New Policy of Russia Towards Azerbaijan-Armenia Relations

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The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, in his declaration on October 27, 2022, at Valdai Discussion Club’s 19th meeting, assess the Karabakh Issue in Azerbaijan-Armenia relations. In that sense, Putin said the following:[1]

“Russia’s approach is towards a need for a peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia; however, Moscow will not impose anything on Yerevan and will not support any actor.”

In addition, the Russian leader expressed that he proposed the transfer of the region, which is under the control of Yerevan to Azerbaijan; however, the Armenian officials did not accept this.[2] As it is known, in September 2022, there were conflicts between the border of Azerbaijan and Armenia, and in these conflicts, over 100 people lost their lives. In addition, the sides are regularly blaming the other.

On the other hand, it is expected that the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan will meet the President of Russia Vladimir Putin, and the President of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev. The last meeting between Pashinyan and Aliyev was at European Political Community Summit held in Prague, Czechia, on October 6, 2022.

This meeting was qualified as a positive step towards peace. Mr. Aliyev indicates that around the end of 2022, a peace agreement can be signed with Armenia. On the other hand, it is seen that Armenia Security Council points out a similar process.

In addition, the Secretary of Armenia Security Council Armen Grigoryan, and the Assistant of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Hikmet Hajiev, met with the United States (US) National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in the White House on September 28, 2022, and negotiated on there will be a peace agreement at the end of the year.

So much so that Grigoryan, in his statement at this meeting on October 12, 2022, said, “It was agreed to sign a peace treaty, that is, to agree by the end of the year.”[3] Following Putin’s statement, Pashinyan said the following on October 28, 2022:[4]

“Yerevan has accepted the Russian study on the basic principles and parameters for the establishment of interstate relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and is ready to confirm it in Sochi. We hope that Russia will support its proposals.”

On the same day, Valentina Matviyevko, the President of the Russian Federal Council, who met with the Speaker of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan Sahiba Gafarova, said that Moscow would continue to assist in the signing of a peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan.[5]

It should be noted that Putin’s statements at the Valdai meeting that Karabakh would remain under Armenia’s control in exchange for Baku’s ceding five regions/regions of Azerbaijan were one of the peace plans that had a long history. However, Russia’s attempts to resolve the Karabakh Issue have not yielded positive results; on the contrary, they have led Azerbaijan to lose hope in these talks.

In the pre-Pashinyan period, Armenian governments were not willing to return either Karabakh or the five occupied regions outside Karabakh to Azerbaijan. Therefore, the following two options were seen as the most reasonable for Yerevan: The first was to cede Karabakh and other occupied territories to Armenia; the second was to freeze the conflict.

In 2020, Azerbaijan’s recapture of its occupied territories invalidated the old “peace projects” as Putin put it, and caused both Armenia and Russia to change their policies on the issue.

Putin states that Armenia missed the opportunity offered on the Karabakh issue. In other words, Putin emphasizes that Yerevan is the main responsible for the troubled relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In addition, Azerbaijan and Armenia have made significant progress in reaching a peace agreement through talks mediated by the US and France, in addition to the talks between themselves.

Russia is concerned that if it stays away from the developments in the Caucasus, it will not be able to manage the process and will lose its role in the region to Europe. Armenia, on the one hand, is satisfied with the peace negotiations, but on the other hand, it would like to hear a proposal that would make it more profitable for itself.

As long as the problems in Russia-Armenia relations persist, Moscow cannot be expected to make any significant proposals to Armenia. Proposals that are contrary to Azerbaijan’s interests could lead to a renewed escalation of tensions along the Azerbaijan-Armenia border. Pashinyan’s goal here is to define the borders and reach a peace agreement without going to a new war with Azerbaijan.

To summarize, Russia wants to be an active actor in the Armenia-Azerbaijan negotiations and the normalization of relations. Considering the presence of the Russian Peacekeeping Force in Karabakh, it can be said that Moscow is trying to maintain its influence in the region.

For this purpose, Moscow believes that it needs to improve its relations with Azerbaijan. This heralds a transition to a new form of relations in Russian foreign policy. The year 2025 is critical here. Otherwise, it is possible that after the expiration of the mandate of the Russian Peacekeeping Force in Karabakh, Baku will demand the withdrawal of the Russian Peacekeepers. Undoubtedly, the resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border issues and the signing of a peace treaty, followed by the withdrawal of the Russian Peacekeeping Force in Karabakh, would mean that Moscow would lose the region to third actors.

For all these reasons, the Kremlin seeks to revive the negotiations over Azerbaijani territories to start a new process, in which it can remain a mediator and a dominant player in the region. However, Baku would be uncomfortable if Russia resorted to tried and tested methods such as taking control of Karabakh from Baku in exchange for the return of some occupied territories to Azerbaijan.

[1] “Путин предлагал Армении передать Азербайджану пять подконтрольных районов”, Kommersant,, (Date of Accession: 28.10.2022).

[2] Ibid.

[3] “В Совбезе Армении сообщили о договоренностях заключить мир с Азербайджаном до конца года”, Kommersant,, (Date of Accession: 28.10.2022).

[4] “Армения согласна работать с Азербайджаном по предложенным Россией принципам”, Kommersant,, (Date of Accession: 28.10.2022).

[5] “РФ намерена содействовать подписанию Баку и Ереваном мирного договора”, İzvestiya,, (Date of Accession: 28.10.2022).

Lisans öğrenimini Ankara Üniversitesi Siyasal Bilgiler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler bölümünde tamamlayan Dr. Sabir Askeroğlu, yüksek lisans derecesini Ankara Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda almıştır. Doktora eğitimini İstanbul Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda tamamlayan Dr. Askeroğlu, çeşitli düşünce kuruluşlarında görev yapmıştır. Başlıca ilgi alanları, Avrasya çalışmaları ve Rus dış politikası olan Dr. Askeroğlu, iyi derecede Rusça ve İngilizce bilmektedir.