Ensuring Armenia’s security
“If we do not take decisive action, the situation will end with [an Azerbaijan] attack on Armenia, and the Armenian authorities will be forced to ask Russia to intervene. And the price will be the corridor [“Zangezur corridor”, which the Armenian authorities refuse to give to Azerbaijan],” Armenian political scientist Areg Kochinyan says.
He proposes to hire an American private military company to solve the country’s security problems in the short term – at least for 2-3 years – until reforms in the defense sector are completed.
In an interview with a local publication, the analyst talked about the likelihood of a new war or escalation, approaches to the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, and the position of mediators.
“There are dozens of private military companies in the states that also work with foreign governments. The key to solving our short-term security problem is right here.”
Meghri is the section through which Azerbaijan intends to obtain the so-called “Zangezur corridor”. The Ijevan direction is in the neighborhood of enclaves whose return is demanded by the Azerbaijani authorities. Areg Kochinyan believes that the invasion of Azerbaijani armed forces is most likely in these areas.
The analyst emphasizes: this step certainly indicates a change in the vector of Armenia’s foreign policy, but its ally, Russia, “itself has already changed its vector with regard to Armenia.”
This is not the first time Kochinyan has also said that Armenia should immediately leave the Russian CSTO military bloc, abandon the military base stationed in the country, and “rethink Armenian-Russian relations.” He says that in the short term, economic strikes from Russia may have a strong negative impact. But the economic, energy, infrastructure and all other problems Armenia will face are quite solvable.
Military expert Leonid Nersisyan believes that “Baku will not occupy, for example, the southern region of Armenia, Syunik, but will resort to a new escalation”
Kochinyan sees the preconditions for a perfect storm that will lead to a new war or escalation in the region. He considers the failure of the Pashinyan-Aliyev talks scheduled for late October in Brussels a step in this direction.
According to him, after Azerbaijan’s recent military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh, there is no more status quo that existed at the time of signing the statement of November 9, 2020.
“Now the mediators are competing over which platform this document will be formed. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, is trying to get the maximum before that.”
Baku’s plans now include he “Zangezur corridor”, in which Russia is also interested. This explains Azerbaijan’s reluctance to participate in the negotiations on the Western platform and sign a document based on the principles laid down in Granada.
Kochinyan’s list of “destabilizing elements” leading to a new escalation:
- US inconsistency: “the statement by Acting Deputy Secretary of State Yuri Kim that the US will not tolerate ethnic cleansing against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and Baku’s impunity afterward.”
- position of the Russian Federation: if the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is resolved, Russia will find itself as a “ship without a harbor” in the region, so Moscow needs a new escalation to have an excuse to “save Armenians”;
- the failure of the Brussels meeting, after which the West was in a sense out of the game;
- Azerbaijan’s readiness for military action.
Saakashvili writes that Armenia is “overdue for European integration,” but recent developments give the region a new chance.
The political analyst says that it is better for Armenia to negotiate directly with Azerbaijan, or with Azerbaijan and Turkey, than to go to the Russian capital. He declared a meeting mediated by the Russian side the worst option, as it creates a “three against one” situation.
According to Kochinyan, it is critical for Russia that a settlement not take place, so it is important to first change its political vector towards the West:
“Attempting a settlement in a situation while the Russian Federation has such a level of influence in the region, especially in Armenia, is just self-deception.”
He believes that if the West is left out of the negotiation process, it will react to a possible escalation by “expressing deep concern, appealing and condemning”.
But if the Western platform can be maintained, one can expect to negotiate with Azerbaijan. In particular, he speaks of the desirability of organizing a meeting of foreign ministers in Washington. According to Kochinyan, this would be a step backward compared to the Brussels meeting, which was to be held with the participation of the leaders of the two countries, but in this way the West would not be finally thrown out of the process.