The Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking of the issue of Artsakh at Valdai Discussion Club, said there are contacts, meetings, agreements on exchange of PoWs, maintenance of the ceasefire, and incidents at the border have become less frequent, the political process is frozen and there is no success in escaping the halt.
The Russian foreign minister actually announced that the conflict over Artsakh is frozen, and though it is impossible to imagine that one of the co-chair countries announces about this in the mode of so-called political decision or realism, it is nonetheless obvious that there is such a decision.
The primary reason is the Armenian army which demonstrated in 2016 that expectations to change the status quo through unfreezing the conflict and to achieve a settlement is not realistic. Of course, the big question is whether the co-chairs could have such expectations in the past years. Nevertheless Azerbaijan could have formed a certain solicitation for the “right to war” and received approval, especially that in this sense Baku was in close trade with one of the co-chairs, Russia, believed to be Armenia’s ally.
In this context, it is notable that now the Russian foreign minister is speaking about freezing the issue while in April 2016 even Serzh Sargsyan was demanding account from him on the war based on the success of the Armenian army.
After the velvet revolution Nikol Pashinyan raised the bar announcing that the war is possible in case Russia is reluctant to prevent it.
The American signal of freezing the Artsakh issue came from the appointment of the co-chair Andrew Schoffer who had considerable experience in the framework of the Cyprus conflict. The decision of the White House to introduce this experience in Artsakh was symbolic. Of course, it is not possible to put an equal mark between the conflicts of Artsakh and Cyprus but in this case the only alternative to freezing is a big regional war where there will be no winners.
Meanwhile, the region has a vital importance not only for the three Caucasian states but also several centers of power, including Moscow and Tehran.
After the April war Yerevan tried to strengthen the military resource for the prevention of a new war intensively but along with the military-technical steps the adequacy of political steps was insufficient due to some reasons and due to some circumstances that occurred later. With the velvet revolution Armenia got an opportunity to upgrade the political-military steps to an adequate dynamics and content, thereby increasing the time range of the war prevention capacity and making it at least medium-term, thereby enabling more steady domestic development and modernization policy.
Yerevan needs to use this time reserve to upgrade its economic, political and military resources to transform the range of preemptive capacity to long-term strategic. This already requires solutions which will not be popular in a short-term perspective but at the end of the day the medium-term space for the prevention of war was gained for them which will not be prolonged in case it is not used to the point.