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NOVEMBER 8 — VICTORY DAY
On the morning of September 27, 2020, the Armenian Armed Forces began a large-scale provocation and intensively fired at the positions and settlements of the Azerbaijani army on the front line from large-caliber weapons, mortars, and artillery. The command of the Azerbaijani army decided to launch a rapid counteroffensive along the entire front. As a result of the clashes on September 28, martial law and general mobilization were declared in Armenia, and martial law and a curfew were declared in Azerbaijan. The clashes quickly flared up and escalated into the Second Karabakh War.
As a result of the 44-day war with the Republic of Armenia, Jebrail was liberated on October 4, Fizuli on October 17, Zangelan on October 20, Gubadli on October 25, and Shusha on November 8. According to the agreement signed in Moscow from November 10 at 01:00 Baku time, hostilities were completed and fire ceased in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Republic of Armenia undertook to withdraw all its troops from the territory around Nagorno-Karabakh by December 1. It was announced that the construction of new transport communications connecting the two countries will be ensured.
Aghdam was liberated on November 20, 2020, Kalbajar on November 25, 2020, and Lachin on December 1.
The first decree of the President of Azerbaijan on the establishment of Victory Day in Azerbaijan was issued on December 2. According to this order, Victory Day was to be celebrated annually on November 10. However, given that November 10 in Turkey is the day of memory of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, on December 3, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev decided to change the date of Victory Day. Considering the historical significance of the city of Shushi and its liberation from occupation, it was decided to celebrate Victory Day on November 8 every year.
Note : since 2006, when a public holiday falls on a day off, the next business day is considered non-working.
Last update: February 19, 2024 23:46
Azerbaijan Celebrates Victory Day Marking End of Karabakh War
By Mushvig Mehdiyev November 8, 2021
A huge Azerbaijani flag was carried by the country's armed forces personnel in the Victory Day celebrations in capital Baku, November 8, 2021 / Azertag
Azerbaijan, the South Caucasus’ largest country of over 10 million people, celebrates today the first anniversary of the historic victory on November 8, 2020, ending the war in the country's Karabakh (Garabagh) region.
One year ago on this day, the Azerbaijani forces liberated the strategic Shusha city in the Karabakh region from a decades-long Armenian occupation. The city’s salvation was seen as the pinnacle of the Azerbaijani army’s weeks-long counter-attack operations, codenamed “Iron Fist.”
“Dear Shusha, you are free! Dear Shusha, we are back! Dear Shusha, we will reinvigorate you!” said President Ilham Aliyev on November 8, 2020, referring to the liberation of the Shusha city by Azerbaijani army.
Shusha was said to be one of the major strongholds of the Armenian occupying forces, who could not resist face-to-face battles with the Azerbaijani troops and retreated in disarray. Liberation of the city has had a crucial impact on the surrender of Armenia's forces and signing a ceasefire statement on November 9, 2020.
On December 3, 2020, President Ilham Aliyev signed an order establishing November 8 as “ Victory Day ” in Azerbaijan.
“Victory Day is our holiday. It is the holiday of Victory, it is the holiday of courage, it is the holiday of justice, it is the holiday of national pride, it is the holiday of national dignity. We have restored our dignity. From now on, we will live forever as a victorious country and a victorious nation,” President Aliyev said in a meeting with the Azerbaijani servicemen in Shusha on Monday, President.Az reports.
The first anniversary of Victory Day on Monday started with a solemn march of the personnel of the Azerbaijani army carrying a huge flag of the country along the major avenue on the Seaside Boulevard in capital Baku. Various events, including flash mobs, concerts, and a grandiose firework have been held commemorating the historic victory.
One of the flash mobs dedicated to Victory Day in Baku, Azerbaijan. Zəfər Günü in Azerbaijani means Victory Day in English / Courtesy
President Ilham Aliyev traveled to Shusha, the cultural capital of Azerbaijan, to inaugurate and lay the first stone for multiple projects as part of the ongoing restoration and reconstruction campaign in the city. He attended inauguration of the all-new highway, the Victory Road , leading from the Fuzuli district to the city of Shusha. The highway spans 101 kilometers traversing the liberated territories of the Fuzuli, Khojavand, Khojaly and Shusha districts.
President Aliyev also laid the foundation stones for the Shusha District Central Hospital, the Shusha Radio and Television Broadcasting Station, the Dashalti Mosque, and viewed restoration works in Ashaghi Govhar Agha Mosque and at the Estate Complex of the Mehmandarovs, one of the most famous dynasties of Shusha. Both the mosque and estate complex have been subjected to serious vandalistic acts by Armenians during the years of occupation.
President Ilham Aliyev unveils a road sign at the entrance of the Victory Road - an all-new highway leading from the Fuzuli district to the city of Shusha in the Karabakh region, Azerbaijan, November 7, 2021 / President.Az
Armenia and Azerbaijan had been in an armed conflict for nearly 30 years over the Karabakh (Garabagh) region, which is an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan. Armenia launched a full-blown military aggression against Azerbaijan following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991. The bloody war lasted until a ceasefire in 1994 and saw Armenia occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. Over 30,000 Azerbaijanis were killed, and one million were expelled from those lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing policy conducted by Armenia. Although the United Nations Security Council adopted four resolutions in 1993 demanding the immediate withdrawal of the occupying forces from Azerbaijani lands and the return of internally displaced Azerbaijanis to their ancestral lands, Armenia failed to comply with all four legally binding documents.
Armenia occupied Shusha on May 8, 1992. The city underwent an unforeseen policy of destruction by Armenians aimed at erasing Azerbaijan’s historical and cultural heritage. Shortly before the last year’s war, the illegal separatist regime established in the occupied Azerbaijani lands held a self-designed bogus “presidential inauguration” in the city.
President Aliyev said the provocative steps of Armenia, such as claiming the Karabakh region as part of Armenia, have irreversibly derailed the decades-long peace negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“By saying 'Karabakh is Armenia', Armenia not only put an end to the process of negotiations but also insulted us. It was an insult addressed to us when a fake swearing-in ceremony was held in Shusha, the crown of Karabakh, which is so sacred to us. The relocation of the so-called “parliament” of the self-styled entity to Shusha was another provocation against us. Armenia was arrogantly threatening us with renewed occupation. How much longer did we have to put up with that? Someone had to teach them a lesson, didn’t they?” President Aliyev said, adding that brave Azerbaijani servicemen sacrificed their lives to liberate Shusha and other lands of Azerbaijan from Armenia.
On September 27, 2020, the decades-old conflict took a violent turn after Armenia’s forces deployed in the occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. During the counter-attack operations that lasted 44 days, Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha, from nearly 30-year-long illegal Armenian occupation. The war ended in a tripartite statement signed on November 9 by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. Under the statement, Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.
The Azerbaijani army restored Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Shusha on November 8, 2020, during the final days of the 44-day war, which took place between September 27 and November 9, 2020.
Shusha is a key city in the Karabakh region due to its geographical location and historical significance as one of the major cultural, economic, and administrative centers of Azerbaijan. The city is located approximately ten kilometers from Khankendi, the region's largest city.
Shusha was built during the reign of the Azerbaijani Karabakh khanate's Panahali khan in the 18th century. According to the historical sources , Panahali khan decided to build an "eternal and invincible fortress in a firm and impassable place in the mountains" given the unfavorable location of the previous castles. Construction of the city kicked off in 1752 at about 1,600 meters above sea level in Karabakh and the capital of the khanate was moved to the city in 1756-1757.
Shusha has long been one of the main administrative, economic and cultural centers of Azerbaijan since its establishment by indigenous Azerbaijanis. The city has played a key role in the development of Azerbaijan's carpet weaving industry. Shusha was the Karabakh region's carpet-weaving center in the second half of the 19th century and carpets produced in Shusha have been exported to global markets in the late years of the same century. The ornamental and plot groups of Shusha carpets defined the mainline trend in local carpet-weaving. Shusha’s carpet-weavers , Meshedi Bayram Gurban-oglu, Djabbar Haji Akber-oglu, Fatima Aga Sherif-gizi, Ahmed Dashdamir-oglu took part and won awards in an international show in Paris in 1867. Shusha carpets also received prizes in 1872 in Moscow Polytechnic Exhibition.
At the end of the 18th century, Shusha became one of the important trade centers in the entire South Caucasus region. Merchants brought to Shusha various goods from other Azerbaijani cities such as Baku, Sheki, Nakhchivan and Ganja. The cities of the Ottoman Empire, Russia, Iran, India and European countries played an important role in Shusha's trade relations. Merchants from Shusha were regular participants of the famous fairs in Leipzig, Germany, and Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.
Shusha is to Azerbaijan what Vienna is to Austria and Naples is to Italy in terms of music. The city is well known as "the temple of Azerbaijani music" and the conservatory of the South Caucasus. The founding father of Azerbaijani composed classical music and opera, Uzeyir Hajibeyli was born in Shusha, a city also home to world-famous Azerbaijani poet Molla Panah Vagif and poetess Khurshudbanu Natavan.
