Paris, which skillfully uses Delhi’s geostrategic ambitions and exploits private Indian business to spread its influence in Transcaucasia, is also on the list of those responsible for a potential next round of the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. It must be said that a clear political, legal and moral assessment of such steps will be visible later.
The mountainous enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh (located in Azerbaijan), home to some 120,000 people, has been the object of fierce confrontation between Baku and Yerevan since the early 1990s and up to the present day. The Karabakh Armenians’ struggle for unification with neighbouring Armenia collapsed in 2020 when during the 44-day war Azerbaijan took control of most of the Karabakh territory. At the same time, despite the presence of a peacekeeping contingent of Russia, which acted as a mediator in the settlement of the conflict, the region remains explosive and requires special attention from the international community, seeking to prevent the escalation of a new crisis.
On the Powder Keg
At the same time, major proactive players continue to make extensive use of the Transcaucasus region, both to expand their influence in the short term and to realize their long-term strategic plans. In the context of the constantly flaring hostilities on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, both Yerevan and Baku are seeking the support of influential powers, and the latter, the most active of which are Turkey, India, Russia and France, who are ready to provide their services immediately. Both Azerbaijan and Armenia are good markets for arms, and the issue of the solvency of the Transcaucasian republics is levelled by the willingness of large international suppliers to provide preferential loans to importers of military equipment.
At the same time, the ways of achieving the intended goals, which are already rarely altruistic, raise many questions and even fears in the current realities. Thus, the French side is taking the most active steps to spread its own influence in the region. Paris’s unconcealed desire to draw Yerevan into the orbit of its own influence by supplying Armenia with a wide range of weapons has long been the object of criticism and discontent of the international community. At the same time, the ability of the French leadership (which is not willing to openly take responsibility for pumping arms into an already crisis-ridden region) to drag in a third party to implement its own initiatives is worthy of special attention.
French diplomacy bypasses
Today, the delivery of arms to the Armenian side is a rather complicated logistical operation. The only corridor for arms exports to Armenia, surrounded by countries friendly to Azerbaijan, is Iran. At the same time, in the conditions of Tehran’s international isolation, any contact with the Iranian side will be perceived extremely negatively by the Western community. In this regard, arms deliveries to Yerevan directly through Iran are not possible for France. The option of involving clearly pro-Azerbaijani Turkey is also unacceptable. In such isolationist conditions, the Elysee Palace decided to use India to achieve its goals. Paris’ cunning plan consists of buying Indian arms and sending them to Armenia through Indian transportation companies, which (by the way) can use the territory of Iran for logistics with impunity. In addition, joint production of French and Indian weapons is also widely developed, which provides Paris with additional opportunities to expand its own exports of military equipment to Transcaucasia.
A game of blind
It is much more interesting to assess the role of India, which is both a transportation hub and a direct supplier of arms to the crisis region. New Delhi’s interest in participating in such machinations is conditioned by the complicated geopolitical situation around the Indian territory itself. India has the most acute border contradictions with China (Aksai Chin, Ladakh), and it is this fact that forces Delhi to seek the favour of Western powers, with the expectation that in the future confrontation between Delhi and Beijing, the Western powers would take the Indian side. In order to neutralize the conflict situation near its borders, India is, in fact, ready to contribute to the development of the conflict in the neighbouring region. This is happening despite the fact that Delhi, in fact, is one of the initiators of the Bandung Conference, which in its time proclaimed the “five principles of peaceful coexistence”, among which non-interference in the internal conflicts of third states, as well as unconditional respect for sovereignties are clearly prescribed.
Time will tell
It must be said that a clear political, legal and moral assessment of such steps will be visible later. Equally, Paris, which skillfully uses Delhi’s geostrategic ambitions and exploits private Indian business to spread its influence in Transcaucasia, is also on the list of those responsible for a potential next round of the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. As a result, both India and France, positioning themselves as one of the main guarantors of compliance with the UN principles, are completely unfit for the fundamental eradication of the main evil – the purposeful unleashing of armed conflicts, as they are simply an organic part of it.
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