By Theodore Shoebat
A former major leader of the US Navy, Admiral James Stravides, recently wrote an article for Bloomberg in which he specified that NATO intelligence has been pretty certain that if a conflict ever broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan that the Armenians would win. As Stravides explained:
Over the four years I was at NATO, there were a number of half-hearted military thrusts by the Azeris, which were easily stopped by the Armenians. Our intelligence assessments found that the Armenians were almost certain to win if things came seriously to blows. The Russian Federation was supplying arms and training to both sides, and the Russians actually had a somewhat calming effect. You know things are bad when Putin is playing peacemaker.
Stravides also points out that there is a difference between the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan now and their conflicts in the past: Turkey is heavily involved while the US is distracted by its election, and meanwhile the Russians are more strongly siding with the Armenians (although the Russians have also provided weapons and training to the Azeris). The current violence between the two countries is also taking place in the midst of a serious proxy war between Turkey and Russia in Libya. As Stravides writes:
While I’ve been in the region several times when tensions were high, this time feels dangerously different. Washington is utterly distracted by the upcoming election. Turkey and Russia are on opposite sides (as they are in Syria and Libya as well). And the European Union is absorbed by the Brexit endgame and tensions at sea in the eastern Mediterranean between Greece and Turkey. NATO, which still has partnerships with Armenia and Azerbaijan, says “both sides should immediately cease hostilities” and there is “no military solution to this conflict,” but offers no concrete proposal.
What Russia is going to do in this situation cannot be emphatically predicted. Armenia and Azerbaijan were once under the control of the Russian Empire, but when after the Bolsheviks took over, the Russians (to appease the Turks) allowed Azerbaijan to have Nagorno-Karabakh (the region that is currently being fought over). This appealing to the Turks isn’t that surprising, given that it was the Bolsheviks who gave large parts of Armenia back to the Ottoman Empire through the Brest-Litovsk Treaty of 1918. The question is, will Russia reverse what the Bolsheviks did? Will it cooperate with the Turks to maintain the geographic status quo, or will it betray the Armenians (as it did in the Brest-Litovsk Treaty)?