Danger of war in the South Caucasus

by Ralph Bosshard

Despite the ceasefire arbitrated by Russia, which put an end to the six-week war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in autumn 2020, the conflict over Nagorno Karabakh is still smouldering. This spring the conflict began to spread further and linking up with other conflicts, so that today an escalation into a regional war in the South Caucasus can no longer be ruled out. Nuclear powers could also be drawn into it. The last few days have seen an intensification of the situation with increasing time pressure.

Since last April, Azerbaijan has been making bolder and bolder territorial demands on its neighbour Armenia, which go far beyond the territorial dispute in Nagorno-Karabakh. Baku not only wants transit rights for land transports between the Azerbaijani motherland and the exclave of Nakhichevan, as stipulated in the ceasefire agreement of 9 November 2020, but an actual corridor through the southern Armenian province of Syunik.1 Such a corridor was never mentioned in the ceasefire agreement.2 In the meantime, Azerbaijan continued its incursions against Armenian territory in various places. Through these incursions against indisputably Armenian territory, the danger now arises that Russia, as an ally of Armenia, is being drawn into a war. In September, Azerbaijan threatened to blockade the road between the two Armenian towns of Kapan and Goris in the Syunik Province, which runs for stretches across Azerbaijani territory.3 This threat, in turn, provoked Tehran, because this road is important for the traffic between Iran and Armenia. In the event that Azerbaijani troops invaded Armenia and drove the Armenian army out of the Syunik region, Iran has already explicitly threatened military intervention.4
  The conflict has become even more explosive in recent weeks through openly expressed Israeli threats against Iran associated with the dispute over its nuclear programme.5 In addition, recently, there was an exercise by the Turkish, Pakistani and Azerbaijani navies in the Caspian Sea, south of Baku.6 This exercise, which took place not far from the Iranian border, was seen as a provocation in Tehran and triggered the deployment of Iranian troops on the border with Azerbaijan.7
  In this heated climate, the calls by US President Joe Biden seem almost anaemic, and France, too, has already ruled out concrete support for Armenia.8

Time is running out

The time frame for a military solution of the conflict in southern Armenia is getting narrow, because the onset of winter will soon make military operations more and more difficult. And the more the parties to the conflict could be tempted to quickly bring about a fait accompli in order to put themselves in a favourable position for next spring.
  In the negotiations on the nuclear agreement (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action JCPOA) between Iran and a group of states consisting of China, Russia, France, Great Britain, Germany and perhaps soon again the USA, could be before long under time pressure as well.
  After the election of Ebrahim Raisi as the new Iranian president last August, negotiations were suspended for the time being. Israel in particular has been pressing for a complete break of the negotiations and has repeatedly predicted that Iran will soon have produced enough weapons-grade uranium to build its first nuclear weapon.9 Behind closed doors experts at the International Atomic Energy IAEA, however, say that the construction of the first Iranian nuclear weapon will not happen so quickly after all.

Poker over prisoners

In the meantime, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has also taken up the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Their draft resolution “Humanitarian consequences of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan” roughly illustrates which narratives the European parliamentarians are willing to accept from the conflict parties:10 European parliamentarians consider reports on the participation of mercenaries hired by Turkey in Syria and sent into the war in Nagorno-Karabakh as plausible. However, the comparison between these mercenaries and those Armenians from the worldwide diaspora who returned to the old homeland to fight against the Azerbaijani aggression seems somewhat bizarre. Here, obviously, the Azerbaijani deputies have prevailed.11
  For months, Armenia has been complaining that Azerbaijan has still not released all the Armenian prisoners of war from autumn last year. At present 48 Armenians are said to be still in Azerbaijani custody.12 The corresponding evidence apparently was too sound to allow Azerbaijan to deny this fact. Understandably Armenia fears that Azerbaijan is trying to blackmail it with these prisoners. The cynical game with prisoners of war could prove dangerous for Baku, because the Russian-brokered ceasefire explicitly includes the return of all prisoners of war. The Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev apparently believes, based on his military superiority, that he can afford such a blatant breach of the ceasefire agreement. Should he be testing Russia’s patience too much, he could be charged for it.

