Online Press Conference with the Head of Caucasus Department of the CIS Institute Vladimir Evseev (Russia)

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Vladimir Evseev
Head of Caucasus Department of the CIS Institute, DIrector of the Center for Public Policy Research, Academic Secretary of the Coordinating Council of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) on forecasting
Россия
On February 13, at 14:00 online press-conference for Armenian media with the Head of Caucasus Department of the CIS Institute, DIrector of the Center for Public Policy Research, Academic Secretary of the Coordinating Council of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) on forecasting Vladimir Evseev was held on following topics: Russian-Armenian military cooperation, present developments of Karabakh conflict and developing military events in Ukraine. 
 
The internet press-conference with Vladimir Evseev was organized within the project “Topical Dialogues on the New Integration Agenda of Armenia” of  the “Region” Research Center supported by U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section.
 
 
"Hetq" online newspaper (Armenia)
 
Question:
In the event of what development on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, do you think Russia should intervene as the guarantor of Armenia’s security: do you think positional attacks on border communities is a threat or not? Is an even greater escalation of the situation at the front between the armies possible, can the war in Karabakh and for Karabakh divert or reduce the attention of the global community from Ukraine?
 
Answer:
Russia has obligations to protect Armenia from outside threats. Therefore, if Azerbaijan starts shelling Armenian territories along the border, Moscow has every reason to intervene in the conflict. However, in practice such an intervention will happen in the case of a transitional border incident during which the shooting at the Armenian territory may be viewed as an armed conflict along the border. I believe that Azerbaijan is trying to force the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh issue, so the escalation of the armed confrontation in the area of the contact is possible. But I do not think this is directly related to the Ukrainian crisis. President Ilham Aliyev is more interested in the oil price, which the financial well-being of his country immediately depends on.
 
"Hetq" online newspaper (Armenia)
 
Question:
How feasible are Minsk-2 agreements (of February 12), reached between the presidents of the four Norman Quartet, and in general is a radical resolution of the Ukrainian conflict possible?
 
Answer:
The Minsk-2 agreements are infeasible as well as those of Minsk-1. The main reason for this lies in the fact that Kiev is still not going to negotiate with the Donetsk and Lugansk, and still hopes for a military solution to this problem after the restoration of the combat power of its army with the help of the United States and some of its allies. The "Norman format" is only an auxiliary form of the settlement of this conflict. It cannot replace the sessions of the Working Group for Ukraine. And the Ukrainian representative with uncertain powers is still on board there. The passed resolution is, in fact, non-binding. This is well understood in Kiev and Moscow. However, the Ukrainian leadership still hopes that Russia will have to recede to the threats of expanding the Western sanctions. However, this will not happen.
 
"Hetq" online newspaper (Armenia)
 
Question:
Mr. Yevseyev, last year an agreement was signed between Russia and Azerbaijan, indicating a closer military cooperation between the two. Under this agreement, another large batch of offensive Russian weapons will be sold to Azerbaijan, and the Azerbaijani servicemen will be trained by Russian specialists. This fact makes us in Armenia at least feel puzzled, as many here believe that these weapons will be directed primarily against Karabakh and Armenia. Do you, as an analyst and military expert, also think this fear and bewilderment of the Armenian party unreasonable?
 
Answer:
I believe that there is a contradiction in that matter. Of course, it would have been better if Russia completely stopped its military-technical cooperation with Azerbaijan, including the training of the Azerbaijani cadets and officers in the Russian military academies. But what would Armenia gain from that? Baku would still procure weapons and train its commanding officers in other countries. In this case, Moscow would not have had any influence over Azerbaijan in the military sphere. Now there is some dependence on Russia, which, if necessary, can be taken advantage of, for example, by stopping the supply of spare parts for the provided armament. This possibility to restrain Baku meets the Armenian national interests.
 
"Hetq" online newspaper (Armenia)
 
Question:
"In this case, Moscow would not have had any influence over Azerbaijan in the military sphere. Now, there is some dependence on Russia, which, if necessary, can be taken advantage of, for example by stopping the supply of spare parts for the provided armament."
 
