Moscow Again Encounters Turkish Geopolitical Expansion

The cessation of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh is ensured by the deployment of the Russian peacekeeping contingent. But Turkey is not very satisfied with this process, which believes that Moscow literally stole its geopolitical victory in the region from under its nose.

And although the trilateral agreement (between Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia) does not provide for Turkish peacekeepers at all, Ankara stubbornly tries to get in there, by hook or by crook. So, in particular, at the joint Russian-Azerbaijani checkpoint on the road to the city of Shushi, the Azerbaijani military, in addition to their own, raised the Turkish national flag.

It seems like a small thing, but it allows to wave a photo in the media in front of the audience as proof – they say, look, Turkey is also taking part in the peace settlement process in the Caucasus. The Turkish “Anadolu” agency constantly writes about this, despite the direct and repeated denials of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Turkish officials, in particular Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, have expressed the same opinion.

In principle, what is happening is clear. Russia really stole the geopolitical victory in Karabakh from Turkey. This was the result of a fundamentally different understanding of its meaning in Moscow and Ankara.

The Turks needed to get “peace through occupation” as proof of the benefits of “friendship with the new Ottomans”, allowing the limitrophes to resolve internal territorial disputes with their neighbours in their favour. Moreover, the Karabakh war was modal in nature, i.e., a clear example for all others. First of all, for the ruling elites of the republics of Central Asia, where Turkey expects to penetrate after the final integration of Azerbaijan into its new empire.

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While in Moscow’s view, peace is possible only as a result of achieving a stable and obviously acceptable compromise for all parties involved. Its implementation must be guaranteed by an external force that is interested not only in ending the actual fighting, but also in maintaining positive relations with all participants.

Therefore, the Russian approach worked, but the Turkish approach did not. But the success in Karabakh highlighted another, much larger problem. In the near future, Russia will inevitably have to realise and clearly delineate the boundaries of its zone of geopolitical interests in the region.

In this case, in Transcaucasia, but in general, the issue is similar throughout the entire length of the post-Soviet space. And on its southern border, virtually from Ukraine and Crimea in the west to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the east, Moscow will face Turkish geopolitical expansion.

In this regard, we should start working on a set of relevant political, diplomatic and economic measures today. To convey our point of view to our southern neighbour on the Black Sea and achieve a confident understanding, acceptance and recognition there.

For any Russian partners, it is still better to have Sergey Lavrov speak to them, and not Sergey Shoigu. And in general, it is better that Russia and Turkey develop their post-imperial space together – there are too many people who want to pit the two neighbouring countries against each other so that they do not try to do it again and again.

RUSSTRAT Institute of International Politics and Economic Strategies

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