Ilham Aliyev walking a tightrope

Azerbaijan’s political system thrives on the fact that the bulk of the revenues from oil and gas production goes to a small political elite, at the centre of which is the Aliyev clan. Meanwhile, the population is granted just enough of it so that it does not become rebellious. In addition, significant financial resources are needed to secure the goodwill of influential circles in the West. It is known that financial contributions to politicians and diplomats have already reached five-digit euro amounts.13 The political survival of the Aliyev regime thus depends to a large extent on income from oil and gas production. Without this, it quickly becomes dangerous for the Aliyev clan. The crisis of 2014, when prices plummeted, may have served as a warning to Baku.14
  The dependence of the Azerbaijani economy on revenues from oil and gas production remains high, but revenues will no longer reach 2010 levels in the foreseeable future.15 Many production facilities are now old, and oil production for over 100 years has caused ecological damage that will cost the country dearly to repair. A lot of money has been invested in prestige projects, especially in Baku. Anyone who drives out of Baku into the countryside will quickly see that not much of the income from oil and gas has stuck there. In economic terms, Azerbaijan currently has little to offer apart from oil and gas. The Azerbaijani government needs to diversify and is therefore trying to make a name for itself as a trading hub for oil and gas from Turkmenistan. The Europeans are happy to go along with this, because they hope that oil and gas from the Caspian Sea could reduce their dependence on Russia.16
  More generally, Azerbaijan wants to make greater use of its advantageous geographical position between Asia, Europe, Iran and Russia.17 It would like to benefit from the Belt & Road Initiative launched by China and establish itself as a regional hub for the international transport of goods from east to west as well as from south to north (Tehran–Moscow). This gives new importance to the development of the transport infrastructure. Among other things, this concerns the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway connections and those from the Iranian city of Rasht to the Russian border at Yalama, as well as the seaport of Alyat.
  Long before the war last autumn, the intensive cooperation between Israel and Azerbaijan in the field of armament was already evident.18 Parallel to this, intelligence cooperation is also likely to have developed, about which, naturally, not much is published. However, it is more than plausible that Israeli intelligence services are active in the south of Azerbaijan in order to listen in on Iran. Tehran will certainly also consider the possibility that Israel is conducting drone attacks against Iranian nuclear laboratories from Azerbaijani territory or at least procuring the necessary intelligence from Azerbaijan.19 If such an Israeli operation were indeed to cause serious damage to Iran, Tehran’s wrath could well hit the rulers in Baku.

Armenia in a fix

In recent decades, Turkey and Azerbaijan have tried to isolate and starve Armenia economically. Armenia’s and Arzakh’s borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan are hermetically sealed. All the more important for Armenia is the open border with Iran in the south and with Georgia in the north. The export of agricultural products and mining are of central importance for the Armenian economy. Conversely, the open border is also important for Iran, which has been battered by economic sanctions for decades.20
  The exact number of Armenian soldiers killed in the autumn of last year is not conclusively known, but according to the latest findings it is likely to be between 3700 and 3900. This is an enormous number for a small nation of about 3 million people and an active army of 45,000 men. It is thus clear that the losses of the six-week war have left a massive gap in the ranks of the armed forces of Armenia and the Republic of Arzakh.21 It will probably take years for them to recover from this bloodletting. In the next few years, the Armenian government’s options for military action will be limited. This is also known in Baku.

Windy reasoning

When Armenia and Azerbaijan declared themselves independent in 1991 and became member states of the UN and participating states of the OSCE, the dispute over the affiliation of the autonomous republic of Nagornyi Karabakh was already underway. The dissolving Soviet Union had previously been unable to resolve this dispute. Even then it had to be known that the Karabakh question would have to be solved within the framework of the UN or the OSCE. Apart from that, the state borders of the new members of the international community of states were undisputed. However, the borders between the various administrative units of the Soviet Union were often not clearly marked in the terrain. Inaccuracies in border demarcation remain to this day.22
  In its territorial claims on Armenia, the Azerbaijani government relies on the Caucasus kingdom of the so-called Albanians, who are not to be confused with those in the Balkans. Their kingdom existed from the 2nd century BC until the early 8th century. The ancient Albanians spoke a Caucasian language and professed the Christian faith similarly early as Georgians and Armenians.23 The oldest evidence of the Caucasian-Albanian language was found in 1975 in St. Catherine’s Monastery on the Sinai Peninsula. This is one of the oldest monasteries of Christianity still inhabited and is located at the foot of Mount Sinai, where, according to tradition, God revealed himself to Moses in a burning bush. Thanks to its isolated location, the monastery has never been destroyed. Approximately 4000 people still live in Azerbaijan whose mother tongue is Udish and who can be regarded as descendants of these Albanians in the broadest sense. They profess Christianity. Where the remaining 10 million Azerbaijanis get the legitimacy to make territorial claims on Armenia is not clear. The fact that the Azerbaijanis, as predominantly Shiite Muslims and speakers of a Turkic language, base their territorial claims on ancient Caucasian Albania is frivolous. The investigation of the narrative of the Caucasian Albanians called for by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is urgently needed.24

