The Artsakh War: Russian Reactions

6 m.   |  2020-10-15

T he Artsakh war which resumed early in the morning of September 27, caught the international community’s attention at once. Both international organizations and individual states immediately responded to it.

In this context the peculiarity of Russia is that not only the political-diplomatic circles of the country and even the Russian Orthodox Church, but also military structures responded to the Artsakh war. It is due to the following circumstances:

  1. Armenia and Russia are military-political allies both in a bilateral format and within the CSTO framework.
  2. The appearance of mercenaries in the conflict zone is full of a threat of infiltration of terroristic and Islamic extremism into the territory of Russia.
  3. Artsakh conflict is not only a local ethnic issue but also a regional and even an international one, where the Russian security interests are at stake.

The reaction of Russian military structures mainly focuses on the transfer of mercenary-terrorists to Transcaucasia from Syria and Libya and their involvement in hostilities against Artsakh. There is also a reference to the implementation of the agreement on the humanitarian ceasefire reached between the Foreign Ministers of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan on October 9-10.

On October 6, the Foreign Intelligence Service of Russia issued a statement, which particularly states: “The current aggravation of the situation causes heightened concern not only by its scale, but also by the fundamentally new impact of external factors. For the first time Turkey has so openly and unequivocally sided with Azerbaijan. In addition, the flaring up armed confrontation in Karabakh, like a magnet, attracts militants from various international terrorist structures”. [1] Based on the SVR data, mercenaries from international terrorist organizations fighting in the Middle East, in particular, Jabhat al-Nusra, Firkat Hamza, Sultan Murad, and other groups, are actively drawing into the conflict zone. Moreover, the Foreign Intelligence service cannot but be concerned that Transcaucasia may become a new springboard for international terrorist organizations, from where terrorists can infiltrate into the boarding countries, including Russia.

The peculiarity of this statement is that it’s more targeted. If the statements of political-diplomatic circles use “third countries”, “external forces” and similar abstract concepts referring of course to Turkey, then the SVR statement clearly mentions just that country.

On October 12, Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu had a telephone conversation with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, during which they discussed the situation in the Artsakh conflict zone. The Russian side expressed its deep concern to the Turkish side over the transfer of mercenaries of terrorist groups from the Middle East to the Artsakh conflict zone. According to the Nor Marmara Daily published in Istanbul, Turkey’s Defense Minister noted, that “Azerbaijan cannot wait for another 30 years” adding that Turkey stands by Azerbaijan [2]. This means, that Turkey is keen on continuing the hostilities.

Perhaps, this was the reason for the Russian Defense Ministry’s statement made on October 13, which states: “The Russian defense department, within the framework of its powers, is actively involved in the implementation of Russia's initiatives to stabilize the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh” [3]. According to the statement, the main subject of working with partners from different countries is the immediate cessation of hostilities and the resumption of the negotiation process.

On the same day, Foreign Minister of Armenia Zohrab Mnatsakanyan who paid an official visit to Moscow, discussed the Artsakh conflict with the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Nikolay Patrush [4].

On October 13, Russian media spread news, that the Special Forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Chechnya killed four terrorists, who entered the territory of Russia from abroad and were planning to carry out terrorist acts. Although the operation was successful, the Russian Security Forces also suffered losses. Two Rosguard employees were killed and one was wounded as a result of the shooting with terrorists [5]. Only this fact is already a proof of the threat of terrorism and extremism for Russia.

When comparing this fact with the information about the air strikes carried out by the Russian Aerospace Forces on the terrorist training camps in Idlib (Syria) as well as with the fact of the terrorist-mercenaries fighting alongside the Azerbaijani army in the Artsakh conflict zone, we can make the following conclusions:

  1. Transcaucasia has already become a part of the Greater Middle East, where the ongoing processes are interconnected. If previously such provisions were at the level of theoretical judgements, after the outbreak of the Artsakh war they became obvious in practice.
  2. The spread of the terrorism and radicalism is a threat to the national security of all the countries.
  3. As for the Armenian side, the Artsakh war is also an anti-terrorist struggle.

On October 14, Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu had negotiations with its Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts on the phone, during which he called on the both sides to fully fulfill the agreement on humanitarian ceasefire reached in Moscow on October 10 [6]. In regard to the attack on the military equipment deployed on the Armenian territory, Russian President’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated, that their military department is checking and analyzing that information [7].

On the same day, Foreign Minister Lavrov stated, that the deployment of military observers in the conflict zone may be an effective way to maintain the ceasefire, by adding that it would be preferable for Russia if there were Russian observers [8].

[1] О ситуации вокруг Нагорного Карабаха

[2] Hulusi Akar and its Russian counterpart discussed the military situation, Nor Marmara, 13.10.2020

[3] Шойгу "довел" до турецкого коллеги обеспокоенность переброской в Карабах боевиков

[4] Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan meets with the Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrush

[5] Вести в 20:00 от 13.10.20

[6] Shoygu called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to fulfill Moscow’s commitments on Karabakh

[7] The Russian military officers are checking the information on strikes carried out by Azerbaijan on the territory of Armenia. Peskov

[8] One of the solutions is the deployment of military observers in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone: Sergey Lavrov