"Another stage of military operations in Artsakh, and Moscow will have to force Armenians and Azerbaijanis to settle the conflict." Thomas de Waal
The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh has already entered its fourth decade but we can hope for a settlement of the conflict only if the key players reconsider their military priorities. This was stated by British expert on Caucasian affairs Thomas de Waal. According to him, "If another stage of military operations begins in Artsakh, Moscow will have to force Armenians and Azerbaijanis to settle the conflict."
"Today, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is an international confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, where two well-armed armies fight against each other in the trenches, that is on the Line of Contact. The dispute about the status of a small country began 30 years ago inside one country and turned into a conflict between two independent states, which confront with each other in social networks, world capitals; discussions are taking place in Ankara, Brussels, Tehran and Washington", said in the expert’s article posted on the Carnegie Moscow Center website.
According to him, the role of Russia in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has not changed. "So far many Armenians and Azerbaijanis are convinced that Moscow secretly leads the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
"This is excusable illusion for two small nations in which there is still hanging the shadow of former empire power",- said in the article.
According to Waal, a specific feature of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is that Moscow, or rather individual, influential forces in Moscow, has speculated the conflict, but always from a position of weakness. The expert notes that after the accession of President Vladimir Putin, Russia's position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has become much more conservative.
"Putin has always indicated that Moscow values equal bilateral relations with Baku and Yerevan and is reluctant to “take ownership” of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Ultimately, the Russian position is: "We would like to see the Karabakh conflict resolved, especially if that can preserve or enhance Russian influence in the region, but we will not try to impose a resolution, as that will only damage our relationships with Baku and Yerevan"",- Waal says.
The British expert also believes that after the war in April 2016 "both sides blamed Russia". He also notes that unless the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh show their willingness to work jointly, the majority of diplomats will stay away from this process.
"Another stage of military operations in Artsakh, and Moscow and its Western partners will have to force Armenians and Azerbaijanis to settle the conflict. However, if this sad story does not come to better conclusion, it will entail the sacrifice of more lives", the expert concludes.