RUSSIAN EXPERT PROPOSES FORMULA TO EASE FRONTLINE TENSION
In an interview with Tert.am, Vladimir Yevseyev, Head of the Caucasus Department at the Moscow-based CIS Institute, expressed his strong concerns over Azerbaijan’s recent heavy armed raids against Armenian civilians in the border region Tavush, calling for mutual efforts to push back armaments from the frontline. The expert said he thinks that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s recent trip to Azerbaijan and his talks with President Ilham Aliyev was part of such efforts.
To what extent do you consider a war scenario possible?
My strong concerns are over the sharply intensified military operations by the Azerbaijani army. What’s even worse, the shells and artillery raids targeted not only Armenian defense positions but also villages that were in peace. The resulting casualties that saw five civilians wounded demonstrate that Azerbaijan has started “working” also towards the civilian population. As military experts say, the multiple rocket launchers used against civilians were supplied by Turkey. In such circumstances, I think, there is a possibility of conflict expansion. So in this context, I have to highlight the increasing capacity of the weapons used. While in August last year, [the weaponry] used involved only high-caliber machine guns, they now also use tank systems, mine, throwers and multiple rocket launchers. So we observe a more active use of heavy armament. I don’t think a large-scale war could be at issue at the moment, but there is obviously a threat of a conflict expansion.
Therefore, in principle, I call for both Armenia and Azerbaijan to consider pulling back the heavy armament from their defense positions, as did the [troops] in Donbas. If that isn’t done, the likelihood of a larger-scale Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict will increase, leading up to a local military conflict.
So what to do to pull back the armament?
There are different armament systems with different fire distance capacities. When the agreements over Donbas, Eastern Ukraine, were under way, different distances were identified, depending on the type and caliber of the arms supply. Therefore, I think, it is important to revise the armaments’ locations. The most complicated problem here has to do with the side responsible for approval given that there isn’t any trust between the parties. So if any side approved the armament pullback, that would promote at least a higher degree of trust.
Before Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s visit to Moscow, the dominant opinion among many experts was that agreements would Russia’s interventions would pave way to new agreements between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Do you think those agreements have been reached? And what’s Russia’s role in this as a peace-maker?
It is difficult for me to say what points were agreed on. But we need first of all a trilateral dialogue involving Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia.
But Mr [Sergey] Lavrov was in Baku before that.
I understand what you mean. But while [Foreign Minister] Lavrov was in Baku, [Armenian President] Serzh Sargsyan had a meeting with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin. So these are different levels. I personally believe that there must also be a fourth side involving representatives of Stepanaket, to whom [the negotiators] seem to always turn a blind eye. That’s wrong as it [Nagorno-Karabakh] is a side involved [in the process]. It is, of course, good that they [the international mediators] conduct negotiations, but there has to be a higher degree of participation.