Geopolitical Context: Karabakh may become an even harder lock for Caucasus region

Geopolitical Context: Karabakh may become an even harder lock for Caucasus region

The latest escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh, according to experts, has deep geopolitical roots, and the resolution of the situation will depend on both the balance of forces in the battlefields and the agreements of world powers.

But even now, judging by the world reaction, it is clear that potentially the exacerbation of tensions in the area disputed by Armenia and Azerbaijan may have wider geopolitical implications for the Caucasus region and beyond.

Editor of the Stepanakert-based Analyticon magazine Gegham Baghdasaryan thinks that the events are just the tip of the iceberg.

In order to predict the outcome of the events one should analyze what has happened so far. Azerbaijani forces occupied certain positions in the northern and southeastern sections of the frontline. But Armenian forces have managed to regain control of three of these five positions. Apparently, fighting on Sunday raged over the remaining important locations.

On April 3, Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense suddenly proposed a unilateral ceasefire. Karabakh’s Defense Ministry stated that it was prepared to discuss the proposal in the context of “restoring former positions”. In other words, the Karabakh forces were not satisfied with the current boundaries that were drawn by Azerbaijan. As experts say, this especially concerns the boundaries with Iran and Horadiz where, by the way, there is an important railway junction.

The events in Karabakh have also been in the spotlight of world media. Calls for a return to negotiations have been made at the highest levels. They indicate that Azerbaijan has decided to abandon the negotiations and is going to reject the services of the OSCE Minsk Group, which is co-chaired by Russia, the United States and France. The question now is whether this format can be preserved and, if not, what will come to replace it.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev acknowledged that earlier he received from Russia proposals that “support the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.” Apparently, the matter concerns the proposal of Russia to Azerbaijan to join some post-Soviet unions, such as the Eurasian trade bloc, under Russia’s military guarantees.

Moscow is likely to repeat its proposals as Russia’s defense and foreign ministers, Sergey Shoygu and Sergey Lavrov, as well as Security Council Secretary Nikolay Putrushev are going to visit Baku. There is an opinion among some analysts that they will also discuss the possibility of deploying Russian peacekeepers at the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh.

At the same time, on April 5, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan is going to travel to Germany where his meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled. Germany currently holds the rotating presidency of the OSCE and has insisted on the introduction in the conflict zone of mechanisms for investigating incidents. But now the situation has changed. It remains unclear whether the OSCE will insist on building up its presence in the conflict zone.

The geopolitical context of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is little discussed. The Russian media are basically discussing the Karabakh conflict in the context of a possible “good reason” for reconciliation between Turkey and Russia. Meanwhile, the Western media publish information about offshore money of the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan, which may lead to sanctions against these persons. There is also the factor of Iran - some experts believe that the resolution of the Karabakh conflict may open up a short way for Iran to Europe.

Few can predict what will be the outcome of this latest upsurge in violence in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict zone that has already claimed dozens of lives. The question now is whether it will lead to a solution with the specification of borders or, on the contrary, result in an even harder lock for the Caucasus region.