RBC: Experts explain reasons behind Armenia’s defeat in Nagorno-Karabakh
Armenia is engulfed by mass protests against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who de facto accepted Azerbaijan's terms on ending the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. The war, which kicked off early on September 27, ended 44 days later in Armenia’s actual defeat. Under the agreement, Yerevan handed over to Baku seven regions adjacent to the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, which it had seized nearly 30 years ago, as well as Shusha and Hadrut. The most heated debate in Armenia and among its diaspora overseas was around the handover of Shusha, RBC writes. After losing this strategic town, Yerevan decided that it was unable to continue the war.
Before the war, the armies of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh lagged behind Azerbaijan in terms of military hardware, tanks, artillery and manpower, according to open source data. However, this lag could not be called critical given that they were to act on the defensive. Azerbaijan’s key advantage was in reconnaissance assets, which are a vital part of a modern war, said Vasily Kashin, Head of Department at the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics. "You can have parity in terms of the number of artillery systems, military hardware and tanks, but the potential is not about the number of weapons, but rather effective intelligence." Besides, Armenia’s air defense was not very effective, Kashin noted.
Baku also carried out a better policy on purchasing weapons. "In the end, Azerbaijan, whose budget was 3-5 times bigger than that of Armenia over the past years ($1.79 bln versus $528.7 mln in 2019), had been preparing for this war intentionally and continuously by attracting suppliers - Russia, Israel and Turkey - and thoroughly studying the experience of the past conflicts. The fact that Armenia lacked money is part of the problem. Careful strategic planning would have compensated for this imbalance, but they did not have that either," Kashin said.
Izvestia: Russia seeks to develop hydrogen power, in move towards clean energy prospects
Russia and Germany will become long-term partners in the field of hydrogen energy, which is slowly but surely replacing hydrocarbons, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak announced at a bilateral forum. Russia, a major exporter of hydrocarbons to Europe, found itself in a challenging situation amid plans on dumping renewable energy, Izvestia writes.
Moscow is offering cooperation on Europe’s terms as it does not want to lose its partner, Finam’s Alexander Kovalev told the newspaper. "Now Japan, Germany, the United States and even China are way ahead in producing and rolling out hydrogen fuel and building infrastructure. In Germany, this process has been underway since the early 2000s. This time, the lag in developing hydrogen energy has put Russia in an unequal position versus its more advanced partners," according to the expert. Meanwhile, Kovalev notes there is some potential for cultivating hydrogen power in Russia, mainly by "using the capacity of power stations."
After launching this production, Russia can immediately become a leader due to its existing infrastructure and get 10-15% of the European market because the transportation issue is virtually solved. It can use the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines (when it is built), Deputy Director of Alpari’s Analytical Department Natalya Milchakova said. Cooperation with the hydrogen energy flagship in Europe will stimulate Russia towards developing in a new direction, Managing Partner at the WMT think tank Ekaterina Kosareva said. With such mutually beneficial cooperation, Russia has all the chances of catching up to the leading countries in this field rather quickly.
Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Iranian parliament urges harsh response to top nuclear scientist’s killing
Iran’s parliament will back the idea of signing a bill, calling on the Islamic Republic’s government to boost production of low-enriched uranium and ban inspections by "spies from the International Atomic Energy Agency" at the industrial facilities. This tough response, which is basically paving the way for Tehran to shaft the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on its nuclear program, came in the wake of the recent killing of Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes. This is the fifth scientist killed by Israeli intelligence, according to Iran’s claims. Despite emotions running high among Iranian conservative forces, the leadership is not expected to decide on leaving the JCPOA and launching a full-scale conflict with Israel and the US, an expert told the newspaper. However, some limited retaliatory strikes by Tehran are highly likely.
The harsh bill in response to the killing of Fakhrizadeh, who is dubbed as "the father of the Iranian nuclear bomb," was greatly expected, military expert Vladimir Evseev, who heads the department of the Institute of CIS Countries, noted.
However, this decision of the Majlis is not final and has yet to be agreed on with other structures, he pointed out. "For Iran it is very important now to ease restrictions on oil exports and this is a priority for the country’s authorities," he said.
The expert fears that Tehran could take some decisions on a military response against Israel. However, a possible Iranian strike on Lebanese or Syrian soil would be insufficient for breaking Israel’s air defenses without using ballistic missiles. "And such a step in turn could spark a full-scale conflict in the region," he warned. Meanwhile, any harsh initiatives by the parliament are likely to be cushioned by Iran’s supreme leader.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Erdogan capitulates to Biden’s team
Turkey is showing signs that it is ready to reconcile with its regional rivals - Saudi Arabia and Israel. Following hints at reviving diplomatic contacts with Riyadh, news broke that a special channel of communication was launched with Israeli officials. Experts link these steps by Turkey to an attempt to appease the Biden administration. However, there are serious doubts that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is ready to follow this course for a long time, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
"After a Biden win in the election Erdogan’s government chose a more conciliatory tone to both the US and the European Union as well as Turkey’s regional rivals - Israel and Saudi Arabia," said Aykan Erdemir, senior director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies' Turkey program and a former member of the Turkish parliament. "This change in rhetoric testifies to Erdogan’s anxiety that Biden would not tolerate his aggressive foreign policy and measures in the security field, and could impose sanctions in coordination with the European Union."
According to the former MP, the Turkish president could also expect that improving relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia could halt the trend towards the growing isolation of Turkey in the Middle East and improve its image in Washington and Brussels. "To a large extent, these steps are an attempt to sugarcoat reality and don’t reflect any real changes in Erdogan’s foreign and security policy," Erdemir stressed.
Last month, the Turkish president failed to deliver on his promise to launch legal and democratic reforms at home, and later he stepped up his repressions against the opposition, the expert noted. "There are no reasons to expect that the Turkish leader will fulfill his promises on the international level," he said. However, it is not ruled out that Erdogan could keep his conciliatory tone for some time.
Izvestia: Russia gears up for large-scale COVID-19 vaccination
Next week, Russia is due to launch large-scale vaccination of doctors and teachers against the coronavirus infection. So far, nearly 2 mln vaccine doses have been produced in the country, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced. According to experts and politicians, even if the vaccine works just for six months, this will be a positive result, which will stop the spread of the disease, Izvestia writes. Meanwhile, a decision on getting the jab should be voluntary.
"Vaccination will only do good. I expect very much that it will save people who could be potentially affected," said Doctor of Biological Sciences, Professor of the Department of Virology, Faculty of Biology, Moscow State University, Alexei Agranovsky. Doctors are the hardest hit by the disease, he noted. "A virus dose that they have a chance to get is usually high. If the vaccine works for five or six months, this will do good. Everything is on a voluntary basis, but doctors should understand that this is needed. Vaccination is a hope that they won’t spread the virus further."
Deputy Chairman of the State Duma (lower house) committee, Doctor of Medical Sciences Nikolai Govorin noted that a COVID-19 vaccine would become one of the most important tools for combating the pandemic. "All the world’s epidemics were eliminated because vaccines had been created," he said. According to him, all social groups at risk should be provided with the vaccine. Most people are ready and are waiting to get vaccinated because this is a chance not to contract the virus and not to die, he noted.
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