Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Fate of Armed Formations in Qarabagh Most Important Immediate Issue for All Sides, Felgengauer Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 28 – Ever more people are becoming aware that the November 10 declaration ending the latest round of the Qarabagh fighting left many questions unanswered. But most have focused on issues like the fate of Armenian forces, the formation of civilian rule in formerly occupied territories or the final status of Qarabagh.

            Independent Moscow military analyst Pavel Felgengauer argues that among the many issues that must be addressed, one that now needs to be discussed and resolved is the fate of Armenian armed units in Qarabagh as well as heavily armed Armenians in the population there (vestikavkaza.ru/news/pavel-felgengauer-nado-resit-cto-delat-s-vooruzennymi-ludmi-v-karabahe.html).

                In comments to Vestnik Kavkaza, he points out that “the trilateral Declaration signed on November 9 was very short since it was agreed to quickly and therefore it already requires being made more specific and concrete. In particular, it does not outline the fate of Armenian armed forces on that part of Qarabagh which was not freed in the course of battles.”

            The declaration was quite specific in stating that the Armed Forces of Armenia in Agdam, Kelbadzhar, and Lachin districts were to be withdrawn at a definite point, there was no similar specificity about the others. But they continue to exist under the ‘president,’ ‘parliament, and ‘defense force’ of the as before unrecognized regime” that has existed in this area for some time.

            “Now, the sides must decide what to do with the armed people on this space. As they themselves say, these are volunteers, armed citizens of Armenia and an armed local population. Significant warms the Armenians had remain in Qarabagh, and one is talking not just about Kalashnikovs but about heavy arms, military infrastructure, and staffs.”

            “What is to be done with all this?” Felgengauer asks rhetorically.

            “Russian peacekeepers, which stand as a cordon around these people fulfill exclusively observational functions. The trilateral declaration does not give them a mandate to use their weapons or the possibility: the size of their continent is small and lacks heavy weaponry” that would be required.

            These forces “act exclusively as peacekeepers in correspondence with the provisions of the Article Five of the UN Charter. They can only conduct monitoring, and negotiate with those who do not want to leave or surrender their arms – and then make reports,” Felgengauer continues.

             “In essence, all that has happened is the establishment of a ceasefire regime along a new contact line between Armenian and Azerbaijani military forces in Qarabagh,” the Russian military analyst says. That must change. And changing it will require serious negotiations rather than the assumption that the November declaration solves everything.

            Moreover, until it is, the threat of violations of the ceasefire will hang over the region, not small violations but potentially some large enough to restart widespread fighting.

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