“Four days of violence in April unfroze the generation-old Nagorno-Karabakh conﬂict. It is no exaggeration to say that Armenia and Azerbaijan are two or three steps away from a Bosnia-style conﬂict that could be deleterious for the wider region,” writes Senior Associate at Carnegie Europe Thomas de Waal in Politico.
“Can this crisis be contained before it escalates? We ﬁrst need to challenge one common preconception: the idea that Russia can ﬁll that security vacuum and manage the conﬂict. Its problem is that it has simultaneously mediated and destabilized the conﬂict. The Russians have been selling arms to both sides. An estimated 85 percent of Azerbaijan’s weaponry comes from Russia, while Russia has a military alliance with Armenia, sealed by a new treaty signed in 2010.
“This balancing game means that Russia is unable to set the agenda in Karabakh. Both Baku and Yerevan are skeptical of Russia’s intentions.
“In Armenia especially, the new backlash against Russia is signiﬁcant. Because Russia has no military presence on the ground and no monopoly on the peace process, both countries can block plans for a Russian peace-keeping force that would reassert its inﬂuence in the region.
“So the common belief that, if things get worse “Russia can handle it,” is misplaced. This poses a challenge to the United States and France. Neither has done enough to offer a balanced international plan,” Tom de Waal writes.
“Unless progress is made now, more ﬁghting is likely to break out after the international spectacle of Azerbaijan’s much-coveted Formula 1 race in Baku ends in late June,” concludes the author.