VoA: Turkey Vows Support for Azerbaijan in Escalating Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Voice of America
Sept 28 2020
By Dorian Jones
03:25 PM
ISTANBUL – Turkey says it will back Azerbaijan with all means necessary as fighting entered a second day Monday between Azeri and Armenian forces over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, in a sign the conflict could be widening.  

Monday saw Azeri and Armenian forces exchange heavy artillery fire, with each accusing the other of starting the hostilities Sunday. Observers called the latest fighting over Nargono Karabakh, an enclave inside Azerbaijan but run by ethnic Armenians, the worst since the 1990s. 

Witness reports put the number of dead, including civilians, at more than 20 and at least 100 wounded.  

People watch TV in a bomb shelter in Stepanakert, the capital of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, in this picture released Sept. 28, 2020. (Foreign Ministry of Armenia/Handout via Reuters)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quick to voice support  for Azerbaijan, labeling Armenia "the biggest threat to peace in the region." The Turkish leader called on "the entire world to stand with Azerbaijan in their battle against invasion and cruelty." 

The Armenian foreign ministry on Monday said Turkish military "experts" were "fighting side by side with Azerbaijan." Turkish government officials declined to comment on the accusations.  

"Turkey troops will not be on the front line, Azeri forces don't need them," said Turkish analyst Ilhan Uzgel. But Uzgel says Ankara remains Baku's key military ally. 

"Turkey is already supporting Azerbaijan militarily," he said, "through technical assistance through arms sales, providing critical military support, especially in terms of armed drones and technical expertise. The line for Turkey's involvement, is Russia's involvement; actually, that is a red line for Turkey. Turkey doesn't want a direct confrontation with Moscow." 

An image from a video made available on the website of the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry on Sept. 28, 2020, allegedly shows Azeri troops conducting a combat operation during clashes between Armenian separatists and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Moscow is a vital supporter of Yerevan, and maintains a military base in Armenia.  

The Russian foreign ministry on Monday called for Armenia and Azerbaijan to exercise restraint.  

"Armenian-Russian relations are firm and solid," said Dr. Zaur Gasimov, a Russian affairs expert at Germany's Bonn University. "Now, having faced with casualties on the front line, Yerevan would search for more support from Moscow." 

Ahead of Sunday's outbreak of fighting, Baku had accused Moscow of emboldening Yerevan with significant arms shipments since July.  

"500 tonnes of military cargo has been delivered to Armenia. Let us be clear, from Russia," said Hikmat Hajiyev, head of Azerbaijan department of foreign affairs, in a briefing to foreign journalists in Turkey earlier this month.  

Hajiyev highlighted the significance of Turkey’s military assistance. "We have seen firm and strong support of Turkey to Azerbaijan. Annually, we have 10 joint military exercises covering land troops, anti-terror special forces operations, and air force exercises." 

In what observers interpreted as a message to Armenia, Turkish fighter jets carried out an exercise in Azerbaijan shortly after Armenian and Azeri forces clashed in July. 

Energy interests 

July's fighting in Azerbaijan's Tovuz region was close to crucial energy pipelines that serve Turkey, causing alarm in Ankara. 

"This is a very core security issue for Turkey for energy security," said a senior Turkish energy ministry official speaking to journalists on the condition of anonymity. The official said Turkey "will take any relevant measures" to continue receiving energy deliveries from Azerbaijan.  

Ankara has long supported Baku in its efforts to retake Nagorno-Karabakh, and Erdogan on Monday asserted that if Armenia immediately leaves the territory that he said it is occupying, the region will return to peace and harmony. 

A view of a house said to have been damaged in recent shelling during clashes between Armenian separatists and Azerbaijan over the breakaway Nagorny Karabakh region, Sept. 28, 2020. (Handout Photo from Armenian Foreign Ministry)

Restoring Azeri control over Nagorno-Karabakh has the strong support of Turkish nationalists, a critical political base for Erdogan.

"Two nations, one people" is a popular mantra used by Baku and Ankara to describe the countries' relationship. 

Armenian separatists seized Nargono Karabakh from Azerbaijan in a bloody 1990s war that killed an estimated 30,000 people.  

Turkey appears poised to deepen its cooperation with Azerbaijan, analysts say. 

"But it's quite a risky area. The Caucasus, it's one of Russia's near abroad, the Caucuses is part of Russian area of influence. They may not tolerate Turkish Azerbaijani military action against Armenia that results in heavy Armenian losses. If Turkey and Azerbaijan are planning to have a huge success through military means, that could put Turkish Russian relations at serious risk." 

In recent years, Ankara and Moscow have deepened their relationship, cooperating in Syria and building trade ties that even extend to the purchase of sophisticated Russian military hardware.  

VoA: Turkey Vows Support for Azerbaijan in Escalating Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Voice of America
Sept 28 2020
By Dorian Jones
03:25 PM
ISTANBUL – Turkey says it will back Azerbaijan with all means necessary as fighting entered a second day Monday between Azeri and Armenian forces over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, in a sign the conflict could be widening.  

Monday saw Azeri and Armenian forces exchange heavy artillery fire, with each accusing the other of starting the hostilities Sunday. Observers called the latest fighting over Nargono Karabakh, an enclave inside Azerbaijan but run by ethnic Armenians, the worst since the 1990s. 

Witness reports put the number of dead, including civilians, at more than 20 and at least 100 wounded.  

People watch TV in a bomb shelter in Stepanakert, the capital of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, in this picture released Sept. 28, 2020. (Foreign Ministry of Armenia/Handout via Reuters)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quick to voice support  for Azerbaijan, labeling Armenia "the biggest threat to peace in the region." The Turkish leader called on "the entire world to stand with Azerbaijan in their battle against invasion and cruelty." 

The Armenian foreign ministry on Monday said Turkish military "experts" were "fighting side by side with Azerbaijan." Turkish government officials declined to comment on the accusations.  

"Turkey troops will not be on the front line, Azeri forces don't need them," said Turkish analyst Ilhan Uzgel. But Uzgel says Ankara remains Baku's key military ally. 

"Turkey is already supporting Azerbaijan militarily," he said, "through technical assistance through arms sales, providing critical military support, especially in terms of armed drones and technical expertise. The line for Turkey's involvement, is Russia's involvement; actually, that is a red line for Turkey. Turkey doesn't want a direct confrontation with Moscow." 

An image from a video made available on the website of the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry on Sept. 28, 2020, allegedly shows Azeri troops conducting a combat operation during clashes between Armenian separatists and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Moscow is a vital supporter of Yerevan, and maintains a military base in Armenia.  

The Russian foreign ministry on Monday called for Armenia and Azerbaijan to exercise restraint.  

"Armenian-Russian relations are firm and solid," said Dr. Zaur Gasimov, a Russian affairs expert at Germany's Bonn University. "Now, having faced with casualties on the front line, Yerevan would search for more support from Moscow." 

Ahead of Sunday's outbreak of fighting, Baku had accused Moscow of emboldening Yerevan with significant arms shipments since July.  

"500 tonnes of military cargo has been delivered to Armenia. Let us be clear, from Russia," said Hikmat Hajiyev, head of Azerbaijan department of foreign affairs, in a briefing to foreign journalists in Turkey earlier this month.  

Hajiyev highlighted the significance of Turkey’s military assistance. "We have seen firm and strong support of Turkey to Azerbaijan. Annually, we have 10 joint military exercises covering land troops, anti-terror special forces operations, and air force exercises." 

In what observers interpreted as a message to Armenia, Turkish fighter jets carried out an exercise in Azerbaijan shortly after Armenian and Azeri forces clashed in July. 

Energy interests 

July's fighting in Azerbaijan's Tovuz region was close to crucial energy pipelines that serve Turkey, causing alarm in Ankara. 

"This is a very core security issue for Turkey for energy security," said a senior Turkish energy ministry official speaking to journalists on the condition of anonymity. The official said Turkey "will take any relevant measures" to continue receiving energy deliveries from Azerbaijan.  

