Russia would push for progress over Karabakh if not tensions with West – expert

13:34 • 04.11.17



If not its current tensions with the West, Russia would exert every possible pressure upon Armenia and Azerbaijan in an effort to reach progress over Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh), according to a Moscow-based political analyst.


Speaking to Tert.am, Sergey Markedonov, a professor from the Russian State University of Humanities, cited the lack of confidence between the conflicting parties as a serious impediment to reaching peace.


Asked whether the country is facing other difficulties preventing it from realizing the plan, the expert said he doesn’t think the issue is a a priority for Russia or any other country represented in the OSCE Minsk Group to focus their entire attention on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. “It may sound a little bit cynical, but I am absolutely honest. The good thing is, roughly speaking, the fact that the shootings have decreased in number. So we can hardly expect the meetings between the sides to pave way to any progress,” he noted.


Nonetheless, Markedonov stressed the urgent need of continuing the talks as an important effort towards preventing the occasional tensions from escalating into a war.  

 

“Politics is the art of the possible; it is not phantasy. The current status quo is the best thing we could ever achieve given the sides’ approaches, which rule out mutual concessions,” he added.


The analyst dismissed the views that Moscow is hampering the peace process, attributing the thesis to speculations “devised by western expert circles”. “Russia’s role is not dominant when it comes to Karabakh There are conflicts in which Russia has a zero influence, but they nonetheless never find a solution,” he said, citing the example of Cyprus.

Addressing the $100 million worth Russian credit agreement aiming to supply Armenia with modern weaponry, Markedonov said he doesn’t treat the deal as an attempt to re-establish the disrupted military balance in the region.

 

“We have, in a way, become a hostage to the April events as though everything was peaceful before all that. But it was the increasing tension, in point of fact, that caused Russia to sell weapons to Azerbaijan. That’s a secondary issue; Israeli or American weaponry might as well replace the Russian military supplies. The fact is Azerbaijan does really seek to possess weapons; it is facing the demand as it wishes to resolve the issue by using force. So our task is to think of ways to tone down those ambitions,” he added.

 

Predicting real chances for mutual concessions, the expert said they treat Azerbaijan as a key partner despite the developing strategic alliance with Armenia. He said that Azerbaijan’s shared border with Dagestan is a serious reason for the country to keep the situation under control to prevent a secessionist movement in the Caucasus. Meantime Markedonov ruled out any assistance to Azerbaijan by Russia which he said is primarily concerned with its own interests in the region.

 

“Armenia has no little gains as a strategic ally of Russia as it purchases weapons for internal prices and [hosts a Russian] military base in Gyumri. Armenia has no chances to head towards NATO [membership] given that no one has yet expelled Turkey from the alliance. The European Union is not going to choose between Armenia and Azerbaijan. So no other vector is apparently likely to replace Russia at the moment,” he said.  
 

Markedonov said he sees good chances to smooth over also the existing disagreements between Armenia and Russia. In his words, the April 2016 developments became a kind of red light for the country.


The expert further spoke of active backstage talks and non-formal agreements over banning those weapons’ use for purposes of escalating the conflict. “Russia cannot launch an attack against Azerbaijan; they are just negotiating over possible plans to cut down the weapons supply,” he added.

Tigranuhi Martirosyan





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