Author: Fuad HILALOV
"It’s been a month since Azerbaijan launched a counter-offensive in response to Armenian provocations in Nagorno-Karabakh. How would you assess the outcome of the operation?"
"In fact, there are a number of limiting factors associated with the military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh. The terrain rises from west to east and from south to north, which makes it difficult for the armored and mechanized units of the Azerbaijani army to move towards Kalbajar, that is, in the northern direction. In the south, however, the valley of the Araz River along the Iranian border facilitates the advance of the Azerbaijani troops in several directions. As expected, Azerbaijan began its military campaign precisely there. The first battles in the north, around the Murovdagh ridge, ensured the safety of the operation, and the southern territories were liberated relatively easily.
“Apart from the difficulties caused by the terrain, we should take into account the fortifications built by Armenians in the past 27 years. Videos published by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense show kilometres of trenches and underground passages indicating that the enemy has developed relevant positions for its weapons. Nevertheless, Azerbaijani troops could break the enemy's defense line in a short time and continued the offensive from the north and south. By the way, during the first Karabakh war, Armenia spent almost three years to occupy these districts. Now we see what a significant area has been liberated in just a month. The key factors behind this success are the full combat readiness of the Azerbaijani army, sufficient weapons and equipment, the loyalty and cohesion of the Azerbaijani people around the state and the army. The most critical point of hostilities is the Lachin corridor, which should greatly contribute to the success of the counteroffensive as soon as the Azerbaijani troops get control over it.”
"In terms of military power, Armenia lags behind Azerbaijan many times. However, it continues to get foreign military assistance. To what extent can this help Armenia? How long will the Armenian side resist?"
"President Ilham Aliyev clearly answered your question in his public address made on October 26. His words were addressed to the countries that support Armenia with weapons rather the people of Azerbaijan. Under normal conditions, Armenia would have exhausted its weapons and equipment long ago. Most of Armenian weapons are the remnants of the Soviet military systems of the Cold War era. Some of these reserves could not even be used on the battlefield; they remained in military depots. But we saw that they have a huge number of missiles. However, after Ilham Aliyev's statement, the number of countries supplying weapons to Armenia will begin to decrease and gradually come to naught, since continuing to supply a state that no longer has an economic future is pointless.
“I think that Armenia will surrender soon after the liberation of several more critical points. It can admit capitulation in a different form but it doesn't matter anymore. What matters is the return of the occupied lands to their real owners. You need to show a little patience and wait for the army to complete the counter-offensive in due manner. Hastiness and pressure on soldiers will do no good in this case.”
"What can you say about the tactical maneuvers of the Azerbaijani army?"
"Azerbaijan is conducting military operations in full compliance with the existing conventions. We can see modern weapons and equipment on the battlefield. In particular, we saw very successful use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). We know that the Azerbaijani army is well prepapred for the combat operations and knows very well how to use complex systems in parallel with other technical support devices. If we take a look at the Armenian side, we can see a twofold picture. Firstly, they use rather outdated traditional Soviet military tactics, such as layered and nodal defense. The layered defense line of Armenia failed miserably under the heavy pressure of the Azerbaijani army. It took slightly longer than expected to destroy a few nodes of defence, as they were defended as fortresses. Ultimately, however, many factors influence the success of any military operation. In terms of education, arms supplies, discipline, command and logistics Azerbaijan is better prepared for the conduct of military operations. The Armenian side even lacks ambulances for transporting the wounded; it is unable to properly feed the servicemen on the front line. Communication between the troops has been interrupted. Video and photo footage show the low level of discipline and morale in the Armenian army. You don't need to be a visionary to predict Azerbaijan's victory in this war."
"Armenia continues to accuse Turkey of siding with Azerbaijan in the conflict. What is the goal of these accusations?"
"If Armenia manages to involve Turkey in this war, its Western friends will immediately rush to help it. This is the idea–to call for help at the right time. They are also waiting for this, since they cannot do anything now. The war is on the territory of Azerbaijan. There are no operations in Armenia. They know very well that the situation can change only if Turkey intervenes."
"What about Armenia's military allies? Is it an attempt to pull the CSTO, or Russia, into the conflict?"
"Since the beginning of October, President Putin has repeatedly stated that the armed clashes are taking place on the territory of Azerbaijan. Therefore, Russia will remain committed to this position until the war spreads to the territory of Armenia. Despite all the provocations and rocket attacks from the territory of Armenia, Azerbaijan is trying not to shift the hostilities to the territory of Armenia. It is clear that the one who is strong on the battlefield will win."
"Armenia also claims the presence of Syrian militants in Azerbaijan. Does Azerbaijan need them indeed?"
"It's not even funny! Why bring militants from Syria? Can't Azerbaijan fight on its own? The truth is Azerbaijan believes that no people from Syria or from other places can do anything in the current combat conditions. Can Syrian militants control UAVs, transmit the coordinates of enemy positions to artillery? Maybe they can shoot from tanks or other armored vehicles? Or will they conduct electronic operations against the enemy using the available military equipment? The Azerbaijani army is equipped with the latest technology. Why would it bring in Syrian fighters? That will do no good... Where will Azerbaijan use them? At what stage of the war may Azerbaijan need them? In short, this is just a surreal and inconsistent statement.
“In fact, it is Armenia that uses the mercenaries, or the PKK militants, because it needs them very much given the current operational situation. For example, militants can fight as infantry to defend a specific point of resistance. Or they can use anti-tank and armor-piercing missiles. Terrorists are good at light weapons and anti-tank missiles. They are also good at using air defense systems against aircraft, helicopters and UAVs flying at low altitudes. In other words, in this particular situation PKK militants can be useful for Armenia, not for Azerbaijan.”
"Armenia is subjecting Azerbaijani settlements far from the front line to rocket artillery shelling. What is the goal of Armenians in this case?"
"That’s how Armenia openly demonstrates its bandit nature. There is a term–a bandit state–in international relations, and Armenia is one of such states. They are also known for the heavy use of acts of terror. Firing rockets at civilians is an act of terror. The goal is to escalate the situation and attract attention. On the other hand, through their own propaganda machine, they inflate the situation with the death of civilians in order to attract external powers and stop the war. Again, the goal is to keep the occupied territories in their hands when the war ends and the so-called "peace" is ensured. These are the key features of the plot designed by Armenia today. Armenia has already attempted to provoke Azerbaijan to shift the hostilities to the Armenian territory so that it could complain about being a victim of the Azerbaijani assault. But the trick did not work. And now Armenia is trying to escalate the situation to force the West to stop the war."
"What can you say about the progress of events? What is your assessment of the situation?"
"I can see that the people of Azerbaijan has endured this pain for 28 years and well prepared for this moment. Today the state of Azerbaijan fulfills the greatest expectation of its people. The state and people of Azerbaijan stay united now.
“Azerbaijan will soon return all its lands. We will soon get good news of victory. Then it you will need to solve the issue of returning people to the liberated areas. It is as important as the war. It will take years to solve demographic problems. Part of the country's economy will be used for this purpose. Again, it will take years to restore everything. Otherwise, there is no point in returning Nagorno-Karabakh. Then, I am sure peace will come to the region again. Armenians will also benefit from the situation. Isolated and closed from the rest of the world for many years, Armenia will finally get economic benefits. The return of the occupied territories to their real owners will benefit everyone.”