Why did they keep quiet on Karabakh?
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who had completed his two-day working visit to Baku yesterday, arrived in Yerevan and held talks with his Armenian counterpart Seyran Ohanyan. According to Russian and foreign media, the talks focused on a wide range of topics: "urgent issues of global and regional security, as well as military and military-technical cooperation", "solidarity for humanitarian efforts of the Russian Federation to assist Syrian people," "development of relations in military and military-technical spheres" and even "security issues in the region”, but not a word was said about the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh and possible soulutions.
The President of the National Strategy Institute, Mikhail Remizov, told Vestnik Kavkaza, commenting on the talks between Shoigu and his Azerbaijani counterpart Zakir Hasanov in Baku, that "the visit of the Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to Azerbaijan is a continuation of Moscow's active mediation work in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict". And both Russian and Azeri media outlets mentioned that the issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement was one of the main topics at the talks between Sergey Shoigu and Ilham Aliyev, as well as Zakir Hasanov. And it is hard to believe that after this visit the Russian and Armenian defense ministers did not discuss this topic at all. Vestnik Kavkaza asked its experts why they kept quiet on Karabakh.
This topic can really be closed to the media, a political analyst, Candidate of Historical Sciences Oleg Kuznetsov assumed. "Foreign policy issues is not in the competence of the Minister of Defence. That is why I do not think that Shoigu can you be authorized to negotiate this issue. Probably he can discuss CSTO issues, the arms contract issues or the the arms loan of $200 million. In addition, Armenia is the formal CSTO chair, which means that there are many military-technical issues which are within his competence," the expert said.
"Also we should not forget that an agreement was signed to establish a joint air and missile defense system. Therefore, it is quite possible that this issue was on the agenda of the meeting. Of course, a joint aviation group is also among issues of military-technical cooperation," Oleg Kuznetsov suggested.
"Moreover, the Military Games in the Moscow region ended not so long ago. It is possible that these games demonstrated that Armenian servicemen need more training. It turns out there is a large range of issues in Sergey Shoigu's competence, which are not related to politics. And I think that Nagorno Karabakh was not discussed, because any comment by the Russian Minister of Defense on this matter is fraught with serious political consequences," the expert believes.
"It's no secret that the NKR Defense Army is an illegal armed formation from the Russian Federation's point of view and even if it is somehow integrated into the structure of the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia, this does not mean that other CSTO members will tolerate this," Oleg Kuznetsov concluded.
The leading expert of the North-South Political Science Center, Alexander Karavaev, in turn, expressed a different view. "Karabakh certainly was discussed as the subject of one of cooperation issues between the two departments of Russia and Armenia. That is, technically the issue cannot be missed, given the role of the Russian military department in processes of the Karabakh settlement. And, of course, we can only guess why the subject was not mentioned in the final briefings," the expert said.
"In fact, I think this was the decision made at the level of the Armenian President's Administration and the press-service of the Ministry of Defence. It seems that the Karabakh issue did not arise in the final resolution. I guess they just decided not to provoke observers to make any critical findings against the Russian settlement of the Karabakh conflict. Our Ministry of Defense website give rather avaricious information and journalists asked no question about this issue. This is very interesting," the leading expert of the North-South Political Science Center assumed.
However, the political scientist has another version. "It is possible that it is an initiative of the Russian side to discuss only the issues of military-technical cooperation with Armenia at the meeting. And indeed it is possible that they could discuss the situation in Karabakh at their level and without any obligations. But Shoigu didn't bring any initiatives and public statements on this issue. And in principle the Russian delegation could even ask that this theme was not officially discussed. This version is valid," Alexander Karavaev concluded.