Farkhad Akhmedov, Ex-senator, entrepreneur, philanthropist
The simple truth is that Nagorny Karabakh is Azerbaijan, in these days becomes apparent. The region is returned under the control of Azerbaijan. The vaunted Armenian defense is crumbling in front of our eyes, the enemy retreats, abandoning weapons, equipment and ammunition. Azerbaijani troops have already raised the flag over the ancient Khudaferin bridge, and reached the distant approaches to Shusha and Khankendi, establishing control over a significant part of the occupied territories.
The videos, distributed by the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan, demonstrate the exact defeat of enemy personnel and equipment by unmanned vehicles. Yerevan has nothing to respond to the use of high-tech means of warfare, and it resorts to indiscriminate night strikes against peaceful settlements located tens of kilometers from the combat zone. Missile strikes on Ganja are a direct violation of international humanitarian law, or, translated from the official language, a war crime. It is not without reason that the whole world unanimously condemns the atrocities caused by N. Pashinyan's convulsive attempt to oppose at least something to the successful offensive of the Azerbaijani army.
These days, when the return of the territories of Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan is in full swing, it is worth considering the role of Russia in the South Caucasus region, given that the rapidly changing military-political situation will have numerous consequences. Traditionally, Moscow has been the leader in the post-Soviet space. Nevertheless, in the Karabakh conflict, its policy has long lost the necessary dynamism, energy and ability to work ahead of the curve. The “Karabakh case” has been left to chance, entrusted to foreign mediators and internal diasporas. As a result, today we can hear alarmist statements about the Turkish "ousting" of Russia from the South Caucasus, that Ankara is trying on a leading role in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, and the region as a whole. This tendency is the result of the detachment of those responsible persons in the Russian foreign policy establishment and expert community who for decades shied away from an active role in the settlement, in the expectation that the conflict would be frozen forever.
Twenty-six years have passed since the signing of the armistice agreement in Nagorno-Karabakh. For more than a quarter of a century, the OSCE Minsk Group has been looking for a peaceful solution to the conflict without making any progress. And all this time, the occupation of the Azerbaijani lands continued - both in Nagorno-Karabakh proper and in seven surrounding regions. They tried to tear away 12 thousand square kilometers of its best lands from Azerbaijan. For almost three decades, gold, copper and other strategic minerals have been pumped out from here. According to some estimates, annually from the plundering of the occupied territories in the pockets of the leaders of the separatist NKR settled on average $ 283 million.
No leader would endlessly put up with such a situation. Few people know how much effort Ilham Aliyev, and earlier - his father, spent in trying to resolve the conflict without blood. It is worth noting that Ilham Aliyev, a man with a brilliant education, a graduate of MGIMO, is a very restrained and cautious politician. It is a great happiness for Azerbaijan that in such a difficult historical period it is headed by such a leader, and not by some uneducated populist who would lead the country to the state in which it was in the early 90s.
Azerbaijan is accused of unleashing hostilities. But they did not end since 1988.The only difference is that at this stage, the collective will of the people is being realized both to liberate their lands and to finally suppress any Armenian provocations in the future, once and for all. It was these provocations that triggered the current exacerbation. N. Pashinyan, with his inadmissible actions and statements, heated up the degree of confrontation, and frustrated the last hopes for a constructive dialogue.
Here are just a couple of examples of how diverse the arsenal of provocations is. According to Pashinyan's "logic", with which he tries to justify the independence of the NKR for intellectuals, appealing to the "historical rights", China and Russia should be a part of Mongolia, and the European Union should be a part of the city of Rome. And for a wider audience - TV footage, where Pashinyan's wife in Karabakh poses with a Russian rifle aimed at Azerbaijan. One gets the impression that the leadership of Armenia deliberately tried to humiliate, offend, sting to the quick, pour the salt on the old wounds. And the apotheosis is the notorious 7-point ultimatum to Ilham Aliyev, who until recently tried to look for peaceful solutions to the problem.
The patience of the people of Azerbaijan has come to an end. The outbreak of hostilities resulted in a truly patriotic war for 10 million citizens. And in such a war, any support matters. Therefore, when Turkey (by the way, a member of the OSCE Minsk Group) extends a helping hand - why should Baku refuse it?
Azerbaijan achieves victory at the front by its own efforts. Gossip about Arab mercenaries and Turkish instructors is an attempt to cast a shadow over the fence. Times have just changed. In 1992-1994, Azerbaijan was in a difficult situation due to internal instability. Today it possesses a high-tech army, armed and trained to meet the requirements of the 21st century. Her soldiers and officers rely on the full support and confidence of the people. Azerbaijan supported by all neighbors in the region: Turkey, Iran, Georgia. Strong relations with foreign countries, for example, with Israel. Unlike Armenia, which has a pathological tendency to intrigue with any partner.
