/Pogled.info/ In recent days, the USA and Azerbaijan unexpectedly exchanged a series of sharp statements. This happened against the background of a number of anti-Russian steps by Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan and the adoption of the “Armenia Defense Law” in the US. The background of what is happening is directly related to how Washington understands Azerbaijan’s future plans regarding the adjacent territories.
It all started with Baku refusing a meeting between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Washington. “A unilateral approach by the US could lead to the loss of its mediating role. With its actions and statements, the US is harming transportation security efforts,” the Azerbaijani foreign ministry said. Earlier, Ilham Aliyev also refused a meeting with the leaders of the European Union in Spain.
Any “transportation security” mentioned by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry is not a hint about the hypothetical Zangezur Corridor, but just a pretext. Baku claims that the sharp deterioration of relations with the US was initiated by Washington. These are sort of “sanctions”. A form of forcing Azerbaijan to behave in a way that is currently considered “democratic” in Washington. US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O’Brien said that “the US can normalize relations with Azerbaijan only if there is progress in the peace talks between Baku and Yerevan”.
Almost at the same time, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who is mainly busy with international trips (with the exception of Russia and meetings in the framework of post-Soviet international organizations), began to say that the signing of a peace treaty with Azerbaijan is possible only if a number of ” agreed principles’. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan responded that “relations between the countries cannot be one-sided.” As a result, Baku stated that “under such conditions, we consider the possibility of high-level US visits to Azerbaijan inappropriate.”
It must be recognized that O’Brien was the first to say that, under the current situation, visits by high-ranking American officials to Baku were impossible. The Assistant Secretary of State unexpectedly appeared in the Senate as an unprecedented apologist for Armenia. O’Brien said: “We have repeatedly signaled that the use of force in Armenia is completely unacceptable.” The authorities in Baku assured us that they have no such intentions. And we’re watching very closely for troop movements and any signs that they might have other plans.” And this was preceded by strange reports in the American press that Baku might attack Armenia in the coming days.
As a result, the US Senate passed the “Armenia Defense Act of 2023”. Its essence is that any “military or other assistance” to Azerbaijan is now impossible, it is frozen until Baku fulfills Washington’s demands. And vice versa – the way for Armenia to receive military funds from abroad is open. What is happening is even more striking because only six months ago, in March 2023, the head of the State Department Blinken said that Azerbaijan needs protection, considering the need to load it with weapons from abroad.
The point here is not that the US Senate thinks that any foreign military aid to a third country is possible only with its authorization. Such an unexpected U.S. turn toward Armenia is associated with Pashinyan’s demonstrative behavior toward Moscow and post-Soviet organizations. As soon as the Prime Minister of Armenia began to sabotage various types of meetings within the framework of the CSTO and economic organizations, the Armenians became for American legislators a “democratic nation” that should be supported in every way.
Azerbaijan is another matter. In Baku, the euphoria of the military success has not yet passed. There they defiantly reject any attempts at pressure from the outside. They won, they are at the peak of their power in the region, who are these Europeans or Americans to set any conditions.
Baku is enraged by the very fact of the introduction of indirect sanctions against Azerbaijan in the form of a refusal of military aid. Realistically, this will not affect Azerbaijan’s combat capability, since the main flow of modern weapons comes from Turkey and Israel, which for their part did not care about the laws passed by the US Senate. This is a matter of principle.
In the West, no one believes the assurances that there will never be an invasion of Azerbaijan into the territory of actual Armenia. For now, we are only talking about the alleged development of the Zangezur Corridor with the participation of the Azerbaijani army and police for its protection.
The Russian side is lobbying for the participation of Russian border guards in guarding the transport corridor. Pashinyan, in turn, proposed expanding the EU mission to 500 people and announced the creation of a special unit of special forces for Zangezur. It is noteworthy that all participants in this behind-the-scenes game seem to be aware in advance of the very emergence of the Zangezur Corridor as inevitable. It already exists in the political field and only details are being talked about.
Strange as it may seem, both sides are interested in the unexpected conflict between Washington and Baku. The United States has taken a course to “democratize” Armenia and separate it from Russia. And this requires a demonstration of goodwill both personally towards Nikol Pashinyan and towards Armenians in general. Hence the law passed by the Senate and the various visits of American officials and diplomats to Yerevan.
In addition, Washington began to contrast the “democratic” government in Armenia with the “totalitarian regime” in Baku. And this is already a serious accusation, as it brings the regional, territorial and inter-ethnic conflict to the level of American ideology.
Azerbaijan’s reaction is predictable and understandable. Moreover, more and more evidence points to the fact that Baku does intend to achieve success on the ground by all available means, chief among them the military.
Let us recall that the modern Republic of Azerbaijan is considered, according to its own constitution, to be the legal successor not of the AzSSR, but of the Mussavatist Azerbaijan Democratic Republic of 1918-1920. And indeed there are other borders. And the topic “Azerbaijani Zangezur” has long become a common topic in the Azerbaijani media. Expansion by denying the territorial changes of the Soviet era is the current foreign policy vector of modern Baku. Perhaps this is exactly what they mean in Washington when they warn Baku against the use of force.
As for relations between Moscow and Yerevan, the Armenian leadership has not yet taken radical anti-Russian steps. Moscow has taken a break, putting a “pause” on most of these joint programs, which require a high degree of political accommodation. But in practice, almost all preferences that Armenia received from participation, for example, in the Eurasian space, are preserved. Contracts for the supply of military products are also being fulfilled.
Perhaps the infamous “red line” could be the theoretical transfer of weapons from Armenian arsenals to Ukraine. For example, we are talking about 600 Point-U missiles. The VSU ran out of them a long time ago, but the launchers remained. If even one cartridge from the Armenian arsenals ends up in Ukraine, there will simply be nothing to talk about with our Armenian comrades. If Pashinyan is seriously leading to the separation of Armenia from Russia, then this is the shortest way. Under such circumstances, Azerbaijan can afford an open conflict with Washington, even to the point of banning high-level diplomatic communication.
Azerbaijan may not invade Zangezur and Gegartunik in the coming days or months, but in the long run Baku will continue to tighten its grip, turning Armenia into an isolated island. In Yerevan, in recent days, incited by state propaganda, videos began to circulate that Armenia should become a “transit crossroads”. It’s not even that this strange idea ignores the geography of the region. It ignores the political reality and strategic aspirations of its neighbors. None of Armenia’s neighbors need “transit intersections”. They don’t need Armenia at all.
And, unfortunately, no one in Yerevan wants to understand this. The conflict between the USA and Azerbaijan also speaks of this.
Translation: V. Sergeev
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