Staunton, Feb. 11 – Russian officials and Russian commentators see no chance for the introduction of EU or UN peacekeepers into Qarabagh. They are unanimous that Moscow will use its veto in the UN Security Council to block that, Baku will be against such a move, and Yerevan likely is raising the issue only to force Russian peacekeepers to become more active.
Pyotr Ilichev, head of the international organizations department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, says there is no need for an international mandate for the Russian peacekeepers or for the introduction of others with one, given that both Baku and Yerevan “agree with the modalities” of the Russian units there (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/385796/).
According to him, the Russian contingent there is and will remain “the only guarantor of support for stability in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” adding that the only international organization on the group there at present is the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The Russian diplomat said that any change in the situation would require that all three of the signatories of the November 2020 declaration agree, something that he suggested was unlikely especially given Russia’s desire to prevent any violence and the suspicions of both Yerevan and Baku that any change would weaken their current positions.
In his interview, Ilichev also took a swipe at the United Nations more generally. “In certain cases,” he suggested, “the blue helmets” had led those who asked them to come in to ask them to leave “because of their low effectiveness.”
Russian commentators echoed Ilichev’s words in their comments. Moscow security analyst Aleksandr Khramchikhin argued that “Russia is satisfied with the current situation and won’t give it up.” Indeed, he suggested that Moscow would be more than ready to veto any UN attempt to introduce an international group of peacekeepers in the Caucasus.
But in all probability, he suggested, Moscow won’t have to do that because the UN would be unlikely even to consider the matter unless Yerevan and Baku agreed, something that seems extremely unlikely at present. Thus, plans for even a European monitoring group are likely to go nowhere.
Aleksandr Karavayev of the Moscow Institute of Economics says that he believes what Yerevan has urged the EU to do is less something Armenia expects will happen but only a way to send a message to Moscow that Yerevan is less than pleased with the failure of the Russian peacekeepers to do more in Lachin and to try to force Moscow’s hand.
And Stanislav Pritchin of IMEMO says that Armenia’s actions won’t change anything because nothing can be fundamentally changed unless Baku and Moscow agree – and neither of them has reason to at present. The only way out of the impasse is for Baku and Yerevan to engage in face-to-face talks, something Yerevan has been reluctant to do in recent times.