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Political analyst: Baku’s next step may be air raid on Karabakh positions

Alexander Skakov, political analyst

Growing tension in the Karabakh conflict is a result of Azerbaijan’s attempts “to test the bottom,” to find the limits of “the allowable,” Alexander Skakov, Russian expert, Research Fellow at the Oriental Studies Institute, Russian Academy of Science, told EADaily. He said it is early to call the current upsurge in tensions “a war,” but it can spiral into large-scale military actions at any moment.

“In the Karabakh conflict zone there is neither war nor peace situation now – a very fragile situation. It is in favor of Azerbaijan, which is now trying, first, to find out how far it can go without any serious consequences of itself, and second, to prove everyone that Russia is in fact not a guarantor of either Armenia or Karabakh’s security.  To that end, it regularly shells Armenian positions on the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border, villages in Tavush region of Armenia and others, and uses larger caliber of weapons.  It is logical that if Baku pursues its point, its next step may be air raids on Armenian positions,” the political analyst said.

In addition, Skakov believes that Azerbaijan uses the thesis of Russia’s non-intervention for domestic audience. “However, it would be wrong to think that Azerbaijan’s actions are just demonstration and ‘test of the pen.’ Much has happened in the world during the last months: there are chaotic wars in the Middle East - Syria and Iraq, and the Ukrainian crisis has not faded away. The Big Powers are busy and Baku could think to take advantage of the moment and to try to settle the Karabakh conflict in its favor. Yet, many factors may affect that decision: the bilateral relations of Russia-Azerbaijan, Russia-Armenia, Russia-West, the crisis in the Russia-Turkey relations, Iran’s stand, and development in the Middle East. There are too many factors to describe the final picture. On the one hand, all this creates a general atmosphere of unpredictability and reduces the probability of real escalation of the conflict in Karabakh by Azerbaijan. On the other hand, it is a good chance to fish in muddy waters,” Skakov said.

As for Russia’s stand on the escalations in the conflict zone, he said Moscow does not want to interfere. “Russia and Azerbaijan have their special relations, interests and their special level of cooperation.  Russia would not like to lose all this amid its global confrontation with the West.  However, at the extreme, Moscow that is closely following the situation in the region and weighing possible developments will have to take measures to de-escalate the conflict,” Skakov said.

As for the West, the analyst said its role in the given situation has come down to naught, which it is not bad, as the West can make nothing constructive in the current situation. “The Karabakh conflict as such means nothing to the West. They do not care whether 2000 or 10000 people will be killed there. However, they do not mind creating one more hotbed of tensions in the southern underbelly of Russia.  Yet the Armenian and Azerbaijani lobby in the West are strong equally. Besides, the West is preoccupied with other thoughts now.”

EADaily reported earlier that there is an upsurge in tensions in the Karabakh conflict zone, as Azerbaijan regularly shells Armenians positions using various weaponry, even tanks and howitzers. Defense Minister of Armenia through his spokesperson Artsrun Hovhannisyan has already assessed the situation as “war.”

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