Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 29 November 2021
Putin Receives Armenian And Azeri Leaders For Talks
The optimistic moods that the leaders of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan showed at a meeting in Sochi cannot dispel doubts about future peace in the South Caucasus. Russian President Vladimir Putin recalled Russia’s role as a mediator, but he could curb military tensions in the region for some time only. Moscow has no idea how to solve the problem it provoked last year while brokering a peace agreement for Azerbaijan and Armenia. Perhaps that is what it is about––make Moscow mediate in a conflict that will continue to destabilize the region for years to come. This is why Russia is not willing about permanent peacemaking solutions to foster cooperation between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.
On November 26, Vladimir Putin brought together Armenia’s Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev for talks in Sochi, urging both to ease tensions and resolve disputes left over from last year’s war over Nagorno-Karabakh. Recent weeks saw a set of incidents that were a threat to the peace deal ending the six-week Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. The war ended with a Russia-brokered peace deal that saw Azerbaijan gain control of a significant part of Nagorno-Karabakh and reclaim all the regions controlled by Armenian forces outside the separatist region. Russia has deployed nearly 2,000 peacekeepers to monitor the peace deal. After the Sochi meeting, Putin said that the three leaders agreed to create mechanisms for delimitation and demarcation of the border between the two countries before the end of the year. Russia is a mediator with the blessing from both sides. A three-way communique said Aliyev and Pashinyan had agreed to “work towards increased stability and security on the border.” Putin said the two leaders as well as Russian deputy prime ministers were soon meeting in Moscow to conclude the Sochi summit and coordinate further action. “I repeatedly said that we in Azerbaijan are ready to turn the page after many years of confrontation with Armenia and start the stage of normal interaction,” Aliyev was quoted as saying after the November 26 talks. “It was a very positive meeting,” Pashinyan added. However, the Sochi summit is not enough to address most of the Caucasus’ major challenges. One thing is to develop a deal formally delimiting and demarcating the borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and another on opening up new transportation routes between the two countries, most notably a route through Armenia connecting Azerbaijan’s mainland with its exclave of Nakhchivan. A tense dispute is over the second route, also known as the Zangezur corridor, whose opening would shift the situation in the region, linking Turkey to Azerbaijan and Central Asia. Not only Armenia is trying to prevent it, but also Iran. In addition come Moscow’s ties with Turkey that have decayed dramatically.
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