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Russia and Turkish-Armenian Normalization: Competing Interests in the South Caucasus

Following the 2008 Georgia war, Russia reasserted itself as the main power in the Caucasus. The war shattered the old status quo and Moscow sought to make good use of the shifting geopolitical landscape to enhance its strategic footprint in the region. Russia’s policy in the Caucasus has been an example of a subtle balancing act: it appeared to have encouraged Turkish-Armenian reconciliation while at the same time skillfully exploiting the suspicions that this process aroused in Azerbaijan and seeking to put an additional pressure on Georgia. Now, as Turkish-Armenian normalization seems to have hit a snag, Moscow can safely distance itself from what increasingly looks like a failure. After all, having deftly played all its “partners” off against each other, Russia appears to have secured its objective: both Armenia and Azerbaijan tend to lean more on Russia, while Turkey’s relations with the two Caucasus countries has deteriorated. Moreover, Ankara’s ties with Washington became frayed, too, which, from Moscow’s perspective, isn’t bad either.

Russia and Turkish-Armenian Normalization Competing Interests in the South Caucasus
Russia is perfectly aware that not a single issue can be resolved without its participation, and skillfully manipulates the multiple regional rifts, jealousies and rivalries in order to maximize its influence.
 

No one wants to be associated with failure – least of all assertive countries with leadership ambitions. So it should come as no surprise that Russia appears to be distancing itself from the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation process which, many analysts say, is on the brink of collapse. 

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