Could Moscow be Behind The Azerbaijan-Armenia Troubles?

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Moscow has performed a major position in propelling the battle between the 2 neighbours by creating autonomous areas in Azerbaijan and drawing controversial borders.

Behind the continuing border battle between Azerbaijan and Armenia, there are rising indicators of Russia’s outdated realpolitik, as Moscow overtly backs Yerevan towards Baku. 

Since the early years of its formation, Russia, which is principally based mostly on a synthesis of Slavism and Orthodox Christianity, has at all times seen itself because the protector state of Slavic nations and Orthodox Christians. 

“Russia has traditionally supported Armenia very much. Traditionally, it will. Historically, Armenia has looked at Russia as its protector. That goes back to the fact that those are primarily Orthodox Christian countries. It also goes back to all the 1915 events and also Nagorno-Karabakh [dispute],” stated Matthew Bryza, the previous US ambassador to Azerbaijan and a senior fellow on the Atlantic Council. 

The 1915 occasions seek advice from political and army circumstances in World War I, when Russia-backed Armenians aimed to create an impartial state within the Eastern Anatolian territories of the Ottoman Empire. The clashes between the Ottoman and Armenian forces precipitated human losses of nice magnitude on either side. 

For centuries, Moscow remained centered on the Balkans in Eastern Europe, and Caucasia, which is situated between the Central Asia and Russian mainlands. The Russian Empire and its Tsarist regimes fought the Ottoman Empire and its allies in each areas for hundreds of years. The Balkans and Caucasia have at all times had vital Slavic and Orthodox Christian populations.  

At the identical time, Moscow’s coverage has required the statecraft to suppress Muslim and Turkic aspirations throughout these areas, whereas allying with pleasant nations like Serbia and Armenia, utilizing them to create spheres of affect throughout the Balkans and Caucasia. 

“We can clearly say that Russia is on the side of Armenia against Azerbaijan. Armenia de facto looks like a region of Russia. Almost all of the Armenian economy has been controlled by Russia. Armenia’s defence is also at the hands of Russia,” stated Bulent Aras, professor of worldwide relations at Istanbul Policy Center-Sabanci University.

“Russia and Armenia have tight military and economic relations, which go beyond the borders of a normal alliance. This aspect can not be discardable,” Aras informed TRT World. 

Like Syria, Armenia additionally hosts a Russian army base within the east of the nation throughout Turkey’s Kars province, which had beforehand been contended by Moscow as a part of Russia. Ankara, which has a army base in Azerbaijan, has traditionally allied with Baku towards Yerevan. 

“Armenians feel Russian support as Azerbaijanis feel that Turkey is with them,” Aras says. 

In 1945, within the wake of World War II, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin demanded to annex Kars and Ardahan from Turkey, making Ankara approach to the Western alliance. Eventually, Turkey joined NATO within the early years of the Cold War. 

“Any neutral observer could easily see how much the legacy of pan-Slavism and pan-Orthodoxism affects Russian political psyche toward both the Balkans and Caucasia. Like Russia, Armenia is also an Orthodox Christian nation,” says Esref Yalinkilicli, a Moscow-based Eurasia political analyst, who has studied on Russian historical past and politics. 

But Azerbaijanis are coming from a Turkic-origin, holding an Islamic religion. In addition to that, in contrast to Central Asian states, that are additionally principally Muslim and Turkic, Azerbaijan has been allied with Western politics, growing shut relations with Turkey, its neighbour. 

Turkey and Armenia don’t have any official relations because of extreme political issues between the 2 international locations, starting from the 1915 incidents to Yerevan’s implicit relations to the PKK and different earlier Armenian terror teams like Asala, which had assassinated many Turkish diplomats within the 1970s and 1980s. 

“Strong relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey make hesitate Russia a lot because Moscow could still not get rid of its pan-Turkism schizophrenia,” Yalinkilicli informed TRT World, referring to Slavic Russia’s historic struggle with Turkic nations in Central Asia, components of present Russia and the Crimean peninsula. 

Russia’s outdated Turkic fears, which Armenians additionally partly share, may additionally clarify the alliance between the 2 nations. 

“In Armenia, there is also a paranoia about Turkic people and they look to Russia as a protector,” Bryza informed TRT World. 

There are additionally different elements for Russian assist to Armenia. 

The Armenian foyer is arguably the strongest one in Moscow as some distinguished Armenian-origin journalists run Russian media retailers. Russia’s highly effective and lengthy standing Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov additionally has an Armenian father. 

