Answering the questions of Interfax after the meeting in Moscow on the issue of Artsakh, the American co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group announced that if someone thinks the conflict is controllable, they are mistaken.
One may only guess whom Warlick means because he does not mention someone specific. It is not ruled out that he means the conflict sides or one of them but it is possible that Warlick means Russia as a co-chair country.
Warlick’s interview indicates that there is a significant disagreement among the three co-chairs of the Minsk Group or rather the United States, France and Russia, over the future situation. Evidence to this is that Warlick said the place and time of the next meeting of the presidents is not known yet.
The point is that in June, after Saint Petersburg it seemed clear that the third meeting of the presidents following April was expected to take place in Paris under the aegis of France. The first meeting after the April war took place in Vienna and was chaired by the United States, the second meeting was in Saint Petersburg, and the third meeting was expected to take place under the aegis of the third co-chair France.
Moreover, after Saint Petersburg France set out to organize the third meeting, the French ambassador announced in Yerevan. In addition, he hinted subtly that France had not agreed to the agenda of the meeting in Saint Petersburg. The point is that the participants of the meeting in Saint Petersburg stated after the meeting about the importance of the ceasefire, enlargement of the monitoring capacity of the OSCE CiO’s personal representative only but did not speak about the international monitoring mechanism. Meanwhile, the issue of the mechanism was the priority of the meeting in Vienna initiated by the United States.
The French ambassador in Yerevan announced that though the concluding statement of Saint Petersburg does not state anything about that mechanism, it remains a priority for them. Hence, there is disagreement over this mechanism and Russia’s priority differs from the priority of France and the United States.
And while now it is not clear where and when the next meeting will be, and it is not announced that it must take place under the aegis of France, apparently Russia succeeds in torpedoing this option. It is hard to tell who is the beneficiary of Russia’s steps, Armenia, Azerbaijan or both.
However, the Armenian side has publicly welcomed and even demanded fast introduction of ceasefire mechanisms, and Azerbaijan rejects them. Baku’s rejection is clear. The introduction of such an international mechanism will actually indicate the start of a new security system which will lay down the current status quo, as well as change the logic of the conflict settlement process, thereby blocking the way of blackmail and threats of war. In the meantime, recently Azerbaijan has been moving along that path over the past few years with the serious defense and political military support.
Therefore, after the agenda put forth in Vienna, Moscow and Baku withdrew the mechanism of ceasefire from that agenda in Saint Petersburg. Afterwards, France announced to try to return the issue to the agenda on its own initiative. It is expected that Moscow and Baku must do everything to prevent this, which means that a meeting initiated by France is ruled out.
And Moscow and Baku seem to succeed so far. At the same time, one can notice from Warlick’s interview that the United States is putting forward an alternative initiative – a meeting in New York in the UN General Assembly. The American co-chair announces that it would be desirable to organize a meeting of presidents in New York.
So, in answer to Russia’s effort to thwart France’s initiative the United States comes up with an initiative of a new meeting under its aegis. In addition, there is no need to deny that that United States may not trust Russia and France at all, doubting that the failure to restore the agenda of Vienna fully is a backstage agreement between Russia and France.
At any rate, it is clear from Warlick’s statement that the United States is trying to restore the agenda of Vienna in New York, which will mean effective control over the process rather than action to implement the agreements, not to allow Russia and Azerbaijan that were in standoff since April to get out of the deadlock. Warlick underscores that the ceasefire has been maintained for a long time since April. The ceasefire will last until Moscow and Baku are in standoff where they appeared after the failure of the blitzkrieg.
The standoff is the guarantee of security and stability in the Caucasus, which is not guaranteed, of course, and the problem is what can be done in this period to form new settings of security and stability.