south front on nagorno-karabagh

Azerbaijan Claims Destruction Of Armenian S-300 System As Number Of Reported War Casualties Reaches Thousands
South Front, Sep 30 2020

On Sep 30, the Azerbaijani-Armenian war entered its third day with another increase in casualties and victorious communiques from both sides. In the morning, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry claimed that its forces had put out of service an Armenian S-300 long-range air defense system near the village of Shushakend in the Khojaly District of the Nagorno-Karabakh Region. How the long-range system might have appeared near the contact line in the contested region remains a mystery. Unfortunately, the Azerbaijani troops and media units at the site were not able to film a video to explain the situation. Apparently, their phones and cameras must have run out of power. Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry announced that its forces had killed or injured up to 2,300 Armenian soldiers or officers, as well as eliminated up to 130 battle tanks and other equipment pieces, over 200 artillery guns and rocket launchers, 25 air defense systems, 6 HQs, 5 weapon depots, up to 50 anti-tank weapons and 55 vehicles. The Azerbaijani side insists that its forces have victoriously repelled Armenian attacks in the Madagiza area. Clashes, artillery duels and drone strikes are being reported along the entire contact line in the contested region.

Earlier, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported that its artillery strikes pounded positions of the 1st battalion of Armenia’s 5th Motorized Rifle Regiment near Gasangaya in the Tartar area and the 1st battalion of the 6th Motorized Rifle Regiment in the Talysh area. Azerbaijan claims that the Armenian military suffered heavy losses and has been facing difficulties in finding equipment to organize the evacuation of the dead and wounded. As of Sep 30, the rhetoric of the Azerbaijani side shifted from declaring regular gains in the battle against Armenian forces to claiming that Armenian attacks on positions captured in the first day of the war had been successfully repelled. This, as is typical of war-time propaganda, attempts to deflect from the lack of notable gains on the ground despite the successful and active use of artillery, Turkish Bayraktar TB combat drones and Israeli Harpy loitering munitions. The Azerbaijani media has also been actively preparing the nation for a prolonged war by releasing multiple reports and explanations that Azerbaijan should be interested in a war of attrition to exhaust Armenian forces and to teach the Armenians a ‘lesson.’

The Armenian Defense Ministry is not lagging behind its Azerbaijani counterparts. On the evening of Sep 29, it claimed that since the morning of Sep 27, about 790 Azerbaijani servicemen had been killed and 1,900 people injured in the conflict, which had erupted in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The Armenian military also claimed that its forces had destroyed 137 units of military equipment, including battle tanks, 72 drones, 7 helicopters and a military plane. The Armenian side, including top officials of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Armenia itself, insist that Turkey has been directly supporting Azerbaijan in this war. This support allegedly includes not only diplomatic support, but also military planning, intelligence assistance, the deployment of military advisers and special forces, weapon supplies and even direct participation of various Turkish units in the clashes. On Sep 29, they even reported that a Turkish F-16 fighter jet deployed in Azerbaiijan shot down an Armenian Su-25 warplane in order to provide air cover to combat drones, which were striking targets inside Armenia. Both Turkey and Azerbaijan denied this. As of now, the mysterious F-16 looks every bit as perplexing as the ghost S-300 system somehow found by Azerbaijan near the contact line in Karabakh.

At the same time, neither side seems to be interested in a resumption of the ceasefire. Instead, both Armenia and Azerbaijan declare their goal to be delivering a military defeat to their opponent. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that there are no prospects for peace with Armenia as their position is unacceptable. “The Armenian Prime Minister publicly declares that Karabakh is Armenia, period. In this case, we cannot talk about any kind of negotiation process,” Aliyev said. Earlier he vowed to settle the Karabakh question by returning control over the contested region to Azerbaijan. In their own turn, the President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, thus speaking for Armenia, declared that the Armenians are not interested in requesting a ceasefire. Instead, he said, they will force the enemy to ask for it.

Armenia Claims 790 Azerbaijani Soldiers Killed, 137 Equipment Pieces
Destroyed As Azerbaijan Pounds Armenian Positions In Karabakh

South Front, Sep 30 2020

On Sep 29 evening, the Armenian Ministry of Defense announced that since the morning of Sep 27, about 790 Azerbaijani servicemen have been killed and 1,900 people have been injured in the conflict erupted in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The Armenian military also claimed that its forces destroyed 137 units military equipment, including battle tanks, 72 drones, 7 helicopters and a military plane. The Armenian side claims that its forces had eliminated a column with ammunition of Azerbaijani forces:

The Armenian media also reports not only the dramatic increase of a number of volunteers that moving to fight back the Azerbaijani advance, but also the unity among the prominent veterans. Armenian media released photos showing the meeting in a relative proximity to the frontline of prominent officers and generals, including Seyran Ohanyan, Vitaly Balasanyan, Arshavir Garamyan, Samvel Bababyan, Levon Mnatsakanyan, Kamo Ogadzhanyan, Artur Aghabekyan, Samvel Karapetyan and Movses Hakobyan.

