Referring to the Russian foreign minister’s position on Russia’s reluctance towards geopolitical change in the Caucasus, Dr. Vali Kaleji, in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, explaining Moscow’s approach to the developments in the region, said: Russia played a very decisive role in the victory of the Republic of Azerbaijan during the second Karabakh war.

He added: This role was performed with the interpretation it created out of the Collective Security Treaty and declared that Karabakh and the seven surrounding regions are outside the territory of Armenia and Russia and the Collective Security Treaty have no obligation to defend it against the regions of Karabakh and its peripheral areas.

Russia’s pivotal role in developments in Caucasus

Recalling that this interpretation practically left the hand of the Republic of Azerbaijan open and led to its military victory in the second Karabakh war, he added: The Karabakh ceasefire agreement also played a very important role in this regard, which was signed on a tripartite basis with a focus on Russia. The agreement effectively marginalized the Minsk Group, France and the United States, and Russia reaffirmed its pivotal role in this regard.

The senior researcher of the Center for Strategic Studies of the President’s Office and a member of the Scientific Council of the Institute for Iran-Eurasia Studies (IRAS) said: After the signing of the Karabakh ceasefire agreement, Russia once hosted Pashinyan and on several occasions has hosted the officials of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Stating that Russia’s silence and cautious stance in the face of recent developments has raised questions and ambiguities, he cited a variable called the Zionist regime as an important factor in this regard and continued: Russia’s very close relationship with that regime and the nature of their relations made Russia not to intervene in such issue as expected.

Differences in perceptions of Iran and Russia about reasons for geopolitical changes

He added: The Russians do not seem to have such a perception of the level of threat that would lead to fundamental geopolitical change in the Caucasus. In the current situation, Russia’s perception of the recent border tensions is a bilateral dispute between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan, and there is no such perception that Iran has of the developments, and especially of the presence of the Zionist regime in this region, in Russia.

On Russia’s position with regard to creating a corridor in the region called Zangezur, the analyst of Caucasus affairs stressed: Russia has not yet reached Iran’s perception of that corridor and its assessment is that according to Article 9 of the Karabakh Agreement, access to the Republic of Azerbaijan is to be gained through that path.

He added: But if that corridor is created by military action or threat, hands of Turkey and the Republic of Azerbaijan in the Caucasus will become much more open and the balance of power in the region in general will change and Russia will certainly suffer from this situation.

Emphasizing that if military action is taken to the Armenian soil, Russia will definitely react contrary to the second Karabakh war, he said: Russia sees the recent developments in the region as merely limited border tensions and does not assess it as a full-scale war.

According to the senior expert on Caucasus affairs, if Russia does not react to military action in Armenia, definitely Armenia will face the fate of Georgia and will be out of the orbit of Russia’s foreign and defense policy; because Armenia has sacrificed some of its independence before Russia in the past three decades and should see some defense for it by Russia. If Russia does not have such a function, just as Georgia withdrew from the Collective Security Treaty and generally inclined towards west, Armenia will follow the same path; therefore, Russia will not lose Armenia.

Regarding the strategy of Iran, Russia and neighboring countries towards the recent developments in the Caucasus, he noted the importance of Iran’s foreign minister’s visit to Russia and said: In those negotiations, an attempt was made to bring the views as close as possible, and if a communication route is to be established from the Republic of Azerbaijan to Nakhchivan, it should not be a threat to Iran; do not affect the north-south corridor; do not disrupt our relations with Armenia, Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union and do not create a place for the presence of extremist, terrorist and Zionist elements along our borders.

Emphasizing the need for continuous and intensive consultations between the countries of the region, Kaleji stated: The most important framework under which issues can be advanced, is the 3+3 framework, which was previously proposed by Iran and Mr. Erdogan raised it within the framework of the six-sided plan, which is very similar to Iran’s plan.

Need to counter divergence in region

Emphasizing the need to counter the divergence that is taking shape in the region, he ruled out the possibility of a proxy war in the Caucasus, as we have seen in Syria, and said: The problem that arose after the second Karabakh war, is about the interpretation of Article 9 of the Karabakh ceasefire agreement, and that Iran and Russia should help resolve it.

Regarding the necessary strategies to be taken by the countries of the region towards developments in the Caucasus, he explained: A supplementary and new agreements on the ninth paragraph of the ceasefire agreement should be signed in order to determine its details. In that agreement, the word hall and corridor has not been mentioned at all and it is not clear at all where should the access route be in Armenia; is that a domestic or international route, is it military or civilian; that should own and maintain its security? In fact, such cases must be specified in detail in order to get the region out of this ambiguity.

Referring to Iran’s concerns and reservations about the corridor and its impact on the borders, Kaleji added: Such issues should be considered in the negotiations. It is not possible to create a path from within a country by force and threat, because the citizens should not feel being threatened in order to use it. Citizens will not have psychological security if this issue is implemented by force and threats; therefore, such issues must be resolved in negotiations to avoid ambiguities.