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Russian Analyst Says New Karabakh War Possible

Pavel Felgenhauer (file photo)
Pavel Felgenhauer (file photo)
MOSCOW -- Moscow-based military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer says he believes the parties involved in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh are readying for war, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Felgenhauer told RFE/RL on August 1 that both the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides were equally preparing for a possible war over the breakaway Azerbaijani territory.

He said that "the major players involved in the peace talks are aware of the situation and are doing their best" to deter the conflicting sides from making any inflammatory moves.

Felgenhauer said both the European Union and Russia realized that it is necessary to do everything to prevent a resumption of hostilities in the region.

"If Russia has to station its peacekeeping forces in the conflict zone, that will be good for Russia -- [it] has wanted that since 1994," he said.

Felgenhauer added that there will be no diplomatic breakthrough in the long-lasting peace talks in the near future.

He said the primary objective of the parties involved in the talks as mediators -- the United States, Russia, and France -- was not to let the war resume.

"In the event of a war in Karabakh, the conflict could develop into a wide regional war, and that should not be allowed to happen," Felgenhauer said.

He said he was not sure when a resumption of fighting might occur, although he said it would not happen this year.

Felgenhauer said Russia had historically considered the Caucasus in its sphere of interest and influence and would continue to strengthen its position there.

But Felgenhauer added that it would not be easy for Russia to take sides. Moscow has a military base in Armenia, close to the Armenian-Turkish border, but Russia does not directly border Armenia.

To reach the military base, Russia has to fly over Georgian airspace, and Tbilisi currently considers Russia an enemy that has occupied its breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Nagorno-Karabakh has a population of about 143,000, the overwhelming majority of them Armenians. It has enjoyed de facto independence from Azerbaijan since late 1991.

The disputed territory is closely integrated with Armenia, both politically and economically, despite objections from Baku.

Read more in Russian here