Dr. Gayane Novikova
April 28, 2018
A few introductory remarks
Russia’s involvement in the Nagorniy Karabakh (NK) conflict dates back to the very last years of the Soviet Union, when this conflict erupted on the territory of then-Soviet Azerbaijan. The central authorities of the Soviet Union were unable and unwilling to prevent its transformation into an overt military conflict between the Azerbaijani authorities and the ethnic Armenians, living in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region of Soviet Azerbaijan. Soviet Armenia became an indirect party to this conflict, providing full support to its fellow Armenians. A proclamation of independence by Armenia, Nagorniy Karabakh, and Azerbaijan in the autumn of 1991, and the following three-year war, transformed this conflict into an international one. As a strategic ally of Armenia, a strategic partner of Azerbaijan, and co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia has become (and it has been viewed as) the most active external actor in the NK conflict settlement process.
However, these three dimensions — combined with various geopolitical challenges — significantly complicate Russia’s interaction with the direct parties to the NK conflict. Russia tries to preserve political and military balances between Armenia and Azerbaijan, to prevent a new full-scale war between these two states, to avoid its own direct military participation in the conflict, and to continue cooperation with the US and France (that represents also the EU) within the format of the OSCE MG. Any miscalculation can cause a significant diminution of its role in Eurasia; Russia also cannot endanger its national security by taking sides or obviously shifting its position regarding the settlement of this conflict.
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