Azerbaijan, Baku, 8 August / Trend corr. V.Zhavoronkova/ Experts believe Russia-U.S. Caucasus confrontation will not develop into military actions, though Russia does not rule out the possibility.
"The Russia-U.S. confrontation format in Caucasus and in the entire Caspian region will not develop into a full-scale military campaign," Azerbaijani expert Rashad Rzaguliyev, President of the Azerbaijani Fund for Social Developments, said to Trend .
The Black Sea area has become the arena of international military trainings. During the summer the territory hosted U.S.-Georgia, Ukraine-NATO and Russia's North Caucasus trainings.
There are several unsettled conflicts in the Caucasus - Georgia-Abkhazia and Georgia-Ossetia, as well as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict which resulted from Armenia's claims for Azerbaijani territory. Observers say the conflicts may be settled through collision of Russia's and United States' interests.
According to Russian expert Grigori Trofimchuk, Vice-President of Strategic Development Modeling Centre, Russia is being pushed not only for conflicts but military confrontation.
Trofimchuk said Russia may be provoked for a conflict at any point of South Caucasus and Transcaucasia, including Azerbaijan and its Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
He believes the political situation in Azerbaijan is steady and stable. But the Karabakh situation may be escalated by a third person at any moment. In that case, the situation will leave the stable stage which it has been experiencing for a quite long period.
Situation in Georgia is tenser.
"Should we take several hot spots in the Caucasus, situation in the region will just get out of the control of both Russia and Caucasus. So, it will be regulated by external forces - by a third side. And the situation will be rapidly developing on a negative scenario," Trofimchuk said to Trend on 6 August.
However, many experts do not agree that the Caucasus conflicts will cause military actions. According to Rzaguliyