ArmInfo.Azerbaijani blockade of the only road connecting Armenia with Artsakh meets the interests of the Turkish-Azerbaijani alliance and NATO and is aimed at discrediting the Russian peacekeepers deployed in Karabakh and squeezing Russia out of the region, stated the participants in a panel discussion entitled "Russian peacekeepers, frontier guards and Military Base 102 as a stabilizing factor in the South Caucasus", organized by the Powerful Armenia with Russia for New Alliance movement on Tuesday.
Specifically, the ex-MP Hayk Babukhanyan is sure that by resorting to provocations Azerbaijan is seeking to force the Russian peacekeepers out of Karabakh.
"Under the circumstances, I regard as at least strange the Armenian premier's claim that he is uninformed of the six points concerning the CSTO's assistance to Armenia the military alliance members were talking about. And rejecting the CSTO's assistance was strange step as well," Mr Babukhanyan said.
Eduard Sharmazanov, former vice-speaker of Armenia's parliament and member of the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), is sure that CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas revealed the "mediocre personality" of the head of Armenia's incumbent government. "Just think that the CSTO [Russia] was ready to render military and technical assistance to Armenia - providing arms and ammunition free of charge or at the prices in effect in Russia. But Armenia's premier rejected that assistance, stating that, you see, no proper political assessment was made. How could the head of a state in a dire need for arms make such a step," Mr Sharmazanov asked. He accused Armenia's authorities of pursuing an antinational policy.
But for the Russian peacekeepers, no Armenia would be living in Nagorno-Karabakh now. But for Russian military base 102 Turkey would have attacked Armenia long ago. "I am not claiming Russia's current activities in the region are brilliant. But it does not mean we should stab our ally in the back. The goal of NATO and the West, as well as of Turkey and Azerbaijan, both of which are advancing their interests, is to squeeze Russia out of the South Caucasus by all possible means. If it succeeds, Azerbaijan will get Nagorno-Karabakh with no Armenians there, Armenia without the leaders serving national interests and the South Caucasus without Russia," Mr Sharmazanov said. And Armenia could turn into a "public thoroughfare for pan-Turkic figures."
It is na‹ve to hope for the West's assistance to Armenians now. Amid the Azerbaijani blockade of the 120- strong Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh, the EU is singing contracts with Azerbaijan worth dozens of millions of US dollars, while it is turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to human rights and democratic values, Mr Sharmazanov said.
"There is no alternative to Russian presence in the region. We should realize that blocking the only road connecting Armenia with Artsakh is against the Artsakh Armenians, Armenian nationhood and Russian peacekeepers. And Azerbaijan is doing it by the order of Turkey and NATO, amid the uncertainty on the Ukraine front. So this is an attempt to open a second front next to Russia," he said. If Russia suffers defeat in Ukraine, Armenia will suffer the same fate as it did a century ago, Mr Sharmazanov added.
Military expert Hayk Nahapetyan spoke of the military component of the developments, saying that following the 44-day aggression Azerbaijan was busy making up for its losses. "For the last two years Azerbaijan has been preparing for a new war. Evidence thereof is the number of military drill in immediate coordination with Turkey. And what was Armenia doing? Nothing. We have not made up for our losses, nor are we preparing for repulsing another possible aggression," the expert said.
Mr Nahapetyan stressed that the regime that came to power in 2018 has since that time prepared its own army for a defeat. Evidence thereof is, among other things, its incompetent personnel policy. "And now these forces are leading us to a new defeat - and this new phase is the blockade of the Lachin corridor. And this is the thin end of the wedge," the expert said.
Mr Nahapetyan is sure that it is only the Artsakh authorities that can save the situation, as Armenia's authorities are "in the field of Turkey and Azerbaijan." "The Artsakh authorities must start total mobilization. They have the necessary resources, and 30,000 our reserve officers. And we can make use of that," he said.
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