The Karabakh War Is Over. The Crisis Is Not. What Comes Next?
First, I want to begin this analysis by posting the full translation of an article posted yesterday by the Russian webzine Vzgliad. I materially don’t have the time to make my own translation, so what I will post is just a minimally retouched machine translation, I apologize for this.
original Russian text: https://vz.ru/world/2020/11/12/1070326.html
Five main mysteries of the second Karabakh war
by Evgenii Krutikov
The end of the second Karabakh war gave rise to many riddles and conspiracy theories. Indeed, some of the circumstances of this conflict are extremely mysterious, or at least paradoxical from the point of view of conventional military logic. Apparently, the Armenian leadership itself provoked a political catastrophe.
Let’s list which riddles raise the biggest questions and provoke the appearance of “conspiracy theories” in Armenia (and not only).
1. Why was not a full-fledged mobilization carried out in Armenia, and full-fledged military units were not deployed to the conflict area?
Despite loud Patriotic statements, there was no real mobilization in Armenia. The permanent number of the Armenian army – about 50 thousand people-was increased only by volunteers. While the conditions of the fighting required to increase the number of defenders of Karabakh to 80-100 thousand people at least. At the same time, very soon the lack of specialists (for example, artillery calculations and MLRS) began to affect the front in the Armenian army. There was no one to fill in the losses.
It is inexplicable why Yerevan did not conduct a real mobilization. The Armenian leadership simply avoids talking about this topic. If there was a mobilization plan, no one tried to implement it. As a result, there was no rotation of military personnel on the first line, in some areas people were sitting in the trenches for a month without a shift. 18-20-year-olds were on the front line, and at some point the untrained youth made up up to 80% of the personnel. The Karabakh detachments, made up of professionals and veterans, suffered heavy losses in the first week, which there was no one and nothing to make up for, since there were simply no reinforcements.
Groups of volunteers in Armenia were formed along party lines. The scandal was caused by an attempt to form a separate detachment of the prosperous Armenia party named after the oligarch Gagik Tsarukyan, who is now Pashinyan’s main opponent. The two have been in conflict for more than a decade. Now the Prime Minister openly calls Tsarukyan “the culprit of the fall of Shusha”, since his phantom squad allegedly did not have enough at the front to win. These conflicts could have been avoided simply by having a mobilization plan and a desire to implement it.
The main military forces of Armenia did not move to Karabakh. But in order to relieve the tension created by Azerbaijani UAVs, it was enough to simply relocate early detection locators to Goris. And one army corps would have been enough to cover the southern direction even at the stage when the Azerbaijanis were languidly marking time in front of the first line of defense. Proper supplies were not organized, and after a month of fighting, this led to a shortage of missiles for the MLRS and shells for the barrel artillery. And without artillery support, the infantry can only die heroically.
All this borders on sabotage, although it may be partly explained by local sloppiness and unwillingness to weaken the defense of Armenia proper. The latter is a very controversial position and it looks like the Armenian leadership has simply abandoned Karabakh to its fate.
2. Why did the Northern front behave so strangely?
In the North and North-East of Karabakh, in the area of the Kyrgyz Republic, there was a large fortified area of the Armenian defense, which included very combat-ready units. And they really put up a serious resistance to the advancing Azerbaijani group and in the end actually stopped it (losing, however, several positions and significant villages).
But after that, the elite Yehnikner battalion suddenly retreated, although its commander managed to get the “Hero of Artsakh”. Moreover, since October 3, neither “Ehnikner” nor any military unit at all was removed from the Northern front and was not transferred to help the burning South. At the same time, the Azerbaijanis only once decided to simulate an offensive in the North again, clearly for distracting purposes. There was no need to keep up to 20 thousand people in the North.
The Karabakh Leadership informally explains all this with a lack of resources. But now the” lack of resources ” in Karabakh explains everything.
