NEW DELHI: With the Armenia-Azerbaijan military conflict showing no sign of de-escalation, the former has released pictures of one of its Sukhoi-25 warplanes which it said was shot down by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet over Armenian airspace, killing the pilot. Yerevan says the F-16 flew from the ‘Ganja’ airport in Azerbaijan. Turkey and Azerbaijan have rejected the statement. Armenia and Azerbaijan are refusing to accept international calls for a ceasefire over Nagorno Karabakh or Astrakh, an ethnic-Armenian region that broke away from Azerbaijan in the 1990s. The former Soviet republics both claim to have inflicted heavy losses on opposing forces, since fighting erupted on September 27. “It isn’t very appropriate to speak of a summit between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia at a time of intensive hostilities,” Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told Russia’s Interfax news agency, adding, “a suitable atmosphere and conditions are needed for negotiations.” Dr Zaur Gasimov, an expert on the region, says “Russia is the most significant player, having interwoven, multi-layered relationships with both Armenia and Azerbaijan.” Speaking to StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi, Dr Gasimov, who’s from the University of Bonn, acknowledges “long term differences of interests” between Russia and Turkey but feels the two “will find a way to cooperate and respect each other’s interests” in the Caucasus, like they have in other areas.
When the latest fighting started, Turkey’s Foreign Minister immediately extended support “both on the field and at the negotiation table”. Their leaders often refer to “one nation and two states”. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has also vowed to stand by Azerbaijan “with all its resources and heart”. Dr Gasimov though feels Russia holds the key to the region. It has a mutual defence pact with Armenia and a military base there but also has defence and historical relations with Azerbaijan. Moscow is also Turkey’s main energy supplier and a key defence equipment and trading partner to the NATO member state.