In an article for the “New York Sun” newspaper published on 21 September entitled, “Weakened by Ukraine, Russia’s Power Ebbs in Caucasus as Armenian Christians Are Routed in a Blitz by Azerbaijani Muslims, James Brooke reports on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, citing RSC Director Richard Giragosian.
Peacekeepers sent by the Kremlin simply stand by as a 35-year separatist project comes to an end.
The surprise surrender of Armenian Christians in the western mountains of Azerbaijan on Wednesday will end a 35-year-old separatist project on the southern fringe of the former Russian empire. Today, as 2,000 Russian peacekeepers stand by meekly, the defeat illustrates how the Ukraine quagmire is shrinking Russia’s regional influence.
In a 24-hour blitz Azerbaijani forces ignored Russia’s peacekeepers, broke through Armenian lines, and forced leaders of the self-styled Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to surrender. During the artillery, drone, and rifle assault, separatist officials said at least 200 Armenian Christians were killed and more than 400 wounded. Today, talks started, in Russian, on the future of 120,000 Armenians living in an area about the size of Rhode Island.
For two centuries — since an 1828 treaty with Persia — Russia has been the guarantor of Armenia, an orthodox Christian nation surrounded on three sides by a Muslim population. Now, Russia’s costly war in Ukraine brings “the death of the myth of Russia’s military power,” says the director of the Regional Studies Center, Richard Giragosian. He heads a think-tank at Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, 1,000 miles east of Ukraine.
“From Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan to Moldova, the realization is that Russia is much less to be feared, much less of a deterrent,” Mr. Giragosian tells The New York Sun. “Russia was distracted and overwhelmed by Ukraine. This emboldened Azerbaijan to go faster and much further in that vacuum.”