Azerbaijani military aggression against Armenia threatens the stability of the South Caucasus

The Azerbaijani military aggression against Armenia might destabilise the Caucasus (Credits: SpecialEurasia Monitoring & Risk Assessment Map)

Geopolitical Report ISSN 2785-2598 Volume 23 Issue 3
Author: Giuliano Bifolchi, Silvia Boltuc

The Azerbaijani army’s aggression against Armenia raises concerns about the stability of the South Caucasus, an area which plays a fundamental role in the EU Energy Security Strategy.

On September 13th, 2022, the Armenian Defense Ministry announced that Azerbaijani troops fired on the border settlements in the country’s southeast (Sotk, Goris and Jermuk).[1] During the emergency statement, the Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, clarified that the Azerbaijani troops first attacked the border in four directions, and then “two or three more directions” were added. According to the Armenian Prime Minister, the Azerbaijani attack caused 49 victims.[2]

The Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Azerbaijan’s official website labelled Armenian statements ‘absurd’. According to the Azerbaijani Ministry, “The news spread in the Armenian media and the segment of social networks about the invasion of Azerbaijan into the territory of Armenia is absurd…In response to the large-scale provocation of Armenia, the Azerbaijani Army is implementing local countermeasures and neutralising firing points.”.[3]

Yerevan appeals to Russia and the international community

The Armenian Government reported that Nikol Pashinyan had a telephone talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Armenian Prime Minister informed the Russian President about the Azerbaijani military aggression, giving details related to the military operations that Azerbaijan conducted using artillery and large calibre weapons. Pashinyan described the Azerbaijani actions as ‘inadmissible’ and stressed the importance of a corresponding reaction from the international community.[4]

In addition, the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Armenia, Suren Papikyan, had a telephone conversation with the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, General of the Army Sergei Shoigu. During the phone call, the Armenian minister informed the Russian counterpart about the situation caused by the Azerbaijani military aggression against the Armenian sovereign territory. At the end of the call, Suren Papikyan and Sergei Shoigu agreed to take the necessary steps to stabilise the situation.[5]

As the Foreign Affairs Ministry reported on its official website, the Armenian side requested a special session of the CSTO Permanent Council to discuss the Azerbaijani military aggression. During the meeting, the representative of the permanent mission of Armenia to the CSTO, Viktor Biyagov, informed the members of the CSTO Central Committee about recent events on the Armenian-Azerbaijani borders.[6]

CSTO spokesman, Vladimir Zainetdinov, stated that the organisation is against using force on the Armenian-Azerbaijani borders. He stressed that CSTO considers only political and diplomatic methods to resolve contradictions between Baku and Yerevan, as happened on November 9th, 2020, when under the Russian supervision, the Azerbaijani President and the Armenian Prime Minister signed the cease-fire which ended the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict.[7]

Later, Pashinyan also phoned French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.[8] The office of the French President Emmanuel Macron informed that France would raise the question at the United Nations Security Council, hoping that Armenia and Azerbaijan might reach a cease-fire.[9]

Marina Kaljurand, a member of the European Parliament and the Chair of the Delegation for relations with the South Caucasus, published a statement on her Twitter account that condemned “last night’s large-scale military attack by Azerbaijan against multiple targets in the territory of the Republic of Armenia.”.[10]

Conclusion

The military confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan is an age-old problem which has negatively affected the South Caucasus since the ’90s. Recently, after the 44 days of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, Azerbaijan and Armenia have discussed the possibility of signing a peace deal several times. Indeed, during his recent visit to Italy, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stated that in a short period, Baku and Yerevan could have reached a peace agreement that could have stabilised the region.[11]

Considering what the Armenian Government has reported in the last hours, a peace deal seems far from being achieved. Furthermore, the Armenian side demonstrated that Azerbaijan started military aggression against its sovereign territory. In that case, Yerevan could evoke the CSTO members’ military support against Azerbaijan, as happened in January 2022 when the Kazakh Government asked for the organisation’s help to cope with foreign threats.[12]

During CSTO special session, the Armenian representative at the organisation, Viktor Biyagov, stressed that Azerbaijani armed forces’ actions should be considered a gross violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Armenia, which, as a CSTO member state, expects practical collective steps from them to ensure Armenia’s security, territorial integrity, and sovereignty within the framework of the CSTO charter.