Dear Vladimir Valeriyevich, is the (non-)delivery of Russian weapons, or any of their parts –the only leverage Russia has over Azerbaijan? And another question derives from here. How does Azerbaijan benefit from these military deals with Russia?
 
Answer:
I only gave you an example, and quite an effective one. I would like to note that this kind of activity stopped the last war in the Gaza Strip. When Israel had spent all its resources, it was sure it could get everything needed from the US military depots, located in the territory of Israel. However, Washington deliberately did not agree to that. In this case, it was only about the military and technical leverage, which I'm sure, will necessarily be applied in the event of a large-scale conflict.
 
Artak Barseghyan (Armenia)
Public Radio of Armenia
 
Question:
What are the prospects for the settlement of the Karabakh problem in the light of the recent disagreements between Russia and the West, as represented in the OSCE Minsk Group?
 
Answer:
I think that now there are no prospects for the settlement of the Karabakh problem. It is more reasonable to agree to the maintenance of the current status quo. However, the Azerbaijani establishment disagrees and moves towards the aggravation of the conflict. The disagreements between Russia and the West have quite a small impact on that, as there is no unity in the OSCE Minsk Group. In fact, every co-chair works independently. Of course, if the OSCE can prove its credibility in the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, this could affect the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh problem, too. But the OSCE is not an independent body. During the Ukrainian crisis, it has only focused on the needs and wants of the US and, to some extent, those of Germany, too. In such circumstances, the authority of the OSCE cannot be reinforced.
 
Artak Barseghyan (Armenia)
Public Radio of Armenia
 
Question:
It has been over 20 years since the collapse of the USSR. The Commonwealth of Independent States was built on the ruins of the superpower. Don’t you think this association has exhausted itself?
 
Answer:
I believe that the CIS has not exhausted its potential. And this is not only a platform to discuss the issues in the post-Soviet space, but also a mutually beneficial common market. And even Georgia's withdrawal from the organization did not lead to the termination of the agreements and contracts it had concluded with the organization. Objectively, it is in the economic interests of Ukraine to be within the CIS.
 
Artak Barseghyan (Armenia)
Public Radio of Armenia
 
Question:
Mr. Yevseyev, do you think the events in Ukraine can lead to a reduction of the Eurasian Economic Union as an integration tool for the post-Soviet space?
 
Answer:
The Eurasian Economic Union as an instrument for integration in the post-Soviet space will continue to operate in the conditions of the Ukrainian crisis, too. At that, both positive and negative factors will become visible. For example, the introduction of the anti-Russian economic and financial sanctions partially opens the Russian market for the EEU Member States.
 
David Stepanyan (Armenia)
Arminfo.am
 
Question:
Are the pessimistic statements made by Nazarbayev and Lukashenko on the prospects of the EEU merely elements of a bargain with Moscow for economic preferences or do they truly reflect the real situation and the prospects of the integration project?
 
Answer:
Nazarbayev and Lukashenko have fundamentally diverse problems. Nazarbayev has got into the multi-vector game too deeply, so he has become too dependent on Western influence. At that, the national economy has remained a non-processing one that only supplies raw materials and is totally dependent on the global prices for hydrocarbons. Lukashenko is afraid of a color revolution. Under the current circumstances, both are afraid that Russia will not stand the pressure of the West. That is why they are anxious. With the strengthening of the Russian economy, which I believe will inevitably happen in the short term, both Astana and Minsk will again move towards Moscow. And Kiev’s negative experience in this regard will teach them a lot.
 
David Stepanyan (Armenia)
Arminfo.am
 
Question:
Today many people both in Russia and in the West argue that Moscow has already been defeated in the confrontation over Ukraine. Do you agree with this view? If so, what changes may it bring about in terms of the configuration of forces and the balance around Nagorno-Karabakh?
 
Answer:
There is no need to indulge in wishful thinking. Even on the battlefield Kiev could not win. The “Debaltseve boiler” may serve as a proof of that. However, the main battle will unfold in the economic sphere. Here, the current Ukrainian leadership will definitely lose. Although, while maintaining the limited Western aid the decline of the Ukrainian economy will not be very rapid. But this process will be accelerated if Kiev continues to try an armed resolution of the current problem. Along with the weakening of the central government in Kiev the authority of Moscow will grow in the Ukrainian, as well as the former Soviet Union territory. This will allow the Russian Federation to more actively restrain the warring parties in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
 
David Stepanyan (Armenia)
Arminfo.am
 
Question:
Is it possible to say that the results of the recent vote on the resolution of depriving Russia of the right to vote in PACE are a testament to the perturbations and the harbinger of a new geopolitical picture in South Caucasus?
 
Answer:
The last vote in the PACE showed that there is no unity in relation to Russiain Europe. That resolution was achieved with great difficulty and through the application of incredible pressure. It will be increasingly difficult for the US to control Europe further on. And here I mean France particularly, which under the new leadership might take a more pro-Russian stance. As for the geopolitical picture in the South Caucasus, it will largely depend on the process of strengthening Russian-Turkish and, to a lesser extent, Russian-Iranian relations. In the future, Moscow, Ankara and Tehran will agree to create a fundamentally new system of regional security blocs. This will lead to a decrease of the US’s military-political role in the South Caucasus.
 
Armen Minasian (Armenia)
Panorama.am
 
Question:
It is no secret that confrontations between main global players it is mostly the smaller countries trying to refrain from the getting into or not to be involved in global processes that incur most losses. In the light of the recent events in Ukraine is there a certain algorithm as to how small countries should behave in order to possibly avert any losses or to minimize them whatsoever?
 
Answer:
The best way for Armenia is to propose and launch a bridge between the EEU and the EU in the territory of the country. The need for this is due to the fact that Yerevan is interested in preserving the privileges of the EU and the current level of exports in this direction. And it would be good to involve Georgia in this process, too. Then, in many respects the Armenian society will not have to face the problem of choosing between Russia and the West.
 
Armen Minasian (Armenia)
Panorama.am
 
Question:
How would you comment on the recent statement by the OSCE Minsk Group, in particular, on the fact that for the first time within quite a long period the co-chairs turned down a "balanced" approach and clearly laid the responsibility for ceasefire violations on Azerbaijan?
 
Answer:
This is completely untrue. However, it would be wrong to credit the OSCE with objectivity in this matter. Most likely, the Americans thus decided to put additional pressure on Baku. The French, committed to the Euro-Atlantic solidarity, supported them. And it was only Russia that acted based on the facts of the problem.
 
"Hetq" online newspaper (Armenia)
 
Question:
"However, it would be wrong to credit the OSCE with objectivity in this matter. Most likely, the Americans thus decided to put additional pressure on Baku. The French, committed to the Euro-Atlantic solidarity, supported them. And it was only Russia that acted based on the facts of the problem."
 
Dear Vladimir Valeriyevich!
And what do you think are the facts of the issue in terms of the escalation of the situation at the front, on the basis of which Russia "refrained from putting pressure on Baku"?
 
Answer:
Russia has been working and will continue to work with Azerbaijan to keep it from the forceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. And unlike America, Moscow is not going to indulge in PR activities. The fact that the growth of the armed conflict in August last year was stopped in Sochi in the tripartite meeting with President Vladimir Putin can testify to Russia’s efficiency in this matter.
 
Armen Minasian (Armenia)
Panorama.am
 
Question:
Recently it was reported that the man accused of the murder of an Armenian family in Gyumri – Russian conscripts Valery Permiakov – had been treated in a psychiatric hospital with a diagnosis of mental retardation prior to conscription. How do you think it so happened that a man with such a diagnosis found himself in the armed forces and even on a military base outside the territory of the Russian Federation?
 
Answer:
I believe that only contracted servicemen should serve in the Russian military bases located outside the national borders. The process of their selection is stricter. Such an approach would have eliminated the probability of a similar occurrence. But everything should not be reduced to this military crime. It is more likely that there were serious routine causes, related to rather Chita, than Gyumri. However, I am not sure that it was this very sergeant who committed the horrible crime. I have significant experience of service in the Armed Forces. That occurrence allows us to ask a lot of questions. And not all of them are related to this soldier.
 
