Atlantic : Many bombardments of Azerbaijan on Armenia took place in the night from Monday to Tuesday. What do we know about this Azerbaijani offensive ?
Emmanuel Dupuy : This offensive does not take place in Nagorno-Karabakh (territory born on the ruins of the Soviet Union, which has been the subject of four UN Security Council resolutions adopted in 1993, reaffirming “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan”), but along a common border between Azerbaijan and Armenia located to the north.
Russia's security deal with Armenia makes Moscow supposed to help the country in such situations. Is this proof that Russia has abandoned this confrontation ? Did the invasion of Ukraine have an impact on this file? ?
Firstly, there is a bilateral agreement between the two countries for Russia to intervene in the event of aggression. More 3 000 Russians are positioned on two military bases located on Armenian territory. On the other hand, both countries are part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (OTSC) founded in 2002. With regard to the article 4 of this treaty, which is the exact copy of the article 5 NATO, if a member country considers itself to be attacked by a third country, all other countries must provide the necessary assistance, including military. Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pachinian, immediately requested the placement of the article 4. But Russia did not consider it necessary to apply the article 4 and preferred to opt for a diplomatic solution.
The conflict in Ukraine had two consequences : First, it was a test for the reliability of the principle of collective security within the CSTO. At the end of January, during major demonstrations in Kazakhstan, Kazakh President asks CSTO member countries for assistance (Russia, Armenia, Belarus, le Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) to deploy security forces. The other members responded positively to this request. But at the St. Petersburg economic forum last May, the president of Kazakhstan has said that he will not recognize the two self-declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk and that he will not send troops to Ukraine. Solidarity within this collective security agreement remains fragile.
Secondly, a good part of the Russian troops in Nagorno Karabagh (1 900 men, 90 transport vehicles and 88 special units) were called up to fight on the Ukrainian front.
Can we see in this action a form of test for Russia ?
It is a test to know if Russia has control over this file.. And that remains the case because it was Moscow that banged its fist on the table. Armenian Prime Minister and Iranian President call President Vladimir Putin after Azerbaijani bombings.
Regarding the Collective Security Treaty, it remains wobbly. Armenia has not sent any troops to Ukraine and Russia continues to sell military equipment to Azerbaijan.
More generally, this situation of high tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan confirms the marginalization of the Minsk process within the framework of the OSCE and weakens the new form of mediation launched by the President of the European Council Charles Michel.
If Russia does not react, will its international credibility be affected ?
Non. This is a minor case in the politico-military apparatus of Russia. Vladimir Putin partly outsourced the management of the region to Turkey. We have confirmation that there is a rather paradoxical rapprochement between the Russians and the Turks, both in Ukraine, in the Black Sea or in Nagorno-Karabakh. Les autres acteurs internationaux sont minorés du fait de l’accord tacite entre la Russie et la Turquie, malgré quelques contradictions apparentes : la Turquie est associé à Israël dans le soutien à l’Azerbaïdjan, pays chiite à 75% mais éloigné diplomatiquement de l’Iran, ce dernier soutenant l’Arménie, pays chrétien et qui se trouve dans une logique occidentale.
Cela peut-il inciter certains alliés à la Russie à se détourner d’elle ? D’autres pays peuvent-ils profiter de la situation ?
Le troisième pays du Caucase , la Géorgie, qui possède une frontière commune avec l’Azerbaïdjan et l’Arménie, wants to remain independent from Russia and seeks to turn to NATO. As for Turkey, it must not turn its back on Armenia or Georgia, especially if the Georgians one day join NATO. Turkey wants to serve as a gas interconnector between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, this is why she strives to appease her relations with her neighbors.
Despite the good will of the Armenian Prime Minister to establish peace, there are hawks in Yerevan who seek to redact the peace agreement and rekindle the conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan. They are in a logic of revenge.
Finally, the resurgence of the conflict jeopardizes the efforts of the international community to encourage Armenia and Azerbaijan to sign the Convention on the prohibition of antipersonnel mines of 1997.