3. Why did the southern front collapse?
The fact that the main blow is being inflicted by the Azerbaijanis in the South, in the steppe zone, was visible to the naked eye already in the first few days of the war. Nevertheless, resources – human and technical-began to arrive on the southern front when this front was no longer in fact there. The steppe zone was lost, and the front stopped along the edge of the mountains from Krasny Bazar to Martuni. As a result, up to 30 thousand people defending Karabakh have accumulated in this area. They were threatened with complete encirclement and death, which was one of the reasons for signing the ceasefire agreement. At the same time, before the occupation of Jabrayil, the Azerbaijani troops advanced very slowly, disrupting their own pace of attack. This gave the Armenians a small, but still a head start in order to understand the situation and engage in relocation.
After the occupation of Jabrayil, the front began to fall apart, and the advance of the Azerbaijanis sharply accelerated. The moment was lost.
For some reason, the Armenian command has not made a decision about the transfer of additional resources to the southern front? This is another mystery.
4. Why did the Armenian side limit itself to passive defense?
During the entire war, the Armenian side only twice attempted a counterattack against the advanced units of the Azerbaijanis who were running far ahead. Both times this happened opposite Lachin in a narrow gorge, with the extreme vulnerability of the Azerbaijani battalion-tactical group (BTG). Once even successfully. But these operations were simply reduced to a massive attack by the MLRS on enemy clusters. Operations to block the gorge and encircle the enemy in other sections of the southern front were suggested. But not a single Armenian unit moved. An amazing war in which one of the parties did not conduct a single offensive operation on the ground, limited only and exclusively to passive defense.
A successful counteroffensive in the gorge before Lachin would have crushed so many Azerbaijani forces in the cauldron that they would not have thought about attacking Shusha for at least a couple of weeks. And later it was quite possible to destroy the Azerbaijani infantry in the ravine Averatec. But it took a lot of effort.
There is no explanation for why the Armenian side did not even try to counterattack or use other methods to use the operational advantage that it repeatedly had. The lack of resources can only be referred to endlessly in the last stages of warfare, but passive defense has been a constant tactic since the beginning of the war.
5. Why was Shusha handed over?
The most sensitive and incomprehensible question. The first assault on the city by Azerbaijani infantry was extremely unsuccessful. Then the second column of Azerbaijanis was covered by the MLRS strike. With some effort and assistance from Armenia, the Azerbaijani group that broke through to the city could be destroyed. However, suddenly a decision is made to leave the city without a fight and not to attempt to liberate it with the favorable operational and tactical situation remaining for another day.
It is believed that the decision to leave Shusha was made by NKR President Araik Harutyunyan and Secretary of the NKR security Council General Samvel Babayan, a local legend. Now, in protest against the signing of the armistice, he left his post and renounced the title of Hero of Artsakh. The Armenian YouTube channel “Lurer” (“news”) published a recording of Babayan and Harutyunyan’s talks, from which it follows that General Babayan really considered the possibility of recapturing Shusha even after its abandonment,but the further prospect of resistance was very gloomy.
Fragment of a conversation (not translated verbatim): “Let’s calculate the (combat) task. Twenty, thirty volleys of the “Smerch” MLRS blanket Shushi. We kill everyone there. Taking the city back. What’s next? The state of the army and the civilian population does not allow for war. We gave battle, took Shushi, then what? ( … ) we Can’t fight with the NATO army, with mercenaries, fully equipped… I tried to organize an operation with three battalions yesterday. We only have four howitzers. If we are not provided with artillery, how will you ensure the offensive or cut off his (the enemy’s) tails? (…) Today we must finally negotiate with Russia that we are handing over these territories and leaving them. Or they help us. Imagine that we have two Grads for the entire army today, a dozen howitzers, for which we have no shells.”
To sum up, General Babayan believed that resistance was useless at this stage of the fighting. We must refuse to continue the war and either surrender, or ask for ten days for an organized exit of the local population and the 30 thousand soldiers of the southern front who are completely surrounded. As an alternative, it was proposed to urgently ask Russia for direct military assistance in the form of PMCs or volunteers, equipment and ammunition.
But all this does not negate the question of why a small group of Azerbaijani infantrymen without heavy equipment, who broke through to Shusha, was not destroyed before the Armenian army began to panic. The retention of Shusha created a completely different architecture of political agreements for the NKR and Armenia. If this is a political decision, then who actually made it?
