Putin’s military and security policies are withering: CSTO is de facto no more28.10.2020
Only a blind man would not see that the war in Nagorno-Karabakh isn’t about to end any time soon. It seems that Aliyev, who is receiving motivation from Erdogan, still hasn’t been able to return Nagorno-Karabakh quickly and without unnecessary bloodshed.
The forces of both engaged nations continue fidgeting on both sides of the Nagorno-Karabakh border, occasionally blindly firing artillery at a random location and forcing their own infantry units, which are suffering increasing losses, into a dead end.
Now, a relative “ceasefire” has come into effect, but as always this means that combat continues, and so is the suffering of peaceful civilians. I would like to look into the eyes of those wise analysts who have been saying for the last 30 years that wars are now fought decisively in a couple of days.
I’m not entirely sure about that because another generation of children of war has grown up in Syria, and now something similar is happening in Nagorno-Karabakh as well. Everything in Nagorno-Karabakh is just as it was during the good old times of World War II, with the exception that the weapons used now are more precise and more lethal.
In 1994, the Kremlin was able to convince both warring sides to put down their weapons but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any bloodshed after that. Now, both sides are engaged in a large-scale war in Transcaucasia, crushing Putin’s prestige as a leader of a superpower and putting an end to the existence of the CSTO as I have already written.
In reality, up until now Moscow has never attempted to, or even been genuinely interested in resolving the ancient conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in a more or less civilized manner. Instead, Russia decided to annex Crimea and create the self-proclaimed Abkhazian and South Ossetian republics in Georgia and the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in Ukraine.
As I already argued, the disagreements between both Caucasian nations provided the Kremlin with an excellent opportunity to take the international stage dressed as a peacekeeper. But what now when artillery shells are flying in both directions?
I think that Armenia is futilely hoping that the CSTO will come to its aid because the organization is almost completely nonfunctioning, as proved by the recent joint military exercises Nerushimoe Bratstvo-2020 held on 12 October in Belarus and attended only by Russia and Belarus, where a revolution is currently taking place. The CSTO will not provide any support, and that’s why Armenian forces didn’t participate in the exercises, not even symbolically.
Of course, the CSTO has other members aside from Russia and Belarus – Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan – and no one of them took part in the exercises. There was a time when Putin tried to drag Uzbekistan into the organization, but that didn’t work out because there are serious territorial disputes between these Central Asian member states. These nations also tend to occasionally clash with each other when the topic of distributing water resources arises.
The Kremlin once “promised” Armenia security in exchange for the rights to establish a Russian army base in its territory but now it looks like this may not happen, as Moscow has developed somewhat close economic cooperation with Baku, for instance, by delivering armaments worth one billion USD. This means that from the start the Kremlin didn’t intend to keep the promise it made to Armenia of taking care of its security because it’s supplying Armenia’s ancient enemy with weapons. This is like the police promising to protect the people while at the same time selling weapons to the mafia.
And Armenia, as an ally of Russia, receives outdated military equipment – that it pays for using money lent by Russian banks – but on a significantly smaller scale. We cannot be sure yet, but it is very likely that the conflict will end with Nagorno-Karabakh being returned to Azerbaijan, while the seriously weakened and humiliated Armenia will have no other choice than to embrace Putin even more passionately and become subject No. 86 of the Russian Federation. Another option would be to make a geopolitical change of course towards the West, but in order to do this Armenia would have to get rid of the Russian 102nd Military Base in Gyumri, therefore such a scenario is highly unlikely.
So far, the Kremlin has been successful in creating the impression in Old Europe, particularly Italy and France, that Moscow is a skilled “mediator” who can ensure piece in Transcaucasia by preventing the small local mountainous nations from fighting each other, in return receiving political and economical “dividends”. We can now see that Moscow’s near-sighted policies have failed because a new and more serious war has erupted with unpredictable geopolitical consequences.
This frozen conflict scheme by the cynical Putin regime worked fine until two additional rich and ambitious players appeared on the scene, i.e. Aliyev and Erdogan. Meanwhile, the West will continue not showing any serious interest in the issues of Transcaucasia until it’s once again too late.
Everything suddenly turned upside down when Turkish President Erdogan revealed his ambitions to become the chief of South Caucasus. Then, the war started and, according to the Turkish minister of foreign affairs, it will end only when the Armenians leave all the occupied Azerbaijani territories.
In this war, Azerbaijan receives all kinds of support from a NATO member state, and the drones flying over Nagorno-Karabakh – over the sphere of interests of a CSTO member state – belong to a NATO member state.
I want to ask all conspiracy theorists to find out if Nostradamus or Baba Vanga have predicted some sort of an apocalypse in this regard, because a deeper military confrontation between NATO and CSTO is looming. But, because we know that the CSTO is de facto non-existent, this confrontation will be between NATO and Russia, or maybe just Armenia alone, because Putin is hiding in his COVID bunker with his tail between his legs.
Putin’s regime has been cornered by Turkey and Azerbaijan and it doesn’t know what to do, how to do and with whom to do it.
The Russian base in Armenia consists of two infantry battalions, several dozen fighters and a few air defense systems, in addition to roughly 4,500 border guards – essentially just cannon fodder, or to be more precise, Turkish drone fodder. This won’t be enough for Putin to be able to protect Armenia if it does decide to go for Aliyev’s throat, which is now guarded by an armed-to-the-teeth Turkish army.
Several military experts believe that the said Russian base can only ensure the redeployment of reinforcements and the deployment of aviation units, as was the case during the recent Russian military exercises KAVKAZ-2020. If this happens, then the war would switch from being between Armenia and Azerbaijan to being between Russia and Turkey.
And this is exactly what Putin is afraid of, as Turkey has already shown in Syria what it’s capable of. Moreover, on 24 November 2015 Erdogan didn’t hesitate to issue the order to down a Russian warplane when he had the chance, and this made the Kremlin and the Russian propaganda machine to choke a little. All this ended with a brief ban on Turkish tomatoes in Russia.
P.S. Putin’s CSTO is de facto no more!
Reserve Sergeant of the Latvian National Guard,
Augusts Augustiņš fo INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR COUNTERING RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA