign Ministry that “(b)oth ministers stressed that there is no alternative to a peaceful resolution to the problem, and called for an immediate ceasefire and resumption of negotiations through the established OSCE Minsk Group,” reality on the ground in NK shows neither Baku or Ankaka intend halting war until their aims are achieved.
On Wednesday, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed frustration over failure of Russian-led diplomacy to achieve a durable ceasefire that would facilitate further conflict resolution talks.
“Battles still continue, and this arouses regret and concerns,” he said.
While claims and counterclaims of warring sides differ, reality on the ground shows that Azeri forces have the upper hand after weeks of conflict.
On Wednesday, Southfront explained that “the Turkish-Azerbaijani bloc continues to keep the initiative in the conflict, exploiting its advantage in air power, artillery, military equipment and manpower.”
With Armenian forces losing ground, is a coup de grace coming in the days or weeks ahead — the Turkish/Azeri alliance prevailing?
If Armenian troops fail to halt Azeri advances, especially on strategically important areas, defeat for Yerevan appears certain, Russia to lose out as well.
At this stage of the conflict, Azeri forces control nearly all southern NK territory.
They’re close to seizing the strategically important Lachin corridor supply line that links NK with Armenia.
Because Azeris showed that they hold a military advantage in the conflict, it’s highly unlikely that Armenia will be able to regain lost territory in NK.
While Baku prepared for fighting months in advance of launching it by buying heavy weapons from Turkey and Israel, Yerevan showed that it’s unable to effectively counter them.
Turkish supplied command and control aid to Baku’s military is another important factor in the conflict, along with deploying large numbers of jihadists to aid Azeri forces on the ground.
As a result, Armenia’s military is outgunned, overmatched, and too unprepared for what’s been ongoing since September 27 with no letup in prospect.
With Azeri forces advancing steadily, Baku has no incentive to halt fighting.
Even if both sides agree to a temporary ceasefire — that seems unlikely after three failed attempts to achieve one — Azeri forces could resume fighting at their discretion if President Aliyev’s demands aren’t met.
With strong Turkish backing, he seeks full control over NK, what Yerevan rejects.
War took a heavy toll on both sides, a much greater one on Armenia’s military strength as shown by lost territory to Azeri forces.
Russia has hard choices to make. It’s at odds with Turkey in NK, Syria, and Libya.
Its strike on Turkish supported jihadists in Syria’s Idlib province days earlier — killing or wounding over 200 fighters — showed Moscow’s patience with Ankara has limits.
In NK, Russia remains neutral in attempting to diplomatically convince both sides to resolve what’s proved to be irreconcilable differences.
Russia has two military bases in Armenia. Turkey has F-16s in Azerbaijan.
Moscow wants to stay out of the conflict military. That position is unlikely to change unless its bases and/or other interests are threatened.
In 2015, a Turkish warplane downed a Russian Su-24M, causing a rift in bilateral relations later resolved.
Is something similar likely in NK? It’s very possible if aircraft of both countries become involved in fighting.
Neither country wants war with each other.
While bilateral relations have been uneasy for years, they’re currently very shaky because both Moscow and Ankara are on opposite sides in three conflict theaters.
Neo-Ottoman aims of Turkey’s Erdogan makes it hard or impossible for Russia to maintain normal relations with a leader more committed to wars than peace.
As for reality on the ground in NK, Armenia can either continue losing ground to superior Azeri forces or make major concessions to resolve things diplomatically.
The stakes are high for Russia and Iran in the conflict.
The leadership of both countries want it resolved to prevent cross-border spillover, along with easing regional instability that threatens their security.
What’s coming in the days or weeks ahead is uncertain.
If Russia is unable to convince Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan to cut his losses and make a deal, Moscow may push for replacing him to halt fighting and instability along its border.
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