Ankara has long supported Baku in its efforts to retake Nagorno-Karabakh, and Erdogan on Monday asserted that if Armenia immediately leaves the territory that he said it is occupying, the region will return to peace and harmony. 

A view of a house said to have been damaged in recent shelling during clashes between Armenian separatists and Azerbaijan over the breakaway Nagorny Karabakh region, Sept. 28, 2020. (Handout Photo from Armenian Foreign Ministry)

Restoring Azeri control over Nagorno-Karabakh has the strong support of Turkish nationalists, a critical political base for Erdogan.

"Two nations, one people" is a popular mantra used by Baku and Ankara to describe the countries' relationship. 

Armenian separatists seized Nargono Karabakh from Azerbaijan in a bloody 1990s war that killed an estimated 30,000 people.  

Turkey appears poised to deepen its cooperation with Azerbaijan, analysts say. 

"But it's quite a risky area. The Caucasus, it's one of Russia's near abroad, the Caucuses is part of Russian area of influence. They may not tolerate Turkish Azerbaijani military action against Armenia that results in heavy Armenian losses. If Turkey and Azerbaijan are planning to have a huge success through military means, that could put Turkish Russian relations at serious risk." 

In recent years, Ankara and Moscow have deepened their relationship, cooperating in Syria and building trade ties that even extend to the purchase of sophisticated Russian military hardware.  

Turkish Drones Over Nagorno-Karabakh—And Other Updates From A Day-Old War

Forbes
Sept 28 2020
On Sunday morning, Azerbaijan air, artillery and armored forces launched a large-scale offensive targeting Armenian settlements and troops positions across the length of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Following a bloody war in the early 1990s, Azerbaijan and Armenian troops have continually skirmished at the region’s fortified borders. Passions remain high due to past ethnic cleansing and atrocities perpetrated by both sides, as well as the religious divide between Christian Armenia and Muslim Azerbaijan.
However, the current fighting is of unusual breadth and severity. Armenia has declared martial law and begun mobilizing reservists. Azerbaijan has closed its airports.

Turkey has openly asserted its support for the Azerbaijani offensive, while Russia is officially allied with Armenia.

You can read this earlier article to learn more about the events leading up to the current escalation, and the reports emerging from the war zone.

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have released combat footage in a bid to influence the narrative of who is “winning” the conflict.

Armenian military sources have released extensive footage depicting damage or destruction of Armenian tanks and armored vehicles by ground forces. Azerbaijan, by contrast, has  primarily released videos of drone strikes picking off air defense and armored vehicles.

This by itself is not a new phenomenon. Azerbaijan earlier purchased a variety of advanced unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) from Israel, and in 2016 was the first nation to use a kamikaze drone in combat when it crashed a Harops loitering munition into a bus full of Armenian militia. These drones were again active during fighting July 2020.

However, the drone strike footage shared by the Azerbaijan Ministry of Defense in September showed something different—an interface which appears identical to the TB2 Bayraktar UCAV drone employed by Turkey.

Turkey has used the Bayraktar aggressively in conflicts Libya and Syria in 2020, with operationally decisive results. Though opposing surface-to-air missiles shot down a significant number of drones, the Turkish UCAVs in turn still managed to methodically pick off (manned) air defense vehicles one by one.

And once the air defenses were suppressed, Turkish drones could ravage enemy bases, artillery positions and vehicle columns unhindered with lightweight precision missiles.

It doesn’t take a master of forensics to spot why the video released by Azerbaijan’s MoD looks very much like it’s coming from a TB2. Consider the following footage of Turkish military TB2 strikes in Syria and Libya.


Now compare it to these videos released by the Azerbaijan Ministry of Defense in which drones picks off what appear to be 2K33 Osa (codenamed SA-8 Gecko by NATO) short-range air defense systems and other vehicles.
Another video records a drone strike on an Armenian T-72 tank.


Azerbaijan reportedly possess 30or 40 BM-30 multiple-rocket launcher trucks, each of which can mount twelves rockets that can strikes targets up to 56 miles away.

