After several days of serious fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan, both of which are strongly connected to the Kremlin, Russia has resigned itself to routine calls for a ceasefire.
Russia’s hands are mostly tied in regard to its two smaller neighbors who are becoming increasingly independent politically.
Additionally, Azerbaijan which is not even a member of the post-Soviet Collective Security Treaty Organization (ODKB), is economically challenging Moscow by pushing it away from the Turkish energy market.
Meanwhile, Armenia, after Nikol Pashinyan’s rise to power, has begun to distance itself from Russia, its former main ally. The main reason for this is that in exchange for security, Moscow demanded deep economic and political interference in the country’s internal affairs.
Given the lack of an active policy by Moscow in South Caucasus, Turkey has been filling this hole by initiating another conflict with Russia after Syria, Libya and Crimea (where it sided with the Tatars). Now, we can see how closely Ankara and Baku have been cooperating in terms of the military, which Russia enviously protected in post-Soviet countries for many years.
Turkey is partially returning to an idea it tried to implement in the first half of the 1990s through close cooperation with Central Asian states. Back then, it had lost the rivalry with Russia.
Today, its political ambitions probably do not reach beyond the Caspian Sea, at least for now. The result? Transcaucasia has become a battlefield with Russia again for Turkey.
The Kremlin, which is currently arms-deep in two conflicts with the West — Navalny’s poisoning and Belarus — does not have the strength for a third struggle with Turkey, and it is not currently stepping up to the challenge partially because it is in Russia’s interests to weaken Armenia and Azerbaijan, which have become too independent.
When their strength begins to wane, we will see if Ankara is prepared to support Baku with its standing army. The appearance of Turkish soldiers in the region will be unacceptable to Russia.