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8th November - the first anniversary of the Victory Day in the 44-day Patriotic War
More than a year has passed since the beginning of the 44-day Patriotic War, which ended the 30 years Armenian occupations of the internationally recognized territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan and restored the territorial integrity of our state. On September 27, 2020, the Armenian armed forces, in violation of the ceasefire regime, subjected to artillery fire the positions of the Azerbaijani army, as well as several localities along the front line, which resulted in human casualties and injuries among civilian population. In order to stop the attack of the Armenian army and ensure the security of the civilian population, the command of the Azerbaijani army decided to launch a rapid counterattack along the front line. Following the counterattack, the Azerbaijani armed forces managed to suppress Armenia's firing positions in the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan began to free up its lands in order to restore its territorial integrity. This escalation must be seen in the context of Armenia's military aggression against Azerbaijan between 1991-1994. As a result of this aggression 20% of the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions, were occupied by Armenia. Nearly one million Azerbaijanis living in these territories, as well as in Armenia, have been subjected to ethnic cleansing and expelled from their homes. During the first Karabakh war around 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed, more than 50,000 people were wounded or maimed and 4,750 people were captured and taken hostage or are still missing. Horrifying criminal acts, stemming from national hatred and enmity were perpetrated against Azerbaijanis. The greatest tragedy during the war took place in the night of February 26, 1992, when the Armenian armed forces destroyed the Azerbaijani city of Khojaly, brutally massacring 613 innocent people - including children and the elderly. As a result of the occupation, 877 cities, villages and settlements were looted, destroyed and burned. Armenia has also pursued a systematic policy of destroying, plundering and hijacking Azerbaijan's cultural heritage in the territories it has occupied for 30 years. Following the signing of a ceasefire agreement in 1994, despite the adoption by the UN Security Council of four resolutions on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which required the immediate, unconditional and complete withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied territories in Azerbaijan, Armenia has deliberately refused to implement these resolutions, as well as the decisions of other international organizations on the settlement of the conflict within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. At the same time, the meditation efforts of the USA, Russia and France, the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, which had been established to resolve the conflict for many years, did not yield any results due to Armenia’s unconstructive and disruptive position. The peace process was shaken strongly after Nikol Pashinyan came to power in Armenia in 2018 following his provocative actions such as a series of illegal visits to the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, as well as his populist statement that “Karabakh is Armenia and that’s it”. Armenian Defense Minister David Tonoyan also made provocative statements such as "the new war - the new territories" and that "Armenian tanks will reach Baku." Taking advantage of the indecisiveness of international organizations, the Armenian side attacked the frontlines of the Azerbaijani armed forces in April 2016. In July 2020, as a continuation of subversive activities, the Armenian armed forces severely violated the ceasefire regime at the border between the two states and fired at the positions of Azerbaijani border guards and villages in the Tovuz region of Azerbaijan, a region situated not near Nagorno-Karabakh, but in another part of the country at the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border. With the return fire, the advance of Armenian forces was stopped, thus Armenia was prevented from capturing new territories and important strategic points. These events were not a simple border collision, the Armenian side carefully planned this provocation. It should be noted that the place of the attack was not chosen at chance - the Tovuz region is important for Azerbaijan in terms of implementation of large-scale regional projects. In case of the seizure of strategic points on this part of the state border, Armenia could threaten vital energy and transport communication points. The entire infrastructure for the delivery of Azerbaijan's energy resources to the world market is located in this region: the Southern Gas Corridor, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars strategic railway, the Baku-Supsa highway, Baku-Tbilisi highway are all located in the immediate vicinity of the hostilities. Therefore, the objective pursued by Armenia, by carrying out the aggression in the direction of Tovuz, was an attempt to disrupt the negotiation process on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and to divert attention from the previously occupied territories. Along with direct military challenges, the recent relocation of a large number of terrorists to the occupied territories of Azerbaijan by Armenia has further inflamed the conflict. According to various estimates, thousands of mercenaries and terrorists from the Middle East, CIS countries and other states have been deployed in the conflict zone by Armenia. Such provocative statements and actions by the Armenian side have been assessed by a number of researchers as a complete abandonment of the negotiation process. In his general address at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2021, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, noted the death of the Azerbaijani soldiers, as well as serious damage to civil infrastructure of the country as a result of the Armenian provocation. During the speech, it was also noted that over thousand tons of military equipment have been transported to Armenia by military cargo planes in last months. As mentioned above, on September 27 the Azerbaijani armed forces launched a counter-offensive to prevent further Armenian provocations. Since the very first days, the Azerbaijani armed forces had severely defeated the Armenian armed forces and obligated them to surrender. During the war, later called the 44-Day Patriotic War, Azerbaijan managed to obtain great military achievements, with very few losses. After the initial liberation of several strategic villages and bridges on October 22, the Azerbaijani armed forces completely liberated the border between Azerbaijan and Iran, previously found under occupation and began advancing towards the "Lachin Corridor" on October 23. The city of Jabrayil was liberated on October 4, Fuzuli on October 17, Zangilan on October 20, Gubadli on October 25 and the city of Shusha on November 8. The operation to liberate the city of Shusha will certainly go down in military history. Shusha - the crown and heart of Karabakh, represents a natural fortification from a military point of view, so it was impossible to enter the city with tanks or other heavy weapons. There were two options for liberating the city. In the first case, enemy forces in the city could be destroyed by air strikes and artillery fire. The Azerbaijani leadership did not accept this scenario because bombardment of the city would cause serious damages to the city. Therefore, an alternative tactic was chosen - Azerbaijani soldiers and officers passed through dense forests and deep ravines with light weapons, climbed mountains and defeated the enemy in close combat. Helpless on the battlefield, the Armenian armed forces committed horrible crimes against the civilian population in gross violation of the norms and principles of international law, including that of the Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949. As a result of the attacks with ballistic missiles and cassette shells on the cities of Ganja, Mingachevir, Barda, Tartar, Gabala, the Siyazan and Khizi districts and other settlements located far from the frontline, more than 100 civilians, including 11 children had been killed and more than 450 people injured. Armenia also fired “Iskander” ballistic missiles (the rocket was intercepted) on the capital of Azerbaijan during the war. The premeditated killing of Azerbaijani civilians by the Armenian armed forces was another Armenian war crime against the Azerbaijani people. Unlike Armenia, the Azerbaijani army has never fired on civilians throughout the conflict. Azerbaijan had achieved victory in the 44-day Patriotic War by effectively ensuring the implementation of documents by the UN and other international organizations on the conflict, restored its territorial integrity and created a new geopolitical reality in the South Caucasus. The Trilateral Statement signed on November 10, 2020 by the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia, and the Prime Minister of Armenia, put an end to more than 30 years of conflict and introduced a new format of activities aimed at the future development of the South Caucasus. Thus, Azerbaijan's military victory forced Armenia to capitulate, and Armenian tanks did indeed arrive in Baku, but as military trophies captured during the war. The declaration also stipulates establishment of the new transport communications that will connect the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic with the western regions of Azerbaijan (the Zangezur corridor). It is commendable to witness that a new era has begun in the life of Karabakh, the ancient and historical land of Azerbaijan – the era of restoration and construction. Projects are being implemented to restore settlements in the lands severely vandalized during the 30 year of occupation: infrastructure facilities are being set up, airports, roads, bridges, tunnels and other facilities are being built, electricity and water lines are being laid out. Conditions are created for IDPs to return to their homelands as soon as possible. The implementation of the Smart Village and Smart City projects has already started in Azerbaijan's Karabakh region. The projects envisage the creation of communications in the Azerbaijani lands liberated from the Armenian occupation in accordance with the modern standards. The foundation of one of the first "smart villages" was laid in Zangilan district. Our foreign partners are welcomed to participate in restoration and construction projects that are being carried out in the liberated territories. However, despite the end of the war between the two countries, Armenia continued to commit challenges and crimes against Azerbaijan, thus threatening regional peace and security. Armenia's continued refusal to completely release accurate maps of the hundreds of thousands of anti-tanks and anti-personnel mines buried throughout the liberated territories, and to launch border delimitation and demarcation, causes damage to the post-conflict normalization process. After the end of the war, the authorities of the Republic of Azerbaijan repeatedly appealed to the Republic of Armenia to sign a major peace agreement on the condition of the mutual recognition of the territorial integrity. However, the Armenian side has been avoiding accepting the peace proposals under various pretexts so far. Following the signing of the Trilateral Declaration, Azerbaijan, unlike Armenia, has taken several steps to demonstrate its true intention for normalization of relations. This includes facilitating the movement of citizens, vehicles and goods through the "Lachin Corridor" for humanitarian purposes, opening up routes inside the country to purchase the Russian Federation's peacekeeping contingent and delivering humanitarian aid, as well as delivering electricity to the areas where the peacekeeping contingent is carried out temporarily. Azerbaijan has also provided infrastructure for the supply of natural gas from Russia to Armenia. The revitalization of communications will significantly increase trade and transport through Azerbaijan and Armenia for the benefit of both countries and our partners. It will be a significant factor in normalization and will play a positive role in establishing the conditions for lasting peace and stability in the region. Our government is also determined to reintegrate its citizens of Armenian origin into Azerbaijan’s political, social, economic spheres, guaranteeing the same rights and freedoms regardless of ethnic or religious affiliation. This is constantly emphasized by President Ilham Aliyev in his speeches. The Trilateral Declaration stipulates the recognition of the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan and concludes the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This creates an important opportunity for lasting peace and cooperation in the region, but all this requires joint efforts, will and determination, including from the Armenian side.
Dr. Huseyn N. Najafov,
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Romania
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Erdoğan congratulates Azerbaijan on Victory Day
By daily sabah with aa.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan congratulated Azerbaijan on Victory Day on Tuesday, marking the second anniversary of Azerbaijan's victory in Karabakh against Armenia.
"I sincerely congratulate Azerbaijan on its Victory Day, which marks the liberation of Karabakh after an epic struggle for 44 days," Erdoğan said on Twitter.
Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan and will always remain part of the Southern Caucasus country, he also said.
Türkiye was a key backer of Azerbaijan during the 44-day Karabakh War between Azerbaijan and Armenia that erupted on Sept. 27, 2020, and ended with a Russian-brokered cease-fire on Nov. 10.
Azerbaijan celebrated Victory Day on Nov. 8, marking the liberation of Shusha city on the same day in 2020. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday attended an event in Shusha city.
"President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Victorious Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva and their son Heydar Aliyev have attended an event organized on the occasion of the Victory Day in Shusha. The head of state made a speech in front of the servicemen," read a statement from the Azerbaijani Presidency.
Separately, the Azerbaijani first lady shared a post on her official Instagram page on the occasion of Victory Day.
"Happy Victory Day! May Allah rest the souls of all our martyrs, who died for the Motherland, in peace. May Allah the Almighty always protect our native Azerbaijan," Aliyeva said.
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military illegally occupied Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
Clashes erupted on Sept. 27, 2020, with the Armenian Army attacking civilians and Azerbaijani forces, violating several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.
During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and around 300 settlements and villages that had been occupied by Armenia for almost 30 years.
The fighting ended with a Russian-brokered agreement on Nov. 10, 2020, which was seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia.
However, the cease-fire has been broken several times since then.
