Logo
Cover

The edge of Europe hangs by a thread

There were 6,000 dead Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers in the Karabakh war. Vast tracts of land and numerous villages on both sides of the Front are devastated by the war. For Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, the war imposed by Azerbaijan ended in an almost total defeat. In Yerevan there are almost daily protest demonstrations demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. The demonstrators accuse him of" treason".

The major media in Germany are only marginally treating the war over Nagorno-Karabakh. One is afraid to name those who have broken the 1994 peace agreement. And they don’t want to criticize Nato member Turkey, which was involved in the war with drones, advisers and mercenaries.

The West could not be interested in an escalating war

Why a ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia actually took place on 9 November 2020 remains nebulous in the reports of the major German media. Reinhard Veser wrote in a commentary in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, “the question arises, moreover, with what arguments or levers Putin was able to persuade the Azerbaijani dictator Aliyev to stop the fighting just at the Moment and also to accept Russian soldiers in his country, in which, after the fall of the symbolically and strategically important city of Shusha, Azerbaijan’s complete victory on the battlefield was within reach.”

The FAZ commentator presented himself ignorantly. The Pipelines in the South Caucasus, which are strategically important for the West, do not come to mind when it comes to the Karabakh War. Instead, he raves about “Putin’s levers”.

The Pipelines are located at a distance of only 30 kilometers from the Nagorno-Karabakh war zone. They transport oil and Gas to the West, bypassing the territories of Armenia and Russia. What exactly are the Pipelines?

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil Pipeline, commissioned in 2005, transports oil from the Caspian Sea to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. The oil Pipeline is owned by British Petroleum with 30.1 percent, the US group Chevron with 8.9 percent and the Norwegian Statoil with 8.71 percent.

The second Pipeline, which runs from Baku through Turkey to southern Italy, is the Gas Pipeline “Southern Gas Corridor”, which was commissioned in November 2020. This Pipeline is a joint project of Azerbaijan and the European Commission.

In 2005, during the commissioning of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil Pipeline, the German media rejoiced that Russia’s energy monopoly had been broken. For the first time since the end of the Soviet Union, Oil was transported from a former Soviet republic – bypassing Russia – to the West.

Since the West has been looking for alternative energy sources for a long time and does not want to become dependent on Russia, the West cannot be interested in an endless war in a Region where the new, alternative Pipelines run. It is conceivable that the president of Azerbaijan received the Signal from Western European capitals that it was time to end the war around Karabakh.

Two gas Pipelines connect Russia and Turkey

But Putin also had good arguments to urge Azerbaijan and Turkey to end the war in Karabakh. Turkey is connected to Russia via the Turk Stream and Blue Stream gas pipelines. Turkey consumes Russian Gas and is also a transit country for Russian gas exports to Bulgaria and Serbia.

It is conceivable that the head of the Kremlin pointed out to Turkish President Recep Erdogan and the Western states that if the war continues, the Azerbaijani gas and oil Pipelines could become the target of Armenian partisans.

The shooting down of the Russian helicopter triggered the armistice

Vladimir Putin was under considerable pressure on 9 November, the day on which he hastily secured the armistice between Armenia and Azerbaijan with an agreement.

On the afternoon of November 9, a Russian Mi-24 military helicopter was shot down with Azerbaijani missiles over the territory of Armenia. Two Russian crew members were killed, one injured. The Azerbaijani army leadership later apologized for the “accidental” shooting. The Russian leadership was visibly anxious not to make a scandal out of the shooting.

The behavior of the Russian leadership was in stark contrast to a similar incident in 2015 over the Syrian border area. At that time, a Russian Su-25 fighter aircraft was shot down by Turkish air forces over Syria, near the Turkish border. The Russian government reacted harshly, introducing visa requirements for Turkish citizens, tightening controls on Turkish food imports and banning Russian travel agencies from selling trips to Turkey.

After the shooting down of the Russian military helicopter on the afternoon of November 9, it was foreseeable that patriotic-minded Russians would demand harsh measures against Azerbaijan. Vladimir Putin preceded these demands with the armistice he initiated in Nagorno-Karabakh.

During the Karabakh War, there were already voices in Russia calling for tough action against Azerbaijan. These include Konstantin Zatulin, deputy chairman of the Duma Committee for the Commonwealth of independent states. Zatulin is known as someone who emphasizes Russia’s national interests and never speaks of “our partners in the West.”

At the end of October, two weeks before the end of the Karabakh War, Zatulin declared that it could not be ruled out that Russia was engaged in Armenia. Azerbaijan and Turkey had violated “the peace in the Region”. They “need to be reminded which state has the leading role in the post-Soviet space”. An increase in military aid for Armenia and the closure of Armenian airspace are conceivable. But Zatulin could not prevail in Moscow with his demand.

Zatulin was countered by the deputy chairman of the Duma Defense Committee, Andrei Krasov, who stated that Zatulin had not coordinated his opinion with the Russian Defense Ministry. There are currently “no plans for the deployment of Russian soldiers in the Nagorni-Karabakh conflict area”. However, Zatulin had not spoken about the deployment of Russian troops in Nagorni-Karabakh.

While the major oil and gas companies in Russia are probably interested in a compromise with Azerbaijan, there are voices in the camp of the “siloviki” – that is, among military and intelligence officials – demanding a tougher stance from Russia towards Azerbaijan. After all, Russia and Armenia are members of the defense alliance ODKB, and Russia can hardly stand idly by when an ODKB member is in danger. Russia, with its 5,000-strong military base in Armenia, certainly has the means for rapid aid.

Drone wars also threaten other disputed areas of Eastern Europe

The major Russian media are striving for neutrality in the Karabakh conflict. However, the Deputy Zatulin there is no rest. At the end of December, Zatulin stated in a full-page article in the Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda:

“Azerbaijan, in Union with Turkey, attacked the unrecognized republic of Arzakh, but in fact it attacked the Armenians in Armenia by violating the 1994 armistice agreement (between Armenia and Azerbaijan, U. H.) reached with our help.”

Zatulin warns that" the Azerbaijani-Turkish Experiment to solve a long-standing territorial dispute militarily " can have dangerous consequences for Russia. After all, there would be other disputed areas on Russia’s borders, such as Lugansk, Donetsk, Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Ukraine already uses combat drones against the" people’s Republics " Lugansk and Donetsk

The situation in Donbas – as far as drones are concerned – is particularly dramatic. Unfortunately, the major German media do not report that Ukraine has been operating with drones in the “people’s republics” of Lugansk and Donetsk for several years. These drones are not only used for surveillance, but also for attacks with fire and other bombs on enemy targets.

Since Ukrainian drones are of inferior quality, Ukraine purchased six Bayraktar TB2 reconnaissance and combat drones from Turkey in 2019. In autumn 2019, Ukrainian soldiers were in Turkey for drone training. The training was then continued in Ukraine.

Anyone interested in peacekeeping in Europe must be interested in what is happening on the edges of Europe. On the eastern and south - eastern edges of Europe, the struggle of the Regional and great powers is much more ruthless than one can imagine in the metropolises of the EU.