While this move was likely aimed at boosting the morale of the Armenian side, it also showcases the difficulty of the current situation. The pro-US government of Armenia created a situation in which Armenia has been facing an overwhelming force of Azerbaijan supported by Turkey. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported that its artillery strikes pounded positions of the 1st battalion of the 5th Motorized Rifle Regiment near Gasangaya in the Tartar area and the 1st battalion of 6th Motorized Rifle Regiment of the Armed Forces of Armenia in the Talysh area. Azerbaijan claims that the Armenian military suffered heavy losses, and has been facing difficulties in finding equipment for organizing the evacuation of the dead and wounded. The work of Azerbaijani combat drones. The Azerbaijani side uses not only Turkish Bayraktar TB2 combat drones but also Israeli Harpy loitering munitions:

Meanwhile, the Turkish leadership continued making loud statements vowing to support Azerbaijan in the war with Armenia. As of now, the only factor that stops Turkey from directly assisting the Azerbaijani advance on the Nagorno-Karabakh Region is that this move may trigger a military response from Russia that will have to react to any direct threat to Armenian sovereignty. This threat will appear inevitably if Turkey joins the war openly. On the other hand, Iran is reportedly deploying additional troops and equipment to the border area with the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Azerbaijani sources already accused that Russia uses Iranian territory to supply Armenia with weapons and equipment. Nonetheless, this is just a propaganda. What is more likely is that regional actors are just preparing for a possible expansion of the conflict into a big regional war.

Caucasus Burning. Who’s Next?
South Front, Sep 29 2020

The escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh, the on-going protests in Belarus and deadlock in negotiation process on Eastern Ukraine: the European region is witnessing unprecedented deterioration of relations between Russia and the collective West. This vector is rooted to the mid-2000s, when the Russian Federation embarked on the way out of neo-colonial dependence on the US and the Euro-Atlantic elites. Since that time, relations between the two parties have deteriorated consistently and steadily, passing through regular acute crises like in 2008, 2012, 2014. After 2014, the issues that served to demonize the image of Russia among the Western population emerged every year. They were logical, and their goals were clear: the formation of the image of a dangerous external enemy in order to unite the Western population and distract it from ongoing sociopolitical crisis. The shift in the relations between the two sides that we have seen since Apr 2020 differs significantly from previous crises. A series of events led the parties to a sharp fierce confrontation, and even calls to unleash an armed conflict are heard from the leaders of several countries. In April, against the background of the SARS COV-2 epidemic, Russia was accused of using the coronavirus crisis to increase its information pressure. These accusations were accompanied by an ongoing scandal about the fictitious intervention of the Russian Federation in the US electoral campaign, which is gaining momentum as November approaches. Russia was accused of organizing and supporting the BLM protests in the US in order to destabilize the situation before the Presidential elections, despite the fact that Moscow does not receive any benefit from the ongoing unrest on the other side of the Atlantic, unlike local American actors interested in destabilizing the situation in the country and reducing the popularity of the incumbent President (LINK). The unfounded accusations have led to strict censorship of all significant media that represent alternative point of view different from the Western mainstream agenda.

Recently, Russia has been accused not only of interfering in the affairs of other countries, but also of “wrong domestic policy.” Vladimir Putin’s campaign for amending the Constitution, which strengthened the country’s political construct and also legalized the alternative path of development that has emerged in Russia over the years after the collapse of the USSR, received wide coverage in the Western media (LINK). Months after the adoption of the amendments, the European Parliament does not lose hope to dissuade Russian decision makers and influence the internal sovereign policy of Kremlin. The alleged “illegality” of the constitutional reform is spoken of in the resolution of the European Parliament, adopted on Sep 17, which was regarding the situation in Belarus and around the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. Against the background of all current accusations against Moscow, the document says:

The European parliament calls upon the EU authorities to demand from Russia to cancel or revise all laws that are not compatible with international standards.

Despite the appeals to Kremlin to change its policy, there are active measures to support the non-systemic Russian opposition, which was clearly observed during the protests in Khabarovsk in Jul 2020 (LINK, LINK), and reached its highest point in the awkward case of the Navalny poisoning. The fake story about Navalny’s poisoning by the Kremlin, and mainly the international hysteria that followed, in which Navalny himself has already been forgotten, once again emphasize the negative image of Russia, and in particular of Putin, both on the international arena and within Russia (LINK, LINK). The staged case of Navalny poisoning became one more pretext to renew a sanctions regime for violation of human rights, similar to the Magnitsky Act. The hysteria itself is nothing more than another attempt to suspend the Nord Stream 2 project. On the German side, the initial initiative to abandon the construction of the pipeline was expressed by the leader of the Green faction. Calls for an end to construction were heard in the US, and were supported by a number of Western countries, as well as Ukraine (LINK). While Germany is paying a heavy price for its commitment to maintain the Nord Stream 2 project, Turkey is forced to dub up the supply of Russian S-400 air defense systems. In addition to tawdry accusations, information warfare, strengthening of the sanctions regime, obstruction of any cooperation with Russia in the international arena, the Euro-Atlantic elites are moving to active actions that threaten not only Russian stability, but also security and sovereignty of its neighboring countries. If their previous goal seemed to be the maintaining of frozen conflicts along the Russian border, as it was the case of Eastern Ukraine or Southern Caucasus, then current trends indicate the transition of these conflicts to a hot phase. An armed conflict near the eastern borders of the EU or even in its own eastern territories is today a quite probable scenario, since it fully meets the interests of the globalist elites.

