Caucasus. Hot November 2020

Sergiy Shevchuk – member of Ukrainian parliament (1998-2012), Chairman of the Standing Committee to the OSCE (2010-2012), currently – Director of numerous NGOs, including – “Legislative Initiative: Ukraine-EU”.

The lack of power (or dual power) in competing countries is the best time for Kremlin strategists to develop plans for hybrid wars. Voter counting and lawsuits after the U.S.  presidental elections may stretch over time like the Boston Marathon. So what can we expect from Moscow?

Belarus was given the most attention, as the European continent was trying to turn it into a so-called allied state. As it turned out, this topic was not in time.

For Russia, however, an important region is the Caucasus and Caspian oil and gas deposits. This region is also important for Turkey. Either way, Azerbaijani troops have dared to ‘defer’ the long-standing conflict.

After the end of the two-week war on the night of November 10, the presidents of Azerbaijan, Russia and the Prime Minister of Armenia (without the consent of their president) signed a joint declaration on the end of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh. The content of this statement came as a surprise to many, including important geopolitical players. Leaving aside the negotiated arrangements that everyone knows about, let us try to draw conclusions based on differences in interpretations between the three official parties.

Under Azerbaijan’s position, Turkey will participate in the creation of a ceasefire and control zone. Peacekeepers will be deployed not only by Russia, but also by Turkey. In addition, Turkish peacekeepers, together with the Russian ones, will be deployed at the ceasefire monitoring center in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia denies the deployment of Turkish peacekeepers on the demarcation line.

Turkey says Ankara will be involved in peacekeeping control and the creation of a Turkish-Russian ceasefire monitoring centre.

According to the Russian message, the center will be scattered in Azerbaijan, not Karabakh as Baku claims. Turkey’s participation is not officially confirmed, but is subject to a separate agreement. The United States and France did not participate in the negotiation process.

Therefore:

  • The agreement reached is temporary
  • In addition to the text that has been published, there are probably other unofficial arrangements
  • All arrangements are not complete and need to be refined and corrected
  • The influence of other international players in the region is weakened, which corresponds primarily to Russia’s interests
  • A viable negotiation process between Armenia and Azerbaijan can only start if all the points of the agreement are met, which does not look consistent

This means that the conflict is not yet fully settled, only military action under new conditions and under the revised territorial framework is suspended. When Russia sends peacekeepers and military technology, according to the Gerasymov doctrine, this means not the ‘beginning of a period of peace and stability’ but preparation for war. Turkey and Russia are already fighting on different sides in Syria, Libya and other places. As for the Black Sea region, Ukraine is clearly seeking military cooperation with Turkey for obvious reasons.

Does the war in Karabakh affect the far-flung Lublin Triangle? On the one hand, the sharper the conflict, the longer the topic of the ‘corridor’ from Belarus to Kaliningrad will not be discussed. From another – the more obstacles on the oil and gas transit route towards Europe will appear, the more arguments are made by supporters of Nord Stream -2, against which Ukraine and Poland are actively opposed.