Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 173

"It is alarming to hear voices from Karabakh calling for a military resolution of this age-old conflict," Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov told a Moscow news conference yesterday. Primakov stated that he was authorized by President Boris Yeltsin to declare that the recently signed Russian-Armenian alliance treaty (see Monitor, September 2, and Prism, September 12) is not directed against Azerbaijan and "will not be used to support those who challenge Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity." (Itar-Tass, September 17)

Primakov was apparently targeting Karabakh’s defense minister, Samvel Babaian, who had predicted in an interview last week that the war would inevitably resume sooner or later and that the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute can only be resolved when one side has totally crushed the other. Babaian voiced confidence that the Armenian side would prevail in such a war owing to its military superiority. And he came out against retroceding some of the territories held by Armenian forces in Azerbaijan proper outside Karabakh, proposing instead that Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan’s interior be settled there. In Yerevan yesterday, Karabakh’s newly elected president, Arkady Gukasian, distanced himself slightly from Babaian. Offering assurances that negotiations will continue, Gukasian described war scenarios as "worst-case hypotheses." He added, however, that "the people and the army must be prepared for the worst case. There will not necessarily be a war, not as long as we are strong." (Russian agencies, September 17)

Even as Primakov was speaking, an Azerbaijani delegation headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Abbas Abbasov was in Moscow to discuss the matter of clandestine Russian arms deliveries to Armenia. Russia is taking some minimally required steps to meet Azerbaijani concerns and to retain credibility as co-chairman of the OSCE’s mediating group on Karabakh. Moreover, Moscow seeks to reap the benefits of its military alliance with Armenia while minimizing the risk of becoming embroiled in Armenian-Azerbaijani military hostilities. Primakov’s statement yesterday implicitly warns the Armenian side against interpreting the alliance treaty with Russia as a guarantee of territorial gains.

Taliban Advance to Uzbek Border.