I. The recent escalation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region is the symptom of the upcoming spread of armed conflicts around the Russian borders. The transition of confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan into war phase posed a direct threat to all regional actors, including Russia. On Sep 29, commenting on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on Russia to shelve the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia independence and withdraw its troops from their territory. Russia found itself in a complicated situation. If during the incidents that took place this summer, Moscow had the opportunity not to actively interfere in the conflict, today a real war begins, which leaves it no room to maneuver. It may seem that Moscow remains Yerevan’s main ally, despite all the measures of the Pro-Western Pashinyan regime. Still, in terms of Realpolitik, neutrality or even tacit support for Baku may be more beneficial for the Kremlin in conditions when Russia de facto does not have reliable allies, but has all-round political and territorial pressure backed by the collective West. Armenia’s foreign policy in recent years has largely undermined its ties with Russia (LINK). However, today, when a dangerous threat hangs over Armenia, there are no more marches against Russian “occupying” forces held in Yerevan, unlikely it was a case a few years ago, when the groups motivated by the external forces actively supported the country’s independence from Russian influence. Armenian Prime-Minister Nikol Pashinyan claimed:

I draw the attention of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing states and the entire international community to the seriousness of the situation. The beginning of a full-scale war in the South Caucasus, which is actually taking place, may have the most unpredictable consequences. It can go beyond the region and reach a much larger scale, threatening international security and stability.

II. Following the war in the Caucasus, an escalation of the situation in Belarus in the near future should be expected. It may take the form of terrorist acts organized within the country. The possibility of direct military action by the Baltic States or Poland should not be excluded. Organization, financing and management of opposition movement in Belarus do not have the only goal to overthrow Alexander Lukashenko from the presidency, but a general destabilization of the situation in the country according to the Eastern Ukrainian scenario (LINK). In order to maintain alleged adherence to international law, it is most likely that there will be provocations on the western borders of Belarus, rather than direct intervention. They can be organized along the border, or at border checkpoints. A similar incident already took place on Sep 24, when Belorussian Mi-24 helicopters intercepted balloons launched from the territory of Lithuania. More large-scale provocations by NATO countries, the movement of troops within the borders of Belarus, or, for example, the opening of fire on the border checkpoints are possible. such provocations will be justified by the fact that the Western countries do not recognize Alexander Lukashenko as the legitimate president. According to the current Belarusian agenda, the organization of terrorist attacks by the radicals is more likely (LINK). This assumption is confirmed by the recent statement of the head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), Sergey Naryshkin:

So-called “fighters for a new Belarus” are trained in Poland, Georgia, Ukraine and the Baltic States with the participation of instructors from the CIA, the Pentagon, NGOs affiliated with the American State Dept.

According to Naryshkin, the SVR was informed about the preparation of a “resonant provocation” in Belarus by the forces of local radical nationalists. The State Department has launched efforts to engage extremist elements to the protests. the head of the SVR concluded:

According to available data, the extremist opposition members, who are currently hiding abroad, plan a resonant provocation, implying one of the authoritative clergy of the Roman Catholic Church to be arrested or even injured or killed. This will significantly increase anti–government sentiment among Catholics and encourage them to participate more actively in street protests.

In recent days, there have been more calls on social media for protesters to use force against law enforcement authorities. Photos and personal information of members of the Belarusian OMON, who became a “target” for their compatriots, are shared with the public. (LINK). Violence among protesters is on the rise. Aggression is already manifested not only towards the servicemen themselves, but also towards their families. The case when a Belarusian doctor refused to provide assistance to the 3-year-old daughter of a soldier captured the headlines. The cruelty that is now increasing among the Belarusian society was not acceptable even in wartime. The real directors of these events, by creating another point of instability on the border with Russia, are trying to create a new lever of pressure on their geopolitical enemy. Pro-Western Belarusian media, which are mostly located or funded from Poland or Lithuania, propagandizing cruelty and violence, are actively supported by the leading “democratic” European countries, and probably act on the instructions of the Euro-Atlantic elites (LINK). The Western countries, who fully support the opposition sentiments in Belarus, silently agree with calls to physically violence against Belarusian citizens serving in the law enforcement agencies of their own country. The tacit support for the growing violence in Belarus seems especially surprising, given that the liberal, “democratic” Western countries had assumed the role of global defenders of press freedom, fighters against propaganda. For the same reasons, in particular, an active campaign is being conducted against independent media like SouthFront, which has never called for violence during its entire existence, and only pursued a pacifist agenda (LINK). The propaganda of cruelty and calls for violence, which are intended to destabilize the situation in Belarus, and as a possible consequence to undermine the country’s industrial potential competitive to European one, fit the neo-liberal agenda, which the Euro-Atlantic elites see as the only one to have the right to exist.

