"Russia won't act against Azerbaijan even at Armenia's request"
    Caliber.Az interview with Alexander Vorobyov

    INTERVIEWS  25 November 2022 - 15:30

    Huseyn Safarov

    Caliber.Az presents an interview with Alexander Vorobyov, researcher at the Centre for Central Asia, Caucasus and Ural-Volga region Studies at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, chairman of "The Eurasian Business Cooperation" organization, Ph.D. in History.

    - What policy do you think Russia is going to follow in the South Caucasus?

    - The current Russian policy in the South Caucasus is balanced. The goals are obvious - the encouragement of economic cooperation both within the region and between the countries of the South Caucasus and Russia. And also the development of transport corridors. On the whole, such a policy is beneficial to all parties. Economic prosperity and stability are in everyone's interest. The most negative scenario for Russia is a crisis, war, and inciting regional confrontation. These things are not in Russia's interests, but they may be in the interests of extra-regional players. That is why Russian policy in the South Caucasus is based on balanced positions.

    - What kind of dynamics should we expect in Russia's relations with Türkiye?

    - I think that we should not expect any dramatic breakthroughs, either positive or negative. Most likely, the policy we are currently observing in bilateral relations will continue. That is economic cooperation and some bargaining on the key geopolitical aspects, for example concerning Ukraine, Syria, and the Kurds. In general, Moscow and Ankara have a wide range of bilateral dialogue. This includes security, logistics, and the economy. I think that the key topics of bilateral dialogue between Russia and Türkiye will be the development of gas transit and food issues, including the grain deal and also trade and economic relations, where Türkiye acts as a hub for the transit of goods from third countries to Russia. This will mean an increase in trade turnover between Moscow and Ankara. And, of course, there are also tourism issues. In addition, one can expect further facilitation of mutual payments and the recognition of payment systems.

    Geopolitical issues, such as Ukraine and Syria, will create tension in relations at times. From time to time the tension may increase quite a lot, but in general, I think it will remain within the limits of tolerance, without excessive escalation.

    - Are there signs now that the West is trying to increase pressure on Russia through the South Caucasus?

    - Yes, there are. It seems that the West is trying to increase pressure on Russia through the South Caucasus, creating certain hotbeds of tension there - if not open hostilities, then at least the threat of them escalating. However, I do not think that these attempts are purposeful. Western countries have other interests in the South Caucasus and Central Asia, including economic ones, and regional instability can harm the economic, and raw material interests of the West itself besides Russia. In addition, the West understands that the countries of the South Caucasus will not be delighted with the fact that someone is trying to rock the situation, to destroy stability in the region. Certainly, there are certain attempts, but they are of a balanced or controlled nature.

    In general, of course, the West is trying to strengthen its political, economic, and military influence in the South Caucasus countries. But it is necessary to understand that the West has been doing exactly the same thing for the last 30 years. So there is nothing new in it. This is the usual competition of states for a place under the sun and for a piece of the pie.

    - CSTO summit was held in Yerevan on November 23. How do you assess summit results?

    - Armenia will hardly receive unscheduled military assistance from the CSTO. Some earlier planned deliveries may well take place. You should understand that Armenia is a member of the CSTO, and there are certain plans and schedules for military-technical cooperation. All this works in a duty, planned mode, but no more than that.

    And Russia will not oppose Azerbaijan because, as I pointed out above, Moscow seeks to pursue a balanced policy in the South Caucasus, and obviously taking a position in favor of one side runs counter to this policy of balance and interaction with all countries in the region.

    - Is there a threat of CSTO self-dissolution?

    - There is no such threat. Talks about this are speculative in nature and are intended to fuel an unhealthy atmosphere. There are no obvious reasons for the dissolution of the CSTO. The bloc is working, as usual, there is funding and an organizational structure. We also do not observe any political changes in the countries of the region, which would lead to a radical revision of the foreign policy of the CSTO member countries.



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