Posted 20 октября 2020,, 14:29

Published 20 октября 2020,, 14:29

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:36

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:36

Karabakh knot: what role does Turkey play in it

Karabakh knot: what role does Turkey play in it

20 октября 2020, 14:29
Deciding to directly participate in the Karabakh war, the Turks were well aware that they were entering the territory traditionally considered a zone of Moscow's vital interests.

Victor Kuzovkov

The current conflict in Karabakh is somewhat paradoxical. On the one hand, everything is simple and clear there - Azerbaijan is stronger, Turkey has openly taken its side (and this is a very strong regional player), Baku has also wisely used its economic potential, having invested well in high-precision weapons of various types. The self-defense forces of Karabakh are still holding out, showing stubbornness on the verge of heroism, but it is obvious that almost never miss drones kill both cowards and heroes with equal success. More precisely, the heroes get even more - they usually do not leave their positions without an order, so they die first.

On the other hand, the position of other major geopolitical players, including Russia, is still not entirely clear. And in this scenario, a lot depends on them - if the Kremlin does not stand up for Yerevan and Karabakh, their final defeat can be predicted with a high probability. But Moscow has taken a very cautious position, and it is still not clear whether greed won out and Armenia was deprived of "draining" for the sake of our oil barons who want to suck on Azerbaijani oil, or Putin is waiting, wishing to punish the Armenians for the relatively recent color revolution, the past, what is there to hide, largely under anti-Russian slogans.

One way or another, Moscow keeps a pause, which someone is trying to interpret as another "cunning plan", while someone directly calls helplessness and a dead end in which it finds itself as a result of its amoeba-like policy. I don't want to think about the fact that Armenia was exchanged for the interests of another "friend of Putin", because this is not only disgusting in itself, but also extremely stupid - if the stake on Ankara is justified for Baku, Moscow "business" in principle can curtail its activities in Azerbaijan. Yes, then there will be a lot of talk about “we were deceived”, but all that remains is to shrug our shoulders and say the traditional phrase: “It never happened, and here it is again”...

In this regard, it is worth mentioning the negotiations that took place in Moscow recently and at which the parties to the conflict seem to have agreed on an armistice. On the one hand, it looks like Moscow's attempt to emphasize its role in the region. And formally, this attempt seems to have succeeded. On the other hand, it is already clear that Baku is not going to adhere to these agreements. This means that he deliberately threw the bone to the toothless Kremlin diplomacy in order to gain time, slightly lower the degree of public polemics and appear in front of television cameras in white peacekeeping clothes - this is useful, especially if you want to destroy or expel from the country hundreds of thousands of your fellow citizens.

There is no need to argue that Baku has long and thoroughly prepared for war. But on the whole it is very likely that the training was not only purely military, but at least diplomatic. It is noteworthy that even the states that have a strong Armenian lobby - and apart from Russia, this is, for example, France, and the United States can also be included in this list - are in no hurry to rush to help Yerevan. Yes, there are voices in support of Armenia, and even quite loud ones. But so far, the matter does not go further than talk, while in Karabakh dozens, if not hundreds of Armenians die every day, and the Karabakh army is catastrophically losing resources for resistance. The air defense of Karabakh has already been practically destroyed, artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, armored vehicles, including tanks, have been badly damaged. And Baku is quite satisfied with such a situation - a couple of weeks more, and the determination of the defenders may collapse, and just one successful offensive with a depth of resistance of about a hundred kilometers can lead to a cardinal deterioration of the situation for the Armenian side. She is already at war, having virtually no rear because of the great activity of the enemy's UAVs. But the situation will become even worse if the whole of Karabakh, right through, is shot through with cannon artillery of the battalion and regimental level. Believe me, no matter how dangerous drones are, echelons of conventional shells fired on the heads of defenders and civilians can worsen the military and humanitarian situation multiple times.

But as recently published sources show, Azerbaijan is ready for conflict even better than we thought. According to the Kommersant newspaper, Turkey is not only helping Azerbaijan, but is directly at the origins of this conflict. Ankara actively provoked Baku, promising it all-round support, including intelligence, military-technical, diplomatic. And after the joint Azerbaijani-Turkish exercises, which took place in July-August of this year, a group of about six hundred Turkish servicemen remained on the territory of Azerbaijan. Moreover, it was not just one unit. This group included drone operators, instructors, military advisers, pilots and aerodrome technicians, as well as a battalion tactical group (most likely special forces, although this is not explicitly indicated) in the amount of about two hundred people.

