Mon. Sep 26th, 2022

Moscow, September 19 (EFE) .- Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is trying at all costs to quell insurgency in the post-Soviet space, where Armenians and Azerbaijanis, Kyrgyz and Tajiks have engaged in violent border escalation that has the chance to explode into war between western Russia and Ukraine. can take

In recent days, Putin has held intense talks with leaders of Caucasian and Central Asian countries to urge them to prevent a military escalation that would impede the progress of Russian operations in Ukraine.

More than 200 people have been killed in the fighting along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan and over a hundred along the border line between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Armenians and Kyrgyz are close allies of Russia, but Moscow also has a military base in Tajikistan, which shares a more than 1,300km border with Afghanistan, and has energy interests in Caspian Sea neighbor Azerbaijan.

Russia, without space for conflict in the post-Soviet space

The Russian response shows the last thing the Kremlin wants is an armed conflict in its backyard, forcing it to intervene as it did with the violent uprising that broke out in Kazakhstan in January.

In contrast, the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) did not heed Armenian calls to come to the aid of what it called Azerbaijani “aggression”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, post-Soviet space ahead of potential complications
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to the media at a press conference after the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit. EFE/EPA/Sergei Bobilev/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool

In the 2020 war for control of Nagorno-Karabakh, the CSTO had the pretext that hostilities were not taking place on Armenian soil, now it cannot resort to that argument, unless the objective is to divert essential resources to Ukraine.

The cards are face up. The “special military operation” in Ukraine has left Russia with its hands full and with no time to face potential conflicts in the post-Soviet space. The Russian military did not intervene in Ukraine until after its mission in Syria, where it prevented the overthrow of its leader Bashar al-Assad.

In fact, the Azerbaijani leader, Ilham Aliyev, accepted an invitation to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan last Friday, but the Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, declined.

To make matters worse, Putin met in Samarkand not only with Alev, but also with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Baku’s main ally.

Turkey and Iran, an impossible balance

Analysts consider that what is happening in the post-Soviet space does not respond exclusively to the wishes of the Kremlin, but also to the interests of other regional actors, especially Turkey.

According to this logic, Putin would have accepted Erdogan’s demands on Armenia, keen to create a land corridor between Turkey and Azerbaijan, which could tip the balance of power in the Caucasus.

Turkey shares a border of only ten kilometers with the Azerbaijan Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan, which is separated from the rest of the country by tens of kilometers of Armenian territory.

To explore this corridor, Turkey wants the approval of Iran, a country with which its territorial hegemony is disputed and which has already made it clear that it opposes the project.

Iran shares a 44-kilometer border with Armenia, with which it maintains good relations, largely because of the large Azerbaijani minority living in the Islamic Republic’s explosive north.

Russia was even set to host a meeting in Moscow today between Erdogan and Assad, who has always accused Ankara of threatening Syria’s territorial integrity.

For the Armenians, the currency in this case would be their desire for independence in the north of the Kurdish and Arab countries.

Additionally, Iran maintains close ties with Tajikistan, with which it has historical and cultural ties.

Clashes along nearly a thousand kilometers of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border, less than half of which remain demarcated, have forced the evacuation of more than 140,000 Kyrgyz, the largest displacement in the history of the country bordering China.

Russia in the shadow of Taiwan

While Putin was trying to calm spirits in the region, the most explosive Caucasus powder keg among the guests was Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives.

Although the visit was long planned, his arrival on Saturday coincided with heightened tensions in the region, reminding Moscow of his recent visit to Taiwan, which sparked international disputes with China.

If the Kremlin resorted to warm clothes, Pelosi publicly condemned “Azerbaijan’s deadly attack against Armenian territory.”

The Armenian government praised the US’s “clear” stance on the conflict, while the Azerbaijani government called Pelosi’s statement “unfair” and “unacceptable”.

Along the same lines, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called on Aliyev on Sunday to call for a permanent ceasefire with Armenia that would include the withdrawal of troops from the border.

The United States, forced to close all its military bases in Central Asia under pressure from Russia and China, is trying to exploit any signs of weakness in regional police forces after its disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Another dangerous Rubicon would be added to the red line of long-range heavy weapons delivery to Ukraine, US intervention in Russia’s backyard.

Azerbaijan has always been between the two waters, but after the recent debacle, Armenia may rethink its foreign policy and reduce its almost total dependence on the Kremlin.

Web Editing: Maria Abad

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