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Russia Needs Stability in the South Caucasus

Russia now more than ever needs stability in the South Caucasus. Russia-Turkish tension and Turkey's efforts to bring Azerbaijan to its side increase the role of this region for Moscow.

Turkey, as a strategic partner for Azerbaijan and "elder brother" seeks the support of Azerbaijan in foreign policy, both in Syrian crisis and conflict with Russia. That’s why Turkey tried to involve Azerbaijan in Saudi-Turkish coalition in Syria and Davutoghlu promised "to do its best to help free occupied Azerbaijani territories." But, as the political process showed, Azerbaijan has yet succeeded to avoid adopting certain policy.

Russia is also interested in Azerbaijan’s passive policy and not provoking instability in the region so as not to deviate the attention of Russia from the Syrian crisis. Besides, due to the "neutral" position of Turkey’s strategic partner Russia also solves the issues of its image.

For these reasons, Russia holds active dialogue both with Baku and Yerevan. With Baku it uses the policy of "checks and balances". On one hand, Moscow published the list of arms sold to Armenia, on the other hand MFA of Russia quickly announced it will not do any steps that are against the interests of Azerbaijan. When Baku had problems with the payments of Russia arms, the vice prime-minister of Russia immediately visited Azerbaijan, reached concesus and solved the problem. At the same time, Vladimir Putin approved the accession of Armenia to the group of antiaircraft Defense system.

Moscow tries to play balanced game with Yerevan and Baku and ensure "neutrality" of Azerbaijan and possibly restraine reactions of Armenia.

In this context, it’s now difficult to imagine what issues will be discusses during Sargsyan-Putin meeting on the 10th of March. Armenia will express its dissatisfaction of selling Russian weapons to Azerbaijan and the continuing escalation in Karabakh conflict zone, provoked by Azerbaijan. Besides, Iran-Armenia cooperation and issues of bilateral relations will also be on the agenda.

Russia can use the present situation and active policy with Armenia and Azerbaijan to get benefits. The key is to have an input in the establishment of monitoring mechanisms for the ceasefire regime in Karabakh conflict. This issue is on the agenda of both American and European co-chairs of the Minsk Group, and some steps of Russia, pushing Azerbaijan to agree with the suggestion, can serve to two goals at the same time. It will increase stability and peace in the region, that as we mentioned, is a priority for Russia, and will increase the role of Russia, as a OSCE MG Co-Chair. This will be a restricting factor for Turkey, and at the same time can influence on the change of balances in the Russia-West relations and improve position of Russia.


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