Russia was supposed to send its peacekeeping forces to oversee the peaceful implementation of terms of the Peace Agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia, but, as per the Reuters report, Russia is sending its truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers into the land corridor between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh under its control. It raises many open-ended questions, which can only be speculated and predicted.
The Russians have made it clear that they are not likely to cede even an inch of Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan and the introduction of rocket launchers into the region by Moscow has entirely shifted the military balance in the Armenian-Russian court. It is checkmate for Erdogan and Ankara, with Russia in control of the territories, Turkey stands defeated.
As per the agreement, Moscow was supposed to send 2000 peacekeeping troops, but the supply of this additional military equipment has been something which Russia has decided on its own and was not previously agreed. Although, Russian Defense Ministry said that the peacekeeping forces would be accompanied by armoured vehicles as they will be de-mining the region, the deployment of Rocket Launchers do not make sense. However, if we look at this development in the backdrop of Moscow’s interests of decimating Turkish designs, it all makes perfect sense.
“One is at its most vulnerable when it is in a false sense of victory, and this is the exact moment when predators love to hunt.” It is the statement from TFI’s article from yesterday where we had made informed speculation of the peace deal and subsequent stationing of Russian Peacekeeping forces as a masterstroke on Putin’s part to establish Russian control on Nogarno-Karabakh without any international resistance. With the presence of Russian troops with lethal weapons, which can cause serious damage to any adventurism from Azeri and Turkish side, Putin has most likely outplayed in geopolitical chess in the southern caucuses.
Russia will not accept any Azerbaijanian victory, as it will automatically translate to a Turkish victory. The region has been under continuous Russian influence since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and any attempt from powers foreign to the region will invite Russian ire. It is most probably the case that Azerbaijan accepting Turkish support to fight Armenia has not gone down well with Putin.
Putin had told his Azerbaijan counterpart to take care of Christian shrines and churches which will fall under its control, but, given the jihadis and terrorists fighting from the Azeri side, Putin also knows the exact fate of Christian past of these territories. Thus, while he made that suggestion, Moscow is probably going to keep the territories under its protection and it would not give even an inch to Azerbaijan. The Armenians have already been the victims of xenophobia in the region where they are surrounded by Islamic countries. And as fellow Orthodox Christian country and a longstanding ally, Russia will never just let Armenia be on its own.
The Russians had set up seven ‘temporary’ observation posts in the Lachin Corridor which run from the edge of Armenia to the enclave inside Azeri territory, and it is there the Reuters reports saw truck-mounted Grad multiple missile launch systems. Its lethality can be gauged simply by the fact that it can fire 40 rockets in around 20 seconds. And it is not rocket science to understand that any peacekeeping and observation force does not need rocket launchers, only offensive operations require these systems.
The Azerbaijan-Armenia peace deal which was celebrated by Baku and Ankara as a victory document was, in reality, proof of Russian victory and a testament of Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical astuteness. He turned a highly complicated situation, where Moscow’s hands were tied into an easy victory. The peace document made sure that, it was just Russian peacekeeping troops which could be the policemen for overseeing the implementation of the terms of the agreement in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
With Moscow officially into the region without any damages and losses, it can now dictate the terms, and it will not be surprising to see the 18 Russian temporary observation bases converted into permanent garrisons and the Russian troops permanently stationed in the Nagorno-Karabakh, turning it into a Russian protectorate.