Staunton, November 16 – Vladimir Putin has suggested that the declaration he orchestrated on the Karabakh dispute will end that conflict, but his claim is at a minimum premature, Irina Dzhobenadze says. What the Kremlin leader has done is embed his country more deeply in that conflict and made it responsible for the conflict’s future course.
More than that, the Rosbalt commentator continues, Putin has succeeded in losing the only real friend Moscow had in the South Caucasus because Armenians now believe that he betrayed them and consider that “there is no enemy more horrible than Russia” (rosbalt.ru/world/2020/11/16/1873119.html).
Putin recently remarked that he “hoped that now we will not use the term – Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, …. and soon we will pass to the discussion of other issues.” But that hope is at least premature and likely completely without foundation given what is happening in Armenia as a result of the declaration provisions.
Those arrangements have had the effect of changing the main enemies of Armenia from Azerbaijan and Turkey to Russia, Dzhobenadze says. And at the same time, because it now has peacekeepers in the region, Russia will be held responsible for anything that happens first and foremost by Armenians but also by others.
To be sure, the Rosbalt commentator says, “Russia has changed the balance of military-political forces in the region in its own favor, but at the name time one must not forget that it has taken on itself colossal responsibility for the preservation of peace, and if something goes wrong, all the blame will go in its direction.”
This underlying reality has been somewhat obscured by the conflict that has emerged between Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan who argues he had no choice but to agree to these terms lest Yerevan lose its army and the Armenian people and political class who want to denounce the accord and fight on no matter what.
Pashinyan’s state machine is holding the crowd in check for the time being, but many in the political elite agree with the streets rather than with him. And there is a very real chance that the country could descend into civil war. Revanchist attitudes remain strong even after “the almost complete destruction” of the Armenian army.
And that danger is compounded by the fact that there has been an influx not only of a massive number of refugees but also of arms. That raises the question, Dzhobenadze says, “when and for what purposes will they be used and transform Armenia into a territory of domestic terrorism?”