"Russia's relations with Azerbaijan are at times allied, at times not quite." View from Baku
Expert on Russia’s relations with Azerbaijan
Political observer Haji Namazov called Maria Zakharova’s statement on Azerbaijan‘s non-recognition of the election a “rosy dream of Russia“. In his opinion, Azerbaijan’s position on the Ukrainian issue is based on international law. “The territories occupied by Russia are an integral part of Ukraine and no puppet regimes will be recognized there by any normal country.”
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“Azerbaijan’s statements about elections in Russia’s new territories are unacceptable and do not meet the nature of alliance,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova said. He added that “Baku should treat issues of Russia’s territorial integrity with the same respect they expect from the Russian side when it comes to Azerbaijan.”
Azerbaijani media dubbed Zakharova’s statement a “diplomatic demarche”.
– What do you think of Maria Zakharova’s statement, and what did she want to say?
– Maria Zakharova’s answer to the journalist during the briefing can only be called Russia’s “rosy dream”, which will not come true. And the Russian Foreign Ministry received a response from the official representative of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry on that issue quite promptly. The answer was given by a person at the level of Zakharova – neither more nor less.
Azerbaijan’s position on the Ukrainian issue is based on international law. The territories occupied by Russia are an integral part of Ukraine, and no puppet regimes there will not be recognized by any normal country. Even Russia’s closest CSTO allies have not recognized them.
As for Karabakh, Russia is obliged to recognize it as part of Azerbaijan under the same international law. Whether it wants to or not. The price of non-recognition may be too high for the Kremlin. At stake are relations with Azerbaijan’s closest ally Turkey, which became Moscow’s only window to the civilized world after the intervention in Ukraine.
So, it is not worth talking long about this “demarche”, it does not deserve it.
– And what can you say about Russia’s relations with Azerbaijan? These countries have signed a memorandum of alliance, but at times these relations are very strained.
– Russia’s relations with Azerbaijan cannot be expressed in one word. They are at times allied, at times not quite. But they are always mutually beneficial.
To understand the architecture of these relations, one should take into account many factors.
First, both countries are authoritarian regimes. It is inconceivable that any official in Azerbaijan would speak disapprovingly of the Kremlin without the approval of the authorities. The same is observed in Russia.
The noise of semi-officials and journalists always takes place, but it is not a factor that can influence bilateral relations. What matters here is the factor of relations between the heads of state, and of course, as I have already mentioned, the factor of Azerbaijan’s closest ally in light of Russia’s total isolation from the civilized world.
– Don’t you think that unfriendly steps between Russia and Azerbaijan still prevail over friendly ones?
– If you look deeper, you can find many examples of far from allied relations between Baku and Moscow.
Take for example the blocking of the website of the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti in Azerbaijan. For a long time this site has been inaccessible for Azerbaijani users. As well as Azerbaijani news sites Minval, Haqqın and some others are inaccessible for Russian Internet users.
There are often misunderstandings between these countries at the border. Rosselkhoznadzor can easily find, when necessary, some moths or other microorganisms in products from Azerbaijan. It is true that ordinary farmers suffer in this case.
But if we look globally, these small troubles do not have a big impact on the spirit of bilateral relations. This is the essence of their complexity – we are not an ally, but if necessary, we remember our alliance.
– How can Baku respond to Russia’s “pranks”? Is there an effective tool in the arsenal of the Azerbaijani authorities?
– Azerbaijan’s friendly relations with Ukraine have been the main irritant for Russia in the last couple of years. And Baku skillfully uses its position in this matter.
If from the first days of Russia’s intervention in the neighboring state Azerbaijan has been providing tacit humanitarian aid to Ukraine at the level of organizations and individuals, then against the background of the recent aggravation of relations with Moscow, for the first time President Ilham Aliyev signed an order to provide humanitarian aid to Kiev.
Such open support for Ukraine from Russia’s “ally” is not to Russia’s liking, naturally, and this lever works perfectly to bring the Kremlin to its senses.
In a word, the Azerbaijani authorities are skillfully manipulating their favorable position at the regional level.
– Russia has been present in Azerbaijan for three years in the form of peacekeeping forces. How long do you think this presence will last?
– The deployment of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Karabakh is perhaps the only issue for Azerbaijan in its relations with Moscow that is not easy to resolve.
Baku declares at all levels, up to the statements of President Aliyev, that the term of stay of the RMK in Karabakh will not be prolonged. There is not much time left until “X hour”.
According to the trilateral agreement of November 10, 2020, if any party does not want the extension of the RMK mission, it is obliged to declare it 6 months before the end of the mission. In other words, in April 2025 Azerbaijan must officially declare its unwillingness to see peacekeepers on its territory for another 5 years.
But it is a bit difficult to talk about this now. We have to take into account the continuation of the Russian-Ukrainian war. It is important what state Russia will be in by the spring of 2025. We should also take into account the fact that 2025 is the year of elections in Azerbaijan, both presidential and parliamentary. These are all important factors for solving the difficult task of expelling RMK.
But if everything goes smoothly and Azerbaijan achieves the disbandment of illegal Armenian armed formations on its territory, then there will be nothing for RMK to do in Karabakh. And in this case, the peacekeeping contingent may withdraw from Azerbaijan because of the lack of need for it.
And if we look more realistically, Armenians live in Karabakh, and during the transitional period of integration the presence of a neutral party in the region may be a necessary condition. In this case Russia can stay in Karabakh within the framework of the Russian-Turkish monitoring center. Have you heard about any activity of this center in the last two years? I haven’t either. But this center exists, and it seems to be working in the Agdam district.