Top US analysts on South Caucasus region have raised their deep concern over Russia’s interests of keeping the status-quo in the regional conflicts, especially in Nagorno-Karabakh, arguing that Moscow “fears of having to make a choice between Azerbaijan and Armenia”.
A topic “Russia’s aims and priorities in Nagorno-Karabakh” was discussed at the Washington DC-based Atlantic Council’s Patriciu Eurasia Center on Monday, October 1, with participation of top US analysts, former and current diplomats, TURAN’s Washington DC correspondent reports from the event.
Ross Wilson, former US ambassador to Azerbaijan and currently, the director of the Patriciu Eurasia Center, reminded that Washington and Paris strongly supported the initiative of then-President Medvedev and Foreign Minister Lavrov to agree to the OSCE Minsk Group’s “Basic Principles” document in 2009 to 2011.
But Russia’s interest and role in Nagorno-Karabakh have long been sources of speculation and some have argued that Moscow “hijacked” the Minsk Group and was pursuing a different agenda.
The question is he underscored “how does Moscow calibrate its approach on Nagorno-Karabakh as functions of its relationships with interests in Baku and Yerevan?”
For Thomas de Waal, Senior Associate on Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment, in fact, Russia doesn’t want the conflict resolved “simply because it has broad relationship, such as military cooperation with both Baku and Yerevan”.
However, he added, Moscow “is losing its influence on both Azerbaijan and Armenia”.
Back in 1990s, Russia manipulated on peace negotiations by looking for a chance to bring its peacekeepers to the region while advocating the ceasefire between the two countries.
Does Kremlin today want to dominate the peace negotiations? De Waal says, “Not exactly”. “President Putin’s attitude is different than Medvedev on this issue. In September, 2004 Putin called a meeting between then-presidents Aliyev and Kocharyan, but he kept them waiting long for his arrival to the meeting place”.
Speaking about Russia-Armenian relations, de-Waal mentioned that Yerevan “angered Putin” in 2009, when President Sarkisyan in 2009 pointed to the country’s relations with Georgia.
“Most recently, in Ramil Safarov case, it took 3 days for Russia to react on Azerbaijan’s action, while the White House did it immediately. It is a message to Armenia”, he added.
In his speech Sergey Markedonov, Visiting Fellow on Russia and Eurasia Program, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) mentioned that Moscow is not really interested in peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia because “it wants to keep all the cards alive in the South Caucasus”.
As for Safarov case, he mentioned, Aliyev released the solder for his domestic policy interests, as next year is going to be a presidential election in Azerbaijan and current president doesn’t want to leave the power.
Regarding Russia’s possible role over the peace negotiations, he added, keeping status-quo is “better than having no compromise agreement” between the sides.
Another analyst E. Wayne Merry, Senior Fellow for Europe and Eurasia at the American Foreign Policy Council underlined “Turkey factor” as a main danger for Russia’s regional interest.
“Russia fears that, in the real crisis situation between Azerbaijan and Armenia Turkey has to play very influential role”, he mentioned.
In the meantime, Merry believes, war is real in the region, and neither the US, nor the EU “is able to prevent it”.