Thousands of Armenians demand to remove Rolling Stone's article on Karabakh
    Caliber.Az interview with Taras Kuzio

    INTERVIEWS  16 August 2022 - 11:22

    Huseyn Safarov

    Caliber.Az's interview with Taras Kuzio, a Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, and Professor of Political Science at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy.

    - If you don't mind, I want to start with your article in Rolling Stone. After the publication of the article, were you under pressure from the Armenians?

    - Rolling Stone magazine was sent thousands of emails demanding that the article be removed from social media. Armenians want themselves to be seen as the victims and by publicising their war crimes we remove their self-proclaimed status as victims. The murder of 4,000 Azerbaijanis is nearly as high as the murder of 6,000 Bosnian Muslims by the Serbs at Srebrenica. Rolling Stone magazine asked me to remove the scanned pages of the article and wait until there is a web link to it which can then be posted. This is rather strange as anybody can buy the August-September 20-22 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, scan my article and post it anywhere on social media. The article is published and so it is too late for Armenians to demand it be withdrawn.

    - In your article, you write that "in order to build a prosperous future, it is necessary, first of all, to get rid of the ghosts of the past on both sides of the border." Do you think this is possible? Will Armenians and Azerbaijanis be able to live in peace after everything that happened? I would also like to know your opinion about Ukrainians and Russians.

    - To live in peace both sides of a relationship need to deal with the past and overcome the past recriminations. Nobody is an angel. Practically every country has skeletons in their closets. Poland and Ukraine had centuries of antagonism and bloodshed but since the 1950s have normalised their relations. Today Poland is one of Ukraine’s strongest allies. Russia and Armenia are very different. They see themselves as angels who never did anything bad against their neighbours, have nothing to apologise for and believe it is the other side – Ukrainians and Azerbaijanis – who should be asking for forgiveness. This is why the normalisation of relations between Armenians and Azerbaijanis is so difficult and why for a breakthrough Armenians need to look in the mirror, accept they committed war crimes in the First Karabakh War and ask for forgiveness. In the case of Russia and Ukraine, the situation is far worse. Russia is committing genocide in Ukraine and wishes to destroy the entire Ukrainian nation. 89% of Ukrainians believe Russia is committing genocide against them. Today there are no regional differences in Ukraine; there is just hatred by every Ukrainian for Russia and Russians.

    - What, in your opinion, is the reason that Europe and the whole world were shocked by the genocide in Bucha, but remained silent about the Khojaly genocide and the Karabakh problem in general?

    - Armenia’s war crimes in the First Karabakh War were undertaken at the same time as the war crimes by Serbia in Bosnia and Croatia. Europeans and Americans ignored the former and condemned the latter. This was because of bias in favour of condemning and prosecuting crimes committed in Europe; remember that the West also ignored the genocide in Rwanda (France supported the Hutus). The South Caucasus was seen as far away, outside Europe, and a place where Armenians were always allegedly suffering persecution from “Turks.” The 1915 killings of Armenians have been publicised widely as an alleged genocide and therefore Armenian diaspora was successful in claiming that Azerbaijan was continuing the same violent policies as the Turks. Therefore, Western attention was wrongly focused on blaming Azerbaijan and ignoring Armenian war crimes. At that time Azerbaijan not only had no diaspora in the West but it was also a weak state and did not have the resources to defend itself in the international media or in lobbying Western governments, and EU, the CSCE, and the Council of Europe.

    - Has America's attitude to the Karabakh problem changed after the 44-day war?

    - To some extent yes but the EU is ahead of the US in recognising the strategic importance of the South Caucasus, especially Azerbaijani energy resources which have become important as one way to end Europe’s dependency on Russian gas. The US has undergone a bitter election and coup attempt in 2020-2021 and the Biden administration had bad relations with Turkey after the recognition of 1915 as a genocide. The situation is changing because Turkey has cleverly leveraged agreeing to support Sweden and Finland’s membership of NATO in return for the US lifting its ban on sending fighter jets and Turkey’s positive role in supporting Ukraine in the war with Russia.

    - In one of your articles, for 2020, you write that the West unequivocally advised Ukraine not to resist Russia's invasion of Crimea in early 2014. How do you assess the position of the West in the Russian-Ukrainian war today?

    - The West’s position in 2022 is 180 degrees different to its position in 2014 and even more so in relation to the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008. In 2014 the West imposed very mild sanctions in retaliation for Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military aggression against eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin believed the West would do the same if it invaded and it was wrong. The sanctions imposed since 24 February have been on a scale similar to sanctions against Iran. In addition, 40 Western countries are supplying military equipment to Ukraine which is unprecedented. This equipment is key to Ukraine’s ability to defeat Russia. Russia has lost over 40,000 dead soldiers and twice that wounded in six months of the war. This is more than three times the number of Soviet soldiers killed in Afghanistan over ten years in the 1980s. Importantly, Ukraine is defeating Russia for the same reasons Azerbaijan won the Second Karabakh War – NATO training and Western military equipment. Armenia and Russia still use Soviet military training and their military equipment is of poor quality.

    - The war in Ukraine gave rise to many rumours and versions, both about Russia's goals in this war, and the attitude of the collective West to the conflict. What do you think about this? What goals did Russia set before invading Ukraine? Have her goals changed today? And what position does the West hold?

    - The West is divided into two opinions. One says that Russia should be defeated and Putin removed from power. The other says that Putin should be militarily weakened forcing him to negotiate and maybe withdraw his troops. Russia’s goal has always been to make Ukraine a second Belarus. To destroy Ukrainian national identity and to transform what’s left into Little Russia., Russian nationalists believe the Russian nation includes Great Russians, White Russian (Belarusians), and Little Russians (Ukrainians). They could not capture Kyiv so they will try and destroy Ukraine’s economy and trade by blockading the Black Sea and believing this will lead to Ukraine’s capitulation.

    - Ankara and Kyiv closely cooperate in some areas, in particular, they jointly produce Bayraktar drones. At the same time, Turkey maintains relations with the Russian Federation, which Kyiv does not like very much. What do you see as Turkey's position?

    - Turkey is trying to balance but this balance is 75% in favour of Ukraine and only 25% with Russia. Turkey has refused to sell Bayraktar drones to Russia which is why Russia is buying them in Iran. Turkey and Ukraine are building a factory to produce these drones in Ukraine. Turkey is also negotiating an end to the blockade of the Black Sea to allow the export of food. Turkey, a firm believer in the territorial integrity of states, has always voted at the UN to not recognise the Russian occupation of Crimea. Therefore, Kyiv is grateful for Turkey’s support and assistance and sees Turkey as a strategic partner.


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