US’s restraint in Karabakh conflict can have dangerous consequences - Bryza
Baku, Azerbaijan, April 7
By Aygun Badalova - Trend:
The US administration is so absent and restrained in its response to the most serious military clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan in twenty-two years has the impact of ceding the strategic field in the South Caucasus to Russia, says Matthew Bryza, former US assistant secretary for South Caucasus and former US ambassador to Azerbaijan.
"This can have profound and dangerous consequences in Syria, Ukraine, and far beyond," Bryza wrote in his article published on the website of the US Atlantic Council.
"The United States has been conspicuously absent during the latest crisis over Azerbaijan's region of Nagorno-Karabakh," he said. "The White House has not yet issued a statement on this unprecedented uptick in violence."
"US Secretary of State John Kerry's statement released on April 2 is a vanilla condemnation of violence and call for a restoration of the ceasefire, which could apply to any of the numerous previous ceasefire violations," he said.
He said that this approach leaves no sense of the intensity and danger posed by this latest flare-up of violence.
"In contrast, Russia's top leadership has been active," he said. "Russia's goal in its lone mediation mission appears to be twofold: first, to repair its international reputation in relation to its debacle in Ukraine; and second, to strengthen the impression in Armenia and Azerbaijan that Russia calls the shots in the South Caucasus."
On the night of April 2, 2016, all the frontier positions of Azerbaijan were subjected to heavy fire from the Armenian side, which used large-caliber weapons, mortars and grenade launchers.
The armed clashes resulted in deaths and injuries among the Azerbaijani population.
Azerbaijan responded with a counter-attack, which led to liberation of several strategic heights and settlements. Military operations were stopped on the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian armies on Apr. 5 at 12:00 (UTC/GMT + 4 hours) with the consent of the sides.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.