* * *
This list of mysteries of the second Karabakh war is far from complete. In addition, the Armenian leadership has accumulated many similar questions about preparing for war. This war was lost before it even started, precisely because of the inaction or strange action of Yerevan.
The proceedings will continue for a long time. The situation in the region has changed so radically in these forty days that all the old approaches to resolving the conflict and its military component have died out of themselves. And the new reality will require new solutions for Armenia. And it is not yet clear who will take these decisions.
Personally, I do not see any dark conspiracy here. What I do see is a truly PHENOMENAL level of incompetence from the Sorosite leadership of Armenia. Simply put, the vast majority of the truly competent Armenian leaders, civilian and military, were either jailed or, at the very least fired en masse. There is a very simple explanation for this too.
From Pashinian’s (and, from now on, when I say “Pashinian” I mean the usual suspects: MI6, CIA, Soros, etc.) point of view, the “old guard” of Soviet trained leaders had to be removed because they could not be trusted. But what this imbecile, and his masters, did not realize is that the “Soviet educated” leadership was far more competent than the “woke and transgender friendly democrats” which took power in 2018.
[Sidebar: Did you notice something quite interesting? The “old” and “Soviet trained” military forces in general, and their commanders especially, are systematically much better trained that those forces trained by NATO or “the most powerful military in the history of the galaxy”. Why is it that the democratic, progressive and advanced forces like, say, the Saudis, the Israelis, the Georgians, the Yemeni or all the other many “good terrorists” always perform miserably in combat? I will let you ponder this question :-)]
By the way, Pashinian, who is hiding in a bunker or inside the US embassy compound in Erevan, is still at it! Yesterday he called Macron, who is under pressure from the huge Armenian immigration in France to do something, to ask for his help and Macron promised to help find a solution acceptable to all sides, implying two things:
- That the “Russian solution” (in reality Armenian the acceptance by Erevan of the Azeri terms) is not acceptable and that
- That France has some kind of magic wand that Macron can wave a few times and forever turn the entire area of operation into a peaceful land of milk and honey were everybody would hold hands, sing Kumbaya, and “feel the love” forever and ever.
As usually, the Brits are much more devious, secretive and smart: the head of MI6 is in Turkey to meet with “senior officials”. Yeah, right! By the way, this guy, Richard Moore, is a former UK Ambassador to Turkey. To get a sense of what this is all about, all you need to do is look into any history book to see that the Brits have always used the Ottomans as canon-fodder against Russia.
As for the US Americans, they are basically paralyzed by the chaos in their own country. But either one of the dummies running might try something desperate to “show the flag” and prove that he is “tough on Russia”.
So what’s next?
For years now I have been saying the following about the Western political leaders: they are unable to build anything worthwhile, but they are most definitely able to spread chaos, anarchy, violence, insurgencies, etc. So the first thing you can be sure of is that the AngloZionists will do everything in their power to egg on the Armenians, the Azeris and even the Turks to reject an outcome which the West sees as a triumph for Russia (and for Putin personally!).
Then there is Erdogan, who is furious at the Russian categorical rejection of his demands to be part of the peacekeeping force. All the Russians have agreed to is to create a special “monitoring post” staffed by Russians and Turks, far away from the Nagorno-Karabakh region where a joint team of observers would “monitor” the situation by looking at computers. There will be no Turkish soldiers in the peacekeeping area (see Russian military map above).
As a fallback option, the Turks are also demanding they they be allowed to fly their own drones over the area of operations. In response, the Armenian side has declared that Armenia and Russia have jointly declared a no-fly zone over the entire area. As far as I know, the Russians have not confirmed that “yet”, but you can be pretty sure that they will immediately shoot down any unauthorized aircraft approaching their positions.
To get a sense of how the Russians are acting, you need to know two things:
First, the Russian liberal media is already complaining that Russia has included “undeclared” weapons systems in its peacekeeping force (MLRS and APCs). This is hardly surprising considering the very high probability of provocations (by both sides). Besides, the vague language of the agreement allows Russian to bring in “specialized vehicles” which could mean anything and everything.