Infrastructure and mineral resources

Since ancient times, ancient Persia has played an important role as a hub between West and East. With the independence of the republics of Central Asia from the Soviet Union in 1991, Iran became a transit country for the young republics to the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, all the more so because Afghanistan has never really been stabilised since the withdrawal of the Soviet army. The Iranian port of Chabahar on the coast of the Gulf of Oman recently aroused India’s interest because it can use this port to bypass the arch-enemy Pakistan in its traffic with Afghanistan and Central Asia. However, the port’s transport connections on land still need to be massively improved. In the north of Iran, Bandar-e Torkaman (formerly Bandar-e Shah) is a port on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea. It was already an important transhipment point for US aid shipments to the Soviet Union during the Second World War as part of the Lend-Lease Programme through the so-called “Persian Corridor”.25 In Bandar-e Torkaman, the American relief supplies were loaded from the railway onto freighters. Today, Azerbaijan can still be bypassed in this way. This would render Azerbaijani investments in railway infrastructure useless. In contrast, the mountainous roads in southern Armenia will never reach the capacities that rail and sea links in the Caspian Sea region have. Consequently, the Azerbaijani provocations on the Kapan-Goris road should not be interpreted as measures against a potential competitor, but as an attempt to further encircle Armenia and isolate it from its neighbour Iran.
  After the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the interpretation of transit rights in the ceasefire of 9 November last year could not be settled, Russia once again stepped in. Rumour has it that an agreement has been reached between Azerbaijan and Armenia that the latter will be compensated with 250 million dollars annually for granting transit rights to its neighbour.26 If so, Azerbaijan would solidly finance its arch-enemy Armenia in the future. This, in turn, would massively change the outcome of the autumn 2020 war, which was so unfavourable for Armenia. This would then also be a great success for Russian diplomacy and a first step towards normalising political-economic relations in the South Caucasus.
  In the course of the dispute over transit rights, Baku also applied pressure by military means, among other things. The rulers in Baku have experience with this. The places where armed incidents have occurred in recent months are telling.27 Anyone who has driven along the Vardenis-Martakert Highway from Lake Sevan to the Terter Valley will have noticed the mines on both sides of the road. There is the gold mine of Sotk, where the precious metal can be extracted particularly profitably in open-cast mining. A little further south, near the village of Verin Shorzha, is the gold mine at Tsartsar Mountain. This spring, Azerbaijani troops took up positions near these localities at or perhaps already across the Armenian border, from where they can easily monitor the activities around the mines and, if necessary, disrupt them by shelling.
  The situation is similar near the villages of Aravus and Tekh at the transition between Armenia and the Laçin corridor, where copper and molybdenum deposits lie dormant in the ground in addition to gold. Not far away, Azerbaijani troops invaded Armenian territory at Lake Sev or Sevlich, which is of great importance for the water supply of the Armenian city of Goris. And finally, in July, there was prolonged fighting in the quadrangle near Yeraskh, where Iran, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan border each other.28 In all these cases, the suspicion arises that the aim of these military operations is to deny Armenia access to its natural resources and thus put it under pressure. The economic objective of Azerbaijani warfare is becoming increasingly clear.

