Russian president Vladimir Putin stands next to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the World Energy Congress. Source: AFP

How Putin, Erdogan and Aliyev resolved the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis

Russian peacekeepers will now be deployed along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh and the Lachin Corridor

Andrew Korybko November 11, 2020

The Nagorno-Karabakh War has finally ended, and Presidents Aliyev, Erdogan, and Putin all deserve next year’s Nobel Peace Prize for bringing it about. The Azerbaijani leader implemented the four UNSC Resolutions on the matter that had hitherto failed to politically resolve the conflict, with full support from his Turkish counterpart, which in turn inspired the Russian leader to intervene in encouraging his Armenian ally to finally agree to peace. This dramatic development was the result of close diplomatic coordination at the highest levels.

Azerbaijan warned over the summer that Armenia’s unprovoked attack against it along their international frontier was the sign of something much worse to come. Baku was proven correct after Yerevan launched another failed attack against its neighbour several months later at the end of September, which resulted in Azerbaijan commencing its ultimately successful counteroffensive. The Azerbaijani Armed Forces were greatly aided by the military equipment and political support that they earlier received from Turkey.

At the time, many observers feared the possible eruption of a larger conflict if Russia intervened on its Armenian CSTO military ally’s side, which could have in turn prompted a reciprocal Turkish military intervention in Azerbaijan’s support. To Moscow’s full credit, it remained totally neutral during these tense times and even reiterated its official position that it adheres to the four UNSC Resolutions that it earlier promulgated which demanded that Armenia withdraw from the universally recognised Azerbaijani territory under occupation.

Nevertheless, Russia warned that any spread of the conflict into Armenia’s internationally recognised borders would compel it to consider activating the CSTO’s mutual defence clause, but that comment was moot since Azerbaijan never harboured any such intentions. If anything, that proclamation served as a public warning to Armenia to withdraw from Azerbaijan since it cannot depend on Russia to support its colonial occupation of that country’s territory.

Intense diplomatic efforts had been underway between Russia and Turkey since the resumption of the conflict in late September. These two Great Powers closely communicated with one another and coordinated their moves in order to avoid the unintentional outbreak of the larger war that so many feared. Armenia, from a position of utter desperation, dangerously tried to provoke that worst-case scenario by misportraying the conflict as a so-called “Clash of Civilisations” and committing war crimes by bombing Azerbaijani cities.

President Aliyev deserves the greatest appreciation for not falling into the trap of responding symmetrically, which could have served as a tripwire for Russia to intervene even if only to “save face”. It was through the result of trilateral Azerbaijani-Turkish-Russian diplomatic efforts that Armenia’s dangerous scheme to spark a regional war failed and Moscow became aware of the extent to which its ally was attempting to manipulate it. Still, Armenia refused to surrender and even went on a war crime spree by bombing more cities.

Russia knew that it had to diplomatically intervene in order to avert the humanitarian catastrophe that was looming as a result of Armenia’s reckless attacks. Moscow also presumably felt sorry for the Armenian forces that were being sent into a meat grinder for no reason other than to indefinitely perpetuate Prime Minister Pashinyan’s political career since he feared that he’d probably be ousted from power if he called off the war. Through one way or another via means that can only be speculated upon, Russia got Armenia to finally stop.

This was a bittersweet victory because the outcome is exactly what would have been implemented through purely peaceful methods had Armenia simply abided by international law and agreed to earlier Russian peace proposals over the years. An estimated several thousand Armenian fighters were killed for literally no reason at all other than for one man’s ego and to keep up the illusion of his ultra-nationalist base’s fascist ideology of regional expansionism that they refer to as “Greater Armenia”.

Russian peacekeepers will now be deployed along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh and the Lachin Corridor, replacing the Armenian forces who will soon withdraw in phases over the next few weeks. Their mission will last for at least five years, after which it can be extended upon the approval of both sides unless one of them decides to terminate the agreement within six months of it expiring. Azerbaijan will also secure a corridor to its Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic via southern Armenia which will be secured by Russia.

Presidents Aliyev, Erdogan, and Putin therefore avoided the “Clash of Civilisations” trap that Armenia had set for them in a bid to spark a regional war that its desperate leadership thought it could exploit for the purpose of prolonging its illegal occupation of approximately one-fifth of Azerbaijani land. Russia’s masterful diplomatic skills coupled with Azerbaijan’s military prowess and Turkey’s political support succeeded in a way that few had previously thought possible.

The author analysed this more at length in his recent analysis titled “The End Of The Nagorno-Karabakh War: Retrospection, Clarification, And Forecast”, which interested readers should peruse if they’re eager to learn more about the details of what happened, why, and what might come next. For the rest of the audience, it’s enough to know that these three Presidents pulled off a legendary peacemaking feat which truly makes them worthy of receiving the Nobel Peace Prize next year.

Andrew Korybko

The writer is an American Moscow-based political analyst specialising in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He tweets at @AKorybko

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Saleem Haq | 2 years ago | Reply

Great article and great peaceful achievement by the great LEADERS ! Hats off to them.

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