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Staunton, November 2 – In past conflicts on its periphery, Moscow has been able to gain influence with one side even if it loses it with another; but in the current war in the Caucasus, it has managed to lose its leverage in both places, with Armenia and Azerbaijan now looking away from Russia and Russia itself effectively “exiting from the South Caucasus, Andrey Melnikov says.
This remarkable and double loss has arisen because Azerbaijan has already made its choice to ally more closely with Turkey than with Russia and because Moscow has adopted a policy with respect to Armenia that contradicts its own approach to Crimea, the Moscow analyst says (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5F9F23437BFD2).
When in response to Yerevan’s request for military assistance, Putin declared that Moscow was quite prepared to come to the defense of the Republic of Armenia but not Karabakh. That infuriated Armenians because they view Karabakh as being as much part of their patrimony as Russia does Ukraine’s Crimea.
But in a case of “do as I say not as I do,” Moscow made clear that from its perspective, Karabakh is not part of Armenia at least as far as the Kremlin sees the situation now and won’t help Yerevan defend it. That leaves Armenia on its own against the superior firepower of the Azerbaijani side and at the same time in search of a new ally.
The only serious candidate for that is the United States which, although far removed from the conflict geographically, is profoundly affected by the large Armenia diaspora in the US and by Washington’s geopolitical calculations about containing both the Russian Federation and the Republic of Iran.
Whether Washington will come to Yerevan’s aid diplomatically let alone militarily is far from clear, Melnikov says; but one thing is certain: Russia is withdrawing from the South Caucasus as the hegemonic power. Azerbaijan has already turned away from Moscow and now Armenia will.
That in and of itself will lead to a new world in the south Caucasus and very soon to the North Caucasus as well because Moscow will have yielded its buffer zone further south from its borders, Melnikov concludes.