Op-ed: How is Russia benefiting from Armenian- Azerbaijani confrontation?
The recent escalation on the Armenian- Azerbaijani border, shootings in Karabakh, meetings of the Russian President with the Prime Minister of Armenia, and then with the President of Azerbaijan – all these recent events force experts to reflect on what is at the heart of everything that happens and who is benefiting from it.
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“It is noticeable that Russia is still the most successful player in our region. True, in the medium and long term, it will lose, because it has nothing but a brute force to offer. But for now, the Kremlin remains the complete master of the situation and the main moderator in the post-Soviet space”, said Natik Jafarli, one of the leaders of the Azerbaijani opposition Republican Alternative party.
According to the politician, Russia is also ‘flirting’ with the West in the region: “It does not want to spend money on Armenia, turns a blind eye to how the European Union and the United States are allocating billions of dollars to Armenia for the next five years. The West pays “the bills” in Armenia, Russia does not spend on it but it keeps all the levers of pressure in its hands: its army is there, the borders of Armenia are guarded by Russian border guards, the Kremlin controls 70% of the Armenian economy. Now it turns out that Russia will even have dividends from Western aid to this country”.
“But if suddenly Yerevan follows the anti-Moscow path, the Kremlin has another serious mechanism of influence in store for such a scenario – Azerbaijan. For example, Baku immediately raises the issue of Zangezur or Khankendi (Stepanakert), Russia does not respond and unrest breaks out in Yerevan, Kocharian’s team takes the initiative into their own hands, and Western investments disappear.
Kocharian deliberately did not go to parliament but he sent his faction there because he needs to organize actions on the street, and there, in parliament, the faction will work in the direction he needs”, Jafarli emphasizes.
“Russia is watching Azerbaijan with the help of its peacekeepers, who it brought into its territory. If tomorrow we do something against the interests of Moscow, all its levers will come into force – and agricultural products will not be allowed across the border, while Azerbaijanis will be expelled from Russia, the ceasefire will often be violated, provocations will be directed at Shushi and Hadrut, ” the politician continued his thoughts.
Jafarli believes that Armenia’s advantage in these circumstances is the complex political systems between the countries and, accordingly, that they have opportunity for a more flexible response:
“We must urgently come to a conclusion. In order to hold onto the successes achieved as a result of the second Karabakh war and build upon them, it is necessary to switch to a more complex and ramified system of governing the country – it is too dangerous when everything depends on one single person. “