As military clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia continue, the corporate media, unaware of internal dynamics in the two countries, are spewing a simplistic and at times conspiratorial narrative.
This brief analysis will look at what the current situation in occupied Karabakh is and what it is not.
It is not an independent decision by the Aliyev regime to restore Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
The Aliyevs would not risk their throne by confronting Russia’s historic and primary geopolitical ally in the Caucasus, Armenia.
Since 1994, the Aliyev regime has on numerous occasions cooperated with Armenian nationalists in Karabakh.
This fact was once again recently confirmed by the former colonel in Azerbaijan Army, Isa Sadiqiov, currently living in exile in Norway.
It is highly probable that Azerbaijan was provided the current plan of action during last month’s visit by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shaigo.
Following his visit, the Baku regime increased its anti-Armenian rhetoric.
Shaigo’s arrival in Baku was officially described as a visit for military cooperation.
The ongoing events do not mean that Moscow is abandoning its ally Armenia.
Neither is it a Russian reconfiguration of its geopolitical strategy in the Caucasus.
Moscow is punishing the relatively new Armenian government of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan for completely purging the Armenian political landscape of hard-core Russian allies.
These include former President Robert Kocharyan and most importantly, Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Yuri Khachaturov.
As articulated by the Russian media, Khachaturov’s arrest was equivalent of Norway arresting the Secretary General of NATO and expecting the US to remain silent.
Since the first days of coming to power after overthrowing a staunchly pro-Russian government, Pashinyan began warming up to the European Union.
He called for reduced Armenian dependence on Russia, his July statement on this topic being the most blatant.
Then there is Turkey’s active involvement in the recent conflict which is in line with Russian thinking and, perhaps agreement.
The strategy is to exert maximum pressure on Pashinyan’s government to fall.
Ankara would not venture into the Caucasus on its own at this time.
It would trigger a harsh Russian response to a NATO member’s involvement in the region Moscow considers its privileged sphere of influence.
Turkey’s active political role allows Moscow to turn the Armenian political establishment against Pashinyan, and creates an opportunity for Ankara to bolster its image in the Muslim world.
It’s a win-win deal for both sides.
For Russia, the current situation allows it to bolster the loyal Aliyev regime in Baku by creating for it a symbolic victory, allowing it to liberate a few patches of Azeri territory surrounding the occupied Karabakh region.
Thus, overall, the entire situation in Karabakh today is Russian politics and Putin’s government implementing its strategy and tactics with great finesse.
Nevertheless, such tactics can easily get out of hand and lead to unintended consequences.
If Azerbaijan suffers heavy casualties, or the Azeri society perceives the situation as a “loss” due to unrealistic expectations, things may change.
Moscow is highly unlikely to allow the war to continue for long or allow Azerbaijan to fight until most of Karabakh is liberated, thus, Aliyev’s Moscow permitted endeavor can boomerang.