By Hrant Aleksanian in Stepanakert
Azerbaijan is not ready for another war despite its continuing threats to win back Nagorno-Karabakh by force, the commander of the disputed region’s armed forces said on Wednesday.
“Judging from our intelligence, our frontline monitoring, Azerbaijan is not prepared to start hostilities,” Lieutenant-General Seyran Ohanian declared at a news conference in Stepanakert. “We continue to maintain parity with Azerbaijani forces.”
Ohanian said his conclusion is based on Azerbaijan’s failure to gain military superiority over the Armenian side since the May 1994 ceasefire agreement that formalized its humiliating defeat in the first Karabakh war. He also said the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army further improved its combat readiness in the course of last year.
“We did quite a lot of work to equip our frontline positions with new fortifications … so that if hostilities resume the armed forces can comfortably wage a trench warfare,” explained the general who played a large role and was seriously wounded during the 1991-94 war.
Azerbaijani leaders regularly warn that they will resort to military action if the long-running peace talks fail to restore Baku’s control of Karabakh. President Ilham Aliev reiterated as recently as last weekend that his country is ready to win back the Armenian-controlled region and surrounding territories “at any cost.”