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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/27/20

Putin's military and security policies are withering: CSTO is de facto no more

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Message Augusts Augustiņš

Only a blind man would not see that the war in Nagorno-Karabakh isn't about to end any time soon. It seems that Aliyev, who is receiving motivation from Erdogan, still hasn't been able to return Nagorno-Karabakh quickly and without unnecessary bloodshed.

The forces of both engaged nations continue fidgeting on both sides of the Nagorno-Karabakh border, occasionally blindly firing artillery at a random location and forcing their own infantry units, which are suffering increasing losses, into a dead end.

Now, a relative "ceasefire" has come into effect, but as always this means that combat continues, and so is the suffering of peaceful civilians. I would like to look into the eyes of those wise analysts who have been saying for the last 30 years that wars are now fought decisively in a couple of days.

I'm not entirely sure about that because another generation of children of war has grown up in Syria, and now something similar is happening in Nagorno-Karabakh as well. Everything in Nagorno-Karabakh is just as it was during the good old times of World War II, with the exception that the weapons used now are more precise and more lethal.

In 1994, the Kremlin was able to convince both warring sides to put down their weapons but that doesn't mean there wasn't any bloodshed after that. Now, both sides are engaged in a large-scale war in Transcaucasia, crushing Putin's prestige as a leader of a superpower and putting an end to the existence of the CSTO as I have already written.

In reality, up until now Moscow has never attempted to, or even been genuinely interested in resolving the ancient conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in a more or less civilized manner. Instead, Russia decided to annex Crimea and create the self-proclaimed Abkhazian and South Ossetian republics in Georgia and the self-proclaimed people's republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in Ukraine.

As I already argued, the disagreements between both Caucasian nations provided the Kremlin with an excellent opportunity to take the international stage dressed as a peacekeeper. But what now when artillery shells are flying in both directions?

I think that Armenia is futilely hoping that the CSTO will come to its aid because the organization is almost completely nonfunctioning, as proved by the recent joint military exercises Nerushimoe Bratstvo-2020 held on 12 October in Belarus and attended only by Russia and Belarus, where a revolution is currently taking place. The CSTO will not provide any support, and that's why Armenian forces didn't participate in the exercises, not even symbolically.

Of course, the CSTO has other members aside from Russia and Belarus - Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan - and no one of them took part in the exercises. There was a time when Putin tried to drag Uzbekistan into the organization, but that didn't work out because there are serious territorial disputes between these Central Asian member states. These nations also tend to occasionally clash with each other when the topic of distributing water resources arises.

The Kremlin once "promised" Armenia security in exchange for the rights to establish a Russian army base in its territory but now it looks like this may not happen, as Moscow has developed somewhat close economic cooperation with Baku, for instance, by delivering armaments worth one billion USD. This means that from the start the Kremlin didn't intend to keep the promise it made to Armenia of taking care of its security because it's supplying Armenia's ancient enemy with weapons. This is like the police promising to protect the people while at the same time selling weapons to the mafia.

And Armenia, as an ally of Russia, receives outdated military equipment - that it pays for using money lent by Russian banks - but on a significantly smaller scale. We cannot be sure yet, but it is very likely that the conflict will end with Nagorno-Karabakh being returned to Azerbaijan, while the seriously weakened and humiliated Armenia will have no other choice than to embrace Putin even more passionately and become subject No. 86 of the Russian Federation. Another option would be to make a geopolitical change of course towards the West, but in order to do this Armenia would have to get rid of the Russian 102nd Military Base in Gyumri, therefore such a scenario is highly unlikely.

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