Analysts See Crimea Implications on Karabakh Conflict

The 'We Are Our Mountains' monument -- more familiarly knows as the 'Mamig and Babig' (Grandmother and Grandfather) monument -- in Nagorno Karabakh, outside of the capital Stepanakert


Baku (AFP)—Russia’s annexation of Crimea could reignite an unresolved dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno Karabakh region two decades after a deadly war, analysts say.

Armenians living in Artsakh declared independence from Azerbaijan in a 1990s conflict that claimed some 30,000 lives.

The two sides agreed a temporary ceasefire in the bitter dispute in 1994, but Baku still claims the region, and international attempts to resolve the conflict have proved fruitless.

Experts fear Moscow’s takeover of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine — which has led to the worst standoff between Russia and the West since the Cold War — may give fresh impetus to the simmering conflict.

“There’s no doubt that the events in Ukraine, the rising tensions between the West and Russia, and the return to a Cold War-type mentality will affect the Karabakh conflict’s settlement,” said Tatul Hakobyan, an independent analyst in Yerevan.

Exchanges of gunfire are still frequent between the armies of Armenia and energy-rich Azerbaijan — whose defense spending exceeds its rival’s entire national budget. Baku has repeatedly vowed to retake the region militarily.

Moscow’s ally Armenia openly supported Russia’s actions in Ukraine, which independent Armenian analyst Manvel Sarkisian said could bolster its Karabakh claims.

“When Armenia supported Crimea’s joining Russia, it effectively supported the principle of nations’ self-determination,” which it applies to Karabakh, he said.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan fears that an emboldened Kremlin may step up the pressure with threats to recognize Karabakh’s independence.

“Crimea’s occupation by Russia created a dangerous precedent and Azerbaijan watches this with fear,” said Elkhan Shahinoglu, an independent analyst with the Baku-based Atlas thinktank.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “has cited nations’ right for self-determination to justify the occupation of Crimea. Under the very same pretext, Moscow could blackmail Baku with threats to recognize Karabakh,” Shahinoglu said.

“One can’t rule out that after Ukraine, Azerbaijan will be Russia’s next target.”

Conflict risk ‘high’
Since the May 5, 1994, ceasefire, no tangible progress has been achieved at negotiations mediated by France, Russia and the United States, the so-called Minsk Group, under the umbrella of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Analysts in both countries agree it would not take much to kindle a new conflict.

“International mediators’ efforts have proved fruitless and the risk of a fresh armed conflict remains high,” Shahinoglu said.

In justifying their positions, Baku and Yerevan appeal to two conflicting norms of international law.

While Azerbaijan cites the principle of territorial integrity of states, Armenia insists the right of self-determination of peoples provided a legal basis for the ethnic-Armenian majority to proclaim Karabakh’s secession from Azerbaijan in 1991.

“Events in Crimea show that post-Soviet states’ borders are disputable,” Sarkisian said.

“Russia opted to prioritise the principle of nations’ self-determination over the principle of territorial integrity of states.

“The move will undoubtedly have some consequences for Karabakh.”

The Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 ushered in a period of political turmoil and separatist conflicts in many newly independent states.

Analysts said the Kremlin was inciting conflicts between and within the ex-Soviet republics to maintain influence over its former vassals and prevent them from forging closer ties with the West.

“Russia wants to reassert its dominance in the post-Soviet space and sponsors separatist conflicts there,” said independent Azerbaijani analyst Rasim Musabekov.

“Karabakh is in Armenian control, but it’s no secret that Russia is behind the scenes.”

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12 Comments

  1. GB said:

    No matter what government run in Iran. Iran will never let Turkic tribes and Pan Turanism get into it’s Northern provinces. Iran’s national security perfectly fit with Armenia’s national security!

    • Armenian said:

      More so than with Russia’s, which, apparently, has no problem being Azerbaijan’s number 1 weapons supplier and is actively supporting the desperate and pathetic situation in Armenia by being a force for backwardness and idiotic policies.

