With everybody is focused on the US election drama, there are important developments in the war over the NK.  I will summarize them here:

  • While both the original Russian and then subsequent US ceasefires failed minutes after they were proclaimed, there are signs that both the Armenians and the Azeris are getting exhausted and want to talk.
  • So far, the Azeris were mostly prevailing, but at great costs.  Also, their drones were used with great effectiveness, but now most of them have eventually been shot down.  Also, the winter is coming fast, making any kind of warfare close to impossible, especially in the mountains.
  • It appears that today the Azeris shot down a Russian Mi-24 by mistake, but right over the border in Armenian airspace.  Putin will not retaliate since he knows that this is a mistake and since he does not let such minor, if tragic, incidents affect him.  But Aliev also knows that now things are getting really dangerous so he already apologized, offered compensation, promised a criminal investigation which will punish all those who are responsible.  Aliev “gets” Russia and he also “gets” Putin.  Smart man!
  • The Armenians probably have realized two things: a) the US cannot help them b) their public image in Russia is pretty bad.  On this page: https://vz.ru/vote/result/1820/, Vzgliad, a popular and moderately patriotic website asked this question in a survey: “Which of the parties to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh is morally right in your eyes?“.  The result?  Armenia 33.06 and Azerbaijan 48.12.  The arrogant and openly hostile attitude of the Armenians since 2018 has hurt them tremendously and they might be coming back to their senses.  If Pashinian is removed, he did lose this war, after all, that would help a lot.
  • There are now signs that Russia and Turkey will decide the outcome of this war.  Considering how the two countries cooperated in Syria, this will be both very difficult to achieve, but all that matters is the end result.
  • There are also rumors that Russia will send peacekeepers into Nagorno-Karabach.  If confirmed, they will be heavily armed peacekeepers with full support from the Russian armed forces in Armenia and even Russia.
  • Pashinian has already made public a declaration in which he says that he has agreed to the terms offered by Russia and Azerbaijan and that the war is “over”

We will see if this ceasefire will hold any more than the previous ones did, but this is a good sign.

The Azeris know that if they continue the war, it will get harder and harder for them.

The Armenians, who are the real losers in this war, now want to stop it ASAP.  They know that they have no chance of “victory” and that the best thing they can do now is to agree to new terms.

As for Russia, it was quite funny for me to see the so-called “Russia specialists” declaring how Russia had “lost control of the near abroad” when, in reality, the only party which actually benefited from this war was Russia!  Why?  Because this war has proven (or, if this ceasefire does not hold, will prove) that Russia is the sole kingmaker of the Caucasus.  Not Turkey, most definitely a dying USA, not Iran (though it is very powerful, I would give Iran the #2 rank) – but Russia and only Russia.  Furthermore, this war served an important purpose: to show the Armenians that their future depends on their relationship with Russia.  The cost of this “lesson” was huge, but this is hardly Russia’s fault.  As for Erdogan, his lesson is that while he can dream about a new, big, Ottoman Empire, that’s ain’t gonna happen as long as Russia exists (that is something NO Russia leader can allow to happen).

So what’s next (assuming this ceasefire holds)?

Nagorno-Karabach will return under Azeri rule, at least formally, de jure.  It will have an special status, obviously, and to reassure the population, Russian peacekeepers will be deployed in and around NK.  De facto, NK will remain a semi-independent province.  Confidence building measures will slowly be implemented, beginning with an exchange of dead bodies and prisoners.  Then the heavy weapons will be moved baack, and some weapons systems will be closely monitored (including Azeri drones).  The road linking NK to Armenia (which now is under Azeri fire control) will get some kind of special “civilians only” status, insuring that both sides refrain from using it for any bellicose purposes.  This is pretty standard stuff and it should work here too.

Besides, that is the only possible solution to this war anyway.

God willing, peace will return to the suffering people of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

And, God willing, the Armenians will learn their lesson and never forget it again: Russia is their only real friend.

The Saker

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