At first glance, it seemed that after a rapid offensive by the Azerbaijani army, Vladimir Putin called Baku and then Yerevan and ended the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, which lasted over 30 years. He thus saved Armenia from a total defeat with Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile, the crowds of people on the streets of Yerevan indicate that the Armenians have understood that the war was ended at their sole expense. They also realise that they were abandoned by Russia, their most important military ally. In fact, Moscow was and still is the largest supplier of arms to Azerbaijan. And when Azerbaijan, rich in energy resources (and much stronger militarily), carried on the offensive – Russia just watched. It did so despite the fact that it was able to transfer its forces from the Central Federal District to Armenia and start (as it often does on the border between Belarus and Poland) joint exercises with the Armenians by engaging its 102nd military base in Gyumri. Sergei Lavrov could have issued a threatening statement and suggested to the Azerbaijani army that it was time to stop.
Why did Moscow decide to act differently? Because otherwise it would have made Ankara angry. There are many signs that it was Erdoğan whom Putin called in the first place. Moscow could not choose a better time to conclude an agreement with Turkey. One just needs to read the recent statements on Turkey made by Paris, also because of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Russia knows that by taking a de facto Turkish side in the Southern Caucasus, it is not only weakening NATO’s unity, but can also count on closer cooperation with Ankara on the supply of arms and the construction of gas pipelines. Armenia will not escape this anyway. The creeping colonisation of this country has been going on for years. It does not come down to military dependence alone, but it also includes the key sectors of the Armenian economy which are currently in the hands of the Russians.
The situation is therefore paradoxical, because the Armenians’ most important ally is also an ally of their former enemy, Turkey. “This is a warning to other allies of the Kremlin not to find themselves in a situation like Armenia,” an Armenian interlocutor told me.
It seems that the Kremlin remains loyal to Tsar Alexander III’s maxim: Russia has only two allies – the army and the fleet. In fact, his monument was erected in the Crimea after the annexation of the peninsula in 2014. Russia’s allies did not learn from that lesson.