Georgia Today, Georgia
June 14 2012


Violence erupts on Azeri-Armenian border

by By Zaza Jgharkava
14.06.2012

After almost two-years, bilateral shootings on the
Armenian-Azerbaijani border have resumed. Clashes are becoming more
intensive. However, the number of dead increases daily. According to
unconfirmed information, the number of victims from both sides has
reached 29.

According to the Armenian side, out of the dead soldiers 25 are
Azerbaijani and only 4 are Armenian. However, the Defense Ministry of
Azerbaijan confirms the death of only 4 Azerbaijani soldiers.

Up until now it's been hard to establish what is really happening on
the Armenian-Azerbaijani front line if we do not consider the fact
that the resumption of military actions coincided with the U.S.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Caucasian tour.

Many experts say that this is the response of the Kremlin to the
Azerbaijani politics of the White House. But what has irritated
Russia? Is the Kremlin angry or is it truly connected to the visit of
the State Secretary? Hillary Clinton has not voiced any new
initiatives in Yerevan or Baku.

Azerbaijani military expert Azada Isazade thinks that Russia should
not let the United States take the role of negotiator in the issue of
resolving the Karabakh and other South Caucasian conflicts.

Hillary Clinton's statement in support of Georgia's membership in NATO
caused particular irritation to Russia. If the international community
does not halt the escalation process, large-scale war between
Azerbaijan and Armenia is inevitable, Azada Isazade says.

One of the messages Clinton delivered during her visit to Baku was
that these countries should not get involved in military
confrontations with each other. This seemingly innocent advice was
followed by the first sharp reaction: the administration of the
Armenian president spread the statement, according to which Yerevan is
ready to respond to any provocation. In turn, the foreign structure of
Azerbaijan stated that Azerbaijan can and is eligible by international
law to restore its territorial integrity.

Why the official Yerevan perceived the call for peace as a personal
weakness is hard to say. In the end, its armament includes the Es
300-type missiles given to them by the Kremlin last year and that says
a lot.

Another military expert from Azerbaijan, Uzeira Japarov, is certain
that Russia has doubts about the increased activeness of the United
States in the South Caucasus. The Kremlin has a big influence on the
Armenian military forces and can provoke military incidents at any
time. With the recent provocations, Armenia fulfilled the Russian
order and tried to prove to the U.S. State Secretary the destructive
role of Azerbaijan.

Unlike the official Yerevan, the Kremlin who is irritated by the
Caucasian politics of the White House, has expressed its emotions
prior to the visit of Hillary Clinton through General-Lieutenant
Vladimer Shamanov. The Head of the Russian air-landing troops stated
several weeks before the escalation of the situation that Russia is
ready to deploy a large contingent of troops to Armenia.

The general explained that this step aims at increasing mobility of
the Russian military bases in the Caucasus and also ensures successful
completion of the goals of the Russian government. `One of the
reasons, which dictate taking such a step is the international
obligation based on participation in the collective security agreement
organization,' Shamanov added.

Why does Russia need additional troops in Armenia where it already has
a military base? One could think that by deploying the troops in
Armenia Russia is demonstrating that it can use military force against
the major ally of the United States in the region, Georgia.

No matter how logical such judgment looks, it is less likely that all
this is done to `ruin the Saakashvili reforms'. Despite the danger of
resuming military action in Karabakh, the main problem until now is
not the tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but the probability of
worsening relations between Azerbaijan and Iran. And quick
rapprochement of Baku and Tel-Aviv contributes to this.

It can be said with full certainty that apart from the Caucasian peace
initiatives, Clinton brought some messages to Baku with regards to the
Iran crisis. It seems that the reason for the Kremlin's irritation
should be searched for in the Tehran problem and not in Tbilisi and
Baku.

The sudden military storm should be discussed in this context as well.
Thus, no one doubts that by spurring the civil war in Syria, Russia is
facing two big dilemmas - which one to give up, Iran, Syria or both.


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