Armen Minasian (Armenia)
Panorama.am
 
Question:
Do you think it is right that Permiakov was not transferred to the law-enforcement bodies of Armenia?
 
Answer:
Permyakov committed a military crime, as he deserted his on guard position with a firearm. The occurrence in Gyumri was most likely related to some events that preceded the actual crime in the Russian Federation, in particular in Chita. I am not sure he was really the one to commit it. First, it is necessary to understand everything. And only after that the form and the place of his punishment will be determined.
 
Gagik Baghdasaryan (Armenia)
Newsarmenia.am
 
Question:
Do you think Azerbaijan will go for the resumption of hostilities in the conflict zone without firm guarantees and the approval of key centers of global power?
 
Answer:
Nobody will give such an approval to Baku. This did not happen even in August 2008 for Saakashvili. Moreover, no such thing will happen over Nagorno-Karabakh. However, the hostilities may resume there through the transition from armed incidents at the border to armed clashes. As a positive phenomenon, I would like to mention that the two leading regional players - Russia and Turkey – are categorically against the resumption of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
 
Gagik Baghdasaryan (Armenia)
Newsarmenia.am
 
Question:
Mr. Yevseyev, do you admit the probability of a destabilized domestic situation in Armenia because of the geopolitical choice in favor of the EEU?
 
Answer:
I do not see a direct link. One of the reasons for some internal instability was the attempt by the presidential administration to implement constitutional reforms in Armenia. It has nothing to do with Eurasian integration. It is quite another story that a number of Western countries are trying to use the current problems to destabilize Armenia. And they have rich and negative experience with this area. It is the duty of both the Russian and Armenian expert circles to actively oppose such attempts.
 
Gagik Baghdasaryan (Armenia)
Newsarmenia.am
 
Question:
Some political circles in Armenia began to openly demand the withdrawal of the Russian troops from the country. Don’t you see any coincidence between this desire and that of Armenia’s neighbors, particularly that of Turkey and Azerbaijan? What consequences may the withdrawal of the Russian military from Armenia lead to?
 
Answer:
Currently, the armies of Armenia and NKR can protect Nagorno-Karabakh in case of a confrontation with Azerbaijan. As a military expert, I do not see such a large excellence on the part of Baku to be able to independently regain control over Nagorno-Karabakh. Thus, Azerbaijan has superiority in terms of combat aircrafts and tanks. But this is largely offset by the systems of air defense and the presence of anti-tank weapons in both Armenian states. Especially because in mountainous areas it will be of little help, and the Armenian positions in the valleys are well equipped from the engineering perspective. Turkey is already a different story. It has such a serious military capability, that in the case of a full-scale armed conflict with Armenia it would be difficult to counter with anything. The military base in Gyumri is needed specifically for the purposes of deterring Turkey. With the military base there, the intervention of Ankara in the armed conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh to support Baku is extremely problematic. Especially, in the current environment of significant strengthening of the Russian-Turkish relations. Whoever calls on the withdrawal of the Russian military base from Gyumri is either a complete amateur in military matters, or a person who works for someone else’s (not Armenian) national interests. In view of the Turkish factor, it is Russia who is the guarantor of Armenia as an independent state.
 
Armen Minasian (Armenia)
Panorama.am
 
Question:
What steps do you think should both sides take to avoid or minimize the negative impact of the above-mentioned incident on the Armenian-Russian relations?
 
Answer:
I think that you need to turn the pagequickly. Like all Armenians, I was shocked at this tragedy. Of course, this monstrous cruelty deserves the worst punishment, but you need to live on. So, tonight in Donetsk the barbaric fire of Ukrainian security forces took the lives of three innocent children. And noone in the West even noticed. I believe that Russia will draw conclusions from what happened. These conclusions will also apply to military personnel at the Russian military base in Gyumri, where the Armenians can now serve as contracted soldiers and sergeants. It will definitely impact on the relations between the Russian military commandment and the local population. We need to live through this disastertogether. A precipitate will, of course, remain, but this should not lead to a significant deterioration of the Russian-Armenian relations.

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