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

By Torbakov, Igor | Insight Turkey, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview

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


Torbakov, Igor, Insight Turkey


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.

One could get a sense of Moscow's aloofness at a news conference given by Sergei Lavrov, Russia's minister of foreign affairs. When he was asked to give his perspective on the fate of the Turkish-Armenian protocols he bluntly said that it was "not his business" to comment on this matter as it is "primarily a bilateral issue concerning Armenia and Turkey." The two countries launched this process themselves without prompting by anyone, Lavrov said, adding that "the only thing that associates us, Russia," with the Turkish-Armenian normalization has been his personal participation--at the request of the two sides--in the Zurich ceremony of the signing of the protocols last October along with some other international bigwigs from the U.S., France, the EU and the Council of Europe. (1) That's it. But of course, Lavrov concluded, Russia wants to see Turkish-Armenian relations fully normalized and wishes both countries good luck.

To be sure, Mr. Lavrov is a consummate diplomat of the old Soviet school who uses his tongue, as the old quip has it, largely for the purposes of obfuscation. So the really big and pertinent question is this: what are Russia's true intentions and designs in the South Caucasus and how do the attempts to normalize Turkish-Armenian relations fit into Moscow's strategic outlook?

The South Caucasus' Changing Dynamics

Following the Soviet Union's disintegration, the South Caucasus became a troubled region plagued by multiple conflicts, rivalries, and competing policies of the outside powers. Throughout the last two decades, regional integration--arguably the only way to bring stability and prosperity to the region--has remained an unattainable goal as both regional countries and outside players have been pursuing egotistical policies and narrow objectives. (2)

There appears to be a consensus within the analytic community that the 2008 Russia-Georgia war marked an important watershed in the geopolitics of the Caucasus. The five-day armed conflict shattered the erstwhile precarious status quo in the region and dramatically reshaped the geopolitical landscape. (3)

The Caucasus war has affected all regional countries, albeit in different ways. At first glance, Russia, the "victor," has significantly strengthened its geopolitical position in the region. By humiliating its pesky adversary, by exposing the West's seeming inability to protect its Eurasian allies, by recognizing the independence of Georgia's two break-away regions and by stationing its troops in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Moscow appears to have enhanced its strategic footprint in the South Caucasus. At the same time, however, Russia's resorting to brute force and violating the territorial integrity of a post-Soviet country and a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States has significantly tarnished Moscow's image and undermined its claim to being an unbiased arbiter and efficient mediator in regional conflicts.

For its part, Georgia, the "loser," has found itself in the aftermath of the hostilities being a hapless victim of, in the words of its leadership, "brazen foreign aggression" and "partition." Not only was its war machine smashed and military infrastructure largely destroyed in the course of the five-day war, but--potentially even more important--the hostilities exposed its vulnerability as a transit country, thus calling into question its prized location as the key gateway to world markets for Caspian and Central Asian hydrocarbons.

For Azerbaijan, the outcome of the Caucasus war represents a mixed bag. Perceiving itself as the victim of the Armenian aggression, Baku was clearly not satisfied with the pre-August 2008 status quo. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

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

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.