After the conflict ended, Azerbaijan launched a massive reconstruction initiative in the liberated Karabakh region.
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Victory Day of the Republic of Azerbaijan 2024 in Azerbaijan
Is victory day of the republic of azerbaijan a public holiday.
Victory Day of the Republic of Azerbaijan is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.
Victory Day of the Republic of Azerbaijan Observances
Holiday currently only shown for years 2021–2025.
While we diligently research and update our holiday dates, some of the information in the table above may be preliminary. If you find an error, please let us know .
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Azerbaijan’s Victory: Initial Thoughts and Observations (and Caveats for the ‘Innovative’)
Dr Simon Anglim teaches in the Department of War Studies at King's College London, where he is in charge of the postgraduate Contemporary War and Warfare module. He has written two books and over a dozen articles on historical and contemporary military strategy, focusing particularly on the use of Special Forces in both historical and contemporary operations.
Victory in the 21st century
Autumn 2020 saw the Republic of Azerbaijan, a country in the South Caucasus, population around 10 million and annual military budget of just $2 billion, achieve something the USA and UK had not for nearly thirty years – winning a war. 10 November brought an armistice, brokered by Russia, ending the six week-long Azerbaijani offensive into Nagorno-Karabakh – the region of southwestern Azerbaijan which, according to viewpoint, was under illegal occupation by Armenia since the previous Armenia-Azerbaijan war of 1992-1994 or struggling for independence as the Armenian-majority ‘Republic of Artsakh’ – and the seven Azerbaijani districts also under Armenian occupation since 1994 surrounding it.[i] Under the terms of the armistice, Azerbaijan kept the territories it reconquered – four of the seven districts – while the Armenians ceded the other three, Azerbaijan thereby regaining around two-thirds of the territory lost in the 1990s.[ii] To Azerbaijanis[iii], ‘The Patriotic War’ is a historic triumph, the healing of a quarter-century old ‘bleeding wound’ central to their national identity, peaked by the recapture of the major historical and cultural centre of Shusha the week before the peace deal was signed.[iv] For Armenia it is the diametric opposite: the Armenian government and the armed forces of ‘Artsakh’ – the Nagorno-Karabakh Defence Force (NKDF) – failed demonstrably on every level despite obdurate fighting from soldiers on the ground and in the weeks after the peace deal mass demonstrations demanding the resignation of the government took place in Yerevan, some violent, and the period since February 2021 has brought persistent rumours of impending military coups in Armenia.[v]
Why does this matter beyond Baku and Yerevan? To begin with, these events demonstrate there might still be such a thing as ‘victory’ in 21st-century war and a place for conventional military force (i.e., force aimed at contesting territory and delivered by regular armies and air forces) in securing it. This flies in the face of some highly-publicized arguments that thanks to two decades of ‘unprecedented’ cultural and technological developments, ‘conventional warfare is dead’, military confrontations revolving increasingly around non-kinetic assets aiming at largely non-kinetic effects through applying or countering ‘hybridity’ somewhere in the ‘grey zone’, meaning ‘legacy’ capabilities including heavy armour and conventional manned aircraft should go firmly into the dustbin of history.[vi] However, most Western military punditry has focused on the most reported-on aspect of the war (at least outside the two belligerents) Azerbaijan’s extensive use of mainly Turkish-made Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) and its apparent implications for future warfare and current acquisition policy. This includes some influential voices, at least in the UK.
‘Political Geography Now: Nagorno-Karabakh Control Map & Timeline: Artsakh Withdrawals – December 1, 2020’
Writing on potential futures for post-Brexit British armed forces, the Conservative MP and defence pundit, Bob Seely, commented on ‘how Azerbaijan’s use of inexpensive Turkish drones [sic] has decimated expensive Armenian equipment such as tanks and armoured vehicles, changing the balance of power on the battlefield’.[vii] This view is shared, apparently, by the most senior British decision-makers, the Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, describing Turkey’s use of ‘drones’ in Libya, Syria and ‘elsewhere’ as ‘game changing’ and stating that the UK had some catching up to do, with implications for the upcoming UK Strategic Defence Review, rumours abounding of troop numbers and ‘legacy’ capabilities being cut in favour of greater ‘automation’ and ‘innovation’; it was reported subsequently that the review would commit to purchase cheap ‘attack drones’ based directly on evidence from Nagorno-Karabakh.[viii] The former chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Sir Richard Ottaway, was more nuanced, acknowledging the part played by Azerbaijan’s careful alliance-building and acquisition policy but also claiming that the UCAVS were ‘pivotal’ in assaults on Armenian defensive positions and arguing the UK should develop its own low-cost equivalents to the Turkish TB2s employed in Nagorno-Karabakh to supplement the (highly expensive) Predators supplied by the US.[ix] No such nuance across the Atlantic, predictably, an article in Forbes , for instance, hailing the TB2s as a ‘silver bullet’, alluding to suggestions from some quarters that ‘the massacre [sic] of Armenian armor signals the end of the tank’ and that the acquisition of cheap UCAVs by small powers might provide challenges even to US forces; Radio Free Europe was even more effusive, proclaiming that ‘In Nagorno-Karabakh, the Future of Warfare is Now’.[x]
This is the author’s own contribution to this debate – his observations on what happened in Nagorno-Karabakh in autumn 2020, some suggesting many of the claims cited above may need to be nuanced or revised. He begins with strategy and the role of conventional warfare in achieving Azerbaijan’s policy aims.
Strategy and the Utility of Force – Conventional Warfare is alive and kicking Armenia
While the war demonstrates that conventional military force can still be brutally effective in securing policy aims, those aims must be clearly enunciated with an obvious and realistic political end state in mind and enjoy strong public support – things we have emphatically not seen in the West since the mid-2000s. It also helps if those aims can be framed in terms of securing objectives of geopolitical significance – something which conventional ground forces are designed to do – rather than more diffuse ones of ‘fighting terror’ or ‘implanting democracy’. While popular at home – even more so, now – President Ilham Aliyev is viewed widely outside Azerbaijan as an iron-fisted autocrat with an indifferent human rights record and allegations of industrial-scale corruption of Western legislators and officials laid against him.[xi] However, in 2020, President Aliyev (and given the highly personal nature of his rule, we presume it was mainly him) formulated realistic policy aims attainable by the means available centring on seizing key ground, as he made clear in an interview with the BBC on 9 November: if the Armenians committed to withdraw from the seven occupied regions around Nagorno-Karabakh (four largely re-taken by Azerbaijani forces by then) then he would halt the offensive and be willing to negotiate the future of Nagorno-Karabakh.[xii] However, he promised he would ‘fight to the end’ if they didn’t withdraw and also demanded a right of return for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Azeri families who fled to Azerbaijan from the occupied territories during and after the 1994 war, their numbers estimated by the United Nations High Council for Refugees as a possible 1.2 million by 2014.[xiii] Compare this with the outcome: President Putin’s peace deal mandated that Azerbaijan keep the four districts it had re-conquered while the Armenians handed over the whole of the remaining Aghdam, Kalbajar and Lachin districts at the beginning of December – so the war clearly achieved Aliyev’s primary geopolitical aim while opening paths for the others.[xiv]
He had also strengthened Azerbaijan’s hand via cultivating the right allies and if anything symbolised this, it is President Erdogan of Turkey being guest of honour at the victory parade in Baku on 10 December, a Turkish Army contingent marching past he and President Aliyev to the strains of the Ottoman march, Cedin Dedden .[xv] President Aliyev’s father, Heydar Aliyev, founder of modern Azerbaijan, described the relationship between the two countries as ‘One Nation, Two States’ – two Turkic peoples, with common ancestry and culture, speaking mutually-intelligible languages, with traditional enemies in common and therefore natural allies, an assumption shaping the younger Aliyev’s external policy and suiting President Erdogan’s ambitions for his country, also, Azerbaijan now providing a powerful bridgehead for Turkish influence in the Caucasus and Central Asia.[xvi] The two countries cooperate closely in the export of oil and gas dominating Azerbaijan’s economy and shaping the politics and society of this classic ‘rentier’ state, most prominently on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline through which up to 9 billion barrels per year flow on their way from Azerbaijan’s oil fields in the Caspian Sea to Western Europe.[xvii] Military cooperation is just as close, giving Azerbaijan the benefit of learning from a respected NATO military with credible warfighting capability tested for real in Syria and Libya. Turkey has provided Azerbaijan with training support and military equipment since 1992, Azerbaijani cadets attend the Turkish Military Academy at Ankara and the two armies exercise together frequently. In 2010 Turkey and Azerbaijan signed a treaty in which each promised to come to the aid of the other if attacked: a formal alliance in all but name, and an obvious expression of this was Azerbaijan spending unspecified millions – out of that defence budget of $2 billion per year – on buying 50 TB2 Bayraktar UCAVs from Turkey along with MAM-L laser-guided bombs (also Turkish made), the main weapons used by the TB2 in the war. Israel, another close security partner, provided Hermes and Heron reconnaissance UAVs while Azerbaijan’s own Azad system was also used for reconnaissance. Israel also supplied Harop loitering munitions, which Azerbaijan first used during previous fighting along the line of control with Nagorno-Karabakh in 2016. Given the TB2s arrived just a few months before the offensive began, it is entirely possible that some were flown by Turkish Air Force pilots, possibly from inside Turkey itself.[xviii] Another, just as telling expression of the alliance was the thirteen-day long exercise in Azerbaijan in August 2020 in which up to 11,000 Turkish troops participated and saw Turkish and Azerbaijani Special Forces practicing airmobile assaults on high value targets alongside each other.[xix] This close relationship paid off in fighting the war.
Fighting the war – was it the ‘drones’?
