What would happen to Armenia if a 1917-style ‘surprise’ Russian withdrawal from The South Caucasus occurs?
Posted on August. 18. 2022
BY APPO JABARIAN
According to well-informed sources in Yerevan, Moscow, Paris and Washington, in recent weeks, because of its purported heavy losses in Ukraine, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has ordered a ‘surprise’ reduction in Russian Peacekeeping Forces in Artsakh/Nagorno Karabakh.
After the 44-Day Artsakh War in Fall 2020, in accordance with the ceasefire agreement signed on November 10, 2020 by Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Russia sent a peacekeeping contingent of about 2,000.
In early 2022, the Russian presence was enhanced to a brigade of an estimated 5,000 servicemen, provided by the “15th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade of the Russian Ground Forces to the region.”
The March-June 2022 deployment by Russia of additional forces was preceded by a March 26 statement from the Russian Ministry of Defence accusing Azerbaijan of “violating the agreement.” Azerbaijani Army was urged to “retreat to its previous positions,” and leave the “zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping contingent.”
Now, with the ‘surprise’ reduction in Russian military presence, several military experts and observers think that Armenia/Artsakh face a distinct possibility of new Azerbaijani-Turkish exploitation of 1) the American, European and Russian preoccupation with the ongoing war in Ukraine between Russia on one hand and Ukraine and their Western allies on the other; 2) the American preoccupation with the Crisis in South China Sea, Taiwan and China; 3) Western preoccupation with the European energy crisis.
In 1916-1917, as part of the Middle Eastern theatre during World War I, The Caucasus campaign comprised armed conflicts between the Russian Empire and the Turkish Ottoman Empire extending from the South Caucasus’s Eastern Armenia to the Armenian Highlands region in the Turkish-occupied Western Armenia, reaching as far as Trabzon, Bitlis, Mush and Van. The land warfare was accompanied by naval engagements in the Black Sea. However, in February 1917, the Russian advance was halted and Russian forces were withdrawn as a direct consequence of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.
Now in light of potentially adverse developments for Russia in Ukraine, what would happen if Azerbaijan, Turkey and their terrorist mercenaries such as ISIS believe to have the military capabilities to invade not only the remainder of Artsakh/Nagorno Karabakh but Armenia proper?
What would the Armenian nation do?
For a starter, many Armenians strongly believe that “in the absence of a swift Western political and military intervention, the West should be understanding if world Armenians pursue Iranian and Indian military presence in Armenia.” Armenian observers are insisting, “the clock is ticking fast to the detriment of Armenia, and Armenia/Artsakh and Armenians must act fast. Realpolitik is not a private domain. It is a universal political, military and economic option and that it should also be considered by officialdom Yerevan and Stepanakert.”
World Armenians should set their petty differences aside and focus on saving Armenia and what’s left of the Artsakh Republic/Nagorno Karabakh.
As a practical step, Armenians should urgently form National Emergency Response Committees worldwide and do their utmost best to help Armenians in Armenia and Artsakh defend themselves against the genocidal duo — Azerbaijan, Turkey and their terrorist ISIS mercenaries; empower the twin Armenian republics to consolidate their Sovereignty, Independence and Defense. Several American Armenians have been supportive of the activities of Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA) and the American Armenian National Security Institute (AANSI). It is always helpful to be proactive but world Armenians should do exponentially more for Armenia/Artsakh.
ALL OPTIONS MUST REMAIN ON THE TABLE:
Armenians also believe that “a Citizen Army should be empowered to bear arms to defend themselves against the possibility of Azerbaijani-Turkish invasion of southern Armenia’s Syunik region that connects the country with its southern neighbor Iran.
Additionally, “It could be time to execute a shocking chess move, a ‘swinging gate’ of momentum in our favor. Iran has shown tolerance to ethnic Armenians under their rule, time and time again for centuries. While Iran could be seen by some as an unpopular ally on the world stage, easily demonized in the Western press, they have an existing adversarial relationship with the Turks in other conflict theaters, and are neither beholden to the interests of the West nor Russia. Although there are economic ties, Iran is no close friend of Azerbaijan and has already expressed a willingness to intervene if the Turks move to wrest the Syunik region from Armenia proper. And most importantly, this second looming Azeri-Turkish attack on Artsakh poses a question of existential survival for the Armenians in our entirety, so therefore any help from any imperfect ally is preferable to the ethnic cleansing offered by the Turks and ‘blessed’ by all the other world powers,” wrote Paris-based independent commentator on international affairs Edouard Sassoun in this week’s USA Armenian Life (see “Barbarians at the Gates” on page E12).
The overwhelming majority of Armenians in the Homeland and Diaspora underline that Armenia has two red lines vis-à-vis Azerbaijan-Turkey: “(1) Armenia and world Armenians will not accept a corridor demanded by Turkey between Western Azerbaijan and what is now Azerbaijani-occupied Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic (NAR) that is sandwiched between Armenia proper and Iran. However, Armenia is ready to open the roads between Azerbaijan and NAR; (2) Armenia will not accept any further erosion of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh)” which has always been Armenian. Not only Armenians think so, but it is a historical fact, it is so.