Following is an English translation of the October 1, 2020 on-camera remarks by Ret. Colonel Alexander Ivanovich Zhilin of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation provided to The Armenian Weekly.
The war has started. Azerbaijan attacked Armenia along the entire length of the Line of Contact. As always, it all happened quite unexpectedly for the two neighboring states [countries], but I think that our fabulous intelligence had information regarding the preparations for this war.
This war has been in preparation for a minimum of two years. Azerbaijan was being trained by Turkish as well as American specialists. I do not view these military actions as a battle for Karabakh (Artsakh). Karabakh is secondary in this case. This is Erdogan’s war against Russia for the Caucasus. This is Casus belli (an excuse for war), and the way we have been building our relations with Turkey will now cost us dearly. What do I mean? Look at the declarations of Turkey’s leader. They are harsh. They are precise. In fact Erdogan announced that Azerbaijan is a resource for achieving his certain objectives. The objectives are global.
I would like to say that no matter how much fun they make of Mr. Erdogan here, today he is one of the most effective politicians and leaders. He is cynical, he is shrewd, and he and his council are able to foresee situations. If we simply evaluate our relations with Turkey under Erdogan’s rule (I am saying this with a feeling of certain shame), he had us everywhere, wherever it was possible. We labored to build a nuclear plant, we laid pipelines, we opened our markets for him, and so on. Today, after the immense expenses for construction of those gas and oil pipelines, factually, the delivery [supply] has been stopped. We are suffering losses all around. Moreover, this war, which Azerbaijan instigated under Turkey’s pressure, is extraordinarily dangerous for the Russian Federation. We are a multinational state, and while everybody is analyzing whether Karabakh is occupied or unoccupied territory, the danger comes from the Turkish side. Hence Azerbaijan as an arena and a resource also becomes our strategic enemy. Let’s say this in all honesty: Azerbaijan is not a partner. We do not have any partners. We have either those who are consumerists or enemies. This is how the situation stands in the 21st century.
To say today that it is somehow possible to come to terms with Mr. Aliyev via some political consultations is a delirium [nonsense]. It is a delirium. One can come to terms only by taking a hard position. For example, we can say behind closed doors that for 72 hours we are closing all Azeri businesses throughout the Russian Federation, starting with markets to all those Food Cities, and so on and so forth. We can work things out with Kurds so that there will be shockwaves in Turkey. We also have other resources that we must implement in order to extinguish this [war]. The developing situation there is catastrophic for us. What do I mean? Both sides now feel extreme mutual hatred. That is obvious everywhere. If, say, in Armenia or in Azerbaijan the policy is to instill hatred toward the neighbor, then even in the Russian Federation the same kids from Azerbaijan permit themselves in my opinion to conduct flagrant actions. We all remember too well that the Food City complex refused to serve Armenians and almost threw Armenians out [of the stores]. You are in a third country, gentlemen! What are you permitting yourselves to do?
I am further extrapolating this situation. The pressure keeps increasing and increasing. Someone prognosticated a situation as follows. Some strange people with some kind of characteristic accent deliberately storm into a school. It is a provocation. It can be done by anybody— the CIA, by anyone. It can be done by guys [khloptsy] from Ukraine. So, God forbid, they start butchering children from Armenia, or children from Azerbaijan at school. Let’s say it’s been randomly established that there [at school] children from Armenian or Azeri Diaspora study.
What is Russia to do when the Caucasus rises, when Azerbaijani or Armenian Diaspora rises, and all that turns into a bloody mess? Do we have forces to stop all that later, when that process is in full force? What am I talking about? I am talking about that little war. If Erdogan succeeds in reaching certain objectives and if we (God forbid) treacherously betray Armenia, then our authority in Caucasus will become a total zilch [naught]. We will not be able to control the situation there. We will be obliged to… I don’t even know how to act. Because in this case it is about activation of dormant cells. All that exists and all that works against us. Therefore, when this war is discussed, we have to realize that in my view (and I can be wrong): first Ukraine, then Central Asia, then Eastern Europe, then Belarus, then frankly speaking, this little war. All those events are stemming from one united anti-Russian plan. That such a plan exists, I think, our intelligence reported to the political administration. One of the distinguishing marks is that we conducted the Kavkaz 2020 [Caucasus 2020 military exercises] with significantly (at the last moment significantly) increased potential.Those Kavkaz 2020 exercises were a form of warning: lads, don’t play with fire. They did not heed. Neither Erdogan nor anyone else heard [the warning]. [Voice of the interviewer: “Nor Aliyev. He never grasps warnings.”] Not at all. The consolidation there is on these levels: Washington, Ankara and Baku. A technological lineup on the road to organization of an interethnic nationalistic little war in Russia, a most fierce one from which practically there is no exit, to create within the Russian Federation an explosion which will simply tear apart our country.
Today we do not have such potential as to counterweight these processes. There is no ideology [or] image of the future. In this case, I think that the situation should be viewed as critical, and every sort of leverage ought to be used first and foremost against Turkey. Because – I underscore – because if over there the circumstances develop in favor of the plan which is being implemented, then we will not lose only Caucasus, but we might lose [our] country.
I would like to address our remarkable Kremlinites with a request. Please ask your advisors, your area specialists to compile a historical document on Russo-Turkish relations. How many times has Turkey been armed against Russia? Who told you gentlemen who sold S-400 to our unconciliatory foe Turkey that these missiles will not be used against our airplanes taking off from Gyumri? Who told you that? Has Erdogan fulfilled even one single promise given to Putin? Do we not see how Turkey attacks us in Syria? Do we not see that Turkey attacks us in Libya, attempting to throw away all our oil resources? Do we not see [Turkey’s] behavior in other areas? Please give me an example: who is as actively acting against Russia today as Turkey does? Even the USA is not acting as actively against us as Erdogan does. I want to say once again that Erdogan is a very strong politician, whoever might make fun of him. Thus far he has only victories. We have only bluff.