Sunday, November 8, 2020

Nagarno Kharabak Updates: Shushi/Shusha, Tank Losses/Electronic Warfare, Overthrowing Pashinian? Part 2

There is some interesting breaking news that I will have posted shortly, meanwhile, we'll pick up where we finished. We ended Part 1 entertaining the possibility that Pashinian will be pushed out

Keep in mind the FACT that Nagarno Karabakh is recognized to be Azeribaijani territory, ethnically cleansed by the Armenia’s approx 25 yrs ago. This Armenian action resulted in 200,000 to as high as 600,000 displaced Azerbaijani’s. Some of them went to Iran.  Some have resettled to other parts of Azerbaijan. A great many remain internally displaced to this day.

These realities were covered in the previous reports:

"The United Nations had approved no less than four resolutions – 822, 853, 874 and 884 – establishing that Armenia should withdraw from what was deemed to be roughly 20% of Azerbaijani territory."  

"Azerbaijan has made significant progress in recent years in caring for roughly 600,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who were forcibly evicted from Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts by ethnic Armenian forces nearly two decades ago."         
 
Arabnews
 Azerbaijan’s forces have continued to advance against Armenian soldiers. Azeri troops now find themselves on the edge of their greatest prize: The city of Shushi (Shusha) It is at this point that the war will reach its decisive moment of victory or defeat.
The war began on Sept. 27 with initial difficulties for Azerbaijan, which faced entrenched positions built up over more than two decades. After more than a week of heavy bombardment and dozens of precise drone strikes, Baku’s forces succeeded in breaking through the initial Armenian defensive line in southeast Karabakh. What followed was a combination of a fighting retreat and a disorderly rout for Armenian and Karabakhti troops, as Azeri ground forces took swathes of territory and well-stocked abandoned bases. By late October, they already controlled four of the seven occupied regions ( Omitted the quotation marks- these regions are occupied- Just as Golan is occupied) around Karabakh proper (the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast).
The driving force of this war has been Azerbaijan’s drones. While there is a wide range of unmanned aerial vehicles in Baku’s inventory — at least eight — it has been the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 that has been decisive. Others, such as the Israeli-made IAI Harop — a loitering munition, rather than a proper drone — have had an impact, but nowhere near the Bayraktar’s. Independent analysis shows the Bayraktar destroying nearly 100 Armenian tanks.

Warfare has certainly changed with the progression of technology- 

 A great many tanks were destroyed very early in the Azerbaijani moves to retake it’s territory.
I’d saved this article from a month ago, discussing the why of massive tank losses, that definitely worsened as technology progressed to the state is now.

From October 06/20:

Armenian soldier

The Key to Armenia’s Tank Losses: The Sensors, Not the Shooters

"Despite the heavy Armenian armoured losses, the key lessons from the videos Azerbaijan has published online are not about armour. Rather, they reflect how the density of sensors on the modern battlefield is changing the balance in combined arms warfare.

Amid a lively debate about the viability of the UK’s heavy armour, the loss of over 42 Armenian T-72s to Azerbaijani forces in Nagorno-Karabakh requires further analysis.


There is a tendency for Western soldiers to dismiss what can be learned from these incidents because the videos show limited tactical proficiency being displayed by Armenian troops. This is misguided for several reasons. The snippet videos usually show armour manoeuvring, when camouflage is hard to maintain, and which Western forces would equally have to do if they were to affect the outcome of battle. The videos have also been selected as examples of Azerbaijani successes. However, there is actually a lot of evidence of Armenian forces digging in, concealing positions, and deploying decoys, of which at least two were struck by Azerbaijani forces.

More importantly, this dismissal of evidence suggests a lack of appreciation of just how naked the modern battlefield has become. Against a peer adversary it is entirely reasonable to expect the battlefield to be swept by ground-moving target indicator (GMTI) radars, with tactical units able to scan terrain out to 150 km. Night or day, unusual cross-terrain movements, coordinated spacing, and lack of adherence to civilian roads, all make military vehicles highly distinct to trained operators.


