Tuesday, 20 October 2020

E Editorial

Three years from the April war to the new military doctrine of Armenia

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The third anniversary of the April 2016 war in Artsakh caused an unprecedented wave of discussions in Armenia. After the change of power in the country, such a stir could have been expected, as there is still no answer to many questions concerning the military-political and diplomatic events of those days. The appointment of the former intelligence chief of the army as advisor to the prime minister sparked a new wave of suspicion of the good faith of the former Armenian authorities. N. Pashinyan stated in this connection that there are no grounds for asserting that on the eve of the outbreak of hostilities there were some omissions in the issue of the lack of intelligence. One can recall that senior officials after the war intensively convinced the society that the offensive of the Azerbaijani army was a surprise for the leadership of the Artsakh Defense Army—although already then very quickly facts appeared confirming the baselessness of such statements by the former authorities.

Suspicions that the April war was an adventure, in which the then top officials were involved, came to the center of media attention. Mainly, such suspicions are connected with the fact that there are still no intelligible explanations of certain decisions of the former authorities. In particular, there is no answer to the question: why did the political leadership ban the actions of the army to return lost posts on the contact line? The promises of the new government of Armenia to investigate are not yet satisfactory for many - there have been demands to hold parliamentary hearings on the April war. Anyway, the new authorities of the country will have to scrupulously tackle this problem.

The April war itself, regardless of its contradictory assessments, objectively led to a radical change in the political thinking of all sectors of society, and in the first place, the ruling elite. New ideas appear, the essence of which is incomprehensible to many. It is noticeable that the leadership of the army is developing a new concept of defense, which is based on the thesis of punishing the enemy in the event of a new war. Punitive tactics around the world shows its effectiveness over the past decade. The thesis of the Minister of Defense "territories in exchange for war," meaning in practice the transfer of hostilities to the territory of the enemy, is evidence of a radical revision of the military doctrine. Undoubtedly, in the presence of long-range ultra-precise weapons for the Armenian army, the new doctrine can be perceived as a method of effective deterrence of the enemy. In addition, it can nullify the "military diplomacy" practiced by Azerbaijan for many years, having the goal of exerting pressure on the negotiation process. For purposeful provocations on the contact line, the enemy will have to pay a disproportionate price.

The conditions for the diplomacy of the settlement of the Artsakh problem and the new approaches of the Prime Minister of Armenia completely change. The offer to negotiate in accordance with the rights and responsibilities of the parties to the conflict narrowed the possibilities for Azerbaijan to narrow the essence of the settlement to territorial concessions from Armenia. In fact, Armenia ceases to discuss the elements of the draft settlement. Azerbaijan has been invited to discuss these elements with the leadership of Artsakh. Azerbaijan cannot agree and disagree with this either. All its hope is associated with the position of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, who by inertia want to maintain the old atmosphere in the negotiation process.

But how long can this go on? Times are changing rapidly ... the approaches of the 90s lose their effectiveness. Everyone will have to change.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

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