As for Russia, it urgently needs to regain its decisive role in the region. And this must be achieved by non-declarative measures. The agreement on a humanitarian ceasefire, signed in Moscow on the night of October 9-10 with Russian mediation, was thwarted by the Armenian side, which resulted in increased shelling of civilian targets in Azerbaijan. The new ceasefire agreement of October 17 also does not work.
Consequently, new, extraordinary, systemic actions are required that will allow the conflict to be settled, to restore the real influence of Russia in the Transcaucasus. It should not be forgotten that 5-6 million Azerbaijanis and Armenians live in the Russian Federation, and if the war drags on, the confrontation between the two diasporas inside the country will likely escalate.
In 2009-2011, at the initiative of Russia, a breakthrough result was almost achieved. Then, under the chairmanship of President Medvedev, the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed on a consensus based on the maximum possible mutual concessions. Unfortunately, the signing of the agreement was disrupted. As it became known later, because in the final text, without warning, have been at the request of the Armenian side made unacceptable for Azerbaijan adjustments. And here it was not without the intervention of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who openly lobbied the interests of Nagorno-Karabakh, trying to make its representatives the participants in the negotiations. Lavrov's role in the Karabakh settlement was generally negative and biased, I would call it a kind of malfeasance. As he himself admitted in 2005, at a meeting with Armenian students in Yerevan, “I have Armenian blood and no other. This blood does not bother me in anything".
Let me question this last point. Lavrov's tendency to invite Armenian journalists to his place and have long conversations with them "over a glass" is well known. Therefore, it is not surprising that there is no confidence in his actions: both recent ceasefire agreements were thwarted, and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu had to be involved in the negotiations. A department whose head is not ethnically impartial cannot be considered an objective mediator in a complex conflict.
The failure of the agreement in Kazan in 2011 cost Azerbaijan and Armenia the loss of a decade, which could have been devoted to the establishment of normal neighborly relations. In economic terms, lost profits were billions of dollars. Even more billions were spent on the arms race, and part of Armenia's defense spending has traditionally been a burden on the shoulders of the Russian taxpayer. But if then a comprehensive agreement on a peaceful settlement had been reached, then Armenia could enter into regional infrastructure projects, including in the vital energy sector. No wonder Dale Carnegie wrote that it is better to have a rich man as a neighbor. So for Armenia, poor both in land and natural resources, fate itself sent Azerbaijan.
However, instead of establishing good-neighborly relations, Yerevan chose the path of war and annexation. Having achieved success in the early 90s, the Armenians rested on their laurels, thinking that this would continue forever, believing in the myth of “Great Armenia”, which they themselves created. But the time has come to pay the bill. Unfortunately, both Azerbaijan and Armenia are paying the dearest price - with the lives of soldiers and civilians. And this is the result, among other things, of delusions and neglect on the part of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Today Pashinyan continues to stubbornly reject the "Madrid 5 + 2" formula proposed by the mediators. It is not yet clear when he will be taught to be defeated at the front. Feverishly clinging to power and refusing to admit the bankruptcy of his policies, he is dragging an entire country down with him. But he cannot but heed Russia's clear and firmly articulated position. Since he completely depends on her in everything, no matter what he says in public. Only Moscow is able to gather under its auspices the leaders of both countries, find understandable arguments for them, be able to work out a new version of the peace agreement corresponding to the current changed balance of forces and the new status quo, as well as the mechanism for implementing this agreement, which will be based on the principle of recognition territorial integrity of Azerbaijan
In this regard, the following point is important. Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev enjoys the full confidence of the President of Russia, has extensive foreign policy experience, including in the field of the Karabakh settlement. I think it is quite possible to entrust him with an intermediary mission between Baku and Yerevan. Being a seasoned diplomat and professional lawyer, he is equidistant from the opposing sides and can count on their trust. In the event of a potential decision on the part of Vladimir Putin, Medvedev could become the ideal mediator for building shuttle diplomacy. Just as Henry Kissinger did in his time, ending the war in Vietnam, or Strobe Talbott, summing up the war in the Balkans.
In the conflicts I have mentioned, the United States has pushed Moscow into the background. This should not be allowed in the South Caucasus. If Russia does not say a decisive word now, irreparable damage will be done to its prestige and influence.
I am sure that when Azerbaijan returns the lost territories, peaceful creative work on the restoration of Karabakh will begin. I am personally ready to do everything possible to help this land that has endured so much. Including the finance the restoration of a church in Shusha, destroyed by an accidental missile hit. And I will definitely build a music school in this cradle of world music, in which, I believe, Azerbaijani, Armenian and children of other nationalities will study together.