Assessment

After its defeat in the war against Armenia in 1994, Azerbaijan complained, not entirely unjustifiably, that it had been deprived of control over significant parts of its territory. Frustrated by years of lacklustre efforts by the international community to implement the so-called Madrid Principles, disappointed by the hard-line stance of the Pashinyan government and humiliated in last July’s border skirmishes, Baku opted for a military solution. In the six-week war last autumn, Azerbaijan recaptured much of the territory it had lost in 1994 and, by capturing parts of Hadrut province, indicated that it is willing to solve the problem as a whole by military means. However, the events of the last few months have gone far beyond the military implementation of the Madrid principles. Big geopolitics has taken hold in the South Caucasus. Russia, which wants to stabilise its immediate environment, has been joined by Turkey, which seeks a union with the Turkic-speaking peoples of Central Asia under the banner of Turanism*, and Iran, which does not want to be encircled any further. Competition between states in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and rivalry in the notoriously unstable Middle East region also play into the local conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Finally, all parties have economic interests, especially in the areas of transport and energy. The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has already spread far too far and should urgently be reduced to the scale it once had. Time is pressing and the risk of escalation is high. •



* Turanism, also known as pan-Turanianism, is a nationalist cultural and political movement proclaiming the need for close cooperation or political unification between (culturally, linguistically or ethnically related) peoples of Inner and Central Asian origin like the Finns, Japanese, Koreans,Sami, Samoyeds, Hungarians, Turks, Mongols, Manchus and other smaller ethnic groups as a means of securing and furthering shared interests and countering the threats posed by the policies of the great powers of Europe. It was born in the 19th century to counter the effects of pan-nationalist ideologies such as pan-Germanism and pan-Slavism. [editors note; source: Wikipedia]

