Analytics 2016
The Karabakh conflict on the way of Russias breakthrough to the South

The Karabakh conflict on the way of Russias breakthrough to the South

2016 April 11 ( Friday )  11:16:26

The reason of the visit of  the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Armenia and Azerbaijan on April 7-8, apparently, was to show that in terms of regional security, both countries are balanced, and it is important for Moscow to have a good working relationship with both capitals to address the Karabakh conflict, which is a key to the Caucasus security. However, from the point of view of Russia's strategic interests that extend far to the South - beyond the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, building closer political and economic ties with Azerbaijan it becomes a priority at the present level of bilateral relations.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union the conflicts in the Caucasus went beyond the Kremlin's exclusive sphere of influence, and are part of the system of conflicts in Eurasia, including the Near East. The last couple of years, due to lower oil prices, became apparent acceleration of the process of pacification of conflicts in this region rich in natural and human resources with the strengthening of the US dominant and increasing military and political influence of Moscow. However, Russia's participation in the elimination of contradictions, on the one hand, between the US and post-dictatorship countries in the region, and on the other hand, the internal confrontation between different ethnic, religious and political groups, particularly in Syria, Iraq, Iran, shows that Russia's interests in region, mainly economic, gain satisfaction in the short term. In this regard, direct access to the markets of southern part of Eurasia becomes the Kremlin's  a foreign political priority, and maybe the most important. In this sense, Iran is regarded as the tasty space after the cancellation of US sanctions. The country with incredible energy resources and economic development needs.  The IMF predicts Iran 6 per cent annual growth, long-term investment attractiveness and strengthening of economic influence in the region.

In the past, the Soviet Union was one of the main investors of industrial technologies and projects in Iran, and Russia is trying to win a niche in a lifting the embargo and the Iranian reconstruction. In this sense, access to the Iranian market, as well as to the markets of Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, India and others becomes an important part of the Kremlin's Eurasian policy. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an interview with Tass described as an important extension of transport corridor North-South, which includes the development of road, rail and maritime traffic in the direction of Iran. And here the immediate priority is to connect the railways of Iran and Azerbaijan, as well as the settlement of the status of the Caspian problem, which is, according to him, at the final stage. At a time when the Kremlin's long-term plans in the South are beginning to be transformed into reality, the conflicts in the Near East, including the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is an obstacle to their implementation, and requires accelerated settlement. That is why the three-day small victorious war of Azerbaijan was not stopped by the international players interested in the Eurasian stability. Moreover, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on the continuation of the supply of weapons to Azerbaijan. But the question is not only to build trade relations with Azerbaijan, which is in contrast to the Armenian partner is solvent, but the fact that Azerbaijan is a key transit corridor, or as Lenin said, the East gate.

Iran comes to the center stage

Iran's refusal  the confrontation with the United States opens promising opportunities for rapprochement with Azerbaijan, which was considered by Tehran as part of the Persian Empire, rejected by Russia at the beginning of the 19th century, and in the years of independence, the satellite of  the  US and Israel in the region.

Recognition  by the Western world a common values transforming by the  authoritarian regimes create a single platform  of relations and a security systems, which will inevitably affect the rapprochement between Iran and Azerbaijan, and the strengthening of the Azerbaijani factor in the region.

In a 30,000,000 integral part of the Iranian society, including the elite, the Azerbaijanis are well represented in the various areas and levels - the clergy, the government, the Foreign Ministry, the army, the security services, and play an important role in determining the policy of the state, along with the Persians.

This is a complex subject that requires special attention. But once again we must note that Iran's rejection the confrontation with the US and the progressive integration into the global economy, making the country the most important player on the southern space, along with Turkey. The impact of Turkey in the region and in Iran, especially among the Turkic-speaking population, has increased notably over the past 25 years, primarily due to the development of telecommunications and the formation of the Turkish information space. It is unrealistic that Moscow, which is well aware of the political, ethnic and religious palette of the region, does not take into account these factors.

