To Karabagh Via Georgia?!
16 August, 2012

Turkey advices Russia not to help Armenia in case of Karabagh war


Daily crossfire on the Karabagh frontline between Armenian and Azeri troops is a regular phenomenon. Therefore, it is quite likely that any time this confrontation can grow into a large-scale armed operations. So what positions Russia and Turkey, the two influential neighbors, would take if the Karabagh war is rekindled?

The issue has not been commented officially so far. Yet, few days ago Sainan Oghan, Turkish MP and Director of

Center for Strategic Studies gave a sensational interview to one of the Turkish media outlets: “If Russia provides any type of military aid to Armenia, the conflict will draw in not only Armenia but also Russia and other countries. They should not thus forget that such war would throw Russia itself into a big mess.” These words by Turkish MP inoculated with threats deserve closest attention, especially when Sainan Oghan specified that if the war kicks off and Russia oils Armenia then Turkey would likewise stand by Azerbaijan even without the official request of the latter.

This hawkish statement by Turkish MP, who represents National Movement party, does not necessarily mean that Turkish Government would follow exactly this course of actions. It’s only Azerbaijan surely stands to receive a major boost from Turkey including commissioning of military forces, should the Karabagh war be re-ignited. This particular circumstance carries a big connotation for Georgia because if Turkey decides to send military aid to Azerbaijan it would have to devise think - hard on the possible route of delivery: either Turkey attacks Armenia from the immediate border or instead arms the Azeri ally via the Georgian territory. In the latter case, Georgia would be automatically embroiled in the conflict as Armenia would go to all lengths, including attempts to blow up transportation routes inside Georgia, to thwart Turkish arms supply to Azerbaijan.

Russia is a signatory to the collective defense agreement with Armenia and hence has a formal obligation to activate its 102th military base operating in Armenia in case of imminent foreign intervention against Armenia. In other words, Moscow is formally committed to protect and help Armenia. So Russia would not stay idle in case of the Karabagh war and would try to provide military assistance to Armenia. Russian tank columns stopped by 40km short of Tbilisi in the August 2008 war but have not disappeared altogether. They are currently concentrated near Tskhinvali and Akhalgori. It is not ruled out that in case of the Karabagh war Russia tries to push columns of armored vehicles from the occupied Tskhinvali towards Armenia in an effort to help the latter. This certainly means cross cutting the entire Georgia and establishment of permanent connections with Armenia. The land connection would require a brute force which in turn would certainly generate strong resentment of the West. The air connection will be easier to carve out but more expensive to sustain. While Georgia has already shut its space to planes of Russian armed forces flying from Russia to Armenia, a new Karabagh war may force Moscow to re-open the air bridge to Armenia. It is doubtful that Georgia would dare to force or even shoot down any such Russian plane.

Thus, irrespective of our wishes, Georgia would be indirectly sucked into the Karabagh conflict, should the latter be transformed into large scale military operations.