Episode 182 | Recorded: December 13, 2022
As we already covered last week, the Lachin corridor was effectively blocked for 3 hours. This week the staged environmentalist operation resumed and at the time of this recording the corridor has been blockaded for more than 30 hours. And earlier today Azerbaijan cut gas supplies. Now there is a transportation and energy blockade, no medicine or medical aid can get in, and there are reports that medical patients are not able to urgently go to Yerevan to seek medical care.
Last week we talked at length about the current state of the negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. At this point, any expectations for a so-called “peace deal” by year-end are unlikely to come true.
Late in November, Ilham Aliyev pulled out of the Brussels summit, which was set for December 7th, this past week. Azerbaijan says he pulled out because of a new condition by Armenia for French president Emmanuel Macron’s participation in the negotiations, alongside Charles Michel, of the EU. Observers say that Macron has been involved from the start, and it is Aliyev who is advancing new conditions because he doesn’t like what he’s getting in Brussels, because while the EU slants pro-Azerbaijan, France is more of a balancing factor.
The Russians have been quick to say: Brussels is dead.
A lot of observers thought that since the conflicts in Ukraine started, Russia no longer has the bandwidth to deal with the South Caucasus. But with a single summit in November, in Sochi, Putin has brought the negotiations back to Russia essentially.
In the past couple of months, Pashinyan had been hinting that some form of international guarantees are needed for Armenia’s security, in order to sign a peace deal in the West. There were no responses from the EU or the US.
This past week, Armen Grigoryan noted in the Armenian parliament that Armenia and Azerbaijan so far agree on basically one single thing: that they should have diplomatic relations, and that there are in fact no clear agreements on any other points.
In another thread with Aliyev, he said that Azerbaijan is willing to talk with Karabakh but not with Ruben Vardanyan, whom he called a “Russian agent”. However, the Artsakh authorities have been in Moscow and France recently, meeting with officials in those countries.
In the past two weeks Azerbaijan and Turkey held war games all along the Iranian border, in the regions of Astara, Imishli and Jabrayil (Jrakan). The nature of these military exercises indicates that they are pointedly aimed at Iran. Turkish defense minister Hulusi Akar, and many high-level Turkish military leaders traveled to Azerbaijan to attend the high profile drills named “Fraternal Fist”.
In October Iran’s military also held drills across the border and the situation remains tense. Obviously, they’re not happy with Azerbaijan, which is reportedly giving a foothold to Israel along the border with Iran, as part of its military alliance with it; and Azerbaijan has also been trying to stir ethnic tensions in Iran’s Azeri population.
For us, these drills indicate that the disagreements on the issue of Armenia’s borders have not died down. Iran is unambiguous about its red line that Armenia’s borders may not change.
We hope you found our Week in Review helpful. We invite your feedback and your suggestions, you can find us on most social media and podcast platforms. Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts.
Dr. Benyamin Poghosyan is a senior fellow at APRI Armenia, a Yerevan based think tank,and the Chairman of the Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies. He has served as the vice president for research and head of the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense Research University in Armenia. Dr. Poghosyan was a Distinguished Research Fellow at the US National Defense University College of International Security Affairs. He is a graduate from the US State Department Study of the US Institutes for Scholars 2012 Program on US National Security Policy Making. He holds a PhD in history and is a graduate from the 2006 Tavitian Program on International Relations at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Hovik Manucharyan is an information security engineer who moved from Seattle to Armenia in 2022. He co-founded the ANN/Groong podcast in 2020 and has been a contributor to Groong News since the late 1990s.
Asbed is founder of the Armenian News Network Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.