Clashes broke out at several points on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border after the Azerbaijani army opened fire unilaterally. The Armenian President then asked Moscow to provide military assistance. Is the situation now also escalating in the Caucasus?
The tense peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, who are mainly at odds over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, has apparently given way to open violence. In the last few hours, fierce fighting has repeatedly broken out along the borders of the two former Soviet republics. This has prompted the Armenian leadership to invoke the Collective Security Organization’s assistance pact (the Eastern equivalent of NATO) and ask Moscow to provide military assistance. Russia has had peacekeeping troops stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh since autumn 2020.
According to reports in the Russian media, during a telephone conversation, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to help the small country against the much stronger attacker. According to the Russian news agency TASS The Prime Minister of Armenia said that around midnight the Azerbaijanis started shelling Armenian territory with artillery and large-caliber weapons. The international community must react.
However, it can be assumed that Moscow’s reaction will be rather muted, especially since the country cannot afford a war on two fronts at the moment. Even during the last skirmishes, Moscow remained cautious and tried not to get too involved in the conflict in order to establish itself as a neutral peacekeeper.
On the other hand, Azerbaijan receives support from Turkey, which despite NATO membership keeps doing its own thing – thanks to President Erdogan, who harbors neo-Ottoman and great-Turkish plans. So it remains to be seen how the whole thing will develop.
The CSTO wants to intervene
The Council of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), at an extraordinary meeting held by videoconference on Tuesday, decided to send a mission led by the Secretary-General to Armenia to assess the situation due to the escalation at the border between Armenia and Armenia and assess Azerbaijan. “During the session of the Collective Security Council, it was agreed to launch a mission of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, headed by CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas, with the participation of CSTO Chief of Staff Colonel General Anatoly Sidorov and representatives of CSTO member states to the Republic of Armenia to assess the current situation, to draft a detailed report to the heads of state at the next session of the Collective Security Council (to be held in Yerevan in the autumn) on the situation in the region and to make proposals to de-escalate the current tensions to develop,” reported the press service of the secretariat of the organization, according to the news agency TASS.
Apparently, the assumption is that Azerbaijan will not launch a full-scale invasion of the neighboring country, so they want to sound out the situation first. An escalation through military intervention is not in the interests of the Russian-led CSTO.