As Russia is boggled down by war in Ukraine, Azerbaijan has been going full throttle in its attacks against Armenia. As the Armenians are desiring Russian protection, Azerbaijan is planning on increasing its gas export to Europe by 30%. Europe needs Azerbaijan as it wants to be less dependent on Russian energy. Turkey knows this, and its proxy, Azerbaijan, is attacking Armenia knowing full well that it can get away with it. And Turkey knows that Russia would have difficulty fighting a war on another front, and is taking advantage in its support for Azerbaijan’s war against Armenia. Al-Jazeera recently wrote:
Turkey is eyeing to push the envelope in its ties with Russia, at a time when the Kremlin is bogged down in Ukraine.
Whether in Syria or the South Caucasus, Ankara is getting ready to fill the gap as Moscow’s influence appears poised to decline.
Fear of Turkey has been a key reason for Armenia’s alignment with Russia in terms of foreign and security policy. But after Azerbaijan defeated the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh back in November 2020 with Turkish help, the value of that alliance with Russia receded.
The common thread across Syria and Armenia is that Turkey is methodically turfing out Russia from its neighbourhood and regions where Moscow has held a strategic edge over its geopolitical rivals in recent years.
Of course, Moscow is capable of spoiling such efforts. Distracted though they are, the Russians still have friends in the Iranians and Assad in Syria as well as a partnership of convenience with the YPG.
Russia also retains a 2,000-strong peacekeeping contingent in Karabakh that could play a critical role in shaping the conflict there. Moscow has some economic leverage over Yerevan too: Bilateral trade has soared as Armenia has become a backdoor route for Russia to bypass Western sanctions. On Monday, fresh clashes broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia, though a ceasefire was subsequently announced.