The latest developments around Nagorno-Karabakh were predictable and logical – in terms of behavior of both Turkey and Russia. Indeed, the Azerbaijani-Armenian war was in fact about the Turkey-Russia confrontation.
Turkey ultimately won, having received for the first time in 75 years, since World War 2, the opportunity to influence the political situation in the South Caucasus
Russians believe they won. However, in reality, this isn't the case. It's Turkey who ultimately won, having received for the first time in 75 years, since World War 2, the opportunity to influence the political situation in the South Caucasus. This is Turkey's main achievement. Moscow also prefers to not comment on the fact that Turkish observers will keep an eye on Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh.
Anyway, Nagorno-Karabakh is returning under Azerbaijan's jurisdiction. At the same time, Russia maintains good relations with Azerbaijan as the Kremlin did not intervene in the conflict at this stage. Massively weakened both politically and militarily, Armenia will be forced to "bow down" to Russia begging for salvation, and the latter is likely to show some love in capacity of an "elder sister." And all political blame for the surrender will of course be put on Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. In fact, Pashinyan has already taken all blame upon himself. Therefore, most likely, a change in the political leadership is imminent, and Moscow will surely try to plant a loyal successor, pushing for the return to power of Sargsyan's party, the so-called "party of war." At the same time, Russia will get yet another enclave, this time in the shape of an entire Armenia, where it will strengthen its military presence, deploying more troops, as well as further determine Armenia's foreign and domestic policies.
Turkey gets a land corridor to Azerbaijan, which no one will control
However, Turkey will still receive the greatest preferences. Despite the fact that the Russian peacekeeping contingent will be stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh, it will stay within its borders. The Lachin corridor is only 5 km wide. The number of peacekeepers and hardware is clearly regulated: 1,920 soldiers, 90 armored personnel carriers, and 380 vehicles. These forces pose no major military threat to Azerbaijan. The financial costs of maintaining the peacekeeping contingent, however, shall be borne by Russia. They will also have to fund construction of a new bypass road around Shusha, as well as restore Armenian economy, affected by military measures, primarily, mobilization. All this will be Russian money.
Turkey could use this land corridor, among other things, for laying oil and gas pipes from Central Asia
So what Russia got is yet another "headache."
At the same time, Turkey receives a land corridor to Azerbaijan, which no one will control. Russia will be responsible for ensuring security of this corridor: Russian border guards will be obliged to protect the area from provocations. I suggest Turkey will ultimately use this land corridor, including for laying oil and gas pipes from Central Asia running via Azerbaijan to Turkey. This is Erdogan's old strategy of turning Turkey into a southern gas and oil hub. Not only is Erdogan resolving the issue by bypassing the Russian territory – Russians will also have to guard the corridor... In the meantime, Turkish observers will closely monitor the way Russia fulfills its obligations in terms of ensuring peace in the region.
So no matter how long that Armenia prepares for a revanche, but as long as there are Russian peacekeepers there, Yerevan's dream of returning Nagorno-Karabakh by force will be impossible to realize.
But why did Russia "surrender" Armenia? First, Pashinyan didn't come to power at Putin's behest. Pashinyan is a protégé of Gazprom. Putin's man is Serzh Sargsyan, representing the so-called Karabakh Clan.
Russia, apparently, decided to "kill all birds with one stone"
Secondly, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh was at an impasse. Over the past couple of years, Ilham Aliyev, with Turkey's support, had increasingly been demanding from Russia a clear "road map" for Azerbaijan to regain control of Nagorno-Karabakh. The first alarm bell rang in 2016 when a "four-day war" erupted, but Armenia did not draw no conclusions whatsoever.
So, Russia, apparently, decided to "kill all birds with one stone": to maintain good relations with Azerbaijan, allowing them to conquer Karabakh, to retain normal ties with Turkey, to get a weakened Armenia in order to deploy troops there, i.e. to strengthen own military presence. Also, Russia got the opportunity to ensure the change in Armenia's political leadership.
Russians forgot the most important thing: Turks will now monitor them closely
However, everything turned out as in Dante's Divine Comedy, when God told who would watch out for whom. So, the Russians forgot the most important thing: Turks will now monitor them closely. So who is the main beneficiary of this whole campaign then? It's Turkey and Azerbaijan.
In fact, Turkey, with the hands of the Russian Federation, will henceforth be in control of the situation in the South Caucasus.
Oleh Zhdanov (Colonel in reserve) is a Ukrainian military expert