Russian Ties and Hegemonic Aspirations Raise Tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh

Baku, clearly unimpressed with the glacial pace of talks over the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region, has increased the intensity of its war of words, bypassing traditional enemy Armenia in favor of Armenia’s hegemonic backer — Moscow.

In this, Baku is merely stating the obvious, and highlighting one of the inherent absurdities of the Minsk Group, the international alliance charged with resolving Armenia’s invasion of, ethnic cleansing of, and occupation of twenty percent of Azerbaijan’s territory during the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Minsk Group originally consisted primarily of Russia — who backed Armenian forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh with military and logistical aid — and France, whose large Armenian ex-pat population is the target of constant courting by French politicians at election time. The United States subsequently joined the group, accomplishing more or less nothing.

According to the Turkish publication World Bulletin, Azerbaijan has begun the process of laying down markers intended to move the Minsk Group process to the sidelines or to a conclusion. “President Ilham Aliyev has always promised a military solution to the [Nagorno-Karabakh] conflict and he still has the issue on the agenda. The option of a military solution is always on the table, but the most important thing is how this kind of operation will be carried out. We need to become much stronger so that if we become involved in combat in Nagorno-Karabakh we can stand up to Russian troops, because that is who we will have to face. Did Armenia occupy our territories? Do you think Armenia’s power is sufficient for that?” asked Ali Hasanov, Azerbaijan’s deputy prime minister, in a press conference held with a group of Turkish reporters in the capital city of Baku.

The unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh occupation remains one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints. Russia, who has maintained regular standing forces in and around Armenia as part of its efforts to reconstruct its old empire, is not inclined to abandon its Armenian satellite nor to allow Azerbaijan, a U.S. ally, a free hand. Armenia is lost in the throes of legendary mysticism over the Nagorno-Karabakh, and has a disconcerting habit of choosing war criminals from the region for its presidency. Azerbaijan, anxious to overcome growing domestic unrest over the unresolved situation, has begun to translate its large petrochemical wealth into military power.

As the saying goes, trends continue indefinitely until they stop. Baku is clearly tiring of winning countless UN and other NGO resolutions demanding that Armenia abandon the conquered territory for nothing. Russia’s heavy hand is not merely delaying the inevitable reckoning, it is raising the stakes and the anger in the area.

As long as Russia backs Yerevan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict — with troops, wealth, and diplomatic efforts — the pressure in the region will continue to rise. For the sake of the millions all around, Russia’s role must cease.

 

Image Copyright Shutterstock.com/Dmitry Nikolaev