From the very beginning of the recent Karabakh war, Crescent International’s analysis projected several outcomes which have now come true with the announcement of the latest ceasefire.
These projections were: a short war, a far more active Russian role than appeared on surface, Turkish-Russian-Aliyev alliance, Russia cementing its geopolitical position in the Caucasus and punishment of the Armenian regime for moving away from Moscow.
The latest ceasefire announced on November 9 confirms all our key projections.
This analysis will examine the new geopolitical realities for the Caucasus and beyond after the recent ceasefire.
First, the ceasefire is only in name. It is essentially an Armenian surrender.
That explains why the minute it was announced, Armenians started burning government buildings in Yerevan.
However, Russia did allow many ambiguities to remain in order to use them in the future against Azerbaijan.
If Aliyev’s energy pipeline projects begin positioning themselves as a strong competitor to Russian energy policies, an Armenian counterattack in Karabakh can be expected.
Second, Russia will now have military presence in both Armenia and Azerbaijan.
This is a significant geopolitical gain for Moscow.
On paper, while Moscow’s presence on Azerbaijani territory is limited to peacekeeping for five years, Russia will do its best to stay there permanently.
This might create tensions down the road.
Third, Turkey’s gains in comparison to its active role in liberating Karabakh are symbolic and modest.
Ankara will be pushing the Aliyev regime to grant it more geopolitical and economic privileges in Azerbaijan than it has acquired under the current detailed ceasefire agreement.
Under the ceasefire agreement, Turkey’s role is limited to a political office monitoring the ceasefire.
There is no talk of Turkish troops being deployed in Karabakh and Russia is unlikely to allow this.
Thus, friction between the Aliyev regime and the AKP government, similar to the break-up between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Bashar al-Asad of Syria cannot be ruled out.
Fourth, the unelected Aliyev regime will try to balance the interests of Russia, Turkey (NATO), Israel and Iran in the new delicate geopolitical and internal situation.
It might be too much to handle for the Aliyevs and at some point, they will have to make some serious choices that can upset either Turkey, Russia or Iran.
In Armenia, removal of the current political elite is highly likely since Armenian society is quite right-wing and the loss in Karabakh greatly dents its ultra-nationalist narrative.
The Armenian political establishment now fully realizes that they have no choice but to remain Russia’s colony.
After Nikol Pashinyan, no politician will dare attempt to reduce Russian influence in Armenia.
Moscow has taught Armenia a good lesson by remaining aloof and stepped in only at the last minute to save it from total defeat.
Thus, no Western incentives will ever convince the Armenian political establishment to adopt pro-Western policies.
For several weeks the Aliyev regime enjoyed popular support due to the war.
However, the regime has raised expectations of the Azeri society to unrealistic levels.
Reaction of the Azeri society to the ceasefire conditions are already quite negative.
Many feel that the regime has deprived them of the opportunity to liberate the entire region of Armenian occupied Karabakh.
Considering that most of the recently liberated territories consist of the seven regions of Azerbaijan that border Karabakh, which the Armenians ethnically cleansed in addition to Karabakh, pessimism will soon resurface, and it will not be easy for the regime to contain it.
It should be noted that only a small portion of the Karabakh region itself has been liberated.
In both Armenia and Azerbaijan, the regimes will continue to prioritize their interests over those of the state.
Thus, both are vulnerable to external pressure and internal instability.
While Armenia is likely to experience greater internal instability because it has been defeated, Azerbaijan will not escape unscathed either.
The internal dynamics in Azerbaijan and Armenia should be the primary focus in seeing how the regional situation evolves.
Overall, Russia has scored a major geopolitical victory in the Caucasus without getting involved in fighting.
Henceforth, NATO powers will have a hard time outmaneuvering Russia’s pipeline politics by attempting to create an alternative route through Central Asia.