Russo-Armenian relations influenced by tilted balance in region - November, 2008

Although very unlikely, there is always a risk that Russian officials may one day have second thoughts regarding their close relationship with Armenia. The realization that Armenia is a great strategic asset for Moscow is widespread amongst high level Russian officials. However, speaking in real geopolitical and economic terms, regional Turks have much more to offer Russians than we Armenians. Russian politicians and political analysts realize this as well. However, due to various geopolitical and historic/cultural factors, a true Russian-Turkish alliance is very unlikely for the foreseeable future. Due to the potential of a pan-Turkic expansion, coupled with a significant percentage of Turkic peoples living within the borders of the Russian Federation, Moscow will continue to look at Ankara with suspicion. But even if a close partnership between Moscow and Ankara materialize one day that doesn't necessarily mean the end for Armenia. Nonetheless, this topic underscores the paramount importance of relentlessly and effectively lobbying Armenia's case within the halls of government in Moscow.



Change of heart?: Russo-Armenian relations influenced by tilted balance in region

November, 2008

Critics in Russia have lately started to voice thoughts about whether Russia should continue to further maintain the strategic level of Russian-Armenian relations. Significantly, practically for the first time this is being done by representatives of the so-called “patriotic” camp of the Russian political-scientific thought who have always advocated a further strengthening of the strategic ties along the Moscow-Yerevan axis. The change of the traditional position of “patriots” took place after the five-day Caucasus war. The shift in thinking is significant, as certain pundits and political analysts often act as messengers of official policy. Well-known Russian political analyst, head of the Center of Geopolitical Expertise Alexander Dugin made a sensational statement on the eve of the November 2 signing of the Moscow declaration on Nagorno-Karabakh by the presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia.

“We have reaped all benefits from our strategic alliance with Armenia,” declared Dugin. “A new model of relations of Turkey and Azerbaijan can be outlined now; it looks much more promising than before,” he said. “After the crisis in Georgia the situation has somewhat changed. [Azerbaijani President] Ilham Aliyev assumed a constructive position towards Russia and did not support the Georgian side, and this leaves a certain positive mark also on the Karabakh solution.”

Indeed, after the five-day war many political analysts began to speak about Russia’s intention to build a fundamentally new geopolitical triangle – Moscow-Ankara-Baku to replace the little effective and less promising Moscow-Yerevan-Tehran axis. “We have reaped all benefits from our strategic alliance with Armenia, moreover, Armenia’s strategic position is that it cannot give Russia more than there is now, meanwhile very much now depends on Azerbaijan and Turkey. Therefore, for Russia now it is important to improve relations with Azerbaijan, especially that Aliyev behaved correctly and properly during the conflict in South Ossetia.” Dugin said.

A year ago the same analyst voiced diametrically opposite thoughts. Such as: “Armenia, which is a traditional and reliable ally for Russia in the Caucasus, plays a special geopolitical role. Armenia serves as a major strategic base for preventing Turkish northward and eastward expansion to the regions of the Central Asian Turkic world. Armenia is also important in another sense. Based on historical and ethnic closeness with Iran, it is Armenia that could serve as a major link in the chain for establishing the Moscow-Yerevan-Tehran axis.” We now see a cardinally changed position of some serious representatives of the Russian political-scientific community. However, it is yet difficult to say how far this change reflects the change of the official viewpoint of the Russian state. It is only known that Moscow indeed has several times voiced its full satisfaction with the positions of Ankara and Baku during the August war in Georgia.

But some Russian political scientists advocating the “old line” spoke against Dugin’s “new line”. The “old-liners” do not doubt there is a need for further strengthening the strategic relations between Yerevan and Moscow. Political analyst Natalia Narochnitskaya is one of the most consistent advocates of this direction. Besides the factor of traditional Russo-Armenian cooperation, attention is drawn to the fact that Turkey, even if secretly in any case continues to carry out its pan-Turkic policy aimed first of all at disintegrating Russia. “Turning a blind eye to the genocide of the Armenian people, in 1921 Lenin concluded a treaty with Turkey on friendship and fraternity, assisted it with arms and money, expecting to return Kemal Ataturk to ‘the track of world revolution’,” says Narochnitskaya. “The Karabakh conflict created by Bolsheviks can be viewed as a pure consequence of the revolution, for Bolsheviks knew well that Karabakh is a primordial Armenian land, as people’s commissar Chicherin even wrote about it then.”

Official Ankara is interested in the strengthening of the positions of the Turkic element on the vast Eurasian space, and this interest is based on rich traditions. The strategic policy of corresponding preparations was determined by Ataturk himself. “One day Russia will lose control over peoples that it holds tight in its hands today. The world will reach a new level. And at that very moment Turkey must know what it should do.” In one way or another the latest events in the region had a rather strong impact also on the development of political thought in Russia, outlining new vectors of development. Some already challenge the necessity of Russo-Armenian cooperation. But others think that the factor of the presence of a “common enemy” is enough to bring the positions of Moscow and Yerevan closer together. The latter think that genuine Russo-Armenian strategic cooperation can develop only along the axis of joint overcoming of such external threats.


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