New Year in Karabakh: it smelled not champagne
From December 31 to January 2, Azerbaijani armed units fired upon Stepanakert (Khankendi) and attacked the neighboring villages. The storm failed and the Armenian side delivered a diplomatic blow in response. On January 1, Leonard Petrosyan, head of Executive Committee of unrecognized republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, applied to the UN, requesting to send troops.
On January 2, Azerbaijani president Ayaz Mutallibov imposed presidential government in Nagorno-Karabakh and its neighboring regions.
The Nagorno-Karabakh people saw the New Year in under cannonade. According to Armenian information agency Lur, a total of 94 Alazan rockets were fired from the Azerbaijani side at Stepanakert on the holiday night.
At the same time, the Armenian side asserts that several thousands of Azerbaijani OMON members, by APCs and IFVs, began an attack against the Armenian villages neighboring Stepanakert. The attempted storm was repulsed by the January 2 evening and a lull was established.
Head of Executive Committee of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) Leonard Petrosyan addressed a message to UN Secretary General Boutros-Ghali, asking to "assist the official recognition of NKR and request the Security Council to send UN troops to prevent the ongoing genocide of Armenian population." Azerbaijani president Ayaz Mutallibov, for his part, imposed presidential government in Nagorno-Karabakh and its neighboring regions on January 2. President's authorized representative, whose name is not revealed to the media, was entrusted with the duty to control those territories.
Some observers suppose that former second secretary of Azerbaijani Communist Party Viktor Polyanichko could assume that position; he gained experience during the Afghan war and carried out similar duties as chairman of organizing committee on NKAO.
Both documents have more psychological than real significance and their main aim is to demonstrate the seriousness of intentions of both politicians. Appearance of "blue helmets" in Karabakh is ruled out absolutely in the current conditions as such a decision is made at the request of both sides and in case the fighting stops.
Besides, neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan nor, especially, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is a UN member.
Meanwhile, experts doubt that the Azerbaijani authorities can fully restore control over Nagorno-Karabakh soon. They could receive such an opportunity only after a military victory and not as a result of a decree by president Mutallibov.
To all appearances, after withdrawing from Nagorno-Karabakh the internal troops subordinate to the Union, the Azerbaijani side seriously expects to win, which is the reason why it has intensified its actions. However, both sides improved their equipment at the expense of the armament left after the withdrawal of the internal troops and the Karabakh war is not yet expected to end.