"Why Abkhazia does not face the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh?" Opinion
Nagorno-Karabakh has been ceded to Azerbaijan, and, it seems, irrevocably. And in this context, many experts draw parallels with other disputed entities in the post-Soviet space. In particular, with Abkhazia, which has its own unresolved conflict with Georgia. I will not be original if I say that the similarity of these two conflicts is very conditional.
To begin with, unlike the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, with which even Armenia has not legalized its relations, Abkhazia is a partially recognized republic. And it is important that in 2008, after the war in South Ossetia its independence was first recognized by Russia, which became a guarantor of security of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia. So, in case of resumption of the armed phase of the conflict with Georgia, Russian troops stationed in Abkhazia automatically become the defense of the republic together with the Abkhazian armed forces.
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In the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh, Moscow’s ability and motivation to get involved in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict on the side of Yerevan was close to zero for many reasons.
Despite its allied relations with Armenia, Russia, just like Yerevan, did not recognize the independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. And, accordingly, Moscow ruled out military support for Armenia on this territory three years ago during the second Karabakh war.
It is now because of the war with Ukraine every battalion is on the account, while in 2020 there were no such problems. And the Kremlin then, of course, could have interpreted the parameters of its allied relations with Armenia differently, more broadly for the world community. But it did not do so. Since Moscow’s task in this conflict has long been formed – to be, so to speak, “above the fray” and thus control the region.
Besides, Russia also has allied relations with Azerbaijan.
Besides, behind Baku stands a powerful regional power, Turkey, with which there is no particular reason to quarrel.
Finally, there is an emotional factor. Both in 2020 and now, Armenia is led by Nikol Pashinyan, for whom the Kremlin has no sympathy. Perhaps, if the war had happened when Armenia was led by friends of the Russian president Robert Kochoryan or Serzh Sargsyan, Moscow’s actions would have been completely different. But somehow things did not work out at all with Pashinyan.
So, taking into account all these circumstances, the future fate of Nagorno-Karabakh was quite predictable.
In the case of Abkhazia everything is quite different. Russia has not had diplomatic relations with Georgia for 15 years. Yes, now there is a noticeable warming between Moscow and Tbilisi. But everything is rather shaky. The positive dynamics is directly linked to the ruling Georgian Dream party and its informal leader Bidzina Ivanishvili. If the power in Georgia changes, the nature of relations with Russia will also change. This is not the case with Russian-Abkhazian relations. In Abkhazia, a priori, a politician who is not oriented towards Moscow cannot be president.
Abkhazia’s geographical location is also important. It borders on the “summer capital” of Russia, the city of Sochi. And Russia will definitely not leave Sukhum without support in case of a new Georgian-Abkhazian war. I am sure that the prospect of seeing NATO on its “summer porch” does not inspire President Vladimir Putin. Even taking into account a large-scale war with Ukraine, there will definitely find resources for Abkhazia.
So, Abkhazia is unlikely to repeat the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh, even against the background of such a dynamically changing geopolitical picture.
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