The war presents a real-world example of Clausewitz’s concept of strategy as ‘the use of engagements for the object of the war’, particularly as the very object of the war was seizing and securing territory, achieved through a series of battles.[xx] President Aliyev was smart enough to leave the management of this fighting to others: planning was carried out by the General Staff under Colonel General Najmedin Sadykov, like all senior Azerbaijani officers a product of the Soviet military education system, and a solid grasp of operational art is evident throughout.[xxi] The offensive was carried out by 1, 2 and 3 Corps of the Azerbaijan Army – a force of sixteen motor-rifle brigades with two artillery brigades controlled centrally – and consisted largely of a methodical advance aimed at seizing key towns, villages and chokepoints, resolving into two broad foci of effort: a push in the northwest of Nagorno-Karabakh aimed directly at its capital, Stepanakert, resolving itself into positional fighting around the town, going alongside an advance in the south through the more open country of the occupied Azerbaijani districts of Fuzuli, Cebrayil and Zangilan, aimed at the town of Zangilan in the far southwest – taken on 20 October – securing the entire length of Azerbaijan’s border with Iran. The taking of Zangilan was followed by a renewed offensive northward leading to the taking of Shusha, the centre of gravity of the whole of Nagorno-Karabakh: not only does Shusha have enormous cultural and emotional significance for both sides but it dominates the Lachin Corridor, the only line of communication between Stepanakert and Armenia and so taking it rendered the Armenian position across the whole of Nagorno-Karabakh untenable.[xxii]
Armenian/NKDF forces based their strategy on defence in depth with the apparent aim of making Azerbaijan’s advance as costly as possible. Nagorno-Karabakh’s mountainous terrain made such defences viable but the mountains also meant that lines of supply were limited and control of certain chokepoints was key – hence the importance of the Lachin Corridor.[xxiii] This went alongside using artillery, a combination of BM-30 Smerch multiple rocket launchers and Scud-B and SS-21 ballistic missiles, to attack cities in Azerbaijan with the aim, according to source, of attacking Azerbaijan’s deep lines of communication or of terrorising the population and putting the Aliyev regime under political pressure. This began on 4 October with missiles fired at Terter, Mingachevir and then against Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second largest city and nearly fifty miles behind the front.[xxiv] Ganja was hit again on 5-8 October, 11 October and 17 October each time killing civilians (for balance, Azerbaijani forces barraged built-up areas with Smerches, sometimes with cluster warheads, throughout the war).[xxv] Indiscriminate targeting of civilians not engaged in hostilities constitutes a war crime.[xxvi] It also perhaps constitutes a crass strategic error in this case – the oil refineries north of Baku are within range of Scud Bs fired from Nagorno-Karabakh and attacking them could have posited an existential threat to the Aliyevs’ rentier regime possibly inducing them to talk: nevertheless, there was just one report of an attempted attack, on 14 October.[xxvii]
The missile attacks proved a strategic distraction as the war was decided on the ground through some hard fighting. Combat seems to have been highly attritional, an advantage for Azerbaijan with its superior numbers, but for an outnumbered force supposedly being pulverised from the air by flying Terminators, the NKDF fought hard to the very end, inflicting heavy casualties on the Azerbaijanis in positional mountain combat in which, unsurprisingly, light infantry featured prominently and in which the Azerbaijanis clearly did not have it as easy as many Western pundits claim. Official figures for killed in action from September to November are 2,783 for Azerbaijan and 2,317-2,425 for Armenia; by way of comparison, Israel suffered 2,656 KIA in the Yom Kippur War of 1973.[xxviii] Azerbaijani troops – mainly conscripts and recently-mobilised reservists with varying quality of training – had to fight uphill through prepared lines and other positions, frequently under artillery fire from the defenders, to take a long series of fortified towns and villages, lists of names being broadcast nightly in the media and turned into memes on social media.[xxix] Typifying this was the battle for Fuzuli on 29 September, which began with Azerbaijani Special Forces occupying the hills around Fuzuli, cutting its communications with the intent of forcing the NKDF to abandon the town without serious fighting, a pattern repeated throughout the war in the s outh.[xxx] However, this was followed up by a conventional advance combining tanks with mechanised forces, the Azerbaijanis suffering some considerable losses of armour and people as the NKDF carried out a fighting retreat, most losses being to portable ATGMs or artillery, an indicator of why the offensive in the north bogged down into positional warfare for the rest of the war.[xxxi] Azerbaijani forces had little close air support throughout the war: Azeri Mi-24s were not committed until 5 October, fully a week after the offensive began and their contribution seems to have consisted of firing rockets from maximum range, aimed at saturating areas rather than hitting specific targets and much of their heavier artillery, the MRLS, for instance, seem to have been committed to barraging Stepanakert rather than supporting the advance in the south.[xxxii] NKDF forces were able to organise local counterattacks up to the closing days of the war, such as that on an Azerbaijani tank battalion which got within four miles of the Lachin corridor only to be driven back by MRLS fire with several tanks destroyed and the decisive moment of the war, the recapture of Shusha, actually took place in overcast weather restricting the use of UCAVS and any other air support, and was brought around by lightly-armed Azerbaijani Special Forces advancing through the mountains behind the city to take its garrison by surprise.[xxxiii]
So, what part did the UCAVs play in all this? Certainly, an important one but perhaps not as all-encompassing as some claim. ‘Drone’ strikes began on 27 September, concentrating heavily on the NKDF’s short-ranged air defences, over the first few days destroying fourteen SA-8s/SA-13s, four SA-10s and eight air defence radars, all struck by TB2s with a SA-3 near Stepanakert being taken out by a Harop. With these strikes we offer our first point of contention, that these were elderly Soviet-era systems largely incapable of tracking targets with radar signatures as small as the UCAVs presented; moreover, NKDF radars were jammed extensively by Turkish-supplied systems and, indeed, further TB2 attacks took out the NKDF’s two Russian-supplied Repellent 1 counter-UAV systems which detect incoming UAVs by their control signals.[xxxiv] Consequently, NKDF forces often operated blind and without any serious air defence, a major force multiplier for the Azerbaijanis and their Turkish allies. Following this, the UCAVS were switched to attacking ground targets with priority given to artillery, MRLS, tanks and supply dumps and vehicles moving along roads behind the battlefield.[xxxv] Noteworthy incidents included that of 1 October, where a NKDF armoured force massing for a counterattack in the north came under sustained UCAV attack, losing ‘many tanks’ and by 23 October independent open-sources were estimating that the NKDF had lost 144 T-72s, 35 BMPs, 310 soft-skinned vehicles and 116 artillery pieces; which system was hit by what was unclear, but the same sources estimated Azerbaijani Harops had destroyed 34 targets and ground-launched ATGMs 21 with much of the balance, presumably, going to the TB2s.[xxxvi]
Impressive figures, but context helps here. UCAV footage featured prominently on Azerbaijani television and on electronic billboards in Baku, forming a key part of Azerbaijan’s intensive multi-lingual social media campaign, ‘snuff movies’ posted to YouTube and Twitter selling the narrative of Azerbaijan smashing its detested foe with impunity. There is little surprising here for the experienced eye, the films reinforcing the eternal adage that on the modern battlefield, being seen is being hit, one tank, AFV or truck after another getting ‘plinked’ in masses of smoke and flame by MAM-Ls or other systems the Bayraktars and other UAVS are spotting for. Just as evident is the poor discipline and drill of the crews; on one level, there was the extensive use of mobile phones with GPS and even postings to social media by soldiers of both sides, showing their locations for all to see; on another, the films show target after target moving and sometimes parked in the open in broad daylight with no camouflage or overhead cover when stationary or even in prepared positions, so making life easier for the UCAV pilots than better trained and disciplined opposition might do.[xxxvii] Michael Kofman of the Wilson Centre and Jack Watling of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) both investigate these phenomena in detail, contending that NATO/Western mechanised forces would be just as vulnerable when manoeuvring, particularly given the modern battlefield is swept by long-range radars and electronic surveillance and most camouflage will not protect against modern infra-red detection systems. However, solutions differ, Kofman arguing for smaller forces with more extensive air defence, while Watling contends that ‘swarming’ can be forestalled by dispersing forces in non-tactical phases such as Armenia and Azerbaijan did not do: consequently, the tank might is not obsolete but needs to fit into a new tactical system emphasising moving dispersed but concentrating rapidly for the tactical phase.[xxxviii] To this we can add that NATO or Russian formations are likely to have air defences far more capable of engaging small, evasive targets: it is also remarkable that despite the Azerbaijani acquisition of the TB2s being ‘open book’, NKDF forces were not equipped with smoke generators or laser detection systems which would have given their vehicles at least some degree of forewarning and protection against laser guided weapons like the MAM-L.[xxxix] Claims of yet another ‘revolution in military affairs’ might therefore need some qualification.
The Nagorno-Karabakh war is significant for those with professional or academic interest in 21st-century war in that, alongside recent action in Ukraine, Iraq and Syria, it suggests claims about the death of conventional warfare might be premature. Rather, it might just have a present and a future, too. The war saw a series of conventional operations carried out by the Azerbaijan Army, with assistance from Turkey, attaining most of the geopolitical objectives their President and Commander in Chief set them: these operations hinged on high-intensity attritional combat aimed at seizing key ground, culminating in the securing of a major centre of gravity unhinging the entire Armenian position in Nagorno-Karabakh – so the basics of land warfare still count in scenarios like this one. Casualty figures were high for small countries engaged in a short war, but given we are dealing with two intensely nationalistic cultures fighting over territory, and the public and political reactions on both sides, the sacrifice seems to have been deemed worth it at least by Azerbaijan. However, when divorced from this they indicate eternal issues of attacking prepared positions in rough country and the need to coordinate infantry with support fires, something which might not have been done very efficiently here.
The much-hyped UCAVs contributed to Azerbaijan’s success in two ways, both important but hardly ‘revolutionary’ in that they provided a cheaper means of achieving things done traditionally by manned aircraft. First was suppressing enemy air defences in the opening stages, opening the Armenians up to the second impacting factor, deeper attacks destroying armour and disrupting lines of communication, tipping the balance of attrition in Azerbaijan’s favour in what was still a costly win for them. Here is something else transferable to other scenarios: ‘swarms’ of small UAVs and UCAVS might be a good – and cheap – investment but the conditions for best use need to be present, one being tactically inept opposition with air defences which can be overwhelmed early by swarming SEAD attacks; dealing with, for instance, the layered air defences forming an umbrella over large Russian formations might be a different problem. It might also be that the real messages here are not so much about the future of armour as that of tactical ‘fast air’ and attack helicopters, the Bayraktars in particular producing similar desired effects as these systems have for two generations for a fraction of the cost and with systems – unlike fast air and attack helicopters – their users could afford to lose and were cheap to replace. That might be the real transferable military message here while the political one might concern the acquisition policies of certain NATO countries, such as the UK, based on buying small numbers of highly expensive systems, and what those systems offer in reality.
