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On its scenario the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict reminds the events taken place in Georgia in 2008. The event development indicates a high probability of the operation of having Armenia deeply integrated into the geopolitical project of Russia. Russian propaganda TV-channels, particularly, Russia Today affiliated with Russian foreign intelligence, are sounding out and forming the public opinion of ‘Armenia’s return’ idea.
In July 2020 we mentioned about military risks for Azerbaijan and Russia’s interest in fueling a confrontation between the two countries following Armenian provocations on the border with Azerbaijan and neighboring Azerbaijani villages and infrastructure shelled. In May 2018 the military intelligence-affiliated Russian information agency Regnum published the article ‘When Armenia is ready it will become an integral part of the Union State’.
The article described the scenario of Armenia’s uniting with Russia. There are powers in Russia who are interested in closer cooperation with Armenia and dream of having it as an integral part of the Union State.
As the article says after entering the Union State ‘Armenia receives guarantees of preserving its territory, state, people who will stop leaving their native territory so actively, and the solution of any territorial conflicts with both Azerbaijan and Turkey. However, Russia strengthens its positions in the Caucasus as in the days of the Russian Empire’.
In June 2001 the Communist Party of Armenia proposed to hold a referendum on the country’s accession to the Union of Russia and Belarus. According to Norik Petrosyan, member of the faction of the Armenian Communist Party, during their visits to Yerevan Russian President Vladimir Putin and then-Speaker of the Russian State Duma Gennady Seleznev showed willingness to discuss the prospects for Armenia’s membership in the Union. However, as he said the Armenian leadership had refused to negotiate.
The Kremlin believes that in case of this scenario the only side that will lose is the Armenian political elite whom Moscow sees as incapable of solving the country’s problems on its own. The low level of turnover between the two countries, the absence of a common frontier and, to their mind, an unjustified burden on Russia to ensure Armenia’s security and defense are poor value for Russia’s expenses. Therefore, Moscow is thinking about options for closer integration with Yerevan by using the model of the Union State of Russia and Belarus.
The Kremlin considers this format as a powerful impetus for reviving an analogue of the Soviet Union or the Russian Empire. Since the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one of the oldest in the former Soviet Union, its solution through Armenia absorbed by Russia can become an agenda for a number of countries where Russia supports artificial conflicts for achieving deep involvement in military-political integration projects.
The other fact that proves Russia’s leading role in the conflict is an active phase of the largescale military exercises ‘Caucasus 2020’ carried out by Moscow on September 21-26. The exercises served the reason to strengthen the military contingent in the Caucasian and Black Sea regions.
The Russian 102nd military base numbering about 5,000 people is stationed in Armenia and is equipped with anti-aircraft missile systems, fighters and helicopters. Russian military groups are also deployed in the Black and Caspian Seas. Thus, Azerbaijan is in the zone of Russian missiles strikes.
Russia pursues the goal to waste the strength of Azerbaijan and Armenia to provoke the latter to seek Putin for support. Putin needs to maintain his status as a peacekeeper. Strategically, he benefits from both sides weakened and keeps acting as a mediator during the negotiations resulted in Armenia absorption, an increase in the level of Azerbaijan’s loyalty to official Moscow, and Turkish positions weakening in the region.
Moscow’s wait-and-see position in the initial phase of the conflict undermines seriously the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Obviously, this Russian project of collective defense fell short as it left Armenia without operational support in the eyes of other organization members. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict escalation demonstrated the CSTO’s complete ill-readiness to perform its functions and by yet more emphasized the political nature of this organization that is incapable to ensure its members’ security.