The NKR also claimed Azerbaijan had employed highly destructive TOS-1 “flame-throwing” rocket launchers on Monday morning, though without inflicting casualties.

Both sides claim to have inflicted considerable material and personnel losses on their adversaries, while conceding only to much lighter losses of their own. Such discrepancies arise both organically from the “fog of war” as well as deliberate exaggeration in an effort to win the propaganda war.

Azerbaijan’s MoD claims its forces have destroyed 22 tanks and armored fighting vehicles, 15 Osa or Tor short-range air defense systems, 18 drones, eight artillery systems (towed and/or self-propelled) and three ammunition depots, and to have inflicted 550 Armenian killed or wounded.

The NKR has admitted to a total of 31 soldiers killed—an earlier statement also counted 100 wounded. In turn, it claims its forces have shot down four helicopters and 27 drones, knocked out 33 tanks and four other types of armored fighting vehicles, and inflicted around 200 casualties.

A separate report claims the capture of 11 Azerbaijani vehicles, including a BMP-3.

One gruesome video released by Armenia appears to show three knocked-out BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles and ten deceased Azerbaijani soldiers. Other videos show munitions impacting T-72 tanks, BMP-3 fighting vehicles, BTR-82 APCs and an IMR engineering vehicle.

Two Armenian civilians (a woman and a girl) and an Azerbaijani family of five in the town of Gashalti have been reported killed amidst heavy shelling so far, with another 30 Armenian and 19 Azerbaijani civilians injured.


Azerbaijan’s leader Ilham Aliyev may have initiated the current hostilities in a bid to shore up political support after nationalist protestors briefly seized the parliament building in Baku in July during earlier skirmishes with Armenian troops. Thus, it’s possible the war may not last long if territorial gains allow him to “declare victory and go home.”

International pressure from Europe, the U.S. and especially Russia is ramping up to cease the fighting. However, Turkish political and material support for Azerbaijan may partially countervail such pressure for a time.

Escalation risks remain important however, as Armenia and Azerbaijan possess combat aircraft and long-range missiles and rocket artillery that could strike deep into each other’s territory. A wider conflict could disrupt or damage the lucrative oil industry in Azerbaijan, and heighten already simmering tensions between Turkey and Russia following a year marked by clashes in Syria and Libya.

Most importantly, the humanitarian cost of a wider and/or prolonged conflict could be terrible indeed for both Armenians and Azerbaijanis, which makes diplomatic efforts to head off escalation before the fighting gathers more momentum all the more vital.

Watch all videos at

https://www.forbes.com/sites/sebastienroblin/2020/09/28/turkish-drones-over-nagorno-karabakh-and-other-updates-from-a-day-old-war/amp/?fbclid=IwAR0geIhX6rFamn6KV5-MwM1V9YOGNVvlWVXUl5WPjQBS8640KiFBC2Op670







Turkish Drones Over Nagorno-Karabakh—And Other Updates From A Day-Old War

Forbes
Sept 28 2020
On Sunday morning, Azerbaijan air, artillery and armored forces launched a large-scale offensive targeting Armenian settlements and troops positions across the length of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Following a bloody war in the early 1990s, Azerbaijan and Armenian troops have continually skirmished at the region’s fortified borders. Passions remain high due to past ethnic cleansing and atrocities perpetrated by both sides, as well as the religious divide between Christian Armenia and Muslim Azerbaijan.
However, the current fighting is of unusual breadth and severity. Armenia has declared martial law and begun mobilizing reservists. Azerbaijan has closed its airports.

Turkey has openly asserted its support for the Azerbaijani offensive, while Russia is officially allied with Armenia.

You can read this earlier article to learn more about the events leading up to the current escalation, and the reports emerging from the war zone.

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have released combat footage in a bid to influence the narrative of who is “winning” the conflict.

Armenian military sources have released extensive footage depicting damage or destruction of Armenian tanks and armored vehicles by ground forces. Azerbaijan, by contrast, has  primarily released videos of drone strikes picking off air defense and armored vehicles.

