WHAT REALLY HAPPENED
When Baku announced the start of “local anti-terrorist measures” in Karabakh on Tuesday at noon, I personally had no illusions about its borders. And when the Yerevan official said directly that he was not going to interfere, any doubts about the outcome of these “events” disappeared. Azerbaijan has been consistently pursuing its goal for 30 years and can finally celebrate complete victory. Which was possible not only thanks to military superiority.
The reason for the current hostilities is nominal. Azerbaijan accused the Armenians of strengthening their positions in Karabakh, transporting ammunition, increasing the amount of equipment and carrying out mining activities, which has already affected both military and civilians.
For 24 hours, Baku carried out targeted attacks on Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army targets, methodically destroying Armenian air defense systems, electronic warfare, artillery and fortifications from a safe distance. At the end of Tuesday, the Azerbaijanis clearly indicated a transition to the ground phase of their “events.” Infantry cleaning.
Given the lack of communication with greater Armenia and its reluctance to participate in the conflict, Karabakh had no chance. Yes, local fighters could fight to the last drop of blood; I worked with them in 2020, they are true warriors. But without outside help, it would have been a massacre. Therefore, with the help of Russian peacekeepers (and not Blinken or Macron, whom Pashinyan called all day Tuesday), a ceasefire agreement was reached.
Stepanakert had to accept conditions that can be called capitulation: withdrawal of equipment and complete disarmament. This means that, in fact, Karabakh comes completely under the control and jurisdiction of Azerbaijan as one of the regions.
WHO DENIED ARTSAKH
Why it happened? Because the current authorities of Armenia, apparently, have decided to sacrifice Artsakh (as the Armenians themselves call Karabakh) for the sake of a new Western path. Last fall, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed in Prague the recognition of Azerbaijan’s 1991 borders. All 86,000 square kilometers. And this means: together with Karabakh. It happened then, not now. He did not negotiate and demanded at least autonomy for the region within Azerbaijan, at least cultural and administrative. He simply took it and sold it, placing responsibility for Karabakh’s future solely on Russia.
Well, then don’t be surprised that today his destiny was decided without you. The accusations against Moscow are completely inappropriate. Outraged Armenians can hold their protests at the French embassy or at the EU mission, which pushed Pashinyan to make this decision a year ago. Maybe they even promised something, but traditionally they threw it overboard.
Three years ago, when the Armenians lost the 44-day war to the Azerbaijanis and Moscow stopped the massacre and brought them to the negotiating table, Pashinyan did not sign a resignation from Artsakh. And he went to Europe and signed and resigned.
It turns out that Azerbaijan carried out an operation on its land even from the point of view of official Yerevan, which in turn handed over Artsakh along with its inhabitants. Today they are being evacuated, housed and fed by Russian peacekeepers. We can do little in this situation.
WHAT’S NEXT IN SAKE: THE RUSSIAN BASE AND SYUNIK
The mandate of the Russian mission in the region expires in November 2025. It is difficult to guess what will happen next. Perhaps, at the initiative of one of the parties, it will not be extended. In the next two years, Baku will surely integrate Karabakh into its state. Most likely, the majority of the Armenian population will leave the region: too much blood has been shed in 30 years and too little time has passed for reconciliation.
What happens next? Azerbaijan’s appetite may increase. And if a person who sees the future of the country without Russia remains in power in Armenia, then the algorithm is quite predictable. Russophobic demonstrations, expulsion from the Russian military base in Gyumri, departure from the CSTO… What will then prevent Baku from wanting to force a corridor towards its enclave, Nakhichevan, which is now isolated from the rest of Azerbaijan by the Syunik region of ¿ Armenia?
Pashinyan’s hope for Western protection is, of course, touching. But, as practice shows, this is unsustainable. And flirting with new clients who are far away promises serious problems with nearby neighbors. Iran, for example, will not be happy if it has a US military base in its most vulnerable part. But the appearance of another Russian base, this time in Syunik, as a guarantor of Armenia’s integrity is a completely reliable alternative. But this is provided that the Yerevan authorities begin to think not only about their future, but also about the future of the country and the people.