Russian Karabakh Initiative
"Russia has taken the center stage in international efforts to resolve the Karabakh conflict, which could yield a breakthrough before the end of this year. President Dmitry Medvedev is expected to host a potentially decisive meeting of his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts next month. Moscow may thus be trying to sideline the OSCE’s so-called Minsk Group on Karabakh, which it has long co-chaired with the United States and France...
"Many analysts in the South Caucasus and the West have long contended that Russia was uninterested in a Karabakh settlement, lest it lose leverage against Azerbaijan and, even more, Armenia, its main ally in the region. Peace with Azerbaijan, they have argued, would reduce the significance for Armenia of maintaining close military ties with Russia and make the Armenian economy less dependent on Russian energy supplies. Medvedev’s desire to host the crucial Aliyev-Sarkisian encounter is, however, a clear indication that Karabakh peace is not necessarily incompatible with Russian goals and interests in the region, especially if Moscow plays a key role in a multinational peace-keeping force that would have to be deployed in the conflict zone.
Armenia is rife with speculation that Moscow is trying to cajole Azerbaijan into agreeing to a Russian troop presence and pursuing a more pro-Russian policy on other issues, notably the transportation of Caspian oil and gas to the West. 'To that end [the Russians] need to force Armenia into making essentially unilateral and absolutely unacceptable concessions on the Karabakh issue,' Yerkir, a Yerevan weekly controlled by the governing Armenian Revolutionary Federation party, wrote on October 24, reflecting the growing opinion among local observers."
(Crossposted to American Footprints)