James Warlick’s statement on Russia and his three messages

20:25 • 17.08.16



Days after the Armenian-Russian presidential meeting, US Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group James Warlick hailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement on Russia’s plans to act as guarantor of a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.


In an interview with Tert.am, political scientist Styopa Safaryan commented on Mr Warlick’s statement, the Russian defense minister’s visits to Armenia and Azerbaijan, messages and other issues.


Mr Safaryan, the US co-chair made a statement hailing Russian President Vladmir Putin’s personal involvement in efforts to achieve a sustainable settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In your opinion, what idea did Mr Warlick’s push forward by means of his statement?


I think Mr Warlick’s statement contains three messages. The first is to make it clear to Russia it cannot be the only guarantor of a settlement. Russia has recently made such transparent attempts. By his statement, Mr Warlick suggested that the United States and France are the same guarantors as Russia.


The second message deals with peacekeepers. Russia is actively working to deploy its peacekeeper in the region. We should not rule out that the issue of peacekeepers may have been on the agenda of Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu’s visit to Azerbaijan, given official announcements of discussions on the Nagorno-Karabakh problem.


The third message deals with Putin’s efforts proper. Of course, Mr Warlick hails Putin’s activity. On the other hand, he makes it clear that, despite all his activity, the peace process must be in line with the first and second guidelines.


What is the reason for the United States raising the issue of peacekeepers now?


The United States is thus making it clear to Russia that it will not be allowed to deploy its peacekeepers in the region because, if the issue is discussed, the rule approved by the OSCE Minsk Group – the United States, Russia or France cannot have their troops in the conflict zone – remains in effect. In his second message, Mr Warlick makes it clear to - or even incumbent on – Russia that it should publicly discuss the issue of peacekeepers. It actually blocks the ways to Russia’s backstage diplomacy.


Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu visited Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Nagorno-Karabakh problem was among the issues on the agenda of the ministerial meeting in Baku. The sides also discussed military cooperation. What are possible expectations about that ministerial meeting?


They discussed arms sale, which arouses concern, especially in the context of Vladimir Putin’s answer to a journalist’s question: he explained Russia’s reasons for selling weapons to Azerbaijan.


The Nagorno-Karabakh problem was discussed in Baku as well. It should be noted, however, that defense ministers never discuss settlement of political problems. Therefore, we can say that, following Vladimir Putin’s meeting, Minister Shoigu was entitled to revise the settlement-related issues in Baku. It may be a matter of a military settlement of the conflict or of deployment of peacekeepers.


Russia continues its course of backstage diplomacy. I do not know how seriously Russians are discussing the issue of peacekeepers with Armenia. However, in an interview with Deutsche Welle, President Serzh Sargsyan said that the issue had been discussed earlier. Now, however, he believes that no peacekeeper is better than Armenian forces.


That is, the visits by Mr Warlick and Mr Shoigu have something in common?


I this respect, Mr Warlick’s statement is immediately related to Mr Shoigu’s visit. It is not for the first time that the US co-chair has preferred to highlight the issue of peacekeepers. Last year, he spoke of the issue as well. We should come to realize that it is just a way of preventing backstage dealings.


If Russia is to discuss the issue of peacekeepers, it will have to accept the previously approved rule:  the co-chairing countries’ troops must never form part of the peacekeeping forces, which will make Russia go back on its tracks.

Betghehem Arabyan





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