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Mensoian: Artsakh Is Our Nation’s 21st Century Sardarabad

Two parts of the article, authored by Armenian Weekly contributor Michael Mensoian and published on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the Liberation of Shushi on


Given the almost carte blanche that President Aliyev seemingly has, a military solution to retake Artsakh evidently seems feasible to him. The explosive “blitzkrieg” type full-scale offensive launched during April 1 to 4 of this year is a tactic born of the new strategy. These “blitzkrieg” type operations seek to

1) test Artsakh’s defensive perimeter;
2) seize strategic terrain now controlled by Artsakh;
3) demoralize both the civilian population and military personnel; and
4) put pressure on Stepanakert to provide for people evacuated from villages close to the LoC (note that some 80 percent of Artsakh’s population lives within 20 miles of the LoC).

These full scale attacks will continue as long as President Aliyev encounters no serious response from the Minsk Group countries. At some point, a determination will be made to launch a final full-scale attack deploying tanks, mechanized infantry, and artillery with air support along the entire LoC from Talish in the north to the Iranian border in the south. As I have indicated in previous analyses, any Azeri military offensive will have a window of opportunity of between 36 to 72 hours before concerned nations will demand a ceasefire. During this limited period, the Azeri units must breech Artsakh’s primary defensive perimeter. If successful, they will declare a ceasefire to preempt action by the Minsk Group countries. Breeching the LoC with some sectors being pushed further to the west would leave Artsakh in a vulnerable position. It would be at this stage that President Aliyev would want to negotiate.

Fortunately this is all predicated on a campaign faultlessly executed by Azerbaijan. Amassing the number of units required to simultaneously attack along the entire LoC without detection is difficult at best. Also, our defensive forces know the sectors that are most likely to bear the brunt of any full scale operation. If this is their final go-for-broke offensive, the expected staggering battlefield casualties will not be a deterrent. It is to be expected that a force attacking fortified position commanding the high ground will sustain casualties about five times greater than those suffered by the defending force. These heavy battlefield losses do affect the moral and the combat effectiveness of the attacking units.

If the Artsakh defensive positions cannot be breeched within the 72-hour window of opportunity and with battlefield losses in men and equipment mounting, the Azeri high command has to think long and hard if they want to continue.

With war raging nearby in Syria and Iraq and with Europe and Turkey facing turmoil, the untended consequences of a prolonged war in the South Caucasus is more than sufficient to cause concerned nations to intervene.


The Diaspora is literally Artsakh’s last line of defense. We in the Diaspora must put aside our ideological blinders, our organizational parochialism, and our penchant to let petty differences affect our participation. Artsakh needs us today—there could very well be no tomorrow. Damaged homes and infrastructure must be repaired; the wounded must be cared for; and the children and elderly (the most vulnerable during war-time) require assistance. Artsakh’s needs are far beyond its ability to respond. There is no reason why the diasporan communities, and their organizations and institutions as well as ad hoc groups cannot work cooperatively to raise the millions of dollars in contributions and in-kind donations that is and will be needed in Artsakh for the next two to three years.

If Artsakh survives this critical period, victory will be assured. If not, Armenia would forever be economically and politically subservient. Some of our brothers and sisters have already given their lives on the battlefield and others stand in harm’s way prepared to engage a determined enemy. Artsakh is under siege. We in the Diaspora must set our sights high and provide whatever is required to achieve ultimate victory in Artsakh and to assure Armenia’s future. / [10.05.2016]
Mensoian: Artsakh Is Our Nation’s 21st Century Sardarabad
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