How did the invasion of Ukraine change the perception of Russia’s image among its neighbours? At the moment, it’s still difficult to predict the result of fighting on the ground and, hence, the impact on Russia’s image as a mighty military power and security provider. Yet, the invasion has further deteriorated Moscow’s image as a trustworthy partner. As a result, several countries are severing ties with Russia out of fear or in solidarity with Ukraine.
At a time when Europe’s attention is mainly focused on the war between Russia and Ukraine, another conflict is still waiting to be resolved at the European borders. It is the Karabakh War, between Armenia and Azerbaijan, impacting the neighbouring countries - Russia, Iran, and Turkey. The latter’s role was decisive for Azerbaijan’s victory in the second Karabakh War (September 2020).
Russia’s preoccupation with the war in Ukraine and its subsequently forced passiveness in the South Caucasus has created a security vacuum in the region, where it had previously established a military-political hegemony. The balance of power has shifted in favour of the Azerbaijani-Turkish nexus, creating a new geopolitical reality, which comes with both opportunities and challenges. A new redistribution of power in the region has granted Georgia more room to manoeuvre in its foreign policy.
Since the Second Karabakh War in 2020, a final peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan has remained elusive. A series of mediators – Russia, the European Union and, now, the United States – have attempted to build on the ceasefire signed under Moscow’s patronage in November 2020.
After Azerbaijan’s 2020 military victory over Armenia, in which it reclaimed most of the territory it lost in a prior conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh more than two decades earlier, key decision-makers thought the country should return to the concept of 'strategic patience'.[i] This policy of waiting for the right moment to maximise its interests has guided Baku’s approach to conflict with Armenia for the past 25 years and helped Azerbaijan to beco
One of the big unknowns linked to the war in Ukraine is the role that Russia will occupy in the post-Soviet region in the future. In Marlene Laruelle’s words, the war that ‘intended to restore Russian strength has instead left the country weaker’, bringing about the ‘end of the Post-Soviet order’.
A complex normalisation process is underway in the South Caucasus. Despite the numerous violations of the 2020 ceasefire, Armenia and Azerbaijan may be closer than ever to a peace agreement this time with unprecedented support from the US and, especially, the EU. In parallel, Armenia and Turkey are also trying to normalise their troubled relationship. How did Russia’s invasion of Ukraine affect these processes?
The two years preceding the Russian invasion of Ukraine suggested that Russia had adopted a measured policy toward the post-Soviet space. Faced with social protests in Belarus, a coup in Kyrgyzstan, the victory of pro-European president Maia Sandu in Moldova, the second war in Nagorno-Karabakh, and riots in Kazakhstan, Russia showed diplomatic ability without any hard arm-twisting of partners. In 2020, then Carnegie Moscow Center director Dmitry Trenin even concluded that “there will be no new edition of the empire”.
“NATO and Russia: Partners in Peacekeeping” – reads the title of a NATO brochure dating back to the aftermath of the Kosovo Force (KFOR) mission deployment in June 1999.
Russian peacekeepers and contractors are active in many conflict areas, from the South Caucasus to the Middle East through North Africa and increasingly Sub-Saharan Africa, with
Climate change is affecting the entire South Caucasus region, which includes vast mountain ecosystems and remote coastal areas. The human security implications of climate change are likely to become more pronounced over time.
Following the violent escalation of conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, the region has witnessed an inflow of foreign fighters and volunteers supporting each faction. On the one hand, members of the Armenian diaspora have travelled to the Caucasus, answering the call of Yerevan to defend the disputed land.