01 November 2014
... It has been so always, at least for the past 150 years and so will it be now. Armenians have traditionally been used by Atlanticists such as the UK, the USA and France for the purpose of destroying continental empires. Persia is a case in point and so is the Ottoman Empire as well as the USSR.
Interview with well-known Russian historian and political analyst Oleg Kuznetsov
Author: Rizvan HUSEYNOV . . .
- We have witnessed numerous provocations lately along the contact line on the Armenia-Azerbaijan front. Yet the strongest tensions were probably caused by recent provocations by the Armenian armed forces which announced that they had allegedly seized some strategically important point at the boarder between Naxcivan and Armenia. Could one suppose that the Armenian side is trying to incite Azerbaijan to a military confrontation in this sector that would enable Yerevan to draw the Collective Security Treaty Organization [CSTO] into the conflict?
- Just the other day, I returned to Moscow from Naxcivani - excuse me but I am going to use the name historically accepted in Russia. However I saw nothing there to suggest any large-scale clash along the confrontation line between the opposed sides. To avoid any misinterpretation of the purpose of my trip, I will say that it had been planned long before and involved taking part in an international research conference connected with celebrations throughout Azerbaijan to mark the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the Naxcivan Autonomous Republic [Azerbaijani exclave]. The schedule of the events had been approved by Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev early this year. Apart from me, this scholarly event was attended by fellow researchers from Turkey and the USA. It took place in Ag-Bulag, or White Spring, a resort area one kilometre away from the Naxcivan-Armenia boarder. The plenary session of the conference lasted about four hours. Taking part in it were Vasif Talibov, chairman of the Milli Maclis [parliament] of the Naxcivan Autonomous Republic, and Ali Hasanov, the administrator of the Milli Maclis of the Naxcivan Autonomous Republic. Think for yourself, if the situation were at the boarder were troubled, would they have travelled to an area of hostilities taking along foreign guests whose lives and opinions are of value to them?
- How realistic is the emergence of a hotbed of Armenian-Azerbaijan military tensions in the Naxcivan sector?
- The terrain relief along the Naxcivan-Armenian boarder makes it virtually impossible to carry on any large-scale hostilities. The boarder line runs practically everywhere over mountain crests. The valleys between them are no man's land where individuals or maybe small groups of one or two squads can act under the cover of night or bad weather. Any crossing of the state boarder means getting over to the back slope of the mountain on which the trespassers become excellent targets can be neutralized just in a few minutes by the defensive side's artillery or mortars located deep in their own territory. Meanwhile their own forces cannot support them with fire because the attackers are hidden from them by the mountain. All this suggests only one conclusion: any statements about some important strategic heights being seized and especially held anywhere throughout the length of the border between Naxcivan and Armenia are bluff and nonsense intended for naive and uninformed people, an unscrupulous publicity stunt, a canard or whatever else it can be called.
- So what was the real cause behind the recent "triumphant" braggery of the Armenian armed forces trumpeting an "important tactical victory" on the boarder with Naxcivan?
- Naturally enough, there were talks in Naxcivan about the situation on the boarder with Armenia. I don't speak Azerbaijani; I only know some 20 or 30 Azerbaijani words. Nonetheless, they largely use Russian military terminology which enabled me, a man with military experience, to see what had actually happened there. A helicopter of the Armenian armed forces fired two unguided missiles and damaged an Azerbaijani Belarus-type tractor driven into the neutral zone either to take hay or just in error. I understand that it is absolutely impossible to get a combat helicopter airborne and homed on a target in one minute, so I suppose that Azeri peasants' economic activities in the neutral zone had been going on for a long time and now the Armenian side suddenly decided to react to it. After the gunfire attack against the tractor from the air, Armenian military servicemen came running to the damaged rather than destroyed farm machine, shot two bursts of assault rifle fire into the air and then, after properly tickling their vanity, they ran back into their fortifications.
- Yet Armenian media are saying that a strategically important point has been occupied on Naxcivan's highland boarder and even hinting that Azerbaijan's military actions in response may involve the CSTO in the conflict.
- As a result, at least pro-Armenian online resources in Russia presented the tensions on the boarder with Naxcivan as a "seizure of a strategically important highland district" although I cannot understand how a Belarus tractor can drive up to an altitude exceeding 2,000 metres above the sea level where its diesel engine has to work in thin air. Quite possibly, two or even three quite different incidents had taken place. But they were as ridiculous and puny that even if they had been followed by return fire from Azerbaijan's artillery or mortars destroying one or two observation posts of the Armenian armed forces, any involvement of the CSTO to provide the territorial integrity and security of Armenia would have been out of the question.
- So this is an obvious attempt by Armenia to draw Russia into a new conflict in South Caucasus. Then the question arises; who is Armenia working for?
