Tonight Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan confirmed a total ceasefire agreement with Azerbaijan involving the handover of territory by both sides and guaranteed by the deployment of 2,000 troops by Russia. The agreement, immediately confirmed by Putin on a national chain and presented by the Baku government as an Armenian surrender, raised a crowd in Yerevan to the shout of Nikol traitor! But who is actually winning and who is losing?
The big winner is Russia. Russia has taken advantage of a critical moment in which the conquest of Shoshi by the Azeri army prompted the Armenian military to fear a total collapse, while the shooting down of a Russian helicopter on Armenian soil by the Azeris made Baku fear an immediate Russian military intervention in compliance with the military agreement between Yerevan and Moscow.
Russia thus shows to all involved powers that Moscow is the one setting the regional order. It reveals the impotence of France, Germany and the United States -the Minsk Group- and reminds Iran, Israel and above all Turkey that Russia is the one setting the limits and the times in all the alliances that make up the Caucasus.
That is why the most direct loser is Turkey, which once again proves its inability to exert its military weight – decisive on the ground – in lasting strategic and commercial successes. Erdogan did not intend to erode Russian hegemony in its backyard, he simply wanted to be recognized by Russia as a regional power, gain a seat at the cease-fire negotiation table and get something to bargain with in Syria and Libya. Nothing could be further from the final result.
The peace in Nagorno-Karabakh comes after Turkey received a serious Russian kick in Syria and while in Libya the peace negotiations have become a real front for the expulsion of mercenaries and Turkish forces in which only the Muslim Brotherhood, increasingly weak in the government of Tripoli, remains faithful to Ankara.
It is true that the warmongering party of the Turkish bourgeoisie and bureaucracy had left little room for Erdogan. They urged him to keep on with his policy of imperialist affirmation as a way to obtain economic results as soon as possible in the midst of an economic crisis which is proving more and more disastrous for Turkish national capital.
So this failure, a new military victory without economic booty, is very likely to be seen soon as the beginning of the end of erdoganism.
In the internal politics of the Caucasus the big winner is again Russia. Pashinyan, who was far from being well seen by the Kremlin, is not only weakened in the face of the warmongering ultra-nationalism which he attempted to ride, but he owes his survival – and that of his army – to Moscow.
The Azeri government, which has displayed the most obscene nationalism even after the cease-fire declaration, obtains a historical triumph beyond its real objectives: it recovers not only the buffer territories that Armenia had secured in Azeri majority areas, but more than half of Nagorno-Karabakh, leaving the border in Shushi, at the gates of Stepanakert, the capital of the Artsakh ethnic ghost state. It is a triumph… but it will have its borders – and its pipelines – directly and legally monitored by Russia ad aeternum.
4 But the real loser of the conflict is on both sides of the war zone. Nationalism means the subordination of human needs to the interests of national capital. The wave of nationalism and warmongering in both countries has been fed for decades by the state and its means, and it is being pushed by a large, angry petty bourgeoisie which does not lack the enthusiastic support of a furious clergy, but in the end it has been fundamental in dragging the workers to the holocaust in the altar of the motherland.
According to Putin’s statements, before the final Azeri offensive more than 2,000 people had already died on each side. Mostly young workers mobilized by both armies and small peasants and workers victims of bombings in which even cluster bombs have been used. We may not know exactly the total number of deaths.
The triumph of nationalism on both sides, even in defeat and slaughter, weakens the workers of the whole region and shows a dangerous path: it tells the ruling classes of the whole world that, under certain conditions, they can turn the revolt of the petty bourgeoisie into a sacred union for war by preventing the threat of war from awakening the only class that can put an end to barbarism.