“The biggest diaspora in Russia is the Armenian one,” says Yalinkilicli. 

While Armenia is landlocked and source-scarce, Azerbaijan borders the Caspian Sea with huge fuel and oil reserves, qualifying the nation to carry the very best GDP throughout the area. 

“The geopolitical and strategic importance of Azerbaijan pulls Russia’s attention to the country. In order to keep [its former republic] in its orbit, Russia appears to chasten Azerbaijan with Armenia,” says Yalinkilicli. 

It had taken 100 years for the outdated Russian Tsardom to assert Caucasia, a area which has many resemblances of the Balkans in Eastern Europe with its numerous ethnicities, totally different faiths and a troublesome geography characterised by steep mountains. 

But even after claiming Caucasia, Moscow had wanted to expend efforts to stabilise the political state of affairs within the difficult area, making its historians query the deserves of the invasion within the first place.  

“Some Russian historians have argued that instead of putting a century-long effort to claim Caucasia, Moscow could claim the Balkans, a geopolitically more important region, with more ease and longevity. While they lamented that, they also said that after that much effort, we can not leave Caucasia,” stated Esref Yalinkilicli, a Moscow-based Eurasia political analyst. 

Under the Soviet Union, a communist federative state, Moscow had developed an administrative philosophy of autonomous areas, embedding them inside its fifteen republics, which included Armenia and Azerbaijan. 

But with the collapse of the Soviets, Moscow has confronted a rising dilemma, significantly in ethnically various Caucasia, as impartial states like Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan had emerged there. 

While the brand new Russian Federation doesn’t need to go away Caucasia, it has been troublesome to remain there in a robust sense as ethnic conflicts started exploding within the respective autonomous areas, forcing Moscow to ally with international locations like Armenia to remain within the area. 

But once more Russia needs to make use of these ethnic conflicts, whose focus factors are significantly associated to respective autonomous areas like Nagorno Karabakh created by the Soviets.

“It’s Russia’s historical pattern to use interethnic conflicts in the South Caucasia to its own advantage. Its strategy is to prevent conflicts from exploding. But they want to keep them tense so that neither Azerbaijan nor Armenia feels strong enough to feel independent,” Bryza says. 

By often frightening after which meditating between the 2 Caucasian international locations, Russia needs to maintain them underneath its management, in accordance with Bryza. 

Yalinkilicli agrees with Bryza, however he additionally thinks that the lack of Georgia to the Western alliance following the Russia-Georgia War in 2008, which got here after the success of the Rose Revolution in 2003, additionally forces Russia to depend on Armenia greater than ever in Caucasia. 

“Russian access to Caucasia has been ensured through Armenia. If Armenia were not there, Russia would break away from Caucasia,” says Aras. 

Last week, Russia started its army workouts with the participation of 150,000 troopers. In September, Moscow will begin one other army train, which was named as Caucasia 2020, revealing Russia’s difficult love affair with the area. 

“Russia may be provoking this [recent clashes],” Bryza assesses latest escalations. 

“For decades, Azerbaijanis have been forced to fight Armenians provoked by Russians,” says Yalinkilicli. 

Experts additionally suppose that Russia would possibly attempt to unbalance Ankara’s positioning in several conflicts towards Moscow by just lately pushing Armenians towards Azerbaijanis. 

“While Russia clearly wants to chasten Azerbaijan with Armenia [by provoking Yerevan against Baku], there is also an implicit Russian effort to limit Turkey’s geopolitical influence in Caucasia and across other regions, where Moscow and Ankara have recently been facing each other,” views Yalinkilicli. 

Russia and Turkey have just lately been at odds in a number of conflicts throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, from Libya to Syria, and now Azerbaijan, too.

“It appears that Russia wants to shift Turkey’s focus in Libya and Eastern Mediterranean [by provoking Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict] to Caucasia,” the Eurasia analyst says. 

Russia and France, one other nation with a powerful Armenian foyer and in addition at odds with Turkey in Libya, attempt to stall Ankara with the Armenian-Azerbaijan battle, in accordance with Yalinkilicli. 

Russia, France and the US, the place the Armenian diaspora has additionally a robust presence, are the three main international locations within the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk group, which was established in 1992 to handle the Caucasian battle. 

“Seemingly something similar to what’s been happening in both Syria and Libya is playing out with Russia, Turkey and different sides [regarding Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict],” Bryza analyses. 

This article has been tailored from its authentic supply.