A political rift between Armenia and Karabakh may prove extremely dangerous, with unprecedented results, while intensive exchanges are taking place between Armenia and Turkey on the one hand, and between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the other.
And this, within the context of the US-Russia standoff over Ukraine.
President Joe Biden’s advice to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to open the borders with Armenia may have helped begin a new chapter between Armenia and Turkey, but Washington’s pressure on Russia may adversely impact Armenia, as an unintended result, because Moscow, in its massive mobilization on the Ukrainian border and with a prospective faceoff with Washington, maybe forced to forgo nuanced politics with its Armenian ally, having no time or appetite to calibrate with the latter.
While President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan continues to persist in his demand for opening a corridor through Zangezur, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk had reassured Yerevan that opening communication lines and railways would be under each respective country’s sovereign control. That assurance was also given in a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry. However, during a recent inquiry by a journalist, Mr. Overchuk maintained an ominous silence over the issue. Also, this month, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko revealed that a package agreement was on its final stages. “Within the framework of this mechanism, important preparatory work has been done to restore both railway and automobile roads in the region. Currently, a single package is being finalized. This approach will ensure the sustainability of the decisions,” added Rudenko. Again, no word was uttered on the control of those roads, which renders suspect Russia’s intentions.
During the context of these international developments a controversy arose between the authorities of Armenia and Karabakh. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s position on Karabakh has never been consistent. He once declared that he did not have a mandate to negotiate on behalf of Karabakh, since the people in that enclave had never voted for him. And then, on another occasion, he claimed that “Karabakh is Armenia. Period,” infuriating Azerbaijanis and providing a casus belli to them.
On December 24, 2021, during an online press conference, he washed his hands of the problem entirely and declared that the destiny of Karabakh had been predetermined by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations Security Council and that it was beyond his power to change anything. In the meantime, he did not miss the opportunity to blame the previous administrations for their mismanagement of negotiations.