This by itself is not a new phenomenon. Azerbaijan earlier purchased a variety of advanced unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) from Israel, and in 2016 was the first nation to use a kamikaze drone in combat when it crashed a Harops loitering munition into a bus full of Armenian militia. These drones were again active during fighting July 2020.

However, the drone strike footage shared by the Azerbaijan Ministry of Defense in September showed something different—an interface which appears identical to the TB2 Bayraktar UCAV drone employed by Turkey.

Turkey has used the Bayraktar aggressively in conflicts Libya and Syria in 2020, with operationally decisive results. Though opposing surface-to-air missiles shot down a significant number of drones, the Turkish UCAVs in turn still managed to methodically pick off (manned) air defense vehicles one by one.

And once the air defenses were suppressed, Turkish drones could ravage enemy bases, artillery positions and vehicle columns unhindered with lightweight precision missiles.

It doesn’t take a master of forensics to spot why the video released by Azerbaijan’s MoD looks very much like it’s coming from a TB2. Consider the following footage of Turkish military TB2 strikes in Syria and Libya.


Now compare it to these videos released by the Azerbaijan Ministry of Defense in which drones picks off what appear to be 2K33 Osa (codenamed SA-8 Gecko by NATO) short-range air defense systems and other vehicles.
Another video records a drone strike on an Armenian T-72 tank.


Azerbaijan reportedly possess 30or 40 BM-30 multiple-rocket launcher trucks, each of which can mount twelves rockets that can strikes targets up to 56 miles away.

The NKR also claimed Azerbaijan had employed highly destructive TOS-1 “flame-throwing” rocket launchers on Monday morning, though without inflicting casualties.

Both sides claim to have inflicted considerable material and personnel losses on their adversaries, while conceding only to much lighter losses of their own. Such discrepancies arise both organically from the “fog of war” as well as deliberate exaggeration in an effort to win the propaganda war.

Azerbaijan’s MoD claims its forces have destroyed 22 tanks and armored fighting vehicles, 15 Osa or Tor short-range air defense systems, 18 drones, eight artillery systems (towed and/or self-propelled) and three ammunition depots, and to have inflicted 550 Armenian killed or wounded.

The NKR has admitted to a total of 31 soldiers killed—an earlier statement also counted 100 wounded. In turn, it claims its forces have shot down four helicopters and 27 drones, knocked out 33 tanks and four other types of armored fighting vehicles, and inflicted around 200 casualties.

A separate report claims the capture of 11 Azerbaijani vehicles, including a BMP-3.

One gruesome video released by Armenia appears to show three knocked-out BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles and ten deceased Azerbaijani soldiers. Other videos show munitions impacting T-72 tanks, BMP-3 fighting vehicles, BTR-82 APCs and an IMR engineering vehicle.

Two Armenian civilians (a woman and a girl) and an Azerbaijani family of five in the town of Gashalti have been reported killed amidst heavy shelling so far, with another 30 Armenian and 19 Azerbaijani civilians injured.


Azerbaijan’s leader Ilham Aliyev may have initiated the current hostilities in a bid to shore up political support after nationalist protestors briefly seized the parliament building in Baku in July during earlier skirmishes with Armenian troops. Thus, it’s possible the war may not last long if territorial gains allow him to “declare victory and go home.”

International pressure from Europe, the U.S. and especially Russia is ramping up to cease the fighting. However, Turkish political and material support for Azerbaijan may partially countervail such pressure for a time.

Escalation risks remain important however, as Armenia and Azerbaijan possess combat aircraft and long-range missiles and rocket artillery that could strike deep into each other’s territory. A wider conflict could disrupt or damage the lucrative oil industry in Azerbaijan, and heighten already simmering tensions between Turkey and Russia following a year marked by clashes in Syria and Libya.

Most importantly, the humanitarian cost of a wider and/or prolonged conflict could be terrible indeed for both Armenians and Azerbaijanis, which makes diplomatic efforts to head off escalation before the fighting gathers more momentum all the more vital.

