March 24, 2018 - 22:13 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - An escalation of the military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan surrounding Nagorno Karabakh is inevitable, a Russian think tank said in a report, according to RBC.
The experts of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies have recently unveiled the survey titled "Waiting for the Storm: South Caucasus".
The conflict can dramatically worsen for several reasons: due to Azerbaijan's technical superiority, a possible rise in oil prices, demographic imbalance, as well as due to the inability of Armenians to legally secure the territories lying outside the former Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous District, the experts believe.
According to them, throughout the decade following the Karabakh conflict (1991-1994), the balance of forces was preserved between Azerbaijan on the one hand, and Armenia and Karabakh on the other, but the situation changed after a sharp increase in oil prices in the 2000s. The balance of power changed in favor of Azerbaijan - a country with a developed oil industry - experts say.
According to SIPRI, Azerbaijan's military expenditures amounted to about $300 million in 2001, to about $2.8 billion in 2013, and to $3 billion in 2015. The number of those serving in the Azerbaijani Armed Forces reached 126,000 in 2016, according to Military Balance. The number of troops in the Armenian Armed Forces have totaled 45,000 since 2002, while that of Karabakh amounts to 20,000, and half of them are draftees from Armenia.
Any manifestation of weakness by Armenia may become an impetus for Baku to start new military operations Karabakh, and in the event of a blitzkrieg, Baku may win, the experts warn.