  2. Hratch said:

    Therefore we have no other choice but to submit to Russian authority. But on the other hand, this will also allow Russia to use us as pawns as they try to exert their control over the region. Now, same as before, we’re condemned by our geography and location.

    • Alexander said:

      It’s nice that you think Rep. of Armenia can be more than a pawn. There are only two kings in this world, USA and Russia Federation, the rest are just chess pieces, majority just pawns.

  3. A.N. said:

    If Coovo, Abkhazia, Crimea etc can benefit from “Self Determination” rule why can’t Artsakh(KarabakH) do?
    It’s the best and the rarest time for that to happen, this chance will never again happen if delayed.

  4. GeorgeMardig said:

    Crimea shows that Russia keeps his promisses with his friends

  5. Norin Radd said:

    Armenians won the war using Armenian boots on the ground, we are grateful that our Russian brothers stepped in when Turkey threatened invasion when it saw the Azeris losing ground. So, these Azeri goat herders and the rest of their bed buddies should get their facts straight. Russia did not win the war for Armenia, Armenia won the war for Armenia. It was in fact a losing Azeri state that started whining and looked to its bigger pedophile brother, Turkey, to step in and help, not to mention the scores of random mercenaries the child molester Aliyev hired to also fight. Again, the only reason Russia needed to step in was to growl so that those pedophiles in Turkey would not rush to pull the little Azeris under their skirts.

    Second, thank God mother Russia is stepping in and yes reigning in all of its “vassals”, because the caucus, Ukraine, and the rest of the transcaucus is all Russia’s neighborhood, Europe and the US should never have attempted to meddle in that area in the first place. The bear was weak and in hibernation in the 90s, but now its awake and hungry after a long nap and as I write this, the bear is having Europeans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it just might have the Azeris for dessert if they keep yapping their big mouth like that.

    Thank goodness for the Russian/Armenian Orthodox Christian brotherhood!

    • Hratch said:

      I would not bet too much on the brotherhood. The Russians belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church while the Armenians in the Oriental Orthodox Church. Our brotherhood actually consists of the Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Syriac and Malankara Syrian (Indian Orthodox) Churches.

      • Sarkis said:

        Let me clarify for anyone who may be reading that the relationship between the Armenian Apostolic Church (Echmiadzin and Cilicia) and the Russian Orthodox Church is one between brotherly peoples united by a shared faith, a shared history, a shared mission for moral and spiritual guidance of people throughout the world, a deep mutual respect, as well as shared adversaries and challenges. In short Armenian-Russian church relations mirror Armenian-Russian societal, historical, cultural and inter-individual relations. For all intents and purposes, Russia and Armenia fall into the Eastern Orthodox religious/cultural sphere. The technical difference is that Armenia rejected the Council of Chalcedon which was held in 451, resulting in a dogmatic split between the Armenian Church on one side and Roman Catholic and Byzantine/Greek Churches on the other side. The “controversy” which justified the split back then was Miaphysitism versus Monophysitism, the reader can research that on their own if interested. However, the technical cause for the split (Miaphysitism) is absolutely irreverent today, and it is only brought up by foreign parties interested in driving a wedge into the otherwise near-perfect alliance between Armenia and Russia. The topic is never discussed by either Armenian Church or the Russian Church because there is nothing in debate.

    • Armenian said:

      Another lost cause, putting his money on a non-existent “brotherhood”. Poor Armenians. We’ll never learn our lesson.

  6. Alex Postallian said:

    If Russia is behind the scene,of the Armenian control of Karabakh,then the little bastard brother of jerky turkey, azerbaturk,is in real trouble…The COWARDLY turks are deathly afraid of the Big Baer….NO SUPPORT…

  7. Pingback: Azerbaijan continues crackdown on opposition | Steppe Dispatches

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