End Of Moscow’s Policy Of Controlled Instability In South Caucasus
The reshaping of spheres of influence in the states adjacent to Russia is gaining momentum. Remnants of Soviet, and in today’s interpretation of Russian, imperialism are being decisively revised by other regional leaders without regard for Moscow’s interests.
The aggravation of conflicts between the Russian Federation and the outside world forces the Kremlin to fight simultaneously on several fronts, wasting resources, scattering attention, revealing its own weakness, as well as the insolvency of defense and integration projects created under its patronage (CSTO, EAEU).
In Transcaucasia (as elsewhere), Russia, professing and practicing the theory of controlled instability, uses the confrontation between Azerbaijan and Armenia as an instrument of its influence. As in other hot spots of the post-Soviet space, Moscow for a long time did not contribute to the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but supported it, supplying weapons to both sides, artificially keeping them in its orbit and thereby forcing them to reckon with Russian political interests, which closely pursue economic (in including energy) calculation.
From the very beginning, after the return of the conflict to a hot phase, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that his country’s goal is to return the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, and not only the regions conquered by Armenia in the early 1990s and not related to NKR. The ceasefire can take place only after Yerevan provides a schedule for the withdrawal of troops from Nagorno-Karabakh. Baku also supports Ankara to take part in the mediation mission.
Brussels and all European capitals, adhering to the position of resolving any conflicts through diplomatic means, at the same time recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as a part of Azerbaijan and Armenia as an occupier. These provisions are official and unchanged. However, they are trying to avoid returning the territories inhabited by Armenians to Azerbaijan, given their long dramatic history.
Moscow lost most of its ability to influence both sides of the conflict because of Turkish assistance to Baku, and was also afraid to openly side with Yerevan. The Kremlin demonstrates weakness under the guise of political neutrality and refers to the fact that it cannot provide military assistance within the framework of the CSTO, since Nagorno-Karabakh is not part of Armenia.
This position significantly weakened Moscow’s authority as an arbiter in the region and called into question the advisability of the 102nd military base in Gyumri. Further vague Kremlin movements, vague calls for a ceasefire, Putin’s lack of communication with Ilham Aliyev and Recep Erdogan in almost daily conversations with Nikol Pashinyan, raised doubts whether Moscow could continue to be the main judge of the incident and moderator of an acceptable outcome of the conflict in Artsakh. The very posing of this question testifies to the fact that Russia is rapidly losing its status of a state capable of independently arresting an “abscess” in the zone of its historical and strategic influence.
In turn, Ankara declares full support for the offensive of Azerbaijani troops, provides technical military assistance to Baku, insists on changing the format of the OSCE Minsk Group due to the lack of results, and also seeks to be included in the negotiation process on a settlement. Reuters reports that the decisive position of Recep Erdogan is a strategic priority, and the need to use military muscle raises the rating of the leadership at home and in the international arena. It should be admitted that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has become the third front between Ankara and Moscow after Syria and Libya, in which the Turkish president’s opinion is that a peace agreement should be signed not in Minsk or Moscow, but in Ankara and on those beneficial to the Turkish alliance conditions that are in principle consistent with international law.
Turkey’s activity in the Transcaucasus pursues other goals characteristic of a regional leader.
1. Make Karabakh a point of pressure on Russia or a bargaining chip in the big bargaining in northern Syria and Libya, where Ankara and Moscow have become rivals in recent years.
2. To destabilize the internal situation in Russia, to expand the propaganda of the Pan-Turkist ideology in the federal subjects favorable for this, to aggravate the relations between the Azerbaijani and Armenian diasporas. Send a signal to the Chechen community, which, although it is silent, is in solidarity with its fellow believers, since in the 90s it fought on the Azerbaijani side in Karabakh. To outline the prospect of expansion to the Turkic countries of Central Asia, the Russian republics of the Volga region and the North Caucasus, as well as to actualize the Crimean issue.
3. Ensure the untouchability of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline, the route of which runs parallel and close to the Armenian border. It is noteworthy that these objects were in the sight of the shelling of Armenians in July this year and now.
In this regard, the question arises: what if Recep Erdogan, despite the public international condemnation of Ilham Aliyev’s support for the escalation of hostilities, received carte blanche from world leaders through closed channels to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in his (and Azerbaijan’s) favor to avoid and prevention of even greater tragedies in the post-Soviet space, created by the Kremlin to enhance its role in world politics and reshape spheres of influence?
These include the preparation in full swing of the absorption of Belarus by Russia or its transformation into another bleeding wound in the center of Europe, as well as the threat of invasion of the Baltic republics with access to direct contact with Poland, as politicians and experts have been talking about in recent years. If such discussions took place between the Turkish president and at least some of the global frontmen, it would mark the beginning of the end of the Kremlin’s policy of controlled chaos. It will also open up an opportunity in the foreseeable future to unleash other regional problems with the unrecognized quasi-republics in the European states of the former Union – Moldova (PMR), Georgia (Abkhazia, South Ossetia), Ukraine (Crimea, L / DPR). We should not forget about the destructive influence of Russia in the Middle East.
This theory also testifies to the unity of the “collective West”, including NATO, in decisive opposition to Putin’s expansionist policies, which every year increasingly threaten the security and national interests of a united Europe and the United States.
Taking into account the above, it can be assumed that the key to resolving the conflict in the NKR has already been secretly transferred from Moscow to Ankara and Baku, which the Kremlin has not yet understood. Therefore, it is not surprising that the ceasefire, announced after ten hours of trilateral talks in Moscow, only lasted an hour and a half. Further events in case of escalation may develop according to the Syrian scenario with a predictable result, since Turkey is a NATO member, and the CSTO has already shown its incapacity. In this regard, a major foreign policy defeat of the Kremlin in the South Caucasus, which will be regarded as a military one, may trigger a large-scale internal crisis, which along the chain of consequences may lead to a reset of the entire system of power in Russia.
The processes taking place in Nagorno-Karabakh are undoubtedly reshaping the geopolitical map of the world. But they also show that Moscow has ceased to be not only a platform for constructive dialogues, but also an influential negotiator. It is necessary to negotiate in Berlin, Paris, London, since the Moscow regime is not interested in resolving conflicts, it is a supporter of controlled instability, which, on command from the Kremlin, quickly develops into a real war.
The article was intially published at Intercourier.com.ua