Southern Armenia

Azerbaijani Incursions Close to Breaking Armenia’s ‘Spine’

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[NOTE: This article was written prior to the November 16 clashes (see here and here), but is still relevant for understanding the course of events.]

YEREVAN – On November 14, Azerbaijan’s armed forces committed one more in a series of aggressive acts. At 1 p.m. local Yerevan time, Azerbaijani forces at the country’s frontier advanced towards the borders of the municipality of Sisian in the province of Syunik and took control of four Armenian bases or strongholds about 1-2 kilometers inside the territory of the Republic of Armenia.

Sasun Danielyan, a historian and archaeologist who has studied Armenian architecture for many years, including in Syunik, and knows this area well.

Sasun Danielyan

Danielyan stated that the Azerbaijani action in Syunik province was not simply an attempt at advancing territorially. He said, “Armenia’s spine is separated from its head only by a 20-kilometer strip of territory. Just now, according to information which I have received, the ‘Turks’ have advanced approximately two km. forward from the eastern side of that strip.”

Considering any advances by Azerbaijan on any part of the border as dangerous, and understanding the geographical importance of Syunik, Danielyan said what has taken place is the most dangerous and irreversible development.

“If Azerbaijan today has moved forward two kilometers, then let us calculate after how many more such advances we will lose Syunik, Armenia’s spine. With four such advances, the enemy will appear on the interstate road,” he said.

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Compounding that, Danielyan said, is the silence of state bodies who seem to want to keep the situation secret. He concluded, “Again negotiations are declared. We know the results of such negotiations in Khtsaberd, Sev Lake, Verin Shorzha, Kut and other areas. Let us calculate approximately after how many such advances we will lose Armenia.”

On November 15 the two sides, through the mediation of Russian military units, reached a certain agreement to consider the four disputed positions as part of the neutral zone. In other words, compromises were made by both sides. This was revealed by the Armenian Ministry of Defense, the day before it was still denying the loss of these positions as the result of Azerbaijani aggression.

Meanwhile, the prime minister had removed Defense Minister Arshak Karapetyan from his post and replaced him with Suren Papikyan, who in the past had been minister of territorial administration and infrastructure. Unlike Karapetyan, Papikyan does not have even the slightest experience in military leadership.

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