The European Union is interested in the South Caucasus since Azerbaijan plays a pivotal role in Brussels Energy Security Strategy, particularly after the beginning of the Ukraine conflict and the consequential European sanctions against the Russian Federation. As a matter of fact, in July 2022, Brussels signed an agreement on increasing gas supplies to Europe. Recently, Ilham Aliyev stressed that Azerbaijan is ready to double its gas production and expand gas export to satisfy the European necessity for natural gas.[13]

Therefore, avoiding a regional escalation in the South Caucasus is one of the leading European Union goals since Brussels’ attempts to diversify its natural gas imports and decrease its dependence on Russian exports. Thus, if the situation worsens and Armenia and Azerbaijan start another conflict, EU Energy Security Strategy would receive a severe blow considering that the military escalation could also involve the member countries of the CSTO, including Russia.

Lastly, hoping that Armenia and Azerbaijan will resolve their controversy as soon as possible and overcome the current military escalation, the European Union cannot deny how fragile the Southern Caucasus security and stability might be. Therefore, Brussels should consider the deterioration of the security situation in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) and along the Armenian-Azerbaijani and assume a more active role in managing regional problems and escalation, promoting democracy and human rights, and contrast hate speech, actions, and aggressive statements.

Sources

[1] Ministerstvo Oboroni Respublika Armenija (2022) Сообщение. Link: https://www.mil.am/ru/news/11007.

[2] RIA Novosti (2022) Пашинян сообщил о 49 погибших в Армении в результате атаки Азербайджана. Link: https://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/15732993?.

[3] Ministerstvo Oboroni Azerbajdzhanskoj Respubliki (2022) Сообщение Министерства обороны Азербайджанской Республики. Link: https://mod.gov.az/ru/news/soobshenie-ministerstva-oborony-azerbajdzhanskoj-respubliki-42336.html.

[4] Interfax (2022) Правительство Армении сообщило, что Пашинян провел телефонный разговор с Путиным. Link: https://www.interfax.ru/world/861814.

[5] Ministerstvo Oboroni Respublika Armenija (2022) Сурен Папикян провел телефонный разговор с Сергеем Шойгу. Link: https://www.mil.am/ru/news/11015.

[6] Ministerstvo Inostrannix Del Respubliki Armenija (2022) Состоялось внеочередное заседание Постоянного совета ОДКБ. Link: https://www.mfa.am/ru/press-releases/2022/09/13/csto_1/11599.

[7] RIA Novosti (2022) ОДКБ назвала применение силы на границе Армении и Азербайджана неприемлемым. Link: https://ria.ru/20220913/armeniya-1816438918.html.

[8] Premier-Ministr Respubliki Armenija (2022) Премьер-министр Пашинян провел телефонный разговор с Эммануэлем Макроном. Link: https://www.primeminister.am/ru/press-release/item/2022/09/13/Nikol-Pashinyan-telephone-conversation-Emmanuel-Macron/; Premier-Ministr Republiki Armenija (2022) Премьер-министр Пашинян провел телефонный разговор с госсекретарем США. Link: https://www.primeminister.am/ru/press-release/item/2022/09/13/Nikol-Pashinyan-Telephone-Conversation-Antony-Blinken/.

[9] Reuters (2022) France to raise Armenia, Azerbaijan clashes at UN Security Council. Link: https://www.reuters.com/world/france-raise-armenia-azerbaijan-clashes-un-security-council-2022-09-13/.

[10] Marina Kaljurand MEP (2022) Twitter. Link: https://twitter.com/MarinaKaljurand/status/1569650822908379139?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet.

[11] Giuliano Bifolchi, Silvia Boltuc (2022) Geopolitics of Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Italy, Geopolitical Report Volume 23 Issue 2, SpecialEurasia. Link: https://www.specialeurasia.com/2022/09/07/ilham-aliyev-geopolitics-italy/.

[12] Giuliano Bifolchi (2022) Geopolitical consequences of the political crisis in Kazakhstan, Geopolitical Report Volume 15 Issue 1, SpecialEurasia. Link: https://www.specialeurasia.com/2022/01/08/geopolitics-kazakhstan-crisis/.

[13] Roberto Bongiorni (2022) Aliyev, presidente Azerbaijan:«Disponibili a raddoppiare l’export di gas. Presto la pace con l’Armenia», Il Sole 24 Ore. Link: https://24plus.ilsole24ore.com/art/parla-aliyev-presidente-dell-azerbaijan-disponibili-raddoppiare-l-export-gas-presto-pace-l-armenia-AE28XKxB.