RUSSIAN COMMANDER: AZERBAIJAN IS BLUFFING ABOUT DOWNING KARABAKH FLIGHTS
January 30, 2013 – 8:33am, by Giorgi Lomsadze
If the weather and Azerbaijan cooperate, we’re repeatedly told,
passenger planes will soon take off from the separatist airstrip of
Nagorno-Karabakh. Any passengers, though, will probably be uneasily
shifting in their seats with every shake or rattle, trying to figure
out whether their plane has encountered turbulence or is dodging
If it’s any reassurance for those prospective passengers, a top Russian
general thinks that Azerbaijan is just kidding about its threats to
knock down the planned flights from the breakaway territory. “It is
either an unsuccessful articulation of thoughts or an unfortunate
joke,” asserted Nikolai Bordyuzha, the secretary general of the
Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Russia’s response
to NATO, while on a trip to Yerevan. “I don’t take this information
Committed to reclaiming Karabakh and the adjoining occupied
territories, and returning tens of thousands of IDPs, Baku threatened
to gun down any planes from the newly renovated airport outside the
Karabakhi capital Stepanakert (known to Azerbaijanis as Khankendi),
and said it has the full right to do so. Armenia threatened to respond
in kind, and the Caucasus again got filled with the threat of war.
Cue Russia. Armenia is part of the CSTO, which vowed to protect,
honor and cherish its members in good times and bad.
But the Azerbaijanis told Bordyuzha that they can match words with
intentions, and again accused Moscow of siding with Armenia in
the conflict over breakaway Karabakh. “Azerbaijan is not joking,”
said Azerbaijani foreign ministry spokesperson Eldar Sabiroglu,
Yet even if Azerbaijan finds a universally acceptable legal
justification for attacks on Karabakh flights and won’t be deterred by
Armenian retaliation or international reaction, it is highly unlikely
to risk an all-out confrontation with Moscow, some observers believe.
Particularly in an election year. Meanwhile, Moscow, in some way,
may be attempting to put a lid on the enthusiasm of Armenian President
Serzh Sargsyan, a Karabakh native, for the flights. Citing anonymous
Russian defense ministry sources, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that a
recent delegation to Yerevan had advised against civilian flights from
Karabakh, and had emphasized Armenia’s pending military cooperation
agreement with Moscow. That said, whether or not the Russian
reassurance or recommendations will cool hot heads remains a toss-up.
Failing all else, passengers on any Karabakh flight might want to
take an extra minute to locate the security exits.