III. The ongoing protests in Belarus and the artificially whipped-up hysteria on Navalny poisoning have a direct impact on the negotiation process on the de-escalation in Eastern Ukraine. On Sep 9, there was another breakdown of the peace initiative. Once again, Kiev quite deliberately put an end to the peace initiative, exposing to the DPR knowingly unacceptable conditions for its implementation. On September 10, the Ukrainian military opened fire on the OSCE inspection who arrived at the separation line in the Donetsk People’s Republic. Apparently, Kiev’s goal was to hide the new positions that they had erected near a strategically important facility, the Northern Donetsk-Donbass water conduit, allowing them to control water supplies for the entire region. The negotiation process on Donbass has actually been stopped. There has been no progress for several months now, and the situation doesn’t appear to ameliorate until the US presidential election in November. During this time, the Ukrainian side is asked to do everything possible to freeze the conflict in the Donetsk and Lugansk republics. For this, various levers of influence are used. The information agenda of the Ukrainian media focuses on the cultural and economic transformations of the “Ukrainian Donbass.” This agenda is promoted through the TV channel “Dom,” specially created for broadcasting in the DPR and LPR. Kiev always has the ability to disconnect the republics from joint networks and resources of water supply, electricity networks, gas pipelines. In parallel, a powerful propaganda campaign is being conducted, accusing Russia and the republics of disrupting the negotiations. Probably, under this pretext, Ukraine will demand the transfer of negotiations from Minsk to one of the EU platforms. Ukrainian political elites are looking forward for Biden to win the presidential elections in the US, who is already helping the Ukrainian regime in the fight against Russia in various ways, and promises to significantly increase the support. Kiev, backed by the American Democrats, is aimed at disrupting the negotiation process, since this primarily prolongs the sanctions regime against Russia. The US is also interested in prolonging the current “no war, no peace” situation in Donbas. Washington do not encourage Ukraine to launch an open offensive against the DPR/LPR, which may end with the defeat of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the loss of its territories and destabilization in the country. But, at the same time, they suppress any attempts to finally end the war through the partial implementation of the Minsk agreements.

If the collective West is still preserving the semi-frozen conflict on the territory of Eastern Ukraine, in Nagorno-Karabakh, it has already been transferred to the stage of war, and probably, a similar fate awaits Belarus. Highly likely, the escalation of an armed conflict in Ukraine will finish this chain reaction. The Euro-Atlanticists have already carried out preparations for the conduct of the offensive actions near the borders of Russia. Against the background of all of the information campaigns and active political actions mentioned above, the military units of NATO and the US are being redeployed closer to the Russian borders, which the world media do not find interesting enough to cover, unlike the poisoning of Navalny. In Jun 2020, the US decided to withdraw part of the military contingent (12k troops) from Germany, some of which should be redeployed to Poland. This maneuver served as an unambiguous message from Trump to Berlin. However, such a “message” has more than one addressee. The redeployment of troops to Eastern Europe cannot remain without a reaction from Russia (LINK). The American presence in Poland is being strengthened on a regular basis, not only by the troops withdrawn from Germany, but also due to the transfer of the American Army units from the US. On Aug 15, the Trump administration announced that it is deploying another 1k troops to Poland pursuant to a new defense cooperation agreement signed on the anniversary of the victory of Poland in the Polish-Soviet war of 1920, which reflects the US intention to locate a string of strategic offensive and defensive military infrastructure along Russia’s western border, from Norway in the far north to the Black Sea countries in the south (LINK).

In the Baltic States, reinforced battalion tactical groups of a multinational composition of up to 1k servicemen each were deployed. The American initiative is being implemented which provides for the readiness to use 30 mechanized battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 warships of NATO countries within 30 days. A new NATO Strategic Communications Center in Riga and a Joint Cyber-Defense Center of Excellence in Tallinn have been established to wage a large-scale information war. The main task of these structures is to disable the computer networks of critical facilities and infrastructure of a potential enemy, primarily Russia, by disrupting the functioning of government systems, financial institutions, enterprises, power plants, railway stations and airports. The establishment and steady expansion of major military bases, logistics and operations hubs located along Russia’s western border is accompanied by an increase in strategic long-range strike exercises and drills involving bombers and submarines operating alone or jointly with other NATO countries or non-NATO partners such as Ukraine and Georgia. The strengthening of American forces in Eastern Europe comes against the backdrop of statements about the withdrawal of military contingent from the Middle East, as well as from Afghanistan. Trump’s campaign aimed at ending America’s participation in “endless wars” in different parts of the world, apparently does not exclude the outbreak of a new conflict, which is likely to take place in Eastern Europe.