My thanks to Miss Jamila Mammadova, Dr Mark Baillie, Brigadier Ben Barry, Major Sean Cronin-Nowakowski and others for their input to this paper.
[i] ‘Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia sign Nagorno-Karabakh peace deal’ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-54882564 [ii] ‘Karabakh on the map: What Azerbaijan gains after war’, https://www.eng.kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/52755/ [iii] ‘Azerbaijanis’ refers to citizens of The Republic of Azerbaijan, ‘Azeris’ to the majority ethnic group, making up around 92% of the population of 9.8 million, the other 8% including Dagestanis, Russians and Armenians. [iv] ‘Victorious Commander-in-Chief, President Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev calls Commander of the Joint Corps, Lieutenant General Hikmat Mirzayev’, https://en.trend.az/azerbaijan/politics/3331351.html This paper examines military operations in the 2020 war, therefore those interested in a detailed discussion of the origins of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict might wish to look elsewhere. Impartial analysis is very hard to come by, but some honourable exceptions to this include Thomas de Waal, The Caucasus: An Introduction (Oxford: OUP 2010), especially pp.98-130, while Suha Bolukbasi’s Azerbaijan: A Political History (London: IB Tauris 2014) is a history of Azerbaijan’s road to independence which centres on the issue. [v] ‘Hundreds protest in Armenia after PM ignores deadline to resign’ https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/8/hundreds-protest-in-armenia-after-pm-ignores-deadline-to-resign [vi] For just a small sample of this, see Ciaran McGrath, ‘Conventional war is dead’ Expert says West is ‘wasting money’ on weapon systems’, https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1148793/world-war-3-warfare-west-china-russia-south-china-sea-crimea-ukraine ; Jahara Matisek, ‘The Death of American Conventional Warfare’, https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2017/11/06/the_death_of_american_conventional_warfare_112586.html ; R Jordan Prescott, ‘Goodbye Conventional War. It’s Been Fun’, https://mwi.usma.edu/goodbye-conventional-war-fun/ [vii] Bob Seely, ‘Britain can lead in the new age of warfare’, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/11/19/britain-can-lead-new-age-warfare/ [viii] Rahim Rahimov, ‘Russia Versus Turkey: Drone Battles and Gas Disputes’, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/blog-post/russia-versus-turkey-drone-battles-and-gas-disputes ; Larisa Brown, ‘Defence Secretary Ben Wallace signals drones could replace troops as he warns that the UK must be ready to fight 'tomorrow's battles, not yesterday's' because Britain's enemies have 'studied our vulnerabilities' , https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8731999/Defence-Secretary-Ben-Wallace-signals-drones-replace-soldiers-battles-future.html ; Dan Sabbagh, ‘UK wants new drones in wake of Azerbaijan military success’, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/29/uk-defence-secretary-hails-azerbaijans-use-of-drones-in-conflict [ix] Sir Richard Ottaway, ‘UK “must learn lessons” of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict’, https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/uk-must-learn-lessons-of-the-nagorno-karabakh-conflict/?no_cache=1610617346&fbclid=IwAR05Uv3WvbpsrQUWc2Ih3eAlBCfoPMUV354dWBT6TD-dlS0dc7CwMNXa6N4 [x] David Hambling, ‘The “Magic Bullet” Drones Behind Azerbaijan’s Victory over Armenia’, https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidhambling/2020/11/10/the-magic-bullet-drones-behind--azerbaijans-victory-over-armenia/?sh=128de7005e57 ; Mike Eckel, ‘Drone Wars: In Nagorno-Karabakh, the Future of Warfare is Now’, https://www.rferl.org/a/drone-wars-in-nagorno-karabakh-the-future-of-warfare-is-now/30885007.html [xi] The term ‘Caviar Diplomacy’ was invented specifically to describe Azerbaijan’s expensive lobbying - particularly in the UK and Western Europe but also involving members of the US Congress - allegedly accompanied by extravagant gift-giving and offering of lucrative business contracts to individuals. For a small sample of opinion, see ’Caviar Diplomacy: How Azerbaijan Silenced the Council of Europe’, https://www.esiweb.org/publications/caviar-diplomacy-how-azerbaijan-silenced-council-europe ; Matthew Valencia, ‘Caviar Diplomacy in Azerbaijan’, https://www.economist.com/1843/2016/08/31/caviar-diplomacy-in-azerbaijan ; ‘Azerbaijan revelations spark “great concern” at Council of Europe’, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/05/azerbaijan-revelations-could-herald-shake-up-at-council-of-europe [xii] The whole interview can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eP98bXyWBdc&feature=youtu.be [xiii] Ibid; UNHCR publication for CIS Conference (Displacement in the CIS) - Conflicts in the Caucasus https://www.unhcr.org/publications/refugeemag/3b5583fd4/unhcr-publication-cis-conference-displacement-cis-conflicts-caucasus.html ; ‘Organisation of Statistics on Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons in the Republic of Azerbaijan’, United Nations Statistics Division 2014, https://unstats.un.org/unsd/statcom/doc15/Statement-3d-Azerbaijan.pdf [xiv] ‘Main Points of Nagorno-Karabakh Peace Deal’, https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/11/10/main-points-of-nagorno-karabakh-peace-deal-a72003 ; Matthew Bryza, ‘Azerbaijan-Armenia peace deal could be the diplomatic breakthrough the region needs’, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/azerbaijan-armenia-peace-deal-could-be-the-diplomatic-breakthrough-the-region-needs/ ; Jack Losh, Russian Troops in Nagorno-Karabakh ‘Clearly a Win for Moscow’, https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/11/25/russian-troops-nagorno-karabakh-peackeepers-win-moscow-armenia-azerbaijan/; The future of Nagorno-Karabakh has become ambiguous as it is now effectively under Russian control given the presence for at least the next five years of President Putin’s 2000-man ‘peacekeeping’ force, established in Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital, Stepanakert, and along the Lachin Corridor connecting it with Armenia, a strong and probably permanent Russian presence in the region. While pure speculation, it may be that Putin, a gifted strategist with a record of wrong-footing friend and foe alike, tailored the peace agreement to President Aliyev’s stated aims and given the timing of President Aliyev’s interview, he may have known this in advance. [xv] 'One nation, two states' on display as Erdogan visits Azerbaijan for Karabakh victory parade’ https://www.france24.com/en/asia-pacific/20201210-one-nation-two-states-on-display-as-erdogan-visits-azerbaijan-for-karabakh-victory-parade ; see also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SY_dUaV5uIA [xvi] Although not a common religion – Azerbaijan is one of three majority Shi’ite Muslim countries in the world while Turkey is predominantly Sunni. These differences have been blunted for much of the modern period by the culture and politics of both countries being heavily secularised and Mr Erdogan’s attempts to re-Islamify Turkish politics and culture do not seem to have affected this. [xvii] The other major partner is British Petroleum, which manages the line. For a good intro to Azerbaijan’s oil, see de Waal, Caucasus, pp.167-187 [xviii] Alexander Mladenov, ‘Drone Wars in the Caucasus’, Airforces Monthly, No.383 December 2020, p.81 [xix] Vasif Huseynov, ‘Azerbaijan, Turkey Hold Large-Scale Military Drills Amidst Escalation of Tensions With Armenia’, https://jamestown.org/program/azerbaijan-turkey-hold-large-scale-military-drills-amidst-escalation-of-tensions-with-armenia/ ; [xx] Carl von Clausewitz, On War, translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret, (London: Everyman’s Library 1993), p.146 [xxi] It is worth recalling that the Azerbaijan Army had operational experience prior to September 2020. Many veterans of the 1994 war serve in senior ranks, there were prolonged outbreaks of serious fighting along the Line of Control between Azerbaijan and the occupied territories in 2008, 2010, 2016 and July 2020 and small Azerbaijani contingents have participated in US/NATO led missions in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. [xxii] European Asylum Support Office, ‘The course of the Nagorno-Karabakh armed conflict and its impact on the civilian population’, 10 November 2020, accessible at https://coi.easo.europa.eu/administration/easo/PLib/2020_11_Chronology_Armenia_Azerbaijan_Nagorno_Karabakh_armed_conflict_impact_civilian_population.pdf p.13; personal correspondence with contacts in Baku. [xxiii] See Sebastian Roblin, ‘What Open Source Intelligence tells us about the Nagorno-Karabakh War’ https://www.forbes.com/sites/sebastienroblin/2020/10/23/what-open-source-evidence-tells-us-about-the-nagorno-karabakh-war/?sh=1917791a6f4b [xxiv] EASO Report, p.5 [xxv] Ibid, pp.5-6; Roblin, ‘Open Source Intelligence’ [xxvi] International Committee of the Red Cross, The Conduct of Operations, Part A: Common Features of the Law Applicable to all Operations, https://www.icrc.org/en/doc/assets/files/other/law3_final.pdf , especially pp.2-3 to 3-3 [xxvii] EASO Report, p.7 [xxviii] ‘Azerbaijan Says Nearly 3,000 Troops Killed in Nagorno-Karabakh Fighting’, https://www.voanews.com/south-central-asia/azerbaijan-says-nearly-3000-troops-killed-nagorno-karabakh-fighting ; Azerbaijan says 2,783 soldiers killed in Nagorno-Karabakh clashes, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/3/azerbaijan-says-2783-soldiers-killed-in-nagorno-karabakh-clashes ; ‘Armenia sharply raises troop death toll in Nagorno-Karabakh as political crisis brews’, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-11-19/armenia-raises-troop-death-toll-nagorno-karabakh [xxix] Mladenov, Ibidm p.82; Roblin ‘Open Source Evidence’ [xxx] https://www.rferl.org/a/technology-tactics-and-turkish-advice-lead-azerbaijan-to-victory-in-nagorno-karabakh/30949158.html [xxxi] https://warontherocks.com/2020/10/the-second-nagorno-karabakh-war-two-weeks-in/ [xxxii] Mladenov, Ibid, p.82 [xxxiii] How the special forces of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan liberated Shusha from occupation. News "Moscow-Baku" with Anna Nemolyakina, https://archive.is/NdmgM [xxxiv] Mladenov, ‘Drone Wars’, pp.78-79; Roblin, ‘Open Source Evidence’ [xxxv] 35. Roblin, ‘Open Source Evidence’ [xxxvi] Michael Kofman and Leonid Nersisyan, ‘The Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, Two Weeks In’, https://warontherocks.com/2020/10/the-second-nagorno-karabakh-war-two-weeks-in/ ; Stijn Mitzer and Jakub Janovsky, ‘The Fight For Nagorno-Karabakh: Documenting Losses on The Sides Of Armenia and Azerbaijan’, https://www.oryxspioenkop.com/2020/09/the-fight-for-nagorno-karabakh.html [xxxvii] Rob Lee of King’s College London has studied the war extensively, and stresses the poor mobile phone discipline of both sides on https://www.iiss.org/events/2020/12/the-nagorno-karabakh-conflict-military-lessons-for-middle-powers ; refer also to https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2020/09/30/armor-attrition-in-nagorno-karabakh-battle-not-a-sign-us-should-give-up-on-tanks-experts-say/ ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5M-bATygy8 (which also shows UAVs guiding artillery strikes and strikes on soft-skinned vehicles all the way down to UAZ jeeps; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFcH5zt2rCw ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJR6K_tTSq0 for just a small sample of this. [xxxviii] Kofman in https://www.iiss.org/events/2020/12/the-nagorno-karabakh-conflict-military-lessons-for-middle-powers ; Jack Watling, ‘The Key to Armenia’s Tank Losses: The Sensors, not the Shooters’, RUSI Defence Systems, 6 October 2020, https://rusi.org/publication/rusi-defence-systems/key-armenia-tank-losses-sensors-not-shooters [xxxix] Mladenov, ‘Drone Wars’, p.82
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Azerbaijan’s MFA issues statement on May 9 – Victory Day
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan issues a statement on the 76th anniversary of the Victory over fascism.
