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How Turkey and Russia became the beneficiaries of the Nagorno-Karabakh war

On Tuesday, November 10, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a statement on ending the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The peace agreement was signed under the terms of Azerbaijan, Russian President Putin gave Armenia guarantees of security and its peacekeepers, that is, Russia is strengthening its position in the region as a result of capitulation. Armenia suffers complete defeat, as it was acknowledged by Pashinyan, who realised inability to offer further resistance.

The Armenian democratic revolution is absolutely downgraded. The vector of European development has been completely levelled. Armenia has been brought back under the Russian influence in the face of losing everything. Now Armenia is completely dependent on Russia, and Putin has received another frozen conflict with deployment of his peacekeepers.

As a brief summary, the document states that the Armenian army completely withdraws troops from Karabakh. A small contingent of Russian peacekeepers ensures the safety of Armenian settlements. Russian peacekeepers can leave the region in 4.5 years unconditionally, according to the unilateral statement made by Azerbaijan. In fact, Azerbaijan is gaining full control over the region, which may become absolute in a few years.

Azerbaijan regains almost all of Karabakh by December 1, Armenia retains only cities in the mountainous areas that it still controls – Stepanakert, Martakert, and Martuni. City of Shusha and all other areas occupied by the Azerbaijani army remain under the control of Baku. Armenia losses Kelbajar and the whole Kelbajar district, Lachin and the whole Lachin district, Agdam and the whole Agdam district, control over the new Vardenis-Mardakert road with the Lachin-Shusha road also completely given to Azerbaijan. The Lachin corridor will be guarded by the Russian peacekeepers. That is, all highways are controlled by Azerbaijanis, who allow the Russian contingent only, whose number is strictly limited, to maintain the order.

Armenians retain the rest of Karabakh, giving Azerbaijan a strategic advantage instead – a direct route through Armenia to Nakhichevan, which connects with its enclave. Formally the route belongs to Armenia, though in fact transport communication with Nakhichevan will be provided by Russian border guards and the FSB.

Russia has benefited from the defeat of Armenia, and now Putin’s cunning game is clear. He gave Aliyev guarantees of non-interference, and the war completely suppressed the Armenians’ attempts to turn to the pro-Western course. Russia is now stepping up its presence, while Armenia is handing over part of its territory to Azerbaijan to create communication routes, losing any control of this route at all. Russia, as the guarantor of the agreement, is becoming a major player in Armenian politics. And it is becoming important actor for Azerbaijan as a guarantor of the corridor to Nakhichevan.

Thus, Putin gained his legitimacy both in the region and, as a major player in this conflict, in the international arena. Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan. Today, Russia has either its own bases or its own hybrid centers of influence within the territory of these countries of the post-Soviet space. We may only suggest what Russia managed to offer to Azerbaijani side to stay a step from the complete victory, which was so close.

Another beneficiary is Turkey. It is not a party to the agreement, but this war is Erdogan’s biggest geopolitical victory, making Turkey the most influential player in the post-Soviet Caucasus. The text of the statement, which was distributed by Armenians, does not state this, but Azerbaijani media assure that the Turkish military will be also engaged as peacekeepers in Karabakh.

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