The bombings by Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, a disapproval for Russia.

Le ministre russe des affaires étrangères, Sergueï Lavrov, à Moscou, le 18 septembre 2023.

On the diplomatic front, the resumption of the Azerbaijani offensive in the Nagorno-Karabakh region on Tuesday, September 19, is a setback for Moscow. The peace agreement of November 2020 was concluded under the auspices of Russia, and it was a Russian “peacekeeping” contingent of 1,960 men that was supposed to ensure its implementation, as well as security on the ground in theory.

Instead, Moscow allowed tensions to persist and was unable or unwilling to prevent the Azerbaijani party from organizing the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh for nearly a year. Whether due to a lack of political will or military means – a result of its weakened army in the war it is waging in Ukraine – Russia has abandoned its role as arbiter and guarantor. And once again demonstrates its inability to ensure stability in what it claims as its backyard, whether in the Caucasus or Central Asia.

Despite its connection to the Russian army, the Telegram channel Rybar, which closely monitors the regional conflict, even went as far as mentioning on Tuesday a “discredit” brought to the Russian mission and Moscow’s role as a security guarantor.

Service minimum diplomatique

The initial response from Russian diplomacy to this new escalation of tensions in the Haut-Karabakh confirms Moscow’s position as a mere observer. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has “called on both parties involved in the conflict” to stop the conflict, a statement that seems like a diplomatic minimum service and denies the obvious, which is that Azerbaijan deliberately initiated it.

Du côté du Kremlin, le porte-parole Dmitri Peskov assurait que « la priorité est la sécurité des forces de maintien de la paix russes ». Il a été obligé de démentir les rumeurs selon lesquelles Bakou avait informé la partie russe en amont de son opération.

The suspicion has been lingering for a long time regarding Russia’s position in the matter: in 2020, Yerevan already felt abandoned by its traditional Russian ally, who allowed Baku to demonstrate its military superiority before achieving a ceasefire – and a peace agreement that, while not resolving the underlying issues, made a resumption of hostilities almost inevitable. In addition to this, there are complex relations with Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, a strong supporter of Azerbaijan, which Russia handles carefully due to other more pressing concerns.

In recent weeks, the Armenian government has continuously distanced itself from Moscow, sending various symbolic signals – expulsion of Russian journalists, visit to Kiev by the prime minister’s wife, Nikol Pachinian, humanitarian aid to Ukraine – as well as other significant actions. These include organizing a joint military exercise with the United States and announcing the ratification of the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court. In March, the court issued an arrest warrant against Vladimir Putin for “war crimes” related to the deportation of Ukrainian children.

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