Will Turkey ignite a war in the Nagorno-Karabakh region?
The Russian military jet shot down by Turkey not only worsened relations between Russia and Turkey, but also raised a number of issues which do not seem to be related to the Syrian conflict. Ankara’s involvement into the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one of them.
The peace pact signed twenty years ago stabilized the situation to some extent. Although the current relations between Baku and Erevan can be described as a patched-up peace, they regularly fight with each other at the border.
Territorial confrontations of the Transcaucasian republics are a critical issue for Russia for a number of reasons. On the one hand, Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (ODKB). On the other hand, Moscow managed to build a close strategic partnership with this country. A full-scale war in the region can lead to quite a problem for Russia as it may potentially break its geopolitical position.
Russia will turn out to be in quite a complicated situation in case a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan starts. In case of a military confrontation on the territory of Armenia, Russia will have to attack Azerbaijan as it is a member of ODKB. Good relations between Baku and Moscow are out of the question under such circumstances. If Russia decides to take refuge in silence, the ODKB project can be considered as a complete failure. Nevertheless, both opponents realize that Russia’s intervention will predestine an end of the conflict. Therefore, neither of them is willing to worsen the relations with Russia.
As for Turkey, it supports Baku in this confrontation. This is quite natural as Ankara does not recognize the Armenian genocide. If Armenia starts an attack, Ankara might turn out to be completely isolated as the NATO won’t support Turkey as far as its relations with Armenia are concerned. The Armenian lobby is one of the most influential ethnic groups in the US and some European countries (including France). Although Turkey has some levers of pressure on Azerbaijan, it is hardly possible that it will take advantage of them under the current circumstances.