- You raised an issue utterly serious and sensitive for Russia's present-day policy: attempts being made by different countries, above all Ukraine, to draw Russia into a local armed conflict. It is more than obvious that NATO is interested in events following this course at least in the South Caucasus if not in Eastern Europe. Because the fact of such an armed conflict, even a very short one, will enable them to beef up their group of forces in the Black Sea region and block Crimea from the sea thus responding with a military demarche to Crimea's reunion with Russia. Russian territory comes under fire in quite different sections of the border up to 10 and sometimes even more times per day but Russian border guards do not like making such facts public. This is why only those facts reach the media that cannot be kept secret. I mean information on gunfire attacks or damage inflicted on boarder crossing points or customs posts and buses carrying refugees. It is no man's secret that US special services have set the task to involve Ukraine in an armed conflict with Russia which will enable them to provide direct armed aid, that is use NATO armed forces in battles against the Russian army. Russia is taking every effort to avoid this scenario of further developments responding to armed provocations with diplomatic means.
This is why I admit that attempts may be made to embroil Russia in a regional armed conflict through its CSTO membership so that NATO states can take revenge for the disgrace of their policy in the Ukrainian sector. For instance, I view as quite possible the following scenario: having enlisted the support of the USA and France as co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Armenia carries out a full-scale military provocation against Naxcivan rather than in Nagornyy Karabakh because there is a state boarder rather than a frontline there. As a result, Armenia's armed forces meet with a rebuff from Azerbaijan. This country will be forced by military necessity to open return fire to effect against forces of the enemy located in its territory. That will entail obvious and direct violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity. In keeping with mechanisms laid down in the Collective Security Treaty, Russia must stand up for Armenia. As a result, it is embroiled in an armed conflict running counter to its geopolitical interests but playing into the hands of NATO member states. Thereafter, being Russia's ally de jure, Armenia turns into its opponent de facto. It was like this at the outset of the Nagornyy Karabakh war. Its major geopolitical result was the fall of the Soviet Union while transnational monopolies gained access to natural resources in the post-Soviet space.
- It turns out that the phase repeatedly warned about by the Azeri community of political scientists has already started: Armenia is going to betray Russia's interests in the exceptionally important South Caucasus sector…
- I am not the only one in Russia to be aware that this scenario may possibly be implemented in the South Caucasus. Today, Russia has no absolute guarantees of Armenia's political loyalty to it at least because the financial aid provided for Armenia by the Armenian diaspora in Russia is less than half of what they receive from the Armenian diaspora in the USA, France and other anti-Russian-minded countries. The best proof to this is the currently deadlocked process of aligning Armenian legislation to that of the Customs Union, although Armenia is declaring its intention to become its member permanently and at all levels. At present, global macroeconomics is very often made with the use of very dirty military and political means. So I admit that, following a preliminary plan, Armenia may exacerbate the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict in the near future, say, within three or four months from now when natural and climatic conditions make it incomparably more difficult to carry on hostilities in the mountains than in summer. The ultimate goal of that will be potential weakening of Russia in the interests of the West. The only alternative to this may be a rapid and comprehensive rapprochement between Russia and Azerbaijan and elimination of the hotbed of tensions in the South Caucasus on terms of complete and unconditional restoration of the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
- What is your vision of the future of Armenia as a state in the South Caucasus and what are the prospects of further Russian-Armenian relations? Can present-day Armenia help Russia to protect and expand its strategic interests in the South Caucasus and other regional sectors in Asia?
- The Armenian political leadership's prospects in the basically new political conditions currently taking shape seem absolutely "rosy" to me. After two decades of non-existence, it has again got a chance to draw attention to itself on the international scene and fulfil itself once more as a tool for the triumph of someone else's geopolitics. The tool lies in the dust somewhere in a utility room to be used according to its purpose at the right moment. It has been so always, at least for the past 150 years and so will it be now. Armenians have traditionally been used by Atlanticists such as the UK, the USA and France for the purpose of destroying continental empires. Persia is a case in point and so is the Ottoman Empire as well as the USSR. The Armenian nation's historical experience over the past two centuries indicates that all negative qualities inherent in this nation are finding their full-scale application solely in conditions of global geopolitical crises and we have objectively existed in crisis conditions over the past few years. I am not sure at all that Boris Yeltsin chose it [Armenia] as a strategic partner in the South Caucasus in the interests of Russia or someone "from an outside man" who suggested taking that step much like someone suggested privatizing strategically important enterprises of the former Soviet industry in the territory of the Russian Federation.
To answer the second part of your question, I will use a historical allegory based on real facts. In 1916, the issue was being discussed of Romania joining in World War I. No-one could say whether it would ultimately land in the Antanta or the Triple Alliance. When Anton Ivanovich Denikin, general of infantry and chief of the Staff of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, was asked for his opinion on this subject, he replied with simplicity and severity characteristic of all real military men: "If Romania takes our side, I will need 16 divisions to protect it. If it chooses to be against us, I will need 16 divisions to rout it." We can observe something similar in Russia's attitude towards Armenia. It is for us like an old husband with a young wife: it is impossible to live together and it is unbecoming to leave. Naturally enough, this state of affairs cannot last forever and both Moscow and Yerevan are aware of this fact. The only difference is that Yerevan seeks to keep the current order of things as long as possible while Moscow is pressing Yerevan to decide on its choice to be entirely with the West or with Russia.
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