Staunton, January 12 – Vladimir Putin pushed to hold the summit meeting with Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan before the inauguration of Joe Biden so that the Kremlin leader can create facts on the ground before the US and other Western powers have the chance to weigh in on Qarabagh arrangements, Arkady Dubnov says.
In an interview with the Russian Service of Radio France International, the Moscow foreign and security policy commentator says that the results of the meeting show that it did not have to happen now and that Putin wanted to promote his vision of a solution to the crisis without regard to the OSCE Minsk Group (rfi.fr/ru/кавказ/20210112-аркадий-дубнов-москва-хочет-взять-на-себя-инициативу-по-карабаху-до-инаугурации-байдена).
Thus, Putin had the meeting focus on the unblocking of transportation routes, something Russia and Azerbaijan are very interested in rather than on humanitarian issues Armenia is more concerned with. By pushing the two Caucasus leaders to agree to his focus in the working groups the meeting established, he sidelined not just the Minsk Group but Washington and Paris.
The day before the Caucasus summit, Putin did speak by telephone with French President Emmanuel Macron, the Western leader most sympathetic to Armenia (rfi.fr/ru/кавказ/20210110-нагорный-карабах-франция-макрон-путин-переговоры-визит-москва-пашинян-алиев). But Paris has little influence on the ground, and Putin knows it, Dubnov continues.
The real question for the Kremlin is how the United States will react under its new president. The US has some interest in corridors, the Moscow commentator says, but Iran will be among the leaders opposing any expansion of any serious American presence in the southern Caucasus.
“The Americans can’t give up,” he continues; and they will not simply concede the region to Moscow. Some argue that Turkey is “Washington’s agent, but we know that Turkey is ‘the great Erdogan,’” a leader who won’t agree to be anyone’s puppet or plaything. And that includes even the new American administration.