To Yerevan through Kyiv?
    Moscow, Washington on threshold of compromise

    ANALYTICS  05 December 2023 - 20:45

    Murad Abiyev

    An interesting configuration has emerged around the peace process in the South Caucasus. The US is actively promoting its vision of normalisation, and so actively that it has managed to spoil and even try to improve relations with Azerbaijan in a short period of time. This is, of course, about the notorious statements of US Assistant Secretary of State James O'Brien at the House of Representatives Committee, Blinken's subsequent call to President Aliyev, and the expected visit of O'Brien to the Azerbaijani capital.

    Moreover, O'Brien is not planning to visit Armenia, as is often the case when officials of mediating countries visit the region to promote a peace agenda. So, the purpose of the visit is extraordinary. It is with Baku that there are disagreements and that the State Department official is travelling to address. The fact that this visit takes place almost in parallel with the visit of National Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan to Washington further emphasises the new reality - Washington no longer hides the fact that it patronises Armenia in negotiations with Azerbaijan.

    Meanwhile, Grigoryan met in Washington with, if I may say so, the architect of US current foreign policy, US Presidential National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. "During the meeting, which took place at the White House, issues of bilateral interest in the spheres of security and economy were discussed. The dynamics of stable development of bilateral relations was highly appreciated," the press service of the Armenian Security Council said in a statement.

    Given that security and economy are the two pillars of Russia's presence in Armenia, the parties are apparently discussing and coordinating the neutralisation of Russian influence in the country.

    It is interesting, however, that this is happening against the backdrop of talk about cutting of US military aid to Ukraine. The same Sullivan said at a regular briefing on 4 December: "Without action from Congress, the Administration will by the end of the year run out of resources to acquire additional weapons and military equipment for Ukraine, as well as to allocate them from U.S. depots without affecting our own military readiness."

    Although it is not ruled out that Congress will still allocate some amount of aid, the general tone of statements from Washington increasingly suggests that the upcoming negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow are imminent.

    The impression is that Moscow and Washington have come to some kind of compromise on a set of issues. It is possible that in exchange for a number of preferences in the Ukrainian issue, Russia will agree to loosen its grip on Armenia's throat to the point of curtailing its military presence. It is also possible that a strategic decision on this issue has already been made and now Moscow is selling its willingness to part with the "country of stones" piece by piece.

    Ukraine, unlike Armenia, is a country bordering Russia, which is more important to Russia. Most likely, the negotiations will revolve around Ukraine's neutral status in exchange for Russia's promise not to launch a new offensive. In this way, everyone will be allowed to leave with their faces intact. The states, through the Ukrainian war, have succeeded in weakening Russia's military power. Moscow will solemnly announce the triumph of the so-called special military operation. Ukraine will present as a tactical victory the liberation of the cities of Kharkiv, Kyiv and Kherson regions and announce that it is taking a long pause for revenge. By the way, it was in this spirit that the same Sullivan at the already mentioned briefing simultaneously "excused" and at the same time gave Kyiv a hint: "We have requested funding in several rounds since the beginning of the war and applied it at a sufficient level: to save Kyiv, to save Kherson and Kharkiv, to recapture 50 per cent of the captured territories and to prevent Ukraine's absorption by Russia," he said.

    If we follow the logic of collusion, it is quite likely that Washington and Moscow will agree on the issue of the Zangazur corridor. What will be the output - communications under the control of the Russian Federal Security Service or Armenian border guards - is not so important for Baku, provided that the issue of control will not be a stumbling block between the powers. Therefore, we are waiting for the powers to agree - then we will sign peace.

    More precise conclusions can be made in the near future. We would like to remind that O'Brien's visit to Baku is scheduled for tomorrow, December 6.


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