Furthermore, I am pretty confident that the Russian 102nd Military Base is a Russian military base in Gyumri will receive reinforcements and will serve as the logistical support hub for the Russian peacekeeping force.
Second, it is worth looking at the career of the man who will be commanding the Russian peacekeeping force, Lieutenant General Rustam Muradov. You can check his biography here and here. I will simply summarize this man’s career by saying two words: Donbass, Syria.
He is not some kind of pretend-general whose qualifications are mainly as organizers and politicians. This guy is a real combat general, the kind who personally comes under fire because he makes sure to regularly be with his men on the frontlines and who has experience dealing with the Axis of Kindness and its “good terrorists” (whether local or special ops).
The West perfectly understands this and is absolutely furious about being “cheated” by Russia again!
First, the Russians stopped the bloody war in Syria, now they stopped the war in Azerbaijan. For the Empire, this means the total loss of the axis of instability which they lovingly tried to create in the Caucasus and the Middle-East to eventually hit the Russian underbelly. They failed. They won’t forgive this.
Second, most Armenians worldwide are absolutely horrified at the outcome of this war, and they have my sincere sympathy. The problem here is that many of them blame Russia, rather than their own leaders. Furthermore, there are many truly rabid nationalists amongst the anti-Pashinian forces in Armenia. Right now, Pashinian is hiding somewhere and he still refuses to resign (backed to the hilt by the West, of course). But this will change, I can’t imagine anybody staying in power after such a catastrophe.
However, Pashinian gone does not at all mean that pro-Russian, or even Russia-neutral, forces will succeed him. In fact, as in most chaotic situations, it is the extremists who are most likely to seize power. And God only knows what they might do next!
In a paradoxical way, the best outcome for Russia would be to have Pashinian stay in power just a little longer, just long enough to create a fait accompli on the ground which no nutcases could meaningfully overturn.
Right now, two things are happening: Armenian refugees are clogging the only roads which will allow them to flee to Armenia. These poor people will never trust the word of an Azeri or, even less so, a Turk, could say (and who could blame them?!).
This is truly a heart-breaking tragedy which could have been completely avoided had Pashinian and his Sorosites done a few, really basic, things (preparing for war and settling for an imperfect peace agreement for starters).
Armenian-NK forces are also withdrawing, and it’s not like they have much of an option here: escaping with their lives is really all these poor soldiers could hope for (and by no fault of theirs, I would add!).
The next couple of weeks will be crucial and I can only hope that the Russians are fully ready to deal with any contingency, including a complete Armenian turnaround if Pashinian is overthrown very soon.
It is now a race against the clock: on one side, the West wants Russia out at quite literally *ANY* costs in Azeri and Armenian lives while the Russians are scrambling to make the agreement a well-defended reality on the ground. In the Ukraine they say that “the West is willing to fight Russia down the the very last Ukrainian“. I hope and pray that this does not happen in the Caucasus.
PS: on the really sad and tragic side, I personally can’t imagine any refugees willing to come back, in spite of all the pious promises made by all sides. Look, let’s be honest here: during the first NK war, which the Armenians won, the Azeris were brutally expelled, there were several instances of mass murder of Azeri civilians by the triumphant Armenian forces. This time around, the Azeris made all sorts of promises, but if I was an Armenian I would not trust a single word the Turks or Azeris say (heck, these two still deny that there was any genocide of Armenians by the Ottomans!). Keep in mind that in this short war, about 4000 civilians have died; that is the official figure, the real one is probably even worse!
Maybe in a decade or two, and only if Russia remains the peacekeeper of the Caucases, will some refugees, or their sons and daughters return to their historical homelands. But right now, the Russian peacekeeping force will probably end up maintaining the peace in a very empty Nagorno-Karabakh. This is a revolting outcome which, I will repeat this, could have been avoided by Pashinian and his gang of Sorosites. May that be a lesson to anybody else taking these evil clowns seriously!