As was predicted by many, in spite of the agreement signed in Moscow, things on the ground in the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan have escalated: the Armenians have claimed that Azeri drones have attacked Armenian tactical ballistic missiles on Armenian soil and the Azeris have confirmed this, saying that this was both a warning and a preemptive attack to protect Azeri civilians.
Bottom line is this: Azerbaijan has now officially attacked Armenian soil (as opposed to Karabakh soil) and Armenia now has the right to appeal to the CSTO. So far, the Armenians have not done so, but now they can and, I believe, probably will do so.
Another interesting development is that the USA has accused Turkey of being involved in this war. This means that by now all three countries Russia, France and the USA are now declaring that the Turks (and or their “good terrorist” proxies from Syria) are involved. Aliev is outraged and accused everybody of lying.
Finally, Azeri and Turkish outlets have claimed the Kurds are now fighting on the Armenian side. However, there have been no verifiable sources for this probably false rumor.
As for the Armenian leader Pashinian, he has accused Aliev of being “Hitler”.
What does all this mean?
Well, for one thing, it was inevitable that the very first ceasefire agreement would be broken. In such situations, they typically are.
The real risk now is that Russia will have to intervene. There are three most likely scenarios for such an intervention:
Peacekeeping operation: that would only be possible if all sides to the conflict agree to such an operation. At this point in time, this is still unlikely, but that could change fairly quickly. However, Russia will only send peacekeepers if the parties agree on a long term political solution to this conflict. Right now, they prefer fighting down to the last bullet, but this will soon change for both parties.
Peacemaking operation: for this to happen, the UNSC should agree to give a mandate to Russia under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. While it appears that Turkey currently has no backer in the UNSC, the US and UK hate for everything and anything Russian will probably secure a double veto (with a possible French veto to boot!) just to avoid Russia succeeding at anything, including bringing peace to the region.
CSTO military intervention: in other words, Russia would strike at Azeri forces and assets to stop the Azeri aggression on Armenia. This is something Russia absolutely will avoid, if at all possible since Russia has absolutely no desire to destroy her excellent partnership with Azerbaijan and her very tenuous and unstable partnership with Turkey (say, in Syria).
It is obvious what Russia will do next: using overt and covert means, she will try to affect the situation on the ground in such a way as to basically force both sides to agree to a Russia-led peacekeeping operation.
The main problem right now is Erdogan who is spending most of his time making inflammatory statements and who is demanding that Turkey be included in any negotiations. The way the Turks want this is to have Turkey negotiate on behalf of Azerbaijan and Russia negotiate on behalf of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. So far, Russia has categorically refused this option.
So where do we go from here?
Well, things are probably going to get worse before they get better. Either that, or they will get worse before they get MUCH worse. I hope for the first option, but if Turkey and/or Azerbaijan continue to strike at Armenia or if Armenia recognizes “Artsakh” then all bets are off. We better pray that cool heads prevail on both sides and that Russia can make Erdogan an offer he won’t be able to refuse. For example, the Russians might declare that the Russian contingent in Armenia will now protect the Armenian airspace with Russian air defense systems (ground or air based). If, for no apparent reason, Azeri and/or Turkish aircraft start falling out of the skies, Erdogan might reconsider.
We shall soon find out.