Russia beat Europe in Caucasus under the guise of ‘humanitarian aid’ from Putin’s ally

On July 26, a total of 19 lorries loaded with food and medicine were sent from Armenia to the separatist enclave in Azerbaijani Karabakh along the Lachin road.

The dispatch of the lorries had not been coordinated with official Baku. So, on the Azerbaijan with Armenian border, the border guards did not allow these lorries through, because of the danger of smuggling weapons and transferring militants to Karabakh.

Separatists with Moscow principles

Two days after the trucks had been sent from Yerevan, one of the largest Greek media Protothema said that “this road is used (by Armenia) for “the rotation of personnel, the transport of weapons and ammunition, the infiltration of terrorists”.

After Azerbaijan regained its own sovereignty over Karabakh in 2020, Armenia’s connection to the separatist enclave has been through the Lachin road, temporarily controlled by the Russian military contingent.

On July 15, European Council President Charles Michel announced Azerbaijan’s readiness to open an additional road through Agdam for the supply of humanitarian goods to the Armenians of Karabakh. But Yerevan, together with the leadership of the separatists, stubbornly insists on using the Lachin road.

The fact that Yerevan and the Karabakh separatists, with the support of the Kremlin, have been speculating on the Karabakh conflict was previously reported by the Ukrainian media.

“For the separatist leadership in Khankendi, it is fundamental to use the Lachin road in particular, which is controlled by the Russian military contingent,” Ukrainian publication Censor said.

Imperialist games of the Kremlin

Yerevan’s desire to use the very road where the Russian military is deployed is not accidental, because the very delivery of humanitarian cargo to Karabakh has a Russian trace. This is evidenced by a number of facts:

The lorries sent from Yerevan belong to the export company Spayka. Sedrak Kocharyan is confidently called its owner in Armenia. He is the son of Robert Kocharyan, the most pro-Russian ex-president of Armenia and a personal friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Spayka, like its owner, has close ties to Russia. The company has been supplying to Russia for more than 16 years.

According to the Armenian media, many of which (Hraparak, Sputnik Armenia, Radio Azatutyun) are directly or indirectly connected with the Kremlin, the Russian military contingent was supposed to act as an intermediary in the transfer of cargo sent from Yerevan to the Karabakh separatists.

On August 8, a volunteer armed formation in Armenia, calling itself the “Crusaders”, began an action against the exclusion of Spayka trucks from Karabakh. The squad is sponsored by the Moscow crime boss and “businessman” Artur Asatryan, who has been put on the international wanted list by the Italian authorities on suspicion of murder.

The truck story is yet another manifestation of Russian imperialism. Putin has long sought to prevent the achievement of peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in which the EU and the US are interested. The same scenario was played by him in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. The goals of such a destructive policy were reported by many Western media.

Armenians of Karabakh – like pawns of Moscow

“Putin is using the Armenians of Karabakh as pawns. Like South Ossetians and Abkhazians in Georgia or Russian communities in Ukraine, Karabakh offers him a pseudo-humanitarian justification for Russian imperialism,” The Wall Street Journal reported in June 2023.

“Given Russia’s ongoing conflicts over puppet territories in many parts of the former Soviet Union, such as Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Donbass, Moscow continues to follow the same scenario. Karabakh is a suitable target for such an operation,pan-European publication EuReporter said.

By capitalizing on the humanitarian problem created by Moscow itself, “Russia will be able to maintain its positions, including its military presence, in the South Caucasus and Eastern Europe,” the Romanian edition of Newsweek said.

According to the Czech CNN (the local partner of the American corporation), Russia is very unhappy that Armenia and Azerbaijan can agree on some issues with the help of Washington or Brussels.”

“Russia is trying to use every opportunity to spark the conflict and prevent the establishment of peace between the two countries supported by the West,” the Polish edition of Dorzeczy says.

Humanitarian aid or militarization?

The fears of Azerbaijanis and European media about the transfer of weapons and militants to Karabakh under the guise of humanitarian aid have reasonable grounds..

Kocharyan’s Spayka is well known for its smuggling activities. During the Second Karabakh War in 2020, it was involved in the illegal transportation of weapons from Russia to Armenia.

On October 10, 2020, Spayka trucks full of weapons were detained at the Georgian-Armenian border.

According to the tripartite statement of the heads of the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan and Armenia, which was signed following the results of the 2020 war, the Lachin road leading from Armenia to Karabakh can be used strictly for civilian purposes. Despite this, for the past three years, the patrons of the Armenian separatists in Yerevan, with the active participation of the Russian military, have been transferring weapons and ammunition to Karabakh along the Lachin road.

“Armenia continues to form new combat positions on the territory of Azerbaijan, where the Russian contingent is temporarily stationed … Hence, the laying of a large number of mines also continues,” the Ukrainian news portal Censor reported recently.

On June 14, the large Telegram channel AZfront, which regularly publishes exclusive materials about Ukraine, the Caucasus and Iran, reported on Russian military supplies to Karabakh: “The Russian army secretly handed over hundreds of Chinese reconnaissance and strike drones DJI Mavic 3 Fly More Combo with explosive release systems to illegal armed formations of Armenian separatists in Karabakh.” This information was provided by a source in the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine.

Separatism in eastern Ukraine and Karabakh is the same

A similar situation with the delivery of humanitarian cargo occurred in 2014, when Moscow announced its intention to deliver “humanitarian aid” to eastern Ukraine. Kyiv refused such an initiative, fearing the transfer of weapons and terrorists to its territory. Then the US and the EU unconditionally supported Ukraine.

“I condemn the entry of the so-called Russian humanitarian convoy into Ukraine. This is a flagrant violation of Russia’s international obligations,” Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in August 2014.

“Russia has no business delivering aid in Ukraine.… Therefore, any further unilateral intervention by Russia into Ukrainian territory – including one under the guise of providing humanitarian aid – would be completely unacceptable,” US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said the same month.

In 2014, the head of EU foreign policy, Sebastian Brabant, also expressed his opinion: “This (sending trucks from Russia to Ukraine) is a clear violation of Ukrainian borders.”

Press release following a telephone conversation between President Obama and Chancellor Merkel: “The two leaders agreed that Russia sending a convoy into Ukraine without Ukraine’s approval is a further provocation and a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Despite the obvious similarity between the events nine years ago in the eastern regions of Ukraine and those that are happening now in Azerbaijan, European politicians and officials are ignoring the situation in Karabakh.

Some are even supporting the demands of the pro-Russian separatists. Probably, such bias is caused by the influence of large Armenian diasporas in France and the USA. As the Romanian publication Stiripesurse noted in July, “the president of one of the main European powers, Emmanuel Macron, has become a hostage to radical elements in the Armenian diaspora.” Apparently, not only him…

Igor Chalenko

Igor Chalenko is an Ukrainian political scientist who heads the Centre for Analysis and Strategies, Ukraine.