Russia's Defense Ministry drops ball as Azerbaijan warns of its patience running thin
The peacekeeping mission of Russia in the Armenian-populated part of Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region is the opportunity that the Russian side simply should have used to strengthen its position in the region and show itself as a true friend and ally of Azerbaijan.
For this, the Russian side didn't need to do anything special, just to honestly fulfill its obligations taken under the trilateral statement of November 10, 2020 [signed by Russian, Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders following the second Karabakh war].
Nothing more was required from the peacekeepers.
However, everything went wrong. Somehow. The activity, more precisely, the inactivity of the peacekeepers has become a rather irritating factor in the attitude of the Azerbaijani society towards Russia. A year and a half has passed since the second Karabakh war, and armed Armenian gangs are still roaming in the zone of responsibility of the peacekeepers, "election" and "exercises" are being held, and these gangs continue to shoot at Azerbaijanis, and all this happens with silence and maybe even cover-up by the peacekeepers.
Russian Defense Ministry more than once committed provocations, including strange distorted maps of "peacekeeping", non-mentioning of the Armenian separatists’ criminal actions in the daily bulletins, and pedaling the facts taken from Armenian sources, and on March 7, the Russian Defense Ministry committed another provocation, to which Baku harshly responded.
How long this can be endured? The Azerbaijani side has a lot of patience, but it isn't infinite.
On March 7, the Russian Defense Ministry, reporting on the humanitarian aid provided to Ukraine (which sounds strange in itself), it mentioned, among others, 14 tons of some kind of supplies from “Nagorno-Karabakh”. The Defense Ministry of the country, which signed the declaration on allied cooperation expressing apparent support to the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, again put into circulation this “Nagorno-Karabakh” toponym that no longer exists on the territory of the sovereign Azerbaijan.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reacted very harshly, calling on Russian colleagues "to stop the practice of referring to the sovereign territories of Azerbaijan with the names of administrative-territorial units, which don’t exist in Azerbaijan."
The information published by the Russian Defense Ministry contradicts the official Moscow’s policy, doesn’t take into account the duties and obligations established by the agreements signed by this country, and is aimed at irritating some countries having normal relations with Russia.
It seems that due to a series of failures in Ukraine, the leaders of the Russian Defense Ministry kind of 'lost it', to put it mildly. It seems that the ministry no longer knows what to do in order to somehow improve its reputation. However the path of provocations isn’t the best way to do it.
Maybe in this way it wants to divert attention from the shameful defeats in Ukraine?
However, one should not expect anything else, if we remember who is currently heading the peacekeepers and what interests are involved here. These are not the national interests of Russia at all, but the "selfish" interests of the commander of the peacekeepers, Andrey Volkov, a major general. The peacekeepers even before him weren’t particularly zealous in fulfilling their duty.
According to the informed sources, General Volkov isn’t wasting any time - he has a small but nice business in the peacekeepers'responsibility zone. The sources say that he bought or received vineyards from the Armenian residents of Karabakh in exchange for protecting their interests. In contrast to the points of the trilateral statement of 2020, the contingent under his command is regularly fulfilling these agreements with the separatists. Moreover, there is evidence that Volkov also feels personal dislike for Azerbaijanis.
All information from the zone of responsibility of peacekeepers to the Russian Defense Ministry is sent by the leadership of the peacekeepers, and the form of reflecting the information in the bulletins also depends on Volkov. The general doesn’t take into account not only the statements of the President of Azerbaijan, but also the official position of Russia, repeatedly voiced by its own leadership. Russia, as follows from all these statements, fully supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan.
This means that the use of the "Nagorno-Karabakh" name, despite the fact that such a toponym hasn’t existed on the territory of a sovereign country for a year and a half, means a deliberate provocation and an attempt to create conflict between Baku and Moscow.
It isn't clear why Volkov and other "strategists" need this. Why do they create tension in the south while their country already has enough problems? Maybe this is done for allowing Volkov legalize his vineyards?
In this difficult period, when Russia's situation is worsening day by day, it needs at least some stability with at least one of its neighbors. Azerbaijan isn’t the country which stabs in the back. On the contrary, it’s trying not to pedal even the negative moments in the activities of the peacekeepers, but everything has its limits. The harshness with which Azerbaijani Defense Ministry responded to the latest provocation should be a signal.
It’s impossible to be constantly in tension, to make statements, or seek refutations. The Azerbaijani side has been doing this for a year and a half, and information about the supposed humanitarian aid sent by some non-existent "Nagorno-Karabakh" is that limit.
By the way, the Ukrainians don’t accept help from the Russian side anyway, and now they should know that these trucks also contain 14 tons of some accessories sent by separatists who welcome and recognize the rejection of their Ukrainian territories, and also they should know those who took part in the murders of civilians in Ukraine.
Work in the vineyards of General Volkov near Pirlar village of Azerbaijan’s Khojaly district have already begun. Apparently, the frequent violations of the ceasefire regime from this direction are connected with this - they are aimed to force the Azerbaijani side to stay away, however, everything just turns out to happen the other way around.