All of the issues mentioned above emerged during less than six months. Such dynamics of deterioration in relations between the collective West and Russia have not been observed over the past 30 years, since the end of the Cold War. This only suggests that the military-political leadership, primarily the US and NATO elites, is deliberately undertaking activities that can be characterized as preparations for unleashing an offensive war. Indeed, there are outreach activities aimed at creating and consolidating the image of a dangerous external enemy. There are economic measures aimed at weakening the enemy; consistent political measures are also being taken to deprive the enemy of allies and destabilize his political system. There are ideological measures aimed at vulgarizing the enemy’s way of life and way of thinking. This policy can be explained by the challenges that the Euro-Atlantic bureaucracy and globalist elites face today. They are worried about possible disintegration processes in Europe and are forced to confront the threat of Donald Trump’s re-election. Their position is complicated by the fact that they have proven their inability to offer the world, or at least “the golden billion,” a model of socioeconomic development that could help in overcoming the global financial and economic crisis.

The hysteria they initiated around SARS-COV 2 brought them tactically positive results in the form of additional profits of more than $200b for big pharma, additional profits for high-tech corporations. The crisis atomized society, thereby creating the most favorable conditions for strengthening the digital dictatorship. It created persistent phobias among a significant part of the Western population, primarily among those who share the liberal values and values of the post-liberal world. These phobias fit perfectly into the model of a unique isolated personality, in other words into that post-human format described by the concept of transhumanism. Even so, the globalist elites failed to fully achieve their goals. In particular, they did not gain dominant influence in the national systems of the world’s leading States and did not completely suppress the will for real, not virtual, freedom among the population of Western countries. The situation in the world system has returned to the state where the most effective scenario for achieving their goals is the initiation of a regional armed conflict. For this purpose, the necessary image of a terrible external enemy has already been formed, a conservative Russia oriented towards traditional family and collective values. At the same time, it is important to prevent the transition of a regional conflict to a global one. That’s why unleashing a war with Russia seems unlikely. Ideal “sacrificial lambs,” those who can be spared to be burned in the coming conflict are the countries of Eastern Europe, the Baltic States and the Ukrainian regime that joined them. The global leading players assigned the role of cannon fodder to these countries. Judging by the foreign policy of these same countries, they strive for it by themselves. These countries have already been repeatedly playing the sacrificial role earlier in history and always with an obvious result: the loss of a large part of the population, the economy destruction, up to the loss of independence. For example, it is enough to recall the first and second partitions of Poland.

The main alarmists in the EU are the Baltic countries, fearing that Russia has plans to seize their territories, as it allegedly did in the East of Ukraine, despite the fact that it is Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia who have territorial claims to Russia, and not vice versa. Today they have no choice but to tearfully ask the leading European states and NATO bureaucracy for protection, because it is precisely for ephemeral security from the non-existent Russian threat, which NATO is ultimately unable to provide them, that the Baltic countries have traded the development of their own economies and a stable position on the international arena. The situation in the Baltic States is aggravated by silence from the northern NATO or EU member states: Finland, Sweden and Norway. The Scandinavian countries are absolutely not interested in fueling conflict with Russia. They have no direct territorial claims against Russia, except the Karelian issue between Finland and Russia, which, however, is not capable to lead to an open confrontation. The refusal of Norway, which is the main support of the US in the region, to participate in the NATO Cold Response exercise, which was to be held in Mar 2020 in the northern regions of the country, was indicative. The national elites of the Northern Dimension countries are guided by the principle “near is my shirt, but nearer is my skin,” and refrain from aggressive foreign policy. Even if one day the Euro-Atlanticists manage to convince them, the probability that the population of these countries will support the decision to participate in a military conflict is very low. The neutrality of NATO’s northern flank is one of the main reasons for the disastrous situation in the Baltic countries, where NATO is forced to rapidly build up its military power. Taking into account the escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh and all the geo-strategic parameters of the European region, today only 2 scenarios are probable, which are included in the agenda promoted by the Euro-Atlantic elites:

A scenario that might be called “New Barbarossa”: incitement of protest sentiments in Belarus and their transition to the stage of armed confrontation, followed by the introduction of NATO troops into the western territories of the country and inevitable military clashes with national troops. At the same time, the escalation of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine is intended to “divert” part of the Russian troops that will be intended to support national government. Domestic political destabilization of Russia through the tools of color revolutions. The collapse of the Russian political system, leading to a sharp increase in separation sentiments among the peoples that inhabit the Russian Federation. The outbreak of civil conflicts within the country will lead to a call from pro-Western local leaders for help, right up to the introduction of military forces. Limited intervention will be accompanied by political support in the international arena and financial support for those regions of the country whose local elites declare their aspirations for sovereignty. Such a development of events will lead to the split of the Russian Federation into 7-9 new entities. Both the first and second scenarios are in the interests of the Euro-Atlantic elites. The first will allow the collective West to distract its own population from the socioeconomic problems caused by the global economic crisis, to get a new flow of qualified labor from Belarus and Ukraine, as well as get the industrial potential of Belarus and transform Ukraine into an agrarian “growth” of the EU, etc. According to the second scenario, the collective West has a chance of a de facto territorial seizure of vast Eurasian spaces. No matter what scenario will be realized, the stabilization of situation in the European region does not seem possible in the near future. Most probable, the approaching 2021 will bring much more “unpleasant surprises” than unstable 2020 did.

Turkish F-16s Enter The Azerbaijani-Armenian War. Armenia Threatens To Use Iskander Missiles
South Front, Sep 29 2020

The Armenian-Azerbaijani war continues raging in the South Caucasus. As of Sep 29, the Azerbaijani advance in the Nagorno-Karabakh region struck the Armenian defense and Azerbaijani forces were not able to achieve any military breakthroughs. Armenian troops withdrew from several positions in the Talish area and east of Fuzuli. The Azerbaijani military has been successfully employing combat drones and artillery to destroy positions and military equipment of Armenia, but Azerbaijani mechanized infantry was unable to develop its momentum any further. While both sides claim that they eliminated multiple enemy fighters and made notable gains, the real situation on the ground remains more or less stable with minor gains achieved by Azerbaijani troops. Armenian sources say that 370 Azerbaijani troops were killed and over 1k injured. The number of killed Armenian fighters, according to Azerbaijani sources, is over 1k. Armenian sources also note the notable role of Turkey in the developing conflict. Armenian President Armen Sarkissian said that Turkey has been assisting Azerbaijan in its war against the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic with advisers, mercenaries and even F-16 fighter jets. He added that the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is still possible through dialogue. However, the President emphasized that the Armenian nation cannot allow a return to the past. Sarkissian said:

105 years ago, the Ottoman Empire carried out the genocide of the Armenians. In no case can we allow this genocide to be repeated.

Armenia threatens to use Iskander short-range ballistic missile systems obtained from Russia against Azerbaijani targets if Turkish F-16 warplanes are employed on the battlefield. Meanwhile, Armenian Ambassador to Russia Vardan Toganyan said that members of Turkish-backed Syrian militant groups have been already participating in the conflict. He said that recently about 4k Turkish-backed militants were deployed to Azerbaijan. In turn, the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan said that “people who have arrived from Syria and other countries of the Middle East” are fighting on the side of Armenia. Earlier, pro-Turkish sources claimed that Armenia was transporting fighters from the Kurdish YPG and PKK to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Thus, the sides are not only claiming that they are gaining an upper hand in the war, but also accuse each other of using foreign mercenaries and terrorists.

On the evening of Sep 28, the Defense Ministry of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic confirmed that 84 of its troops were killed in the recent escalation. The Armenian side also claimed that its forces had shot down an Azerbaijani aircraft. However, this claim was denied by the Azerbaijani military. Baku continues insisting that all Armenian claims about the Azerbaijani casualties in the war are fake news. On Sep 29, the Armenian side continued reporting about Azerbaijani helicopters being shot down, and declaring that they repelled Azerbaijani attacks. Nonetheless, the scale and intensity of the strikes by the Azerbaijani side did not demonstrate any decrease. On top of this, the Armenian Defense Ministry said that a Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet shot down an Armenian Su-25 warplane. The F-16 fighter jet allegedly took off from the Ganja Airbase in Azerbaijan and was providing air cover to combat UAVs, which were striking targets in Armenia’s Vardenis, Mec Marik and Sotk. Azerbaijan and Turkey denied Armenian claims that a Turkish F-16 shot down the Su-25. So far, no side has achieved a strategic advantage in the ongoing conflict. However, the Azerbaijani military, which receives extensive support from Turkey, is expected to have better chances in the prolonged conflict with Armenia, if Erevan does not receive direct military support from Russia.

Turkey’s “Syrian National Army” Confirms Deployment Of Its Members In Azerbaijan
South Front, Sep 29 2020

“General” Ziyad Haji Ubeyd, one of the leaders of the pro-Turkish coalition of militant groups known as the Syrian National Army (SNA) confirmed that the group had sent its fighters to Azerbaijan. Ubeyd told in an interview with Rudaw TV:

Fighters have to go to conflict in Azerbaijan to provide for their families due to bad economic conditions. The economic situation in Afrin, Sere Kaniye and other regions is very bad and they cannot support their families. We are ready to fight anywhere in Turkey’s national interests and security. We’re defending our interests to realize our goals.

The SNA commander claimed that there are 70k SNA members that are ready to participate in Turkish operations anywhere around the world. Ubeyd emphasized that they are ready to go to support the Turkish Army in Azerbaijan or wherever it is, if requested. Earlier, Armenia claimed that at least 4k members of Turkish-backed Syrian militant groups were deployed in Azerbaijan.

Military Situation In Nagorno-Karabakh
South Front, Sep 29, 2020

Map Update

Fierce clashes continue in Nagorno-Karabakh. According to the reports, the attacks targeted the territories of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Iran also claimed that several Azerbaijani rockets had landed in its Northern Ardabil province. A brief overview of the recent developments in Nagorno-Karabakh:

  • According to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, the Dashkesan region was shelled with artillery fire from the territory of the Vardenis region of Armenia;
  • Armenian Ministry of Defense claimed that all positions in southern Karabakh were recaptured from Azerbaijani forces;
  • Clashes between Armenian forces and Azerbaijan forces continue in the Fuzuli and Mataghis areas;
    Azerbaijani artillery shelled Armenian positions in the town of Martuni;
  • According to Armenian sources, Azerbaijani kamikaze UAV attacked a civilian bus near the city of Vardenis.

