Armenia sees no need for the deployment of third-party peacekeeping troops in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone despite a sharp rise in ceasefire violations there, Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian said on Wednesday.
“True, there is a no-war-no-peace situation there because our enemy constantly violates the ceasefire,” Ohanian told a news conference in Yerevan. “But we maintain that situation thanks to the combat readiness of our troops.”
“In that sense, we can accomplish our tasks on our own, and right now there is now need for the deployment of peacekeeping forces,” he said. He argued that despite the absence of such troops the conflicting parties have managed to avoid a full-scale war for the past two decades.
The remarks came amid mounting speculation in Yerevan that Russia is keen to deploy its troops around Karabakh with the aim of strengthening its leverage against Armenia and Azerbaijan and bolstering its broader presence in the region. Some local pundits claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin will push for this when he holds talks with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts in Sochi later this week.
Ohanian insisted that the armed forces of Armenia and Karabakh remain the main safeguard against a renewed Armenian-Azerbaijani war. He said the latest upsurge in fighting, widely regarded by the Armenian side as a serious setback for the Azerbaijani military, underscored their strength and Azerbaijan’s inability to forcibly resolve the conflict. Baku has failed to gain a strategic military advantage despite a decade-long massive military buildup, he claimed.
“We need to keep in mind that any weapon requires a person qualified enough to use it,” continued Ohanian. “Acquisition of large quantities of weapons requires their personnel to learn how to use them effectively.”
At least 15 Azerbaijani soldiers have reportedly been killed since the escalation on July 31 of fighting along “the line of contact” around Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. The Defense Ministry in Baku said on Tuesday that two other soldiers serving near the Karabakh frontline have accidentally shot and killed themselves.
The official Armenian combat death toll in the same period stands at 6.