Report informs that the text reads:
"May 9, 2021, marks the 76th years since the Victory over fascism in 1941-1945. On this significant day, we pay tribute to the memory of each of the soldiers, officers, and ordinary citizens who have shown courage and heroism, having endured enormous difficulties in winning the war, one of the most terrible wars in human history.
"The Azerbaijani people made an important contribution to this victory, both on the front and on the rear. More than 600,000 Azerbaijani sons and daughters took part in the war, more than half of whom died and went missing in the war zones. For the courage shown during the war years, 123 citizens of Azerbaijan were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, and more than 170,000 soldiers and officers were awarded various orders and medals. The heroic sons of our people bravely fought for Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Stalingrad, Simferopol, Odessa, and hundreds of other large and small settlements and took an active part in the liberation of many countries from fascism.
"Azerbaijan's contribution to the Victory by supplying fuel was invaluable. During the war of 1941-1945, Azerbaijan accounted for more than 70 percent of the oil produced in the Soviet Union, 80 percent of gasoline, and 90 percent of motor oils. The vast majority of tanks and planes of the Soviet army, which played a decisive role in ensuring the Victory over fascism in World War II, were set in motion on fuel sent to the front by Baku oil workers. The enterprises of Azerbaijan in the uninterrupted mode produced various types of weapons, which were so necessary for victory.
"The people of Azerbaijan demonstrated unprecedented labor feats on the rear front, day and night selflessly working to meet the needs of the army. Our fellow citizens sent to the front more than 7 tons of donated blood, they were especially distinguished in providing the combat units with food and warm clothes. In the name of the Victory over fascism, Azerbaijan mobilized all its resources.
"Azerbaijan strongly condemns attempts to distort the truth about the Second World War, justify fascism and glorify fascist criminals. We especially condemn the glorification of the Nazi movement in our region and its minions in any form. Azerbaijan has always supported the resolution of the UN General Assembly' Combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to the escalation of modern forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,' and we believe that our joint efforts can play an important role in overcoming these alarming trends.
"This year, for the first time, the people of Azerbaijan celebrate the victory over fascism in 1941-1945 with double pride, along with the joy of the Great Victory achieved as a result of the 44-day Patriotic War. The justice that our ancestors fought for has finally triumphed, and Azerbaijan has restored its territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
"All our sons and daughters who died for the sovereignty and integrity of Azerbaijan, as well as veterans of the war of 1941-1945 are the pride of our people. Their memory will live forever in the hearts of the Azerbaijani people."
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- 07 Nov 2023 12:20
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry has issued a statement on the occasion of November 8 - Victory Day, News.Az reports.
The statement reads: "November 8 is a Victory Day, which was gained at the cost of lives and blood of thousands of Azerbaijanis as a result of the 44-day Patriotic War that ended almost 30 years of Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict and the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan restoring fundamental rights of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons, while providing an opportunity for peace and cooperation in the region.
Azerbaijan, since the first years of independence, while being subjected to the policy of military aggression, occupation, ethnic cleansing and genocide by the neighboring country Armenia, and encountering the challenge of almost one million refugees and internally displaced persons, has always stated that it would never tolerate the fact of occupation despite the commitment to the peace process.
Armenia’s engagement in negotiations for the sake of an imitation of maintaining the status quo for many years, intensification of its aggressive policy and military-political provocations by putting forward the concept of “new wars for new territories” as a result of the failure of taking adequate measures by the international mediators, who turned a blind eye to these unconstructive actions, were the factors that led to the 44-day Patriotic War.
As a result of the Patriotic War, Azerbaijan achieved to ensure the norms and principles of international law, including its territorial integrity, sovereignty, inviolability of borders, thus implementing 4 resolutions of the UN Security Council.
Despite the war crimes committed by Armenia against Azerbaijanis living in the densely populated areas located far from the front line during 44 days, as a result of the unity and solidarity of our people, the courage of the Glorious Army of Azerbaijan led by the Victorious Supreme Commander-in-Chief, more than 300 settlements, including Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli and Shusha cities were liberated.
After the liberation of Shusha, the pearl of Azerbaijan’s culture and history on November 8, 2020, and the withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from Kalbajar, Aghdam and Lachin regions in accordance with the Trilateral Statement dated November 10, signed by the leaders of Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia, our territorial integrity was ensured.
Being committed to its obligations, Azerbaijan, launching the peace initiative immediately after the end of the war and conflict, began to actively promote the idea of normalization of relations between the two countries and the peace process, taking measures to carry out large-scale restoration and construction work in the liberated territories, as well as for reintegration of Armenian residents living in the Garabagh region into our society.
Notwithstanding this, once again hindering peace agreement negotiations, continuing military-political provocations, as well as the landmine threat, Armenia chose the path of enduring to menace the peace process, lives of our citizens, restoration and reconstruction work carried out in the region. At the same time, contrary to its obligations, besides not withdrawing the Armenian armed forces which were the main source of threat to peace and security in the region, Armenia continued to support them financially, and did not refrain from the illegal transfer of weapons, military equipment, landmines to the territories of Azerbaijan. Armenia also refused to hand over 8 Azerbaijani villages, which are still under occupation.
Ignoring the warnings of Azerbaijan at various levels and platforms, the illegal Armenian armed forces in the territories of Azerbaijan increased their provocations this year in September and committed a landmine explosion, which killed 6 Azerbaijani civilians and police officers in a day. In response, on September 19-20, 2023, in order to put an end to the existence of illegal Armenian forces, as well as to restore full sovereignty over all its territories, Azerbaijan carried out counter-terrorism measures within 24 hours in the Garabagh region.
Currently, after the existence of the Armenian armed forces and the puppet regime created by Armenia in our territories were brought to an end, there are ample opportunities for peace and stability in the region.
Against the backdrop of these promising conditions, being committed to the normalization of relations between the two countries, as well as the reintegration of Armenian residents living in the Garabagh region, Azerbaijan calls on Armenia to demonstrate a constructive and just position in the peace process and to understand the realities in the region properly.
Armenia must finally recognize that there is no alternative to peace and cooperation in the region.
On 8 November - Victory Day, we honor the dearest memory of our martyrs who sacrificed their lives for our independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty with the deepest respect and gratitude!
Happy Victory Day!"
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Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the event organized on the occasion of Victory Day in Shusha
- Dear servicemen.
I congratulate you and all the people of Azerbaijan on Victory Day.
First of all, may I ask that we honor the dear memory of our martyrs who died for the Motherland with a minute of silence.
President Ilham Aliyev: May Allah rest the souls of all our martyrs in peace.
By liberating the impregnable fortress of Shusha from Armenian occupation two years ago, the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan wrote a glorious page in our history. This glorious history will stay with us forever. The people of Azerbaijan and future generations will be rightly proud of this glorious Victory.
Shusha is considered an impregnable fortress. When Shusha was liberated by our heroic soldiers armed only with light weapons, they were prepared to die. They were prepared to die for the Motherland, for our lands. We all understood perfectly well that our complete victory would not be possible without Shusha.
In my numerous interviews during the war, I disclosed some aspects regarding the progress of the war. Of course, I could not say everything. I couldn't reveal too many details, especially about future plans. In response to a question, I only said once that our victory would be incomplete without Shusha. I am sure that the people of Azerbaijan understood perfectly well that our ultimate goal, the ultimate goal of the war, was to liberate Shusha from occupation. Not only because Shusha is the crown jewel of Karabakh. Not because after its liberation the strategic location of Shusha determined the outcome of the war. I said that because Shusha was the heart and soul of the Azerbaijani people, it was a sacred place for every Azerbaijani. Every time I am in Shusha – I have been to Shusha more than 10 times in the last two years – every time I approach Shusha along Victory Road, I am sure that everyone can see the heroism, dedication, and professionalism of our soldiers. Because the road we call “Victory Road” was built only two years ago. Our heroic sons have covered this long distance through mountains, forests, valleys, and paths. They defeated the enemy in bloody battles and closed in on Shusha. After that, they climbed steep rocks, defeated the enemy in street battles, and city battles, in hand-to-hand combat armed only with light weapons, expelled them from our land, and hoisted our tricolor flag in Shusha. Only two years have passed since that historic day, and many events have happened in those two years. Over the years, the heroism of our servicemen will become increasingly obvious to everyone.