A further layer of scrutiny will come from electronic warfare units...."
Progress. Progressing. Progression of warfare.

Back to the Arab news report and Shusha “Azerbaijan’s St Petersburgh”
"After roughly a week of consolidation and reinforcement, while drones focused on entrenched Armenian artillery and infantry positions, Azeri forces began a major drive toward Shushi on Nov. 2. Known as Shusha in Azerbaijani, the fortress town that sits at the very heart of Karabakh has been the primary Azeri objective since the start of the war. Its resonance in Azeri society runs deep — the cultural and symbolic importance of the town has led to some describing it as “Azerbaijan’s St. Petersburg.” The slogan “To Shusha” is a common refrain in Azerbaijan, and President Ilham Aliyev himself has repeatedly stated that “without the liberation of Shusha, our victory is incomplete.”
           
Videos have emerged of fierce fighting. While Armenian forces inflicted casualties and destroyed vehicles, they were unable to stop the Azeris from reaching all the way to the village of Karintak (Dashalti in Azerbaijani) by Nov. 3. This village lies at the base of the cliff upon which Shushi is located. While there is no evidence indicating Azeri forces have established control over the town, the fact that they have reached this point is a grim omen for the Armenian defenders.

Nevertheless, Armenian drone footage showed artillery strikes on Azeri commandos on the Lachin highway itself, a mere 2 km from Shushi. However, those were advance forces — Azerbaijan’s presidential spokesman indeed later confirmed that Armenia still controlled the road. Crucially, the pattern of this war has been that where Baku’s special forces appear, a major Azeri force is not far behind.
Shushi/Shusha has been under near constant heavy bombardment. An Armenian attempt to dislodge Azeri forces from their recently captured forward positions failed, leaving the Azeris on the edge of the city. A video report from Russia’s ANNA News showed the shelling on the city, as well as the frontline positions just outside. One soldier said that the Azeris were “three or four kilometers away” — matching the picture painted by social media.
What does this all mean? Quite simply, the period around mid-November is going to decide the Karabakh war. If the Armenians can somehow push the Azeris back and hold their high-ground positions, they stand a chance of stabilizing and forcing this war into a stalemate. They have the high ground, and Shushi/Shusha constitutes a near-perfect natural fortress, surrounded by high cliffs on three sides.
If Azeri forces push up to Shushi/Shusha and seize it, they will have a commanding position over the remainder of Karabakh — not least of which, over Stepanakert, the capital that lies neatly below the mountain, just 10 km away. For the Armenians then to retake a position like Shushi/Shusha would be near-impossible, something the Azeris discovered the hard way after they lost it in the first war in 1992. There will still be hard street to street fighting ahead, but their gains will be all but cemented. 
One way or another, mid-November will mark a decisive moment in the war.
There is news today that the Azerbaijan forces have taken Shushi/Shusha. Armenia has denied this. From what I'm reading it is most likely that Azerbaijani forces have seized the city.

Azerbaijan says it seized Nagorno-Karabakh’s 2nd-largest city

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said on Sunday his country’s forces had taken Shusha/ Shushi the second-largest city in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. Armenian officials immediately denied the claim.

“With great pride and joy, I inform you that the town of Shusha has been liberated,” Aliyev said in a televised address to the nation, as Armenian officials reported that “heavy fighting” for the city continues.

Aliyev said November 8 would “go down in the history of the Azerbaijani people” as the day “we returned to Shusha”.

In the capital Baku, Azeris gathered in large numbers to celebrate, waving flags and chanting slogans while drivers sounded their car horns.

Here's is the translated message delivered to Azerbaijan's people:


The head of state said:

“Giving this good news to the people of Azerbaijan on this historic day is perhaps one of the happiest days of my life.

Dear Shusha, you are liberated!

Dear Shusha, we are back!

Dear Shusha we will revive you!

Shusha is ours! Karabakh is ours! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!”

 

Part 3 is available as well: 

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