Our Analytics 27 march — 12:04

Pavel Felgenhauer: If Armenia starts to fight, then Azerbaijan will completely smash it to smithereens (Expert opinion)

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INTERVIEWED BY YULIA MEDVEDEVA, MOSCOW, EXCLUSIVELY FORA AZERI DAILY

The second group of pyrotechnical experts from the Russian Emergencies Ministry arrived in Azerbaijan to participate in demining operations in the liberated territories in Nagorno-Karabakh. Earlier, the International Anti-Tank Centre of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation transferred special equipment, including the multifunctional robotic demining complexes Uran-6. Russian specialists work together with the Azerbaijani military. However, the clearance rate of the liberated territories remains low due to the refusal of the losing side in the Second Karabakh War - Armenia - to hand over minefield maps. The well-known military expert Pavel Felgenhauer said in an interview with Azeri Daily that Armenia, probably in exchange for information about minefields, would like to receive its soldiers detained in Azerbaijan.

Pavel Felgenhauer

- Pavel Yevgenievich, how difficult, in your opinion, is the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, whose territories are almost 80% mined? Russia came to the aid of Azerbaijan. Do you think international efforts are needed to rid the country of this legacy?

- Azerbaijan can cope with the clearance of fields on its own. There are proven techniques. Mass demining has been carried out several times in different parts of the world. It's just a very long time. There are international organisations that carry out mine clearance in different countries of the world. The late Princess Diana has supported demining campaigns in Africa, Afghanistan and other countries. She called for a halt in the production of anti-personnel mines, which are killing civilians. Mines spare no one. They spare neither women, nor children, nor the elderly. The mines don't care. Russia has experience in mine clearance. Russia is a 'mine' country.

After the death of Princess Diana, 122 countries signed the Ottawa Treaty, a convention prohibiting the use, production, storage and transport of anti-personnel mines. That is, those countries that are far from the military theatre of operations. Russia, the United States, Israel, India, Pakistan, China, Turkey, Iran did not sign this convention. For obvious reasons, Azerbaijan and Armenia did not sign this convention either.

Then, it is not clear how mines were planted in Karabakh. There are so-called organised minefields. Such fields must be serviced.

- What does it mean?

- This means that sappers go out several times a year to every active minefield. They check it, change old mines for new ones. That is, a minefield is kept operational, if it is a permanent one. I have seen such in the Golan Heights, where Israel's defence line runs. The brigade commander explained to me where and what mines were laid. These are serviced minefields.

And there are wild minefields that were once planted by someone, they were fenced off with barbed wire and abandoned. What can explode there, what cannot explode, where exactly the mine is installed is no longer clear.

In the same Golan Heights, there are Syrian minefields. On the side of the Sea of ​​Galilee there is a steep climb, where the Syrian line of defence used to be, which the Israelis took in 1967. There they built several roads and abandoned the rest of the territory. They did not go there. They just fenced off and left. Nobody knows what is there. This is a wild minefield, much more dangerous than a serviced minefield.

There are many such unattended fields in Karabakh, in varying degrees of wilderness. It is possible that in many cases, accurate maps are not available. And since the conflict was long-term, it is now difficult to understand who did and what was put there.

I believe that the Armenian side would like to receive their prisoners in exchange for information about the minefields. Yerevan is now worried about this issue most of all, especially from a political point of view - early parliamentary election has been announced in Armenia...

On the other hand, it is not clear how relevant the information about minefields in Karabakh is. There are different minefields, set up by both sides, in different locations, plus there are remote mining systems. I don't know if they were used there or not, but they were Soviet systems. This is when the land is sown with mines from the Grad system. This is how the field commander of Chechnya Shamil Basayev got injured in his time. His leg was blown off. He and a detachment walked through the field, but it turned out to be mined.

- So the maps are needed after all?

- The fact is that modern mines have a self-destruction system. After some time, if you do not touch them, they themselves are destroyed and everything will be fine. But there are explosives that may have remained, unexploded ordnance and other smaller calibre ammunition. Therefore, yes, of course, minefield maps are important, but how fully relevant they are in this particular case is not clear. We must come to the conclusion that there is a mine threat almost throughout the entire territory of Karabakh. Therefore, a very thorough and very massive demining campaign must be carried out. But if the maps are not provided and Armenia does not take part, then Azerbaijan, in any case, will have to clear the territories. Although it is better to carry out such actions together. But, in principle, the question of mine danger can be solved. But now it has acquired political significance between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Nevertheless, it will have to be solved.

- How to technically carry out demining of such large areas. According to the Azerbaijani side, 80-85% of the territories remain mined.

- They need to start working. The fact is that Soviet mines that were used in the occupied areas are detected by modern means of mine clearance. This is not superior mathematics, simple technique, nothing supernatural. If this is a field with anti-personnel mines, then you can start a tank with a trawl. If a mixed field - anti-tank and anti-personnel - then in this case the tank will no longer work. There are other methods.

- There is an opinion that, if the Armenian side does not provide maps of minefields, then it considers the war not over for itself. What do you think?

- Now the war is over. But, in principle, in Armenia they believe that the current line is wrong. And in general, the results of the war in Armenia are not recognised by the public consciousness, this is an obvious fact.

- Can Armenia win back its defeat?

- Of course not. If only Russia is involved in the war. If they start to fight now, they will be completely smashed to smithereens. In any case, those territories that remained under Armenian control will be lost.

- How do you assess the Armenian army, is it combat-ready?

- The Armenian army is more or less combat-ready. They did fight all 44 days. They suffered heavy losses, probably comparable to those of Israel in all wars since the founding of the state. So they fought stubbornly. Another thing is that the Armenian army does not have modern weapons. The problem is with the training of both officers and soldiers, and the general ideology of organising combat affairs. Not that Armenians are bad soldiers. The soldiers are normal. The leadership let them down, and most importantly, they didn’t know how to conduct a modern war.

- Is it the fault of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan or his predecessors? His supporters point out that he inherited such an army.

- Of course, this is Pashinyan's fault. He was the leader of the country, which means that he was responsible for everything that happened. What hopes and intentions he had at the same time, that's another story. But this does not mean that he should be tried and imprisoned, as many want. But he needs to accept responsibility, which means to resign. This is accepted in a democratic society. But Pashinyan is not going to resign. As the leader of the country, he is responsible for everything and for everyone. If he makes the final decision, then he cannot refer to the fact that someone has reported to him wrong about the situation at the front. It is his fault that he did not recognise that he was being reported incorrectly. This is accepted in the world democratic practice.0

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