The possible implications of the change of the government in Ukraine on the former Soviet countries are thought to be a topical issue. Possible results of the West-Russia confrontation are interesting in this context. Its impact on the regional conflicts is the topic under discussion. Experts try to analyze geopolitical processes that could affect the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. It is felt that the Armenians favored blackmail again.
Armenia`s concern: confusion caused by the Ukrainian wave
The developments in Crimea made official Yerevan excited. The Armenian society looks at these developments from two angles. First, Armenia`s geopolitical importance is shrinking after the Ukraine developments. Second, Nagorno-Karabakh may unite with Russia after Crimea. (see: Акоп Бадалян.Чего потребует Россия у Армении / “Lragir.am”, 4 March 2014 and Игорь Мурадян. “Запасной выход” для армянской власти / “Lragir.am”, 7 March 2014). Armenians` distorted and unreal perception of political and geopolitical processes is a historical truth. They remained committed to their traditions. The Armenia factor looks markedly different in the South Caucasus geopolitical landscape amidst the Ukraine developments. This aspect of the matter is interesting for experts.
Mikhail Troitskiy, a Moscow-based analyst, said that `the most likely target of Russian pressure would be Armenia` (see Joshua Kucera. In Caucasus and Central Asia, Does Kremlin See More Ukraines? / “EurasiaNet”, 24 February 2014). According to him, Moscow may now be more careful trying to speed up Yerevan’s movement towards the Customs Union after learning from the experience of the Ukraine processes. They will not hurry up Yerevan since the similar civil unrest could develop there.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a special issue among the factors making Armenia a sensitive geopolitical area. Russia does not rule out taking people to streets artificially using the West in the conflict. Official Yerevan has not alternative program because the ”genocide” and Nagorno-Karabakh are of special importance for Armenian nationalists and radical groups. The experience shows that they make use of it by easily exploiting naive people`s feelings.
One thing becomes clear from what was written in the analytical articles published in the Armenian media. Armenian experts necessarily look at the Russia-Armenia relations in the context of the ”genocide” and Nagorno-Karabakh problem. They analyze in this context the speech of Sargsyan at the event of the European People`s Party in Dublin on March 6 (see: Наира Айрумян. Карабах в Евразийском союзе / “Lragir.am”, 6 March 2014 and Серж Саркисян говорил в Дублине о блокаде Турции и заявлениях Азербайджана / “Lragir.am”, 7 March 2014).
Armenians once again seem to choose the way of blackmailing Moscow and Brussels. They believe that they will be able to escape imminent geopolitical failure by maneuvering between the two geopolitical powers with their artificial arguments. Nevertheless, they forget the real side of the problem.
The reality is that internal unrest may occur in Armenia in reality. The major reason for that does not lie beyond and is associated with the ineffectiveness of official Yerevan`s policy. Of course, the sphere of influence of the ongoing geopolitical processes in the post-Soviet area is expanding. Against this backdrop, the Nagorno-Karabakh problem may find its way onto the geopolitical agenda. However, it is not about taking this region from Azerbaijan and giving it to somebody else because Nagorno-Karabakh is considered an integral part of Azerbaijan on the international arena.
Armenians` lack of opportunities or false geopolitical choice?
The major condition made by the US-led West towards Russia in the Ukraine developments is the respect for territorial integrity (see: Обама предложил Путину переговоры РФ с Украиной и ввод наблюдателей / “РИА Новости”, 7 March 2014). In his telephone talk with Putin, Obama underlined that the US considers the referendum in Crimea as illegitimate. By saying so, he noted that violation of the Ukraine`s territorial integrity is unacceptable under any circumstances.
Referring to the recent adoption of some laws by the Russian parliament, Armenians speculate about the possibility of Nagorno-Karabakh`s absorption by the Russian Federation (see: Naira Ayrumyan`s and Igor Muradyan`s articles mentioned above). It appears that Armenia seeks dismemberment of Ukraine in reality. It regards it as an opportunity to seize lands from Azerbaijan. However, Yerevan hides behind Russia and tries to leverage Belarus and Kazakhstan. It is not accidental that Armenian experts raise questions about the frontiers of the Customs Union. They regard “NKR`s” being outside these frontiers as a disaster.
If we look at this situation in reality, Nagorno-Karabakh`s joining the Customs Union without Azerbaijan is impossible. Moscow would never do this. It appears that Armenians make it a condition for Kremlin, Minsk and Astana and issue a message to the European Union that they can refuse from Russia`s integration proposals. Bringing up the issue this way paves the way for provocations in the region.
Some circles can ignite conflicts in the South Caucasus by using these factors. Armenia can be a “new Ukraine” in this sense. The threat of instability may hit Georgia and Azerbaijan. It indirectly means rising possibility for outsider forces to influence the region.
Unlike Armenia, Georgia`s reaction to the Ukraine developments was unambiguous. Official Tbilisi declares its support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and demands prevention of deployment of military forces from other countries in Crimea. Speaker of the Georgian parliament Usupashvili said “if engines of tanks are started we may not simply hide beyond statements” (see: Joshua Kucera`s article). Official Tbilisi has already appealed to Washington for protection from the possible aggression of Russia. While on the US visit, Georgian Prime Minister Garibashvili said Moscow would increase pressure and try to organize events similar to the Ukrainian scenario (see: Георгий Ломсадзе. Грузия просит США защитить республику от России и кризиса по украинскому сценарию / “EurasiaNet”, 27 February 2014). According to him, Russia heaped pressure on Georgia after the Olympics had been over. For instance, they began to construct a barbed wire around the South Ossetia (see: the previous source).
The Georgian leadership seeks to use the current situation in order to speed up the country`s NATO membership. Official Tbilisi hopes to sign the NATO membership action plan after becoming an EU associate member (see: Георгий Ломсадзе. Грузия: Украинский кризис повышает шансы на членство в НАТО? / “EurasiaNet”, 7 March 2014). No doubt, this is a serious factor that can irritate Kremlin.
As to Azerbaijan, experts believe that application of the Ukrainian scenario is nothing but a dream because Baku built relations with Russia on the basis of mutual respect, equal partnership and good neighborhood principles. Azerbaijan`s relations with the West are well developed. For this reason, Baku assesses the Ukraine developments within the framework of restraint and international law norms (see:Крымский гамбит России вызывает разнообразную реакцию на Кавказе / “EurasiaNet”, 6 March 2014).
The abovementioned shows that the Ukraine events have different impact on the South Caucasus countries. Every country benefits from the foreign policy it has pursued so far. The time objectively assesses everything.