The mythology of optimism. Challenges and risks of the Kremlin’s “peacekeeping”
Questions have piled up for the Russian “peacekeepers” in Karabakh. Apparently, not only in Azerbaijan.
The Trilateral Statement, signed on the night of November 10, initially contains ambiguous and ambiguous interpretations. In the logic of the Kremlin, both subsequent conflicts, and, accordingly, subsequent meetings in the near future in the format you specified were initially laid down. As well as the role of “arbiter” in which Moscow still feels quite comfortable under the new conditions.
Baku’s position on removing the concepts of “status”, “phased” or “package” settlement plans from the Karabakh agenda has been formulated clearly and unambiguously – let’s not be distracted, but talk about the challenges and risks of the Kremlin’s “peacekeeping lever”.
The situation with the Russian interventionists in Karabakh from the very beginning is fundamentally different from the well-known “Tskhinvali peacekeeping scenario”, which led to the occupation of 20% of the territory of Georgia. Here is the Turkish “safety catch” for Azerbaijan, but also the double-edged “peacekeeping hook” of Moscow for the two subjects in a tough confrontation – Azerbaijan and Armenia. This alignment – again in the logic of the Kremlin – opens up a broad field for Russia for manipulation, (un) controlled provocations, bargaining, pressure, blackmail, etc. – I repeat, against both sides, which we are now directly or indirectly observing. The Armenian and Karabakh agendas of Russia (you have to get used to the fact that they are not always the same) show signs of, if not a split within the Kremlin, then a very tough confrontation. Even a quick glance at what is happening gives the following picture:
In Khankendi (Stepanakert), not only the headquarters of a full-fledged Russian military base is being formed, but also the “system of state administration” on the territory of “NKR” that remained de facto under the Russian protectorate. The fact that this cannot but irritate Baku (not only at the level of attributes) is understandable, but the key point here is that this is happening outside of any influence of Yerevan. “The occupation regime in Karabakh” in relation to Russia is no longer only Azerbaijani discourse, but also Armenian – albeit still quiet and politically unpopular. – The “anti-Russian” Nikol Pashinyan, who was written off by everyone, resisted, and the designated meeting in Russia with his participation speaks for yourself. The opposition “revolt 17+”, fed from Moscow, is failing so far. At the same time, the political departure of Yerevan from revanchism is a key threat to the Kremlin – the mood of “revenge together with Russia”, as well as the approach “it is better for the Armenians in Karabakh under Russian protectorate than in Azerbaijan” will be fueled in Armenia in every possible way. It is in this logic, in my opinion, that one should consider the “state building” blessed in the Kremlin on the territory of Karabakh under its protectorate. This, incidentally, cuts off Yerevan’s alternative agenda on returning to the late OSCE Minsk Group or other settlement formats – alternative to the current Russian-Turkish solitaire. Agree, this is clearly not a “black and white movie”. And if the “tskhinvalization” of Karabakh is a nightmare of Baku, then Yerevan, in the logic of Moscow, under a certain scenario, should still only deserve it.
The night document leaves the opportunity for Russia – both in terms of time and scale – not to carry out or moderate the withdrawal / disarmament of armed formations on Azerbaijani territory under its protectorate. At the same time, Azerbaijan is still limited in the tools of control over these processes, as well as over the dynamics of building up the personnel and equipment of the “peacekeeping” contingent.
The recent clashes in the districts of Gadrut, Shushi, Khojavend – for the Kremlin this is a concrete probe of the reaction of the Azerbaijani side – regardless of whether they were planned sabotage or echoes of the “44-day war”. Now it is important for Moscow that these situations are resolved not without its direct participation. The threat of new similar incidents remains. Baku can avoid the concept of “new line of demarcation” as much as it wants, but it has already been de facto formed. The “soil test” in these areas is about the prospect of changing the tactical situation around the city of Shusha, which is already located on the most dangerous direction of the new demarcation line.
Bacchanalia in the information field of Russia – in particular, the mutually exclusive messages of Putin and Matvienko – should not surprise or deceive anyone. Among the experts and “experts” there are clearly appointed “good” and “evil police officers” for both Azerbaijan and Armenia. This is both a marker of the intra-Kremlin confrontation on the Karabakh front, and an element of moderating the information agenda – the Kremlin always considers chaotization of processes as a minimum program and an intermediate result if it is impossible to achieve maximum goals.
Vladimir Kopchak, commentary to the Baku Press Club