Azerbaijan And Armenia’s Forces: The Numbers
South Front, Sep 29 2020

As of Sep 24, Azerbaijan and Armenia have introduced martial law, and the situation is nearing all-out conflict over the Nagorno Karabakh region. Below is a brief comparison of the capabilities of both countries. According to Global Firepower, Armenia is ranked 111th out of 138 countries considered for the annual GFP review 2020. Azerbaijan, on the other hand sits at 64th position. In terms of population, Azerbaijan has a population more than 3 times larger, sitting at 9.9m, compared to Armenia’s 3m. The available manpower for Azerbaijan sits at 5 million, while Armenia’s is at 1.7m. The active personnel of the militaries, however, is quite comparable. For Azerbaijan it sits at 67k, while for Armenia it is 45k. However, Baku has almost twice as many reserve personnel sitting at 307k, compared to Yerevan’s 171k. The defense budget gap is massive, with Azerbaijan’s sitting at upwards of $3.2b, while Armenia’s is at upwards of $225m. In terms of naval capability, Armenia has no navy, but it is unlikely that such assets would play any role in a possible conflict. Azerbaijan has 4 submarines, 1 frigate, and 12 patrol craft. In terms of air power, the total aircraft Armenia has at its disposal sits at 64. Out of it 11 are attack aircraft, 18 are transport aircraft. In total, Armenia has 42 helicopters, out of which 15 are attack types. In comparison, Azerbaijan sits at 135 aircraft. It has 18 fighter jets and interceptors, 29 attack aircraft and 64 transport aircraft. It has 93 helicopters, out of which 17 are attack types. Finally, in terms of ground forces, Azerbaijan has 1,451 armored fighting vehicles, 187 units of self-propelled artillery, 227 units of towed artillery, 162 rocket projectors and 570 tanks. Armenia, on the other hand, has 748 armored fighting vehicles, 38 units of self-propelled artillery, 150 units of towed artillery and 68 rocket projectors. It has 110 tanks. In pure numbers, Azerbaijan greatly outclasses the Armenian military capability, in addition to Turkey allegedly deploying Syrian militants to assist, as well as providing it with Bayraktar TB-2 strike UAVs, and it also operating various Israeli types. Russia, and likely Iran, are potential allies that would likely provide assistance to Armenia in the case of a larger conflict.

Armenia Says Turkish F-16 Shot Down Armenian Su-25 After Ankara Vowed To Support Azerbaijan On Battlefield
South Front, Sep 29 2020

A F-16 fighter jet of the Turkish Air Force shot down a Su-25 warplane of the Armenian Air Force in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, the Armenian Defense Ministry reported on Sep 29. The F-16 fighter jet allegedly took off from Ganja Airbase in Azerbaijan and was providing an air cover to combat UAVs, which were striking targets in Armenia’s Vardenis, Mec Marik and Sotk. The incident allegedly took place in Armenian airspace. Now, Armenia will likely make a request to the CSTO (a post-Soviet military bloc led by Russia) to ask it for a military support. Azerbaijan and Turkey denied Armenian claims that a Turkish F-16 shot down the Su-25. They called the Armenian statement fake news and a provocation. Just a few hours ago, Armenia was threatening to use Iskander missile systems to strike Azerbaijan and its forces if F-16 jets were used. Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia Armen Grigoryan also made a phone call to his Russian counterpart Nikolay Patrushev claiming that there was a chance that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will expand to Armenia. Turkey once again declared that it will consider any attack on Azerbaijani territory as an attack on Turkish territory and vowed to support Baku on the diplomatic arena and the battlefield. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry also claimed that it has information about the deployment of the Armenian military’s S-300 systems closer to the Nagorno-Karabakh region and threatened to destroy them.

An Azerbaijani strike on Armenian forces:

The Armenian military released a video to showcase its claims about the shooting down of multiple Azerbaijani aircraft:

Armenia shows impact of the clashes in the Nagorno Karabakh area:

Nagorno-Karabakh Dimension Of French-Turkish Conflict
South Front, Sep 28 2020

On Sep 27, after the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh region flared up, France immediately called on Yerevan and Baku to end hostilities and restart dialogue. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said in a statement:

France is extremely concerned by the confrontation.

