Factor of mutual deterrence in Karabakh conflict

Factor of mutual deterrence in Karabakh conflict

The aggravation of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan has demonstrated not only the falseness of the popular view of impregnable Armenian army positions, which were reinforced over many decades, but also the expansionist essence of the concept of the so-called Armenian ‘Safety Belt’ – the ring of the occupied Azerbaijani territories around Nagorno-Karabakh. In practice, above all Azerbaijan needed a ‘safety zone’, as its civilian population was fired at by Armenian artillery fire. Six civilians were killed and another 26 were injured during April 2-6th.

Two innocent civilians were killed and another 8 people were injured after Armenian shelling of Azerbaijani towns and villages in late April. Then the situation stabilized only after the Armenian army continued to suffer painful losses at the front (9 soldiers were killed last week). It is obvious that Armenia was "forced to peace" in a very strict way, or to be more precise, to observe the truce reached at Summit of the Heads of Staff of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Moscow on April 5th, which was made possible thanks to the effective mediation of Moscow. All the international mediators state about the need for a full peace settlement, while the extremely high losses among the Azerbaijani civilian population put a question point-blank of medium-term measures, which the Azerbaijani armed forces may use to ensure the safety of citizens in the frontline settlements.

The Vice-Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia, Hermine Naghdalyan, considers that if the world recognizes the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh, ‘‘we will return your lands and those lands, despite the fact that we have no right to them. We don’t need them. It's just our buffer zone, the guarantor our safety." In principle Naghdalyan didn’t say anything new, he just repeated Serzh Sargsyan’s well-known thesis that "Aghdam is not Armenian land." However, this has nothing in common with the real actions of the Armenian side.

The situation is paradoxical: the Armenian side doesn’t hide that it is violating international law, trying to come to terms with the help of the following formula 'the occupied territories in exchange for the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh', taking steps to carry out integration in areas without the Azerbaijani population. Moreover, Armenia is ready to return only 5 out of the 7 occupied regions that connect Karabakh with Armenia.

In the context of the destruction of civilians from the positions on foreign occupied territories around Nagorno-Karabakh, any statement by the Armenian side about the "Safety belt" or the "buffer zone’’ cannot be perceived as an argument justifying the occupation policy a priori. The murders of civilians give Azerbaijan an additional moral right to create and extend its own safety zone, as was done at the beginning of April, when the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan began to control a number of strategic heights.

By shelling the civilian population, the Armenian side is probably trying to force the Baku authorities to agree to introduce mechanisms for investigating incidents on the frontline in terms favoring Yerevan. However, the methods of political influence by the Armenian side correspond rather to the logic of the terrorists who take civilian populations hostage in order that their political demands be met. As you know, negotiations are not conducted with terrorists, and the adoption of the Armenian claims in these circumstances would be an indirect promotion of this narrow political way of thinking. The very first condition for the adoption of mechanisms to investigate frontline incidents should be Armenia's rejection of the policy of destruction of the civilian population as a mean of achieving political objectives, which could be considered as evidence of a fair trial of the war criminals who are responsible for the deaths of Azerbaijani citizens during the shelling of Azerbaijani towns and villages.

The introduction of a frontline incidents investigation mechanism can be meaningful only in the case of the withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the occupied territories around Nagorno-Karabakh and the establishment of a situation with the absolute balance of ‘‘mutual deterrence" that was reached between the Armenian and Azerbaijani armies. In the current conditions. Azerbaijan eliminates the Armenian military in response to the murder of its civilians. As practice shows, at the moment this is the only adequate and effective mechanism for deterring the Armenian side.