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Armenia’s Diplomatic Brinkmanship Over Nagorno-Karabakh (Op-Ed)

Richard Giragosian

In the early hours of April 2, the long asleep Nagorno-Karabakh dispute erupted as Azeri army launched a military offensive. The brief, though intense, four-day fight suggested the volatility of this supposed “frozen” Karabakh conflict.

From a troops perspective, the scale of the Azeri descent was as astonishing as it was unprecedented. In a well-coordinated attack, Azeri units targeted 3 opposite areas along an entrenched and deeply fortified front line separating the Armenian army of Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan.

The most critical given the 1994 cease-fire, the clashes demonstrated a new Azeri troops strategy, directed to seize and secure domain by attacking and altering the status quo of an confirmed Armenian defensive perimeter.

Despite a serious counterattack by Armenian defenders, that retook scarcely all positions mislaid in the initial assault, the Azeri side successfully demonstrated an enhanced fight ability and initially out-gunned the Karabakh defenders. With the purchase and procurement of modern descent arms systems, mostly from Russia, the recent fight was considerably opposite than the 1990s war. The conflict’s new tactful context binds the widest and most critical implications. The Azeri side has reached a tipping point, losing ease for diplomacy and peace talks — preferring the force of arms to resolve the conflict.

The Russian-brokered relinquishment of recent hostilities validated the death of the frail 1994 cease-fire. The oral agreement, reached in Moscow on the fourth and final day of fighting, was an agreement to cease firing, though not a cease-fire agreement.

Looking ahead, the real plea stems from the needed to return to basic diplomacy, focusing not on conflict resolution, though on diplomatic rendezvous to restore ease and rebuild an effective cease-fire.

Such tact is now driven by Russia and backed by its influence. The cessation of hostilities agreement was both announced in Moscow and attained by Moscow. However, as primary arms retailer to both Armenia and Azerbaijan, Russia’s purpose as go-between will be conjunction easy nor unchallenged.

The challenge for Russia stems not from Western opposition, though from its vital partner Armenia. Amid a deep and widening predicament in Armenian-Russian relations, Moscow will have to steer smoothly and tread delicately. For Yerevan, the crisis represents deepening dissatisfaction — not with the relationship itself, though over the unequal terms of the vital partnership.

For many Armenians, this predicament noted a culmination in frustration with an asymmetrical and disrespectful alliance, serve exacerbated by the clarity of betrayal by Russia, that sole the weapons used by Azerbaijan opposite Karabakh. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev usually delirious tensions when, during a visit to Armenia usually days after the fighting, validated Russian skeleton to continue offered arms to Azerbaijan. Medvedev stressed that this was no longer a simple business transaction, though deputy of a new routine of Cold War-style anticipation by seeking to balance both sides with Russian weapons.

This has triggered a new arrangement of diplomatic brinkmanship by Armenia, noted by two graphic demonstrations. The first was of Armenian independence, with the dispatch of senior Armenian troops officials to a assembly with NATO, directed at reminding Moscow that Yerevan has options over an institutionalized purpose as a supplicant state for Russia.

The second Armenian arrangement of diplomatic brinkmanship was distant some-more innovative: the threat to recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. On May 5 the Armenian Cabinet adopted a motion, job on Armenia to formally extend tactful approval of Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent republic.

This was a bid to garner precedence and wield tactful vigour on mediators as good as Azerbaijan, generally as any such approval would irrevocably fall the peace process. Yet, this was also designed to pressure Moscow, that is seen as dangerously changeable divided from Yerevan and closer to Baku.

Despite the audacity of this gambit, it stays doubtful that Armenia will commend Karabakh. Because tactful precedence rests on the hazard of recognition, Armenian routine stays prudently cautious. With few negotiate chips and limited options in Armenian unfamiliar policy, approval would usually come as a policy response to further and future Azeri aggression.

Nevertheless, the outlook for the Karabakh dispute stays bleak, as the absence of real anticipation means that zero is preventing Azerbaijan from launching another offensive. This also suggests that as the Karabakh and Armenian army are the only effective halt for renewed hostilities, any destiny Russian arms sales to Azerbaijan will certainly do demonstrable repairs to the already stretched Armenian-Russian relationship. 

Richard Giragosian is a director of the Regional Studies Center (RSC), an independent consider tank in Yerevan, Armenia.

Article source: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/569150.html