Even if Azerbaijan had twice as many weapons, it would be away from the “class” of countries which are capable of making a political decision on starting a large-scale military action. The accumulation of weapons by Azerbaijan itself is not a real threat of war. The real threat of war occurs or disappears in political processes.
In this sense, the accumulation of weapons becomes a real threat when it is part or element of the political process. In this sense, the technical military cooperation between Azerbaijan and Russia is alarming. Therefore, the statement that if not Russia, Azerbaijan would buy weapons elsewhere is absurd.
It is not absolutely the same when Azerbaijan buys weapons somewhere else and buys it from Russia, and to some extent also from a Minsk Group co-chair country. However, Russia’s circumstance is special because the conversation is about the so-called ally and guarantor of security, therefore selling weapons to Azerbaijan is public humiliation for Armenia.
Although some circles in Armenia agree to this and even think it is worth the humiliation to buy weapons from Russia at a cheaper price. In other words, people think that Armenia can pay for Russian weapons with national dignity. However, the problem is that this circumstance itself boosts the political power of the Russian-Azerbaijani deal.
This political power was discharged by the Armenian armed forces last April at a heavy and expensive price. Currently there is a technical military Russian-Azerbaijani deal but it lacks the former political power. Besides, this power may be recharged, so this should be prevented from recollecting its political power to enable Azerbaijan to gain new strength for aggression because arms are an important but not sufficient precondition for aggression.
The minimum preventive factor is the agenda of Vienna, the introduction of the international mechanism of ceasefire protection, which means international responsibility for breaches of ceasefire. However, in this matter, Russia does not help its ally Armenia but helps Azerbaijan which is against this mechanism. This is not something new. The introduction of this mechanism will deprive Russia of a dominant role in this matter and the ability to manage the actions of both sides using the war blackmail. The introduction of this mechanism will mean a new region where the status of the Armenian armed forces as a watch of peace and stability will get international recognition, becoming a synonym of international recognition of Artsakh. Currently there seems to appear an alternative to the agenda of Vienna but this is not the “alternative” that Russia and Azerbaijan were trying to get in Saint Petersburg by way of distorting Vienna, which the United States and France did not allow to happen.
Currently, the issue of prohibition by the UN GA of sale of weapons to conflict sides is outlining on the agenda. Yerevan speaks about this, still at the “individual” level of the deputy minister of foreign affairs, the United States speaks about this through the former co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group Hoagland who announced a few weeks before leaving the mission that steps aimed strengthening the ceasefire are needed and they will be taken in the nearest future. Hoagland had announced that complete demilitarization is not realistic in the visible future but it is necessary to work and move in this direction. It is not ruled out that Russia is offered to make a compromise and not to question Russia’s “right to govern” the security mechanisms in the region, at least in a mid-term perspective but get a consent for prohibition of supply of arms, which will allow strengthening a political atmosphere in which the political ground for the Azerbaijani aggression will shrink, and stability will become more reliable predictable.
The question is why Yerevan does not come up with an official proposal. Apparently, the mean reason is that the proposal is not acceptable to Russia, and Yerevan thinks that Moscow’s position will change only through the United States because it is not easy for Serzh Sargsyan to talk to Putin, as he confessed after 2008. It will not be no easier ahead of 2018.