The false impression that observers are left with is that the Kremlin is either too weak to stop the large-scale slaughter and forced expulsion of Azerbaijan’s Christian Armenian minority or might even have sold them out and is therefore complicit in these crimes. Suffice to say, these implied smears – some of which are explicitly articulated by the most outspoken propagandists – aim to harm Russia’s soft power, especially among its Western supporters.
The surprisingly peaceful resolution of the three-decade-long Karabakh Conflict should have been a moment of celebration across the world but has instead turned into another opportunity to smear Russia. The latest means through which this is being done is by falsely claiming that Azerbaijan is “genociding” local Armenian Christians despite the presence of Russian peacekeepers. A less extreme but nonetheless still defamatory claim is that “ethnic cleansing” is being carried out under their watch.
There’s no truth to either of these allegations since the violence that recently took place is small-scale, isolated, and not sanctioned by the Azerbaijani state, let alone being committed with a wink and a nod from Russia. “Genocide” refers to the systemic large-scale slaughter of a targeted identity (ethno-national and/or religious) group, which veritably isn’t occurring. The overwhelming vast majority of those who were killed this past week were militants designated as terrorists by Baku, not civilians.
As for the latter, their deaths are of course regrettable, but were obviously accidental. The separatists often use civilians as de facto human shields by storing weapons in urban areas and operating from them to deter counterstrikes, which in turn increases the chances of collateral damage by Baku when it retaliates. Even so, such losses were minimal last week, with the separatists’ self-declared “human rights ombudsman” admitting that just 10 civilians were among the 200 killed during the single day of fighting.
This number doesn’t amount to “genocide”. To put it into context, 75 people were shot and 14 of them killed in Chicago one weekend over the summer yet these same people never accused the American government or local police of carrying out a “genocide”. For that reason and to his credit, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan confirmed on Thursday that reports about mass casualties among the civilian population in Karabakh don’t correspond to reality.
Regarding the alleged “ethnic cleansing” dimension of the latest conflict, that’s also similarly false since no credible threat exists to the lives or livelihoods of this Azeri region’s local Armenian population. Pashinyan also rubbished such claims on Thursday as well by exposing how thousands of people were duped by disinformation agents into thinking that the local airport would fly them to Armenia. In his assessment, this was a provocation carried out by the opposition to discredit him and create a scandal.
To be sure, everyone living in that universally recognized Azeri region has freedom of movement within it and the right to leave to wherever it may be so long as they have the proper documents, but it’s also the case that many of the local Armenians are being exploited as pawns in a political game. Armenia’s back-to-back losses in the two Karabakh Conflicts that broke out over the past three years made many lose faith in Pashinyan’s leadership and correspondingly fueled the latest opposition efforts to oust him.
In pursuit of that goal, which is actively being advanced by the same ultra-nationalist French- and US-based diaspora lobby whose rise in power in Armenia was ironically facilitated by Pashinyan himself after his 2018 Color Revolution, these forces are spewing false claims of “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing”. They want to artificially manufacture the optics of a humanitarian crisis in Karabakh by misleading its local Armenian population into overreacting out of false fear that they risk death if they don’t.
These innocent people are being corralled like cattle into decontextualized photo-ops for the purpose of achieving this political objective after being scared by disinformation about threats to their lives and livelihoods. The reality is that Karabakh’s full reintegration into Azerbaijan is being coordinated with Russian head of the Russian-Turkish joint monitoring center Oleg Semyonov, whose country is responsible for keeping the peace there and obviously wouldn’t let any harm befall its civilians.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev announced that he plans to turn Karabakh and the surrounding area into a “paradise” that would also benefit those local Armenians who he considers to be “our citizens” after they were robbed of peace and development for decades by the foreign-imposed separatist regime. This goal aligns with Russia’s grand strategic one related to stabilizing the South Caucasus in order to subsequently maximize its geo-economic potential and thus accelerate Eurasia’s multipolar integration.
Seeing as how no “genocide” is occurring as proven by just 10 civilians being killed as collateral damage during the one-day operation and no credible “ethnic cleansing” threats exist either due to Azerbaijan’s plans to provide for the region’s post-war development, such sensational claims are therefore veritably false. Nevertheless, by continuing to spew them, political forces within Armenia and among its powerful Western-based diaspora communities are trying to provoke a Color Revolution against Pashinyan.
They want to replace him with an even more compliant pro-Western puppet who’d then open the floodgates for that New Cold War bloc’s influence in the region, including its military component via NATO that could thus destabilize the region if this new puppet doubles down on revanchism. For all his faults, of which there are many, Pashinyan appears to have finally realized the futility of pushing an ultra-nationalist foreign policy as evidenced by him contradicting claims of “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing”.
These latest developments suggest that he’s beginning to liberate himself from the prior control that those radical ideological forces inside his country and among its diaspora previously exerted over him. If he’s successful, then it’s very possible that Armenia might soon agree to a peace treaty with Azerbaijan, but it’s precisely with a view towards averting this best-case scenario that multidimensional efforts are now underway to depose him before that happens.
The information warfare component of this ongoing regime change plot also serves to discredit Russia since it implicates that country in the “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” that these forces’ disinformation agents counterfactually claim are being carried out. The false impression that observers are left with is that the Kremlin is either too weak to stop the large-scale slaughter and forced expulsion of Azerbaijan’s Christian Armenian minority or might even have sold them out and is complicit in these crimes.
Suffice to say, these implied smears – some of which are explicitly articulated by the most outspoken propagandists – aim to harm Russia’s soft power, especially among its Western supporters. Those who thought that Russia stands for international justice, multipolarity, and minority rights as a result of the special operation might be misled into questioning their support for it if they fall under the influence of false narratives that blame this country for the alleged plight of Karabakh’s Christian Armenian minority.
It’s all the more damaging to Russia’s reputation when top influencers from the non-mainstream media community, including those that have previously defended it from similarly false smears across the years on a range of issues from Syria to Ukraine, jump on this fearmongering bandwagon. Whether they realize it or not, they’re functioning as the West’s “useful idiots” in its latest anti-Russian campaign, and their audience’s growing awareness of this role will inevitably lead to many people losing trust in them.
Source: the author’s blog