Watch all videos at

https://www.forbes.com/sites/sebastienroblin/2020/09/28/turkish-drones-over-nagorno-karabakh-and-other-updates-from-a-day-old-war/amp/?fbclid=IwAR0geIhX6rFamn6KV5-MwM1V9YOGNVvlWVXUl5WPjQBS8640KiFBC2Op670







Renewed Azerbaijan/Armenia conflict a new threat to Russia’s delicate balancing act with key player Turkey

RT – Russia Today
Sept 28 2020
Azerbaijan has never forgotten its 1990s humiliation at the hands of Armenia. Now stronger than its sworn enemy, and emboldened by Turkish support, Baku’s assertiveness is creating a headache for Moscow.

Russian president Vladimir Putin once complained that communist leader Vladimir Lenin had placed a ‘time bomb’ under Russia. He had in mind the introduction of the federal principle after Lenin’s Bolsheviks took power in 1917. Lenin gave national minorities their own republics within the Soviet Union. In so doing, he created a situation which allowed those republics to secede from the Union once communist power collapsed.

Soviet federalism brought other problems. The communists granted autonomy to the larger nationalities in the form of 15 ‘republics.’ Smaller nationalities also got autonomy, but of a different form – so-called ‘autonomous republics’ and ‘autonomous regions.’ When the union fell apart, fully-fledged republics got independence, but the autonomous republics and regions within them did not.

READ MORE: Baku showcases infantry & artillery in action as Azeri-Armenian border fighting sees opening of second 'propaganda front' (VIDEO)

Unsurprisingly, many of the smaller minorities were not too happy with this somewhat arbitrary outcome, and attempted to secede from the seceding republics. The result was several wars, the first of which took place in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, an Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan, after it attempted to secede from Azerbaijan and join with Armenia. The war ended in an Armenian victory. Not only did the Armenians drive the Azeris out of Nagorno-Karabakh, but they also captured a swath of Azeri territory linking Armenia with the breakaway region.

Nagorno-Karabakh became a de-facto independent state, albeit one recognized by nobody and entirely dependent on Armenian support. Azerbaijan, meanwhile, has never abandoned its claim to its lost province nor to the territories seized by Armenia. The result has been occasional military clashes between Yerevan and Baku over the past 30 years.

This weekend, violence once again flared up on the front lines between the Armenian and Azeri forces. The Armenian government announced that it had repulsed an enemy offensive and issued a video showing the destruction of several items of Azeri military equipment. The Azeri government, in turn, accused Armenia of attacking it, and declared that it had launched its own counter-offensive in which it had ‘liberated’ several villages. Armenia has now mobilized its army. Many fear the outbreak of all-out war.

One explanation for the recent flare-up may be that Azerbaijan feels much stronger than it did when it suffered its defeat at the hands of Armenia 30 years ago. The Azeri economy, benefitting from substantial oil reserves, has outgrown that of its neighbor, as has the Azeri population – there are 10 million Azeris compared with only three million Armenians. Azerbaijan has invested heavily in its military and may feel much more confident about its prospects should matters escalate further.


Another explanation may be the support Azerbaijan is receiving from its primary ally – Turkey. Following this weekend’s clashes, Turkish president Recep Erdogan called on ‘the entire world to stand with Azerbaijan in its battle against invasion.’ Such Turkish support may embolden the Azeri leadership not to back down if things begin to get out of hand.

Russia has officially adopted a position of neutrality in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, and called on all sides to settle their differences peacefully. This has meant supporting the status quo. Since that status quo favours Armenia, in reality this position has meant supporting Armenia, a posture reinforced by Armenia’s membership of various multilateral initiatives sponsored by Russia, notably the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Eurasian Economic Union.

The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh thus indirectly pits Russia against Turkey. It also undermines a common narrative that claims that Russia seeks to undermine democracy and promote authoritarian forms of government. After all, Russia’s ally Armenia is a democracy whereas Turkey’s ally, Azerbaijan, is not.

