On May 12 and the following days, the Azerbaijani armed forces penetrated the territory of the Republic of Armenia in three directions. It was officially confirmed that small enemy units advanced up to 3.5 kilometers in the Black Lake area of the Syunik region.
Days later, it was reported that talks between the local commanders were taking place and an agreement was reached to return the Azerbaijani troops to their original positions. However, the situation on the border has not changed significantly and according to the latest data, the Azerbaijanis continue to stay in three areas of border regions of Syunik, Vardenis, and Sisian.
Due to the situation on the border, there is an official large-scale diplomatic effort in Yerevan, in hopes of resolving the issue without armed conflict. The Armenian side is probably not ready for this at the moment, and such a development could serve as a pretext for Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to implement his recent threats to secure a corridor through Zangezur to Nakhichevan.
Armenia first applied to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), of which it was a founding member in 1992, alongside Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. A year later, Belarus, Azerbaijan, and Georgia joined the treaty. Georgia and Azerbaijan, however, later exited from the organization, as well as Uzbekistan. The remaining nations in CSTO are Armenia, Russia, Belarus, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. According to the CSTO Charter, if the territorial integrity, sovereignty, security, and stability of any of the member states are threatened, the other member states are obliged to assist the applicant country. Naturally, it was logical that Armenia should first turn to that military alliance. So far, the CSTO leadership has contented itself with announcing that consultations have begun among member states on the matter.
French President Emmanuel Macron expressed a clearer position on the border incident, not only demanding the withdrawal of foreign troops from Armenian territories, but also, during a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Pashinyan,
expressed willingness to provide military assistance to Armenia in the event of UN consent.
The United States has also expressed concern about recent developments. Unlike the previous US administration, the White House is in active talks with Baku and Yerevan to resolve the issue through peaceful means and within the framework of Armenia’s territorial integrity.
As for Russia, its public statements were not satisfactory to the broad segments of citizens in Armenia, who expect more from its strategic ally, which has military bases in Armenia. Moscow, through its various spokespersons, expressed its eagerness to mediate on demarcation and other issues related to the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, without expressing a clear position, or demanding the withdrawal of foreign troops from the territory of Armenia.
This posture naturally causes dissatisfaction among many inside Armenia, while others are demanding to look in other directions, i.e the West, to guarantee the country’s security and to protect its borders. Some, however, argue that Russia, being a sponsor of the November 9 agreement to end the 44-day war, should at least publicly show neutrality between the two sides.
In light of these developments, it was noteworthy that the Armenian Ministry of Defense issued a rather harsh statement on May 18, where there was a clearly stated warning to Azerbaijan. “In the absence of a peaceful settlement within a reasonable period, that is, in case the Azerbaijani servicemen do not return to their starting positions without preconditions, the RA Armed Forces reserve the right to resolve the issue by other means, including by force.” It is difficult to know what prompted the hardening of the Armenian position, but one can speculate that some external signs may have played a role, including from Russia.
According to the latest information provided by the Defense Ministry, some of the Azeri servicemen have returned to their original positions, without giving any additional details.