1 see “Azerbaijan’s Aliyev offers Armenia peace in exchange for ‘Zangezur corridor’”, in: News.am of 24 September 2021, online at news.am/eng/news/664280.html. See also “Armenia Will Defend its Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity by All Means, PM Pashinyan”, in: Massis Post of 15 July 2021, online at massispost.com/2021/07/armenia-will-defend-its-sovereignty-and-territorial-integrity-by-all-means-pm-pashinyan/. Talks between Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia on the agreed transit routes between Azerbaijan and its exclave Nakhichevan on Armenian territory were suspended for the time being in June. There is disagreement because Azerbaijan began to speak of a “corridor”, which Armenia interprets as territorial claims. Baku implicitly threatened to take back the Laçin corridor, which it left to the Armenians in the ceasefire agreement of 9 November. Cf. Joshua Kucera: “Armenia and Azerbaijan suspend ‘corridor’ talks”, in: Intellinews of 7 June 2021, online at www.intellinews.com/armenia-and-azerbaijan-suspend-corridor-talks-212591/. The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, threatened Armenia with war as early as 27 April 2021 if it did not open a transport corridor in Syunik province between Azerbaijan and the exclave of Nakhichevan. The ceasefire of 9 November 2020 had already established a transit corridor along the Arax River. See twitter.com/NKobserver/status/1386858478388588544. See also “Aliyev threatens to establish ‘corridor’ in Armenia by force”, in: OC Media of 21 April 2021, online at oc-media.org/aliyev-threatens-to-establish-corridor-in-armenia-by-force/.
2 see Заявление Президента Азербайджанской Республики, Премьер-министра Республики Армения и Президента Российской Федерации, 10 November 2020, online at http://www.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/64384. An English version can be found at web.archive.org/web/20201111212431/http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/64384.
3 see “Azerbaijan levies duties on vehicles going through Armenia’s Goris-Kapan road”, in: OC Media of 13 September 2021, online at oc-media.org/azerbaijan-levies-duties-on-vehicles-going-through-armenias-goris-kapan-road/.
4 see “In less than 48 hours, troops, equipment transferred to drill field in northwest Iran”, in: Teheran Times of 3 October 2021, online at www.tehrantimes.com/news/465724/In-less-than-48-hours-troops-equipment-transferred-to-drill. Cf. “Iran Army military drill kicks off in NW borders” in: Mehr News Agency of 1 October 2021, online at en.mehrnews.com/news/179238/Iran-Army-military-drill-kicks-off-in-NW-borders.
5 The Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett declared at the UN General Assembly on 27 September 2021 that Iran’s nuclear programme had reached a turning point and with it tolerance on Israel’s part. Words would not stop uranium centrifuges. He thus tested the international community’s tolerance of an Israeli military strike. See Sharon Wrobel: “Iran’s Nuclear Program at ‘Watershed’ Moment, Bennett Warns UN General Assembly”, in: algemeiner of 27 September 2021, online at www.algemeiner.com/2021/09/27/irans-nuclear-program-at-watershed-moment-bennett-warns-un-general-assembly/.
6 see Jeyhun Aliyev: “‘Three Brothers’ – 2021’: Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan start joint military exercises, International drills kick off with solemn opening ceremony in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku”, in: AA of 12 September 2021, online at www.aa.com.tr/en/turkey/three-brothers-2021-turkey-azerbaijan-pakistan-start-joint-military-exercises/2362892. Cf. “Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan joint military exercises continue”, in: Daily Sabah of 16 September 2021, online at www.dailysabah.com/politics/diplomacy/turkey-azerbaijan-pakistan-joint-military-exercises-continue.
7 see “Golnar Motevalli, Zulfugar Agayev: Politics; Turkey, Azerbaijan Plan Military Drills After Iran Moved Forces”, in: Bloomberg of 3 October 2021, online at www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-03/iran-s-khamenei-defends-military-drills-near-azerbaijan-border.
8 see “U.S. urges Armenia and Azerbaijan to get involved in substantive talks on Karabakh as soon as possible”, in: Arka New of 5 August 2021, online at arka.am/en/news/politics/u_s_urges_armenia_and_azerbaijan_to_get_involved_in_substantive_talks_on_karabakh_as_soon_as_possibl/. See „Ambassador Lacote: France will consider Armenia’s petition in defense sector“, in: News.am of 23 July 2021, online news.am/eng/news/654977.html.
9 see Benny Morris. “Opinion, On Nuclear Iran, Israel Faces Two Terrible Options”, in: Haaretz of 27 September 2021, online at www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-s-two-terrible-options-live-with-a-nuclear-iran-or-bomb-it-1.10243995.
10 see Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 2391 (2021), Provisional version, “Humanitarian consequences of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan / Nagorno-Karabakh conflict”, online unter pace.coe.int/pdf/7ec6e96b54134e95cad9686e43ee33520a8a81f83fe6891990a95ff8391c2b5b/resolution%202391.pdf.
11 ibid., Article 8.5.
12 ibid., Article 6.30 Armenians in Azerbaijani captivity were documented with film and photo recordings. See also “231 troops, 22 civilians missing – Armenia Investigative Committee on 2020 Nagorno Karabakh War”, in: Armenpress of 27 September 2021, online at armenpress.am/eng/news/1064086.html.
13 cf. Gerd Brenner. “Kaviar und Krieg im Kaukasus” (Caviar and war in the Caucasus); in: World Economy of 11 May 2021, online at www.world-economy.eu/nachrichten/detail/kaviar-und-krieg-im-kaukasus/.
14 see Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung. “Die Talfahrt des Ölpreises” (The downward slide of the oil price), 30 January 2015, online at www.bpb.de/politik/hintergrund-aktuell/200167/entwicklung-des-oelpreises.
