Azerbaijan army continues offensive
Military actions in the Nagorno-Karabakh region may spread to other regions of Azerbaijan and Armenia. According to the official statement of the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan, the territory of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic – an enclave that is separated from the main territory of the country – came under rocket fire. Officials in Armenia deny the fact of shelling, however, as “MK” managed to find out in a conversation with experts, the very fact of accusations may become a prologue for the conflict to reach a new level. And in the near future, Armenia will have to fight on two fronts.
The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh continues to gain momentum. Despite the ceasefire concluded in Moscow, both sides did not stop hostilities. After stubborn battles, the Azerbaijani army occupied the strategically important city of Hadrut and continues to develop the offensive. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stated that the offensive will continue until the city of Shusha, a key settlement that opens the road to the capital of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, the city of Stepanakert, is repulsed.
Also, according to the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan, the hostilities partially spread to the territory of the Nakhichevan enclave – an autonomous republic within Azerbaijan, which is separated from the main territory of the country and borders on Armenia and Turkey. As noted in Baku, the territory of the enclave came under rocket fire from the Armenian side.
“The Armenian armed forces launched a missile strike on the territory of the Ordubad region,” the press service of the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said.
Officials in the Armenian government refute this information. However, as military expert Alexander Mikhailovsky noted in a conversation with MK, such statements, regardless of their authenticity, indicate the transition of the conflict to a potentially new level.
– As I said earlier, the global offensive plan, drawn up with the participation of Turkish military advisers, provides for several stages. The first is to occupy the southern part of Nagorno-Karabakh. That is, along the border with Iran. The Azerbaijani troops have successfully completed this. The second stage, most likely, is to shake the situation in the Nakhichevan region in order to strike also along the Iranian border towards the troops advancing from the main territory of Azerbaijan.
-What will the successful completion of this operation mean for Azerbaijan?
-Strategic success across the region. If Nakhichevan joins Baku with a continuous corridor, it will be a huge victory. Azerbaijan will receive a direct connection with Turkey, which is extremely beneficial from the point of view of economic integration of the two countries. So the risk is justified here.
-What exactly is the risk?
-A group that will move along the border runs the risk of being cut off from the main forces and taken into encirclement. Something similar happened to the Ukrainian army in the summer of 2014. Then the Ukrainian military from the encirclement fled to Russian territory across the border. I think that both Baku and their partners take this experience into account and will act smarter. They successfully repulsed one attempt to encircle. Plus, the risk is that the advancing group is not increasing. If they get involved in hostilities according to the enemy’s scenario, the losses may be too great and even without a de jure defeat, in fact there will be simply no one to attack and nothing.
-The President of Azerbaijan says that the target of the offensive is the city of Shusha. What is the reason for this?
– With the memory of Azerbaijanis about their main military defeat in the last Karabakh war. Then the Armenians managed to defeat the Azerbaijani troops in the city as a result of a decisive offensive. Azerbaijan considers this city an extremely important historical and cultural center for its country, so its capture will be perceived by the people as a historical victory. But it should be noted that Shusha is surrounded by mountains from all sides, the only road goes to Stepanakert. How they plan to attack in this case is unclear.