“Russia’s decision made a lasting impression on its allies”

Simon Saradzhyan has published a long article on the 2020 Karabakh war in The Moscow Times and uploaded an unabridged version of it to his site. I would suggest reading it after or alongside Mark Galeotti’s earlier piece while keeping in mind the expected consequences of “going it alone” for superpowers in decline.

Russia’s decision not to employ leverage to stop the conflict in its early stages made a lasting impression on its CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization] allies in what may ultimately influence their geopolitical choices in the longer term…

That Russia needs to continue fostering such alliances in its ex-Soviet neighborhood… should be clear to anyone who attempts to match Putin’s ambitions with Russia’s capabilities.

For Russia to maintain its role as a global player, per Putin’s vision, it needs its ex-Soviet neighbors to retain interest in its military and economic integration projects…

Russia’s response to the war in Nagorno-Karabakh has been perhaps not the best way for a great power to incentivize such interest, to put it mildly.

Saradzhyan accepts that Putin’s animosity towards Nikol Pashinyan, the Armenian PM, could have “tipped the balance of pros and cons of Russia’s early intervention in the war toward not intervening.” Other observers have even claimed that was the decisive factor behind Russia’s apparent abandonment of Armenia to the Azeri-Turkish alliance. However, I would side with Galeotti on this: whatever may have motivated Putin personally, the big picture is that of Russia’s retreat in the face of Turkey’s advance – on all fronts.

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