Saturday, November 14, 2020

Introduction of Russian Peacekeepers Makes Any Resolution of Karabakh Dispute Impossible, Portnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 12 – Debates about the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan and about the accord that has brought an armistice will continue to rage for some time to come, Vitaly Portnikov says; but there is one “indisputable fact” that all sides must agree: Until now, the Karabakh conflict was the only one in which Russian forces weren’t present.

            Now, they are in the guise of peacekeepers, but what their presence means, the Ukrainian political analyst says, is that there will not be any peace or peace agreement because Moscow doesn’t want one. It needs conflict to maintain its influence and it will use its presence to prevent the sides from reaching an agreement (

            In Transdniestria, in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and in the Donbass, Moscow has sent its forces regular and irregular; and the conflicts have been frozen in place. Until recently, Moscow was forced to adopt a different strategy in Karabakh. It used the Armenians to punish the Azerbaijanis and the Azerbaijanis to punish the Armenians, but it stayed out directly.

            Now, there are Russian forces there, and Russia is physically present, Portnikov points out. And as a result, “a real resolution of the conflict will be put off for years,” exactly the opposite of what Moscow is proclaiming and that all too many observers in Russia and around the world are accepting.

            None of the locals are going to take the risks that attacking the Russian forces and trying to drive them out would entail. Instead, at least in the case of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who wants Turkish forces there alongside the Russians because that is the only possible guarantee for Azerbaijan’s security.

            A century ago, the Bolshevik leadership arranged things so that Armenians and Azerbaijanis would be at loggerheads; but if Russia had stayed out, the two might have been able to find a mutually acceptable arrangement. But with Russia in, that was and will be impossible because the two sides won’t be allowed to work things out on their own.

            To justify its presence as a gendarme to guarantee order, Moscow needs a war, “an eternal war,” and its peacekeepers will take steps to make sure that such a conflict will continue for Moscow’s benefit but not for the two peoples most immediately involved.

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