Russian military parade in Karabakh: Has Baku given its consent?
21 April 2021
ussia, which criticized Azerbaijan for the Victory Parade on December 10, is very fond of holding military parades. Therefore, not a single May 9 - Victory Day is overlooked. Regardless of whether it is an anniversary date or not.
This year marks the 76th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War. A wonderful date to be remembered by future generations. Unlike many other countries, May 9 remains a public holiday in Azerbaijan even after gaining independence. The republic did not refuse to celebrate the victory over fascism, since it itself lost hundreds of thousands of its sons in the Second World War. Moreover, it was on Azerbaijani oil that the USSR won the war. This is a well-known fact that cannot be disputed by anyone.
Despite the fact that May 9 is a public holiday in Azerbaijan, this does not mean that military parades can be held anywhere in the country.
As reported by Russian and Armenian media, servicemen of the Russian peacekeeping contingent stationed in Karabakh have begun preparations for the solemn parade dedicated to the Victory Day in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.
According to the information, about 400 Russian servicemen are holding a rehearsal of the parade on the territory of the Khojaly airport these days. Here are the personnel of the 15th separate motorized rifle (peacekeeping) brigade of the Central Military District, and the personnel of the Center for Humanitarian Response, and units of the Military Police, a unit of a special medical detachment, the Office of the Russian Peacekeeping Forces and logistical support units. In short, on May 9, up to 10 military units will march through the territory of the Khojaly airport.
The Azerbaijani side has not yet commented on these messages. I would like to hope that the Russian side nevertheless applied for permission from Baku to hold the parade. Although, given the numerous violations by the peacekeeping contingent of its mandate, its lack of diligence in fulfilling the points of the trilateral statement of November 10, it is quite possible to assume that the military parade in the zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers is taken by the Russian side for granted.
Let us repeat once again - Azerbaijan marks the victory over fascism at the state level. However, such a parade on the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan is a step that raises many questions. In fact, it turns out that Russia is holding a military parade on the territory of another, sovereign state. And the military parade is not a parade of workers on May 1, it is a demonstration of force, no matter who it is addressed to.
Perhaps the Russian side does not mean anything like that, but in practice this very context suggests itself.
The fact is that in the zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers, six months after the end of the second Karabakh war, the implementation of the points of the peace statement signed by Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia has not yet begun. The Russian side was supposed to ensure the fulfillment of these points, for which it was invited to perform the peacekeeping function. This state of affairs creates the illusion of impunity among the Armenian separatists and gives hope for the realization of unrealized fantasies. In turn, the Russian side does nothing to save the Karabakh Armenians from unnecessary hopes for some kind of discussion of "status" under the patronage of Russia and the like. These hopes will never come true, but the illusion of support from the Russian side creates problems in the final settlement of the issue and impedes the implementation of the peace statement.
Considering that May 8 is the day of the occupation of Shusha, which the Armenians have pompously celebrated for many years as a "great holiday" with parades and distinguished guests, the military parade of the peacekeepers may be perceived inadequately, as it is inherent in the Armenian side. It can be perceived as an act of support for the separatists and a demonstration of strength to Azerbaijan. There is no doubt that this is how it will be commented on and interpreted.
There is also no doubt that the military parade of the peacekeepers will be used by the Armenian side for provocative purposes. Surely, the armed gangs, who call themselves the "defense army," feeling at ease in the zone of responsibility of the peacekeepers, will try in one way or another to join the event. We will not be surprised if the military criminal Arayik Harutyunyan will host the parade along with Rustam Muradov. Bearing in mind the too friendly and trusting relationship between the commander of the peacekeepers and the head of the separatists, this should be expected. In any case, the Armenian side will make every effort to turn the military parade of peacekeepers on the occasion of May 9 into a provocation.
This, of course, will in no way contribute to the growth of the Azerbaijani public's confidence in the Russian peacekeepers. The citizens of the country are already not very supportive of the peacekeeping of Russia, and the demonstrative pacing at the Khojaly airport will further strengthen these sentiments.
There are several ways to keep things simple. The first is to abandon the parade, stop these rehearsals that inspire separatists, and not give rise to provocations. Second, if life is not nice without a parade, there is a great way to do everything within the framework of the strategic Azerbaijani-Russian partnership. Units of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan should also take part in this parade. This will be an absolutely logical and natural approach. Karabakh is a sovereign, internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan. There simply cannot be any questions.
In Armenia, military parades by the Russian contingent are held on the territory of the base, and not on the streets of Gyumri. The parade in Karabakh should be approached from the same position. If at the present time a certain territory of Azerbaijan is in the zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping contingent, this does not mean that Azerbaijani laws cease to apply there. This territory remains the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan, where no one has the right to rattle weapons if it is not defined by his mandate.
The author is the director of the international expert club EurAsiaAz and editor-in-chief of news agency Baku Tribune.
(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at [email protected]