The international media (BBC, Aljazeera) has reportedly confirmed that the strategically important city of Shusha/Shushi has fallen to advancing Azerbaijani forces.
But Armenia denies Azerbaijan forces has taken Karabakh’s second-largest city, according to Reuters.
DW has reported of locals in Baku taking to the streets to celebrate the capture of Shushi, waving flags and chanting slogans, while drivers sounded their car horns.
In a televised address to the nation, according to DW, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said troops had taken control and that: “Shusha is ours. Karabakh is ours,” using the Azerbaijani version of the city’s name.
“(This day) will become a great day in the history of Azerbaijan,” Aliyev said.
WSJ reports that Azeri forces have had gains in the conflict with Armenia which are setting back peace efforts.
“Territorial advances (by the Azeris) mark a pivotal juncture in the longstanding conflict between the two former Soviet republics”, writes WSJ.
Shusha is the most important communication hub on Lachin Corridor and its capture by Azeri forces will speed up the operations towards North and East, a Pakistani defense analyst tells DesPardes.
According to him, Azerbaijan will likely wrap up the Nagorno Karabagh campaign before the transition takes place at the White House (Jan 20, 2021).
“One factor which single-handedly tilted the balance in Azeri favor was the widespread and effective use of Turkish UCAVs (Bayraktar TB2) and Israeli armed drones (Harop and Arrow),” says the Pakistani analyst.
The single most takeaway of this ongoing conflict is that “it lays the blueprint for future of warfare”, says the expert, “where UAVs and drones will play a increasingly important role”.
“Given the vulnerability of conventional UAVs over a contested airspace, AI controlled swarms of micro/mini drones will take the center stage, he says.
A demonstration of the same was displayed by the Chinese last month.
A defense and strategic analyst based in Asia Pacific says, “Unmanned hardware is gradually becoming the norm as the first point of remote contact even outside NATO and Israeli forces”. This development is “a clear inflection point in combat technology”, he says.
Crises is unfolding in Russia’s backyard, observers say. “It could mark a turning point in Vladimir Putin’s rule and put him at risk of losing influence in the former Soviet Union,” according to WSJ.
“If the crises drag on, yes, it could possibly unleash a domino effect in the wider region” says one regional observer.