It is also noted that in September-October, including after the start of the conflict, flights of Turkish military transport aviation to Azerbaijan sharply increased. And already at the height of hostilities, on September 28-30, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and the commander of the ground forces Umit Dundar arrived in Azerbaijan secretly. Other flights of Turkish and Azerbaijani military transport aircraft were also noted, the purpose of which was to deliver military equipment and ammunition to Azerbaijan.

Of course, something like this could have been guessed before. In particular, in one of the previous materials on the pages of Novye Izvestia, I assumed that Turkish drones, "nightmares" of the Karabakh air defense and ground units, ended up in Azerbaijan not as a result of a purchase or even some kind of military aid, but directly from the Turkish army , together with the personnel accustomed to working with this technique, together with the commanders, service staff and regimental banners. It was not just a guess: the Turkish Baitaktars acted very coherently and effectively, attacking the Armenian Osa and Strela complexes at the limit of their range of application, without even entering the zone of their shelling. And now our guess has been confirmed...

This means that Turkey is not just an ally of Azerbaijan - it is a party to the conflict. Moreover, she decided on this, clearly realizing that she was entering the territory traditionally considered the zone of vital interests of Moscow. And this, you see, is very symptomatic...

In general, Ankara has recently been actively putting a spoke in the Kremlin's wheels. Under the talk of friendship and cooperation, the Turks support terrorists in Syria, got into the Libyan conflict, and now they have created another hotbed of tension in the Caucasus. More precisely, it was created much earlier, but they made every possible effort to inflame it with a new, hitherto unseen force.

Frankly, it is difficult to make a definite conclusion about why Ankara has suddenly become so cocky. Perhaps this is due to the personality of Erdogan. But it is also very likely that Turkey is actively speculating on Russia's desire to split Ankara from NATO and, ideally, to get a sufficiently strong and self-sufficient ally in military terms.

But the analysis of Turkey's actions in the past few years draws a separate large article. Therefore, for now, we will confine ourselves to a statement - for some reason, Ankara does not hesitate to come into direct conflict with Moscow's interests. Moreover, it seems increasingly that Ankara is leading the Kremlin by the nose, promising partnership, cooperation and complete mutual understanding, but in fact decisively rushing into any conflict, even if Moscow takes the opposite side in it. And this speaks, at least, of the weakness of the diplomatic positions of Russia, whose words about peace are not backed up, as is usual among serious geopolitical players, with the roar of guns...

Georgia's position also looks interesting. In particular, it is no secret that air transport links between Turkey and Azerbaijan are carried out through the airspace of this country. Moreover, Tbilisi said that during the conflict it prohibits the use of its airspace for the transportation of military cargo by both sides. However, we see that things do not go beyond talk ...

Of course, this can be partly explained by the weakness of Georgia, which is simply unable to close its sky on its own. That is why, probably, the Georgian authorities used a rather strange formulation in such cases - the Georgian side, it turns out, hopes for a responsible approach of shippers and consignees who transit through the Georgian airspace. That is, Turkey and Azerbaijan should catch themselves and punish themselves for the smuggling of military supplies into the conflict zone.

At the same time, Tbilisi, if it had a desire, could demonstrate its concern or irritation with the arbitrariness of its neighbors, at least diplomatically. And this would be very serious if only because diplomatic pressure on Ankara would multiply, and other states would have a reason, for example, to discuss the issue at a meeting of the UN Security Council.

But no, Georgia, having declared its position, simply washed its hands and actually gave carte blanche to all parties to the conflict. Of course, Moscow can also benefit from this, but it can always refer to the need to supply Russian troops stationed in Armenia and ignore the accusations. That is, the silence of Tbilisi can still be interpreted as a concession to Ankara and Baku. And as one more proof that the position and interests of the Kremlin are now taken into account in the entire Transcaucasia, perhaps only in Yerevan...

Recent reports from the conflict zone are cautiously optimistic. In particular, it is alleged that the Armenian air defense shot down 5 Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones in just a day. Since the Armenian side had not demonstrated such success before, the observers had a hope that this was due to the appearance of some new air defense systems among the Armenians. To be honest, only Russia could supply.

This is encouraging. And the point is not even that the author takes a pro-Armenian position. No, it is good news that the Kremlin may have realized that it is time to move from "cunning plans" to some kind of action. For example, to punish those who so clearly spit on the interests and role of Moscow in the Transcaucasus...

But, let's be honest, it's not so obvious that we'd better keep our optimism to ourselves for now. Most likely, the matter will be limited to a certain number of downed Azerbaijani and Turkish drones, in order to force the parties to observe the ceasefire. True, by that time, the Azerbaijani military could further increase the area of the Karabakh territories controlled by them, and such an armistice may well become a welcome respite for Baku before another dash to Stepanakert...