The road to Shusha began on 27 September. From the first day to the last day of the war, the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan only marched forward. They did not take a single step back for 44 consecutive days. However, we know from the military history of the world that in such difficult wars, especially in wars fought in unfavorable natural terrain conditions, there are maneuvers, retreats, and unexpected events. However, it was a strong resolve, the love of the Motherland, and the professionalism of our soldiers that led us to Victory. When six villages were liberated on 27 September, on the first day of the war, the people of Azerbaijan became even more convinced that we would achieve what we wanted and complete our historic mission.
We only advanced for 44 days. Before Shusha, many of our towns and villages, including Jabrayil, Hadrut, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, Sugovushan, about 300 villages, a part of Lachin and Kalbadjar, were liberated on the battlefield. The liberation of Shusha broke the back of the Armenian army. As a matter of fact, Armenia was in a panic from the first days of the war. In some cases, it was gripped by panic and hysteria. This is exactly why there were more than 10,000 deserters in the Armenian army, according to their admission. There was not a single deserter in the Azerbaijan Army. This indicates the high moral qualities of our people. Our soldiers were prepared to die. They fought under the slogan “we would rather die than retreat”. There wasn’t a single deserter. This is the true heroism of our people. It goes to show what a wonderful young generation has grown up, many of whom had never even seen Karabakh and Zangazur. They were approaching this sacred land they had only seen on television and in photographs and heard about it from their parents and elders. However, they arrived and fulfilled the historic mission of our people with dignity.
The road to victory was turbulent and difficult. Defeat in the First Karabakh War dealt a severe moral blow to our nation. The reasons for that defeat are clear. At that time, anti-national elements seized power and were fighting for power. They practically surrendered the impregnable fortress of Shusha to Armenia, to the Armenians, to come to power, and this is exactly what happened. The Popular Front-Musavat tandem did come to power one month after Shusha and Lachin were occupied. They came to power on the heels of this tragedy, on the heels of bloodshed, and national disgrace, and in the one year they stayed in power, they devastated the whole country, instigated a civil war, and took their own soldiers prisoner. The lands were being lost, but they engaged in looting and robbery. They mobilized all their efforts to reinforce their power.
In other words, defeat in the First Karabakh War was inevitable. Because an anti-national government can’t win a war. Throughout the years of occupation, Armenia’s official propaganda and the media resources of their patrons attempted to circulate an idea in the world and, at the same time, with the people of Azerbaijan that Azerbaijan could never restore its territorial integrity through war. It would be sufficed to look at the speeches of representatives of international organizations and officials of countries dealing with this issue. They have said so many times that there was no military solution to this war, to this conflict. First of all, they tried to convince us of that. Secondly, they tried to prevent us from resolving the issue by military means. Of course, we also tried to resolve this issue peacefully, but resolve it.
But we saw that the tactic of negotiations was leading to the issue being frozen, and, of course, we could never agree to that.
Finally, the people of Azerbaijan united as a fist and fulfilled their historic mission. The road to war has taken many directions. First of all, we had to equip our army with the necessary weapons and hardware ourselves. A strong economy was also necessary for this. When Azerbaijan regained independence, our financial and economic situation was extremely difficult. Therefore, building a strong economy was considered an important factor in winning the war, and we did that. Our economy has strengthened, we are living at our own expense, we don't need anyone's help, we don't depend on anyone, we are building our own life to the best of our abilities, and we are doing well.
The economic processes, difficulties, and crises taking place in different parts of the world show that the economy of Azerbaijan is stable. A country that has come out of such a difficult war has been carrying out large-scale construction work in liberated territories for two years. The financial source of all this work is our state budget. Over the course of the past two years, we have not received a single manat of aid from any country, organization, or donor. Of course, if anyone wants to help us, we wouldn’t mind. But no one is helping us, and no one will. A strong economy is one of the key factors in building an army. We did it, we created it and we completely eliminated economic dependence. If we were economically dependent on anyone, we could not successfully end the war.
At the same time, we had to expose Armenia's policy of aggression. Unfortunately, international media controlled by Armenia, bent politicians, their patrons abroad, and the Armenian lobby – they had created an opinion that Azerbaijan is an aggressor. When Azerbaijan’s lands were occupied, some countries imposed sanctions against us. In other words, we did not actually use our diplomatic opportunities. Therefore, we had to prove to the whole world that we are right, that justice is on our side, and that international law is on our side. This is why we were very active at the international level. Leading international organizations such as the UN, the OSCE, the European Union, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Council of Europe have adopted decisions and resolutions in support of our position, i.e. decisions supporting justice. That created a very important international legal framework.
In parallel with that, we established relations of close cooperation with many countries in a bilateral format both in our region and on other continents. Nine member states of the EU alone have signed strategic partnership declarations with Azerbaijan. This is a third of the European Union member countries. There are also other countries. So these international relations and the international reputation of Azerbaijan allowed us the opportunity to gain more friends. At the same time, we were able to convey and conveyed the truth of Karabakh and the Armenian occupation to the world community. On the whole, the international attitude towards the 44-day war was positive. Some pro-Armenian countries and countries with close relations with Armenia indeed tried to take certain political steps against us. But they failed. Because we have secured strong international support over the years. We were elected as chair of the Non-Aligned Movement. Our chairmanship was approved by a unanimous decision. Our chairmanship was extended for another year by a unanimous the decision as well. We are talking of an international body that brings together the greater part of the world community. A total of 120 countries are members of this institution. We have established close relations with Muslim countries and managed to explain to them that Armenia pursues an aggressive policy not only against us but also against the entire Muslim world. A country destroying mosques cannot be friends with Muslim countries. Can leaders of Muslim countries open their arms to embrace those destroying mosques? This is nothing but hypocrisy. This is betrayal. There is no other name. This is why we have isolated Armenia from the key pillars of the Muslim world. Indeed, we could not isolate them completely, and there are other reasons for this – hypocrisy, as I said. By and large, however, Armenia has become known in the Muslim world as a country destroying and desecrating mosques, and we are to be thanked for that.
We have conducted a very active policy on patriotic issues. Educating the younger generation in the spirit of patriotism was one of the primary directions of my policy as President, and we have achieved it. Our young people are patriotic and attached to the Motherland, and the Second Karabakh War has demonstrated this. I want to say again that our young people who had never seen Karabakh were prepared to die for Karabakh. They were facing death. The ideas of national unity and national solidarity prevailed in our society. At the same time, all the peoples living in Azerbaijan became even more united thanks to the policy I conducted. I have said this many times but I say it again today we are a big family. All peoples living in Azerbaijan are members of one big family. We are together in good times and in bad times, and this unity is a rare asset worldwide. Take a look at other countries: we see dissatisfaction, conflicts, and mistrust on national, religious, and ethnic grounds. What do we see in Azerbaijan – unity, brotherhood, and friendship! All peoples living in Azerbaijan were prepared to die for Karabakh. This is a tremendous asset. We must always protect and strengthen this asset. The Second Karabakh War further reinforced our national solidarity and national unity. It further strengthened our country. We have shaken this heavy burden off our shoulders, and we have got rid of this stigma. We can now hold our heads high and speak with dignity at any event and in any format. We are living as proud, dignified, and victorious people. We owe it to you and tens of thousands of servicemen like you. The people of Azerbaijan know and appreciate this.
Of course, to succeed in the war, we had to implement very important projects, and we did. Today, it would be enough to look at the energy and transport maps of the world and our region to see how much benefit the projects implemented on our initiative have brought to our country and our partners. There are dozens of countries participating in transport and energy projects we have initiated. These projects will gain even more momentum at the current stage, and all these countries are our natural friends and allies. At the same time, these projects have generated additional financial opportunities for us. First of all, we channeled these financial opportunities into strengthening our military potential. If we look at state budget expenditure during my presidency, we will see that military spending has been in the first place. It is in the first place. However, the country has other needs as well. We also resolved the problems of nearly one million internally displaced persons, providing them with new houses. Social matters, salaries, pensions – we had to increase them and we did increase them. We wanted and still want to increase them even more. But first of all, we gave greater financial support to the army, to the road leading us to Victory. It is still the case today. Azerbaijan’s state budget for the next year has reached a record high, including the funds allocated for military purposes. One may wonder why. After all, the war is over and two years have passed. The answer is very simple. Revanchist forces are rising in Armenia. Forces and circles reluctant to come to terms with the results of the war are emerging in Armenia. Armenia does not fully comply with the 10 November 2020 Statement. It has yet to fully withdraw its armed forces from Karabakh, it has yet to make the Zangazur corridor available to us. It occasionally commits military provocations against us. Of course, we have to be prepared and we are.
I can say that our Armed Forces have grown even stronger in the last two years. Structural reforms have been conducted, new units have been established, the number of existing formations has been increased, and they have been supplied with weaponry, ammunition, and new equipment at the highest possible level. The current Azerbaijan Army is stronger than the Azerbaijan Army two years ago, and everyone should know this. Armenia and everyone else should know this!
This is why the road to Victory passed through different directions. Of course, the creation of strong Armed Forces was the top priority, and we did that. In parallel with this, many years of domestic stability, peace, and security in the country certainly strengthened us even more. Because let me say this again. I never want to draw any comparisons but it is impossible to hide anything in today's world. Everything is in plain sight – many countries are struggling with domestic problems, and many countries are facing internal crises, mutual distrust, disruption of public order, and a gap between the people and the government. What do we see here in Azerbaijan – domestic stability, national unity, national solidarity, and unity between the people and the government. This is a great result of our policy. All our steps, including all my steps as President from 2003 to this day have been aimed at strengthening Azerbaijan. Before the Patriotic War, all my steps served the sole purpose of liberating our lands and expelling the enemy from our lands, and we succeeded in doing that. I said during the occupation I said several times that each of us should bring the day of liberation, this sacred day closer with our work, and we brought it closer and closer. We dealt such a crushing blow to the enemy that they are still unable to recover from it. Look at the processes going on in Armenia. They are now spewing their anger and poison at each other. Notice the processes unfolding in the past two years.
