South Caucasus and NATO
April events in the South Caucasus
Immediately it should be noted that the situation has changed as well in Georgia that is hardly involved in the Nogorny Karabakh conflict. In this country the position of NATO has strengthened significantly.
Other South Caucasus countries - Azerbaijan and even Armenia, which is a member of the CSTO, seek to maintain contacts with NATO. They have already accepted the 4th stage of the Individual Partnership Action Plan with NATO for 2014-2016., to say nothing of their active participation in the mission of "Strong Support" in Afghanistan. National Interest says that Moscow's behavior during the past April events in Karabakh made Yerevan reconsider their views on their own security.
The April fighting in Karabakh was a difficult test also for Russia. Every day fighting was playing against its authority as a credible arbitrator, designed to prevent the bloodshed. The situation was complicated for Moscow also by the fact that it took no one side of the conflict and here's why. Despite the fact that the aggressor in the conflict was Azerbaijan, Russia did not blame it in the escalation of violence and called on both sides just to stop fighting. The fact is that the direct pressure on Azerbaijan will have the most negative impact on Russia's relations with its Turkic allies in Central Asia. Azerbaijan has strong pro-Western sentiment and despite rift in relations with the West, Azerbaijan, in the case of deterioration of relations with Russia, will inevitably rush into the arms of NATO, especially that a fraternal Turkey is a member of the alliance.
In this scenario, the South Caucasus risks to become a zone of special danger to Russia's national security, because position of NATO military-political bloc is constantly growing stronger in it. Georgia has been long and consistently located in the orbit of the organization, and the other two countries - Azerbaijan and Armenia, support the partner programs with it. That is why, to prevent Azerbaijan's rapprochement with NATO and to preserve opportunities to influence Baku without the use of force, Russia is forced to work with it sensitively and do not put pressure on it.
As a result, a very uncomfortable situation for Russia has been developed in the region, in which it is difficult for Russia to maneuver and pursue a flexible policy. Trying to maintain good relations with both sides of the Karabakh conflict, Russia inadvertently impairs relations with Armenians, and NATO is sure to take advantage of it. It turns out that it is in Russia's interests to maintain the status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh, in any case not to allow the resumption of bloodshed in this hot spot.
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