Along with the US and Russia, France is a co-president of the Minsk group. On Sep 28, Macron and Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev discussed the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone in a phone call. Macron expressed his France’s concern about the armed confrontation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani Line of Contact and stressed the need to resolve the conflict through talks, the press service of the Azerbaijani president said. On Armenia’s side, Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan has held phone talks with Macron on Sep 27 to discuss the ongoing escalation of tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh, emphasising the importance of keeping Turkey out of the armed hostilities. The Armenian Prime Minister’s press service said:

Nikol Pashinyan expressed deep concern over the current situation and its further escalation. In particular, he stressed that Azerbaijan was resorting to provocations with a view to launching military operations on the state borders of the Republic of Armenia. Calling his interlocutor’s attention to Turkey’s strongly biased and aggressive stance, the Premier stressed the need to prevent the possible intervention of that country.

As quoted in the press release, Macron described the escalation as “unacceptable” and called for an intensification of efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, which aside from France include Russia and the US, toward “reinstating peace in the region.” Back in 2018, French Foreign Minister Le Drian said that Paris planned to ramp up efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. Le Drian said on May 27 2018 during a joint news conference with his Azerbaijani counterpart in Baku:

We hope that in the coming months we will work more actively to search for the ways of settling the Karabakh conflict. The current situation is not an option. France seeks peace and stability in the region. France, as co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, will make the necessary efforts for a peaceful settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and we believe that it is necessary to improve the work of the OSCE in this regard.

Azerbaijan’s foreign minister Elmar Mammadyarov told reporters he and Le Drian had held substantive discussions on the issue. He said:

We adhere to the strategy of resolving the conflict peacefully, and I am sure that France as co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group will continue to help resolve this situation.

It appears that very little has been achieved, since there was another flare-up prior to this one which was quite significant, but nothing compared to what is transpiring now. Regardless, France surely feels the need to involve itself, especially since Turkey appears to be sending militants and equipment to assist Azerbaijan. Currently, Paris and Ankara’s interests clash in Libya, as well as in the Mediterranean Sea, and this is yet another direction in which France cannot allow itself to be on the backfoot and allow Turkey to spread its influence further, since any successful undertaking would mean it would have more support in future endeavors. France, however, has another reason to involve itself: as mentioned above France is a co-president of the Minsk group along with the US and Russia.

France is a mediator of the conflict along with the United States and Russia, a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group. The country calls for an immediate end to hostilities and a resumption of dialogue, reaching a negotiated and lasting settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, in accordance with international law

Relations between France and Armenia: the centuries-old friendly relations between the Armenian and French peoples, dating back to the times of the Armenian kingdom in Cilicia, were a solid foundation for establishing close ties between states after Armenia gained independence. Nowadays two countries have an established close political dialogue, strengthened by regular mutual visits; they are developing the bilateral cooperation, which is especially dynamic in the educational and university spheres, cultural, academic and trade exchanges. After the Armenian Genocide, thousands of Armenians took refuge in France and contributed to the formation of sympathy for the Armenian people there. France plays a decisive role in the process of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide being the first state in the world to give the force of law to the recognition of the Armenian genocide in 2001. France is an important partner of the Republic of Armenia in its relations with the European Union; there is cooperation between the two countries in international organizations (UN, Council of Europe, OSCE). Besides, the two countries cooperate within the framework of the International Organisation of la Francophonie. The Armenian diaspora in France numbers more than 600k people. It is the third largest Armenian diaspora in the world after the ones in the US and Russia and it constitutes a natural bridge between the two countries. The Diaspora managed to create a wide network of Armenian associations, represented mainly in the Coordination Council of Armenian Organizations of France. The level of bilateral economic cooperation is lower than the one of political cooperation. Still France continues to occupy important positions in terms of the volume of investments in the Armenian economy.

Relations between France and Azerbaijan: France was the second country to recognize the independence of the country on Dec 31 1991; later France opened an embassy in Baku. Since then, the two countries have united economically, culturally and politically. France plays an important role in cooperation between the European Union and Azerbaijan within the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy. The problem in their relation is the current regime in Azerbaijan: it is not a democratic regime, so the relations between two different regimes that do not share the exact fundamental values are complicated. However France takes into account that Azerbaijan is learning democracy, which would take time. France maintains good relations with Azerbaijan, maintaining a political dialogue and, in addition, an economic presence. At the same time, at the highest state level, France reminds Azerbaijani officials of the negative human rights situation. France is interested in a peaceful and impartial settlement of the conflict in view of its long-standing friendship and partnership with both countries (especially Armenia). France assumes a particular responsibility in this matter and is firmly committed to establishing lasting peace and security in the region as well as ensuring the protection of populations in a peaceful world along with the principle of non-violence.

At the same time, Paris’ interests are in conflict with Turkish actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and Libya, where the ongoing Turkish expansion poses a threat to French businesses and influence. This is clearly seen from the French posture towards the Turkish intervention in Libya. Being a NATO member state (as well as Turkey), France in fact contributed active diplomatic efforts to undermine Turkish attempts to get support from NATO and the EU in its campaign against the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The pro-Turkish Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli, also did not get any real help from France. Instead, pro-Turkish sources accused Paris of supporting the LNA. In the Eastern Mediterranean, France united with Egypt and Greece to stop the Turkish natural resources exploration in contested waters. In these conditions, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and thus the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani war has already become another dimension of the ongoing French-Turkish stand-off.

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