The secretary general of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has voiced serious concern at the latest upsurge in ceasefire violations around Nagorno-Karabakh, saying that a full-scale Armenian-Azerbaijani war would destabilize “the whole Caucasus.”
“We look with a great deal of alarm at what is happening now in the Caucasus, especially with regard to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, on the [Armenian-Azerbaijani] line of contact,” Nikolay Bordyuzha told the Rossiya-24 TV channel at the weekend. “At the fact that heavy weapons, tanks are already being used there and there are casualties.”
“I think that the political resources of our states should be used to prevent any destabilization of the situation, so that this already hot conflict does not degenerate into large-scale hostilities. Today that is a very frightening prospect because the whole Caucasus would explode [in case of another Karabakh war,]” warned the Russian official.
Fighting along “the line of contact” intensified in the run-up to the December 19 meeting in Switzerland of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents, leaving at least a dozen soldiers dead on both sides. According to the Armenian military, Azerbaijani troops fired on its frontline positions from tanks for the first time since 1994.
Tensions appear to have eased considerably in the last few days, with neither side accusing the other of using mortars or launching incursions.
Bordyuzha issued the stark warning one week after a CSTO summit in Moscow that saw President Serzh Sarkisian strongly criticize unnamed ex-Soviet members of the alliance for not openly supporting Armenia in the Karabakh conflict. Sarkisian said they should “learn” from NATO member states’ unanimous support for Turkey shown after last month’s downing of a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Turkish border.
The criticism seemed primarily addressed to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The three Muslim nations have traditionally warm ties with Azerbaijan.
Bordyuzha had effectively blamed Baku for another escalation of fighting in the conflict zone reported in late September. Visiting Armenia in early October, he condemned Azerbaijani shelling of Armenian border villages which killed three local residents.