Nagorno-Karabakh: "We are witnessing the last stages of this war"

An Armenian soldier at the front line, October 21, 2020. AP Photo

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5 mins

Armenia has admitted losing control of the strategic city of Goubadly in southern Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijani forces are closing in on the Lachin Corridor, the vital road between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.

RFI asked Paul Stronski, geopolitics and security specialist in the Eurasia program at the Carnegie Foundation, three questions about the challenges of this military maneuver.


Read more


: What does the loss of the city of Goubadly represent for the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh


Paul Stronski: Things are

not going very well for Armenia at the moment in this Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

We have seen that the Azerbaijani forces are approaching the Armenian and Iranian borders to the south.

It is a border which is controlled by Russian forces.

There is a skillful southward maneuver by the Azerbaijani army and a

recapture of several territories

that were previously under the control of Armenia.

And now that she has regained control of it, she begins to move north.

And I think Goubadly was one of the last major cities controlled by Armenian forces before the Lachin Corridor, the vital road that connects Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia.

The withdrawal of Armenian forces from Goubadly shows that Armenia absolutely wants to protect this artery, while Azerbaijan wants to surround this region of Nagorno-Karabakh and corner the Armenians.

We are witnessing the final stages of this war after several weeks of conflict. 


To read also: Nagorno-Karabakh, the unrecognized powder keg of the Caucasus

Does this new conquest give Azerbaijan negotiating power?

Azerbaijan could certainly use this maneuver to put pressure on Armenia.

If you listen to the recent speeches of Ilham Aliev, the President of Azerbaijan, he says he wants to take back all the territories he considers to have lost and, according to him, there is no diplomatic solution to this conflict.

We have seen how three powers,

Russia, France, and the United States,

attempted to negotiate a ceasefire.

And all three attempts failed after just a few hours.

It doesn't look like Armenia and Azerbaijan want to negotiate.

The problem for Armenians is that Nikol Pashinian's government could have a lot of problems inside the country if it loses this war.

So the Armenians will certainly try to retaliate.

In the past, all these enclaves gave Armenia negotiating power over Azerbaijan in order to secure some kind of autonomy for Nagorno-Karabakh.

In previous negotiations, Armenia has indicated its agreement to cede these occupied territories around Nagorno-Karabakh in exchange for the Lachin corridor and for autonomy and de facto independence of the region.

But now that they have lost these territories, their bargaining power has greatly diminished.

Read also: Nagorno-Karabakh: the laborious truce between Azerbaijan and Armenia

Can this advance of the Azerbaijani army encourage Russia to intervene in this conflict since it is linked to Armenia by a defense agreement


Russia has announced that it will not intervene in this conflict and that it has no obligation to do so because the war is located in Nagorno-Karabakh and in the territories occupied by Armenian forces.

I think Russia is very concerned about the current situation.

Personally, I find the advancement and bombardment by Azerbaijan near the Armenian and



with the presence of Russian forces



It could really internationalize the conflict.

So Azerbaijani forces should be careful with these attacks so that they do not reach Armenian territory.

Because that would involve the intervention of Russia, which is linked to Armenia by this defense agreement.

But Armenia and Azerbaijan have threatened each other to attack critical infrastructure.

For example, Azerbaijan said that an Armenian nuclear power plant could be a possible target, or a water tank or even a gas pipeline.

It is these kinds of attacks on infrastructure by Azerbaijan that could involve Russia more quickly in this conflict.

To read also listen: Nagorno-Karabakh: "The Russian government is still officially mediator and neutral"


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