September 30, 2013 - 16:35 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Russia’s presence in the South Caucasus and its political influence on the region was at first oriented at the sides in ethnic and international conflicts, whose victory would meet Russia’s long-term interests, according to Andrey Ryabov, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and editor-in-chief of World Economy and International Relations journal.
“In early 1990s, the Kremlin believed that it must support those post-soviet countries and political regimes, which could move towards a democratic future together with Russia. That’s why, unlike the soviet leaders, who eyed Baku as a loyal partner, Russia extended support to Armenia,” Ryabov told Geopolitics of Caucasus international conference in Paris.
According to him, the Russian leadership concluded that the best way to preserve influence in the region of unsettled conflicts is peacekeeping. “Supporting the political line of then-president Boris Yeltsin, the United States and Europe favored Russia’s responsibility for the situation across the post-soviet space and, in 1992, Russia was included in the OSCE Minsk Group for the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict,” Ryabov said.
Having assumed the role of the guarantor of ‘temporary order’, Russia became a ‘status quo power’, according to him.
“It sided with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, when Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili decided to use force in August 2004 to resolve the conflict with South Ossetia. The same situation was observed with the Karabakh conflict. To keep Armenia as the only military ally and Azerbaijan as the key economic partner, Russia has to balance between the two. At that, Moscow was well aware that resumption of hostilities in Karabakh will lead to collapse of Russia’s position both in Yerevan and Baku,” Ryabov said.