Shusha and Moscow declarations: Military-security component comparison
By Orkhan Amashov
Nearly identical in some of their externally observable patterns, the Shusha and Moscow declarations that Azerbaijan signed with Türkiye and Russia respectively nevertheless differ in terms of their degree of specified interconnectedness.
The cumulative impact of the two documents that upgrade Baku's ties with its two heavyweight neighbours to the level of alliance are bound to have implications for the security and balance of power in the South Caucasus in the light of the enhanced Azerbaijani ability to project greater influence.
At first glance, it may appear that the document signed in Moscow on 22 February 2022 is a reprint of the Shusha Declaration. Both documents mandate a consolidated position on topical international issues of mutual interest, with a strong military cooperation concomitant.
In the military-security field, both allied interactions are inclusive of cooperation modes, which inter alia, could be undertaken via joint exercises, “permanent” and ad hoc consultation mechanisms to address security risks and mutual defence arrangements, with varying degrees of imperativeness. The generic outlines of the framework may be similar, but it is within the depths of the interconnectedness that differences may be found.
For the purpose of this piece, it may be judicious to distinguish between the “military cooperation” and “mutual defence” segments of the overall component in question.
The Moscow declaration paves the way for furthering military cooperation, covering joint operational and combat training activities, the provision of modern weapons and military equipment and other areas of mutual interest. The document on the allied interaction with Türkiye does, however, envision more expansive and all-embracing measures.
In the first instance, the Shusha Declaration stipulates that joint efforts aimed at “reorganising and modernising” the armed forces of the two nations will be undertaken. Secondly, in addition to “the exchange of personnel aimed at strengthening defence and military security”, the parties will cooperate in terms of “the management of weapons and ammunition”, and ensure the “coordinated activities of authorised agencies and institutions for this purpose”.
If the Moscow declaration suggests the framework of deep military cooperation between the allies, the Shusha document necessitates the harmonisation of the two armies, potentially leading to full integration. In fact, President Aliyev has been unambiguous regarding Baku’s objective to create a smaller version of the Turkish army, and, given the clearly stated objective of Azerbaijan, and the practical lessons of the Second Karabakh War, it should not be difficult to surmise the differences between the aforementioned declarations.
Article 6 of the Moscow Declaration states that Russia and Azerbaijan “express their readiness to hold urgent consultations” if, in the view of one of the parties, its security interests are threatened.
In accordance with Article 19, the two countries may provide each other “with military assistance on the basis of the UN Charter, separate international treaties and taking into account the existing international legal obligations of each of the Parties”.
Article 9 of the self-same document stipulates that “the parties will refrain from any actions, including those carried out through third states, directed against each other”.
The military alliance with Türkiye entails a deeper and more robust form of mutual defence assistance. The Shusha Declaration stipulates that, if there is a threat or an act of aggression, the parties “will hold a joint consultation in order to eliminate” the cause, “carry out initiatives in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and provide each other with necessary assistance, in accordance with the UN Charter”.
In line with the self-same declaration, upon examination of the nature and extent of the problem and the volume and form of such possible assistance, “a decision will be made to secure defence needs for the adoption of joint measures, and coordinated activities will be organised by the power-wielding and administrative agencies of the Armed Forces”.
The difference between the two modes of mutual defence arrangements is that what the Moscow Declaration offers is contingent on “coordinated steps and interactions, with the possibility of direct military help, if necessary”. However, what the Shusha document stipulates goes far deeper, to the level of NATO’s Article 5 provision, suggesting the formula that “an attack on one of the parties is tantamount to an attack on another”.
By formally acceding to allied relations with its two neighbours, Azerbaijan has managed to create favourable conditions for the maintenance of overall peace in the South Caucasus and its security, advancing an ambitious foreign policy design. The combined effect of the declaration entitles Baku to neutrality in relation to conflicts in its surrounding region, giving rise to corresponding guarantees.
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