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 Tuesday, March 7 2023 12:13
Marianna Mkrtchyan

Withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Nagorno-Karabakh to cause  Armenia`s reorientation to West - Sergey Markedonov  

Withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Nagorno-Karabakh to cause  Armenia`s reorientation to West - Sergey Markedonov  

ArmInfo. New armed incidents have occurred in Nagorno- Karabakh. Stakes are getting higher. Although resenting ultimatums is not a new tactic here, it is obvious that risks are much higher when ultimatums are followed by use of force, Russian expert Sergey Markedonov, Leading Researcher of the Euro-Atlantic Security Center, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), believes. 

This location in the Caucasus is of special importance for Russia.  "And calling it 'a key one' would not be an exaggeration. Retaining  its role of the principal mediator [even amid the growing rivalry  with the West and 'competitive partnership' with Turkey] enables  Moscow to exert influence on both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Withdrawal  of the Russian peacekeepers from Nagorno-Karabakh would naturally  result in withdrawal of the Russian military base from Gyumri and  Yerevan's reorientation to the West in fact rather than as a PR  campaign, with Azerbaijan being, at least economically, thoroughly  integrated into Western projects," Mr Markedonov said. 

Some regard Russia's "equidistant" position as a scourge, while  others consider it an importance resource.  It is obviously both  beneficial and restrictive in many respects for Moscow. 

"But it would be wrong now to make a 'final choice' between Yerevan  and Baku. Possible options are available, but they should be avoided.  It is undesirable for us to suggest probable negative scenarios to  our opponents. But these are, in fact, 'an open secret.' It should,  however, be taken into account that losing influence on Armenia and  Azerbaijan will halt the positive trends Russia is recording in  Georgia. It is clear that Turkey's voice on all the platforms [not  only in the Caucasus, but also in Syria and Ukraine] will be much  louder. So it is important to rival for the 'Karabakh key' - with  minimum losses and maximum benefits," Mr Markedonov said. 

As to whether Armenian-Azerbaijani peace and regional order in the  Transcaucasia could be established without Russia's involvement, the  expert says that everything in possible in international politics. 

"During some historical periods Russia, in its various forms, was not  present in the Caucasus, or its presence was minimal. After all, the  Balkan peace was established without Russia's special involvement.   However, the threat of such absenteeism is not that the Kremlin's  'imperial ambitions' could suffer a blow.  

Russia itself is a Caucasian power, which fact cannot be forgotten  for a single moment.  So Moscow feels especially responsible for the  Caucasus. And another psychological moment should be mentioned: any  nation has a special attitude to ensuring security along its borders  with its immediate neighbors. The West will keep on acting as a  potential peacemaker both in the Caucasus as a region far beyond its  borders. And they are not noisy or rowdy - that's something at least!  And it is up to Russia to go into details. Alas, we ourselves are  both now and were in the past far from meeting this high standard  though we are admitting a need to," Mr Markedonov said.

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