Armenia on the eve of the change of status

Armenia,  which is situated between the mountains  of not only Greater and Lesser Caucasus,
direct access to the markets of southern part of Eurasia becomes a foreign political priority, and maybe the most important.
but also regional neighbors including Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia,  the relations with which range from hatred to a relative tolerance, transforms  from an outpost of tsarist and Soviet times into a burden. It loses the meaning of its historic mission, charted by the Tsarist Russia during the expansion of the region.

Armenian politicians, and the public, are wondering about the actions of Russia, mainly due to the fact that they believe in the idea of eternal enmity of Russia with the heirs of the Persian and Ottoman empires. The Armenian society, which tends to the Western civilization, mistakenly believes that praises on eternal friendship and everlasting vassalage addressed to Moscow are perceived in Russia as sincerity.

The Kremlin is aware that Armenian sincerity is because of Armenian interests, which is based on maintaining conflicts of Russia with its southern neighbors. But the fallacy of this approach is that there are no eternal allies and eternal interests. The Kremlin is also aware of the true attitude of Armenians to Russians, which resulted in the destruction of all the Russian schools in Armenia, the consumerism of Armenians to Russia and disdainful attitude of the Armenian society to the whole Russian, which manifests itself openly in the hour of test. Of course, the  Kremlin can see that the pro-Western and "pan-Turkic" Azerbaijan does not take special steps to break humanitarian and other relations  with Russia that were built in the last 200 years, in particular in the field of Russian education in Azerbaijan on the secondary  and higher level. The Russian language remains the language of communication of the Azerbaijani elite, just like the French language was in the Tsarist Russia.

Armenia also mistakenly believes that Russia will patronize the descendants of Armenians resettled in the 19-20 centuries from Persia and Turkey to the Caucasus, from the point of view of their importance in the confrontation with the Turks and Persians. With the development of modern trends on the southern flank of Eurasia, Moscow is more interested in the soonest settlement of the Karabakh conflict and the establishment of the consent of Armenia with their eternal enemies, and retraining them to strategic allies, what ultimately facilitates more effective penetration of Russia into the vast region as  a neighboring power.

The United States in the final stage of the battle for Eurasia

Finally, the USA, a key player in the region, successfully completing the military and political battle over Eurasia, is more interested in establishing peace and stability in the Caucasus region, as well as on the entire Eurasian space. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Americans managed to implement virtually all tasks, to start a process of dismantling the authoritarian regimes in the key region of the world - Eurasia. The region is located in the transaction from authoritarianism to democracy, and it is a fact. A number of issues and problems are to be solved, but this global process has not been stopped, and it is evidenced by the new contours of the settlement of the conflict in Syria, Iraq, and other countries. This also should include the South Caucasus region, where the united States for many years consistently alienate regions of the country from their Soviet past. Recent talks of Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents in Washington show that the two Caucasian countries are approaching the finish line of authoritarianism in order to start a democratic future.

Along with the reforms which the leaders of anachronistic authoritarian regimes promised to conduct, the second most important issue is the Karabakh settlement, which with the development of American interests in the region becomes insignificant tool of conflict. However, it should be taken into account that the US is interested in resolution of the Karabakh conflict, but in parallel with the democratization of Armenia and Azerbaijan, as the main guarantor of peace and development in the region in the post-conflict period. This theme is the main agenda in relations with Presidents Aliyev and Sargsyan.

The first outlines of equilibration

With regard to approaches to resolving the Karabakh conflict, under the current situation the most important obstacle to achieve compromises is that over the Armenian society prevails the winner's syndrome, which does not allow compromise with the defeated enemy, as it sees Azerbaijan. Implementation of a compromise project of the conflict settlement (self-determination of Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan) proposed by the "Minsk"   intermediaries known as the Madrid principles, is possible only after balancing the positions of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The three-day war was the first test in this direction, and the first shock for the Armenian society. The application or non-application of the subsequent phases of balancing the forces by imposing peace will depend on Yerevan’s further actions in the negotiations.  In this sense, the approach of the Minsk Troika, represented by the US, Russia and France (EU) are close to each other. Medvedev's visit is intended to dispel the unfounded hopes and illusions in the Armenian society in a rapidly changing world, and the revision of interest regarding the southern direction of the Kremlin policy.

Turan Analytical Service



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