Armenia should not forget the lessons of the Second Karabakh War. They should remember that playing with fire will cost them dearly. If anyone there, be it the government, the opposition, or some element sent or instructed from abroad, harbors sordid intentions against us again, they will see our fist again. The history of the last two years has shown this clearly. Even this year, the Farrukh Operation, the Revenge Operation, and the 13-14 September events on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border – all these should serve as another lesson for Armenia. We have taught them this lesson, and we hope that they finally understand it, bend their necks and deal with their internal affairs, not set their sights on our lands, not set their sights on Karabakh. Karabakh is our land. Russian peacekeepers are stationed there temporarily, the 10 November 2020 Statement specifies their term, and if they rely on anyone, they will face another tragedy.
We always respect all international agreements. We are a fair people and a fair country. If we made a commitment, we will fulfill it. We are fulfilling all the obligations we undertook in the 10 November 2020 Statement. We have been fulfilling them for two years, but is Armenia doing the same? No! Immediately after the Second Karabakh War, they were simply so afraid that they fulfilled those provisions without a single shot being fired, and the occupied territories of the Aghdam, Kalbadjar and Lachin districts were returned to us. If they hadn’t returned them, we would have smashed their heads again. But what next? Then they started biding the time again. I want to say again that this commitment has not yet been fully fulfilled. What are the Armenian armed forces doing in Karabakh? Our patience is not inexhaustible, and I want to warn them again that if this obligation is not fulfilled, Azerbaijan will take the necessary steps.
The Zangazur corridor is the responsibility of Armenia. It has taken this commitment upon itself. For two years, we have not been interfering with the cars moving from Armenia to Karabakh and in the opposite direction along the Lachin road. We have taken on this commitment, we are honoring it, and there is free movement. Armenia has also undertaken to have a road connection between the western regions of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Two years have passed, but there is no feasibility study, no action, no railway, and no road. How much longer are we supposed to wait?
The events of 13-14 September did not happen just like that. Of course, Armenia has committed another military provocation against us. But our response was also very effective. Our response could have been a little less harsh if they had followed through on their commitments. Our response could have been even harsher if we wanted a new war. We don't want that, we don't want bloodshed. We simply want respect for our rights.
After the 13-14 September operation, the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan were stationed at key strategic heights in the direction of the Azerbaijan-Armenia border. Armenia should understand what this means. We can see the cities of Garakilsa, Gafan, Gorus, and Istisu from those strategic heights now. We are on the shores of Lake Small Goycha. Lake Big Goycha is also within our sight. All these are realities. We created these realities after the Patriotic War. Why? First of all, in response to the military provocations of Armenia and, on the other hand, to insure ourselves against military provocations in the future. Because most of the Armenian posts are visible from the heights I mentioned, and if there is a concentration of forces there, we will see it and take immediate action. At the same time, Armenia does not fulfill its international obligations. Armenia was defeated in the Second Karabakh War and its army was crushed. A defeated country cannot act like this. Therefore, all our steps are justified. Some of Armenia’s foreign patrons indeed want to accuse us of something. I have given their answer. If they crow again, I will respond again. It won't stop me. But the fact is that we demand our rights, and the fact that Azerbaijan is right is not questioned by major international actors.
In short, for the two years since the war, we have continued our policy. We have undertaken extensive construction work in two years. We are actually rebuilding Karabakh and East Zangazur, and we will rebuild them. At the same time, we are strengthening and will continue to strengthen our Army. Armenia should understand that it is not the statements by some Armenian patron that keep us within the current frames, but our own policy. We are not afraid of anyone. We are not intimidated by anyone. If we were afraid of someone, we would never have started the Second Karabakh War. Every single one of us was prepared to die. We would rather die than retreat. Freedom or death! Now we are prepared to die for our rights. Because even though the war ended two years ago, there are alarming moments. I want to appeal to the Armenian people. They are now reaping the fruits of the 30 years of occupation. They are now experiencing what occupation and losses are. We simply responded to them. We fought on our own lands. We have ousted the aggressor from our lands. They need to understand this so that they do not become a victim of the circles based abroad and want to treat this region as a playground for the second time. We have the main say here. We have the main power here. Our Army has shown heroism, professionalism, and dedication. If necessary, we will show it again, we will achieve what we want, everyone knows this, and those who conduct military exercises in support of Armenia on our border should also know this. Nobody can scare us. If Armenia wants to conduct a good neighborhood policy, it should first fulfill all the provisions of the 10 November 2020 Statement. It should be sincere in peace negotiations with Azerbaijan. It should not artificially delay time, it should not wait for some miracle that someone will come and fight for them. No one will come and fight in their sted, but even if someone does come and fight, they will be confronted by the Azerbaijan Army.
We want peace, we don't want war, peace, but a fair peace. The terms we are putting forward are fair and are based on international law, and the peace treaty should be signed based on these terms. If Armenia shows goodwill, it will be signed, if not, it will not be signed. Time will tell what happens next.
All these words of mine have one source – our strong will and Victory in the Patriotic War! This Victory allows us the opportunity to say these words to everyone, to those who despise us. This Victory gave us this opportunity and gave confidence and spirit to all our people. We have restored not only our territorial integrity but also our national dignity. Therefore, dear soldiers, we are indebted to you, we are indebted to tens of thousands of soldiers and officers like you, and the people of Azerbaijan know this very well. I am proud of you as Commander-in-Chief.
Servicemen: Long live the Commander-in-Chief!
President Ilham Aliyev: Long live Karabakh! Long live Azerbaijan!
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Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh victory highlights limits of Russia’s power
With Moscow’s resources ‘clearly finite’ the Kremlin has had to adapt to Baku’s rising power
Azerbaijan’s military victory in the extended 35-year conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh is a notable geopolitical setback for Russia, traditionally Armenia’s partner and ally.
Moscow’s post-Soviet strategy has often been to stoke conflicts to weaken its near neighbours, creating crises in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. But on this occasion the Kremlin has had to adapt to Azerbaijan’s rising power – showing a willingness to sacrifice an old ally.
At the beginning of the month, before the current crisis, Nikol Pashinyan, Armenia’s prime minister, rued that his country’s historic “99.999%” dependence on Russia as security partner had amounted to “a strategic mistake”.
By then it had long been clear Russia had become embroiled in a quagmire in Ukraine – and so would be unable to prevent Azerbaijan from finally regaining control of an enclave of territory in ethnic Armenian hands over which it had wanted to assert control since the fall of the Soviet Union.
“Russian resources are clearly finite,” said James Nixey, a Russia expert with the Chatham House thinktank. “Karabakh is clearly an issue of lesser importance to Moscow, it is not a place like Crimea or Syria from which it is possible to project force.”
“In a way, Russia chose the wrong country,” said Neil Melvin, a director at the Royal United Services Institute thinktank. “Azerbaijan is much closer to Russia: the two share a border. It is clear who is now the dominant force in the south Caucasus, and looks like it wants to align to them.”
Azerbaijan is a larger, wealthier country than Armenia and an autocracy, like Russia. The country’s economy, supported by large oil and significant gas reserves, is able to afford a more powerful military – its $2.64bn (£2.16bn) defence budget is 3.5 times its neighbour’s in dollar terms, according to figures from the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Baku had already formed an effective alliance with Turkey that provided the Bayraktar TB2 drones that helped it win the last war in 2020, a 44-day autumn conflict in which Azerbaijan took control of the skies, bombing Armenia’s Soviet-era tanks and its allies in Nagorno-Karabakh.
It recaptured territories lost in 1994 and in the ensuing peace left only the core of Nagorno-Karabakh in ethnic Armenian hands, with nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers in place to control the borders and the protect the small Lachin corridor to Armenia proper.
But in the run-up to the Ukraine war, Azerbaijan also turned to Moscow. Its president, Ilham Aliyev, whose father was once a KGB official and a politburo member, travelled to Moscow two days before the invasion to sign an alliance agreement with Vladimir Putin. Azerbaijan later agreed to buy gas from Russia , raising questions whether it was using that to meet commitments to the EU.
Azerbaijan’s latest attack last week on Nagorno-Karabakh lasted only 24 hours. During the assault, a number of Russian peacekeepers were killed by Baku’s forces. Aliyev rang the Kremlin to apologise the next day, and the matter appears largely closed without Moscow making any significant complaint.
South of Azerbaijan lies Iran, one of Russia’s few close allies, and the three countries agreed in May they would build a new rail corridor along the Caspian Sea, although claims from Мoscow that it could create a trade route to rival that of the Suez Canal seem notably optimistic.
Armenia’s prime minister, meanwhile, has complained that the Moscow-dominated six-country Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) did not come to its aid, and some hope that it will now try to pivot to the west. Its parliament will now consider signing up to the international criminal court, which, if ratified, could prevent Putin, because he is indicted by The Hague , from visiting.
But that is a long way from Yerevan turning to the EU and Nato. “Look at the difficulties Ukraine is having joining the EU and Nato. A country like Armenia has no chance,” Nixey said. With a long-established Russian base, Gyumri, to protect it from Turkey to the west, a rapid realignment is impossible.
Russia’s inability or lack of desire to protect Armenia may not have any major implications for other post-Soviet frozen conflicts, because the countries involved have less power than Azerbaijan or simply less hostility to Moscow.
Magomed Torijev, a journalist and expert on the Caucasus region, said Georgia’s government was “increasingly friendly with Russia”, with no strong interest in trying to reclaim either South Ossetia or Abkhazia, while Moldova, with its own Transnistria separatists, was not ready to challenge the Kremlin.
In other countries, such as Syria, Russia’s alliance with the governing regime will help protect its position, and Moscow’s presence is likely to endure unless it is directly challenged. But what has changed, experts say, is that stronger countries such as Ukraine and Azerbaijan are willing and able to challenge Russia as never before.
“The reality is that Russia has been weakening for some time,” Melvin said.
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