In the absence of a viable negotiation process, the rise in Azeri standing and capability forces us to consider a troubling possibility: Those in Baku who espouse a military solution, and those in Yerevan who fear a dwindling advantage and thus advocate preventive strikes, could gain the upper hand. Renewed military action would be a humanitarian disaster. Despite Azerbaijan’s high military budget, most analysts still maintain that its military capabilities are not a match for Armenia’s, and that unless Azerbaijan launched only a limited war (the limits of which Armenia might not respect), it would probably lose after the initial shock of its offensive. Moreover, it is likely that Moscow would then intervene, as it did in 1992–93, when it shipped $1 billion of weapons to Armenia to prevent an Azeri victory. This would in turn put Turkey in a bind: Russo-Turkish relations today are very good (they were not in 1993), but Turkey is also allied with Azerbaijan. If Turkey failed to intervene on Azerbaijan’s behalf, it would lose whatever claim to respect it has in the Caucasus, something that it is hard to envisage Ankara accepting quietly.
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