Trend European Desk Head Aynur Gasimova
2009 was marked by progress and important events in many areas of the international relations. Turkey and Armenia signed historic protocols. The process of settlement the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was intensified. The "reboot" of the U.S-Russian relations was launched.
In 2010, the interrelated processes in the Caucasus promise new dynamics, including thanks to improving the U.S-Russian relations.
Just the United States and Russia are able to exert the most impact on the situation in the South Caucasus. It has great significance for them.
More than ever, the positions of Moscow and Washington coincide in solving the most prolonged Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the region. Both countries now have a need to strengthen their positions in the South Caucasus. Each of them is making efforts to be the main mediator in the protracted Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, pursuing its own interests.
Solving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, promises Russia to diversify the economic relations with Armenia and to unblock the railway, in which Russia made big investments. Moreover, it is a chance for Moscow to return the image of a peacemaker, which shook after Russia's intervention in the Georgian-Ossetian war in August 2008.
The United States are more interested in the security guarantees of energy supplies, which will pass through the South Caucasus. "Blue" dream of the United States is implementation of projects and diversification of gas supplies from Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. It depends on investors' confidence in security of supplies. In case of solving the conflict militarily, one must forget about investments of such projects.
Despite their influence on Armenia and Azerbaijan, Washington and Moscow are not able to exert serious impact on inter-political situation in these countries. Therefore, the improvement of the Russian-U.S relations creates, rather, a good background for settlement the Nagorno-Karabakh problem.
The historic protocols on normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia signed by foreign ministers of these countries in Zurich Oct.10, with the support of both the United States and Russia is the first serious sign of positive dynamics.
Another point of coincidence of interests between Russia and the United States in the Caucasus can be the Gabala radar station. After the U.S. administration's historic refusal from deployment of the third position area in Europe, there are several variants of anti-missile defense system structure on the agenda. They are the following: the creation of a collective complex of strategic anti-missile defense system in Europe, the establishment of anti-missile defense system against medium and short-range missiles by forces of NATO and the United States, the creation of an exclusive U.S anti-missile defense system, but without objects annoying Russia near its borders.
In this regard, the radar station in Gabala, perhaps, is still the most probable object, mentioned due to possible inclusion of Russia in the global system of anti-missile defense system. The Russian station is on military duty in Azerbaijan, close to Iran.
As an additional element of supervision, it can be convenient for the United States and Russia in different variants of the structure of the anti-missile defense system. The Gabala station, in any case, can be an object to demonstrate the first joint defense project of the United States and Russia. However, taking into account the outdated technical condition of the station, cooperation in Gabala will be more symbolic than practical.
Russia in response to the fact that the U.S. administration has revised the plans to deploy missile defense system near Russian borders is ready to sacrifice some of its allied commitments to Iran. It is obvious that Russia's efforts will be aimed that no nuclear bomb will appear in Iran. It will be a serious destabilizing factor in the region.
Moscow, as one of the major regional players is not interested in the occurrence of large armed conflicts that could seriously affect the stability in the South Caucasus. It gives a chance to the United States for Russia's support in the negotiations with Tehran. Russia today is ready to support some sanctions and exert more pressure on Iran so that the Islamic Republic to abandon its nuclear weapons program. It fits in the "reboot" and Russia's vision of the South Caucasus.
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