Nagorno-Karabakh is not the only location where Russian and Turkish proxies are clashing. In Syria, Russia has been backing the government of Bashar Assad while Turkey has been propping up the anti-Assad rebels in Idlib province. And in Libya, Russia is said to support rebel general Khalifa Haftar, while Turkey recently sent substantial aid to the government forces in Tripoli to help drive Haftar’s troops away from the capital.


Russia has good reasons, therefore, to regard Turkey as a spoiler, undermining Russian influence in the Caucasus, Middle East, and North Africa. But Russia isn’t the only state that Turkey has irritated in recent years. Turkey currently has poor relations with fellow NATO members, and this provides an opportunity which Russia can exploit for its own advantage. Economic opportunities also beckon in Turkey, as seen by the recent Turkish decision to purchase Russian-made S-400 air-defense missiles.

Consequently, whenever Russia and Turkey have clashed in recent years, the Russian government has sought to rapidly calm things down. Unsurprisingly, it is now taking the same approach regarding the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. On the one hand, Russia needs to stand by its Armenian ally. On the other hand, it wishes to avoid an escalation which would bring it into conflict with Turkey. A restoration of the ceasefire and the status-quo ante thus serves it best. Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs therefore issued a statement declaring that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was “intensively conducting talks to induce the parties to immediately cease firing and start negotiations to stabilize the situation.”

For now, this approach may work. In the longer term, though, economic and demographic considerations mean that power in the Southern Caucasus will likely continue to shift in Azerbaijan’s favor. As it does, Russia’s balancing act vis-à-vis Turkey could become increasingly difficult to maintain.



Renewed Azerbaijan/Armenia conflict a new threat to Russia’s delicate balancing act with key player Turkey

RT – Russia Today
Sept 28 2020
Azerbaijan has never forgotten its 1990s humiliation at the hands of Armenia. Now stronger than its sworn enemy, and emboldened by Turkish support, Baku’s assertiveness is creating a headache for Moscow.

Russian president Vladimir Putin once complained that communist leader Vladimir Lenin had placed a ‘time bomb’ under Russia. He had in mind the introduction of the federal principle after Lenin’s Bolsheviks took power in 1917. Lenin gave national minorities their own republics within the Soviet Union. In so doing, he created a situation which allowed those republics to secede from the Union once communist power collapsed.

Soviet federalism brought other problems. The communists granted autonomy to the larger nationalities in the form of 15 ‘republics.’ Smaller nationalities also got autonomy, but of a different form – so-called ‘autonomous republics’ and ‘autonomous regions.’ When the union fell apart, fully-fledged republics got independence, but the autonomous republics and regions within them did not.

READ MORE: Baku showcases infantry & artillery in action as Azeri-Armenian border fighting sees opening of second 'propaganda front' (VIDEO)

Unsurprisingly, many of the smaller minorities were not too happy with this somewhat arbitrary outcome, and attempted to secede from the seceding republics. The result was several wars, the first of which took place in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, an Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan, after it attempted to secede from Azerbaijan and join with Armenia. The war ended in an Armenian victory. Not only did the Armenians drive the Azeris out of Nagorno-Karabakh, but they also captured a swath of Azeri territory linking Armenia with the breakaway region.

Nagorno-Karabakh became a de-facto independent state, albeit one recognized by nobody and entirely dependent on Armenian support. Azerbaijan, meanwhile, has never abandoned its claim to its lost province nor to the territories seized by Armenia. The result has been occasional military clashes between Yerevan and Baku over the past 30 years.

This weekend, violence once again flared up on the front lines between the Armenian and Azeri forces. The Armenian government announced that it had repulsed an enemy offensive and issued a video showing the destruction of several items of Azeri military equipment. The Azeri government, in turn, accused Armenia of attacking it, and declared that it had launched its own counter-offensive in which it had ‘liberated’ several villages. Armenia has now mobilized its army. Many fear the outbreak of all-out war.

One explanation for the recent flare-up may be that Azerbaijan feels much stronger than it did when it suffered its defeat at the hands of Armenia 30 years ago. The Azeri economy, benefitting from substantial oil reserves, has outgrown that of its neighbor, as has the Azeri population – there are 10 million Azeris compared with only three million Armenians. Azerbaijan has invested heavily in its military and may feel much more confident about its prospects should matters escalate further.


