Staunton, Sept. 16 – The new wave of violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the increased activity in the region by the US and the EU mean that the self-serving assumptions Moscow has long made about its position in the South Caucasus are no longer valid and that Russia must “begin again from zero” to promote its interests, Dmitry Rodionov says.
As a recent roundtable at the Russian Academy of Ecoayanomics and State Service showed, the Moscow analyst says, Russians are “accustomed to thinking that as far as Armenia is concerned, if we have a base there and the country is a member of the Organization for the Collective Security Treaty and the Eurasian Economic Community, everything is under control.”
And as for Azerbaijan, Moscow has effectively ceded its influence to Turkey, a country “whose interests are different from ours and who is under the influence of the British special services who are openly playing against our country,” Rodionov continues (ritmeurasia.org/news--2022-09-16--zakavkaze-vtoroj-front-protiv-rossii-62021).
What that means, he says, is that whatever Moscow now does, it will be acting in ways that will benefit not it but the US. If Moscow uses military means, “it risks a war with Baku and Ankara. If it doesn’t, then it will be confronted by a growth in anti-Russian attitudes in Yerevan and the coming to power there of forces oriented toward the US and the EU and not Russia.”
And even if it manages to calm the current situation, “this will distract part of its attention from Ukraine, where things today are not going in the best way and most likely will require an increase in its peacekeeping contingent,” something that will make building up its forces in Ukraine more difficult.
In short, whatever Moscow does in the South Caucasus now, it will suit the US, Rodionov concludes. And that means that Moscow must begin its work in the region “from scratch.” But that raises the question: “Will Moscow have enough time for that” given what others are doing?