15 on the Azerbaijani economy, see Daniel Heinrich. “Ein Öl-Staat zwischen grossen Plänen und trister Realität” [An oil state between grand plans and dreary reality] in Deutschlandfunk of 17 March 2018, online at www.deutschlandfunk.de/aserbaidschan-ein-oel-staat-zwischen-grossen-plaenen-und.724.de.html. On the economic situation in Azerbaijan, see also the Country Profile Azerbaijan of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, online atwko.at/statistik/laenderprofile/lp-aserbaidschan.pdf. Cf. Economic Report Azerbaijan for 2018 by the Embassy of Switzerland in the Republic of Azerbaijan and in Turkmenistan, online at www.s-ge.com/sites/default/files/publication/free/wirtschaftsbericht-aserbaidschan-eda-2019-05.pdf.
16 see Michael Martens. “Hilfe aus Baku, Erdgas für Europa” (Aid from Baku, Natural Gas for Europe); in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of 17 May 2014, online at www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/aserbaidschans-gas-koennte-europa-unabhaengiger-machen-12941688.html.
17 here and in the following: “Germany Trade Invest: Aserbaidschan treibt Projekte im Transportsektor voran” (Germany Trade Invest: Azerbaijan pushes ahead with projects in the transport sector), online at www.gtai.de/gtai-de/trade/branchen/branchenbericht/aserbaidschan/aserbaidschan-treibt-projekte-im-transportsektor-voran-21584.
18 see “Turkish, Israeli made drones gave Azerbaijan upper hand, German media argues”; in: Daily Sabah of 20 November 2021, online at www.dailysabah.com/business/defense/turkish-israeli-made-drones-gave-azerbaijan-upper-hand-german-media-argues; cf. Seth J. Frantzman. “Israeli drones used by Azerbaijan under spotlight in new TV report”; in: Jerusalem Post of 13 March 2021, online at www.jpost.com/middle-east/israeli-drones-used-by-azerbaijan-under-spotlight-in-new-tv-report-661804. Cf. also “Azeris use Israeli-made drones as conflict escalates with Armenia — report”; in: The Times of Israel of 30 September 2020, online at www.timesofisrael.com/azeris-use-israeli-made-drones-as-conflict-escalates-with-armenia-report/.
19 This is what Iran’s political and religious leader, Ali Khamenei, hinted at on Twitter: twitter.com/NKobserver/status/1444719813604093952. On 4 October, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry denied Iranian reports of the presence of a “third force” in Azerbaijan; see en.trend.az/azerbaijan/politics/3493377.html.
20 cf. Austrian Federal Economic Chamber. “Die iranische Wirtschaft” (The Iranian Economy), online at www.wko.at/service/aussenwirtschaft/die-iranische-wirtschaft.html.
21 cf. the data on Armenia’s population at www.laenderdaten.info/Asien/Armenien/bevoelkerungswachstum.php. On the strength of the army, see Global Firepower, online at www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength-detail.php.
22 This recently prompted a call by the US State Department to refrain from violence in demarcating the border; see Siranush Ghazanchyan: “U.S. rejects use of force to demarcate the border, urges Armenia, Azerbaijan to return to substantive negotiations”; in: Public Radio of Armenia of 9 June 2021, online at en.armradio.am/2021/06/09/u-s-rejects-use-of-force-to-demarcate-the-border-urges-armenia-azerbaijan-to-return-to-substantive-negotiations/.
23 here and in the following: see Wolfgang Schulze: CAUCASIAN ALBANIAN (ALUAN), the Language of the “Caucasian Albanian” (Aluan) Palimpsest from Mt. Sinai and of the “Caucasian Albanian” inscriptions, o.O. 2001, online at wschulze.userweb.mwn.de/Cauc_alb.htm. See also the homepage of the Palimpsest Project: sinaipalimpsests.org. Cf. Zaza Aleksidze, J.-P. Mahé: “Découverte d’un texte albanien: une langue ancienne du Caucase retrouvée” (Albanian text discovered: an ancient Caucasian language recovered); in: Comptes rendus des séances l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 1997, pp. 512–532, online at www.persee.fr/doc/crai_0065-0536_1997_num_141_2_15756; cf. also Zaza Aleksidze, J-P. Mahé: “Le déchiffrement de l'écriture des Albaniens du Caucase” (The deciphering of the writing of the Albanians of the Caucasus); in: Comptes rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 2001, pp. 1239–1257, online at www.persee.fr/doc/crai_0065-0536_2001_num_145_3_16334.
24 see Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 2391, op. cit., Article 18.6.
25 see the article Leih- und Pachtgesetz (Lend-Lease Act); in: aus-der-Zeit vom 18 February 1941, online at www.aus-der-zeit.ch/books/der-zweite-weltkrieg-band-02/page/leih--und-pachtgesetz-%2818021941%29. Cf. “Bandar Shahpur – World War II – Persian Gulf Command”, online at www.parstimes.com/travel/iran/bandar_shahpur_gallery1a.html.
26 see “Newspaper: Armenia-Azerbaijan agreement details known” in News.am, online at news.am/eng/news/663217.html.
27 here and in the following: “New Armenia-Azerbaijan border dispute: 3 villages and gold, copper, silver and molybdenum deposits”; in: Nagorno Karabakh Observer of 5 September 2021, online at nkobserver.com/archives/6867. Cf. also “Armenia foils Azerbaijani army offensive in Gegharkunik” in Panermenian Netvom, 28 July 2021, online at www.panarmenian.net/eng/news/294621/.
28 see twitter.com/NKobserver/status/1417255693107834881.

Ralph Bosshard studied General History, Eastern European History and Military History, completed the Military Command School of the ETH Zurich and the General Staff Training of the Swiss Army. This was followed by language training in Russian at the Moscow State University and training at the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Russian Army. He is familiar with the situation in the South Caucasus from his six years at the OSCE, where he was, among other things, Special Advisor to the Swiss Permanent Representative.

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