Another explanation may be the support Azerbaijan is receiving from its primary ally – Turkey. Following this weekend’s clashes, Turkish president Recep Erdogan called on ‘the entire world to stand with Azerbaijan in its battle against invasion.’ Such Turkish support may embolden the Azeri leadership not to back down if things begin to get out of hand.

Russia has officially adopted a position of neutrality in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, and called on all sides to settle their differences peacefully. This has meant supporting the status quo. Since that status quo favours Armenia, in reality this position has meant supporting Armenia, a posture reinforced by Armenia’s membership of various multilateral initiatives sponsored by Russia, notably the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Eurasian Economic Union.

The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh thus indirectly pits Russia against Turkey. It also undermines a common narrative that claims that Russia seeks to undermine democracy and promote authoritarian forms of government. After all, Russia’s ally Armenia is a democracy whereas Turkey’s ally, Azerbaijan, is not.

Nagorno-Karabakh is not the only location where Russian and Turkish proxies are clashing. In Syria, Russia has been backing the government of Bashar Assad while Turkey has been propping up the anti-Assad rebels in Idlib province. And in Libya, Russia is said to support rebel general Khalifa Haftar, while Turkey recently sent substantial aid to the government forces in Tripoli to help drive Haftar’s troops away from the capital.


Russia has good reasons, therefore, to regard Turkey as a spoiler, undermining Russian influence in the Caucasus, Middle East, and North Africa. But Russia isn’t the only state that Turkey has irritated in recent years. Turkey currently has poor relations with fellow NATO members, and this provides an opportunity which Russia can exploit for its own advantage. Economic opportunities also beckon in Turkey, as seen by the recent Turkish decision to purchase Russian-made S-400 air-defense missiles.

Consequently, whenever Russia and Turkey have clashed in recent years, the Russian government has sought to rapidly calm things down. Unsurprisingly, it is now taking the same approach regarding the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. On the one hand, Russia needs to stand by its Armenian ally. On the other hand, it wishes to avoid an escalation which would bring it into conflict with Turkey. A restoration of the ceasefire and the status-quo ante thus serves it best. Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs therefore issued a statement declaring that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was “intensively conducting talks to induce the parties to immediately cease firing and start negotiations to stabilize the situation.”

For now, this approach may work. In the longer term, though, economic and demographic considerations mean that power in the Southern Caucasus will likely continue to shift in Azerbaijan’s favor. As it does, Russia’s balancing act vis-à-vis Turkey could become increasingly difficult to maintain.



Spain Calls for Ceasefire Between Armenia and Azerbaijan

US News
Sept 28 2020

Her comments come after 21 people were killed earlier on Monday during a second day of heavy clashes over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro and Nathan Allen)

Spain Calls for Ceasefire Between Armenia and Azerbaijan

US News
Sept 28 2020

Her comments come after 21 people were killed earlier on Monday during a second day of heavy clashes over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro and Nathan Allen)

Trump Says U.S. Will Seek to Stop Violence Between Armenia, Azerbaijan

US News
Sept 28 2020

"We're looking at it very strongly," the president said in a Sunday evening press briefing. "We have a lot of good relationships in that area. We'll see if we can stop it."

The violence left at least 16 military and several civilians dead on Sunday in the heaviest clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 2016, reviving concerns about stability in the South Caucasus, a corridor for pipelines carrying oil and gas to world markets.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Additional reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Daniel Wallis)



Trump Says U.S. Will Seek to Stop Violence Between Armenia, Azerbaijan

US News
Sept 28 2020

"We're looking at it very strongly," the president said in a Sunday evening press briefing. "We have a lot of good relationships in that area. We'll see if we can stop it."

The violence left at least 16 military and several civilians dead on Sunday in the heaviest clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 2016, reviving concerns about stability in the South Caucasus, a corridor for pipelines carrying oil and gas to world markets.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Additional reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Daniel Wallis)