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Vitaly Portnikov: Putin as “peacemaker” in Karabakh is a warning signal for Ukraine

Vitaly Portnikov: Putin as “peacemaker” in Karabakh is a warning signal for Ukraine
Article by: Vitaly Portnikov
Translated by: Christine Chraibi
Russian troops are hurriedly being deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh. These troops will now guarantee the security of Karabakh Armenians, as agreed by the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan, Vladimir Putin and Ilham Aliyev, and the Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan during the night of November 9-10.

Thus, Putin is once again a “peacemaker”. It is not at all difficult to remember what happened in other regions of the former Soviet Union that accepted the Kremlin’s “peacekeeping missions”. In Transnistria, Russian “peacekeepers” have prevented Moldova from restoring its territorial integrity for almost three decades. In Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russian “peacekeepers” waged war with Georgia, after which Russia recognized the “independence” of these Georgian territories. Now, 2,000 Russian “peacekeepers” will be deployed to protect the land corridor between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh region. They will be stationed in the area officially for five years; this term will be extended automatically for another five years, unless either party declares its intention to terminate the deployment of the “peacekeepers” six months before the expiration date. Of course, the “peacekeeping” mandate will be terminated whenever it suits Russia… and the security of the land corridors between Armenia and Karabakh and Azerbaijan and the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic will depend entirely on Russia.

Map of the conflict region. Image: RFE/RL

Coming back to Moldova and Transnistria. Once again, how many decisions have been made to withdraw Russian “peacekeepers” from Transnistria. According to the Ceasefire agreement concluded with Russia in July 1992, Russia agreed to gradually withdraw its troops from the territory of Moldova, including from the breakaway Transnistrian Moldovan Republic. It is now 2020, and has anyone left? Russian troops withdraw only in specific circumstances, when their army breaks down or when their state fails, as in Afghanistan and Central Europe… but not a minute earlier.

Ukraine must look closely at what is happening in the Caucasus today, because the Kremlin will try to impose the same option on Ukraine, namely “direct negotiations” with Moscow’s puppets in the “DNR/LNR” and the deployment of Russian “peacekeepers” in the Donbas. Or – a new war and again, more Russian “peacekeepers”. It is important for the Kremlin to consolidate Russia’s role as the “patron” of the Donbas, show the world that it pulls the strings in Ukraine…just as it is now doing in Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Don’t tell me this can’t happen! Never say never! The Kremlin knows how to wait and create a propitious situation. Until a few months ago, neither Baku nor Yerevan could even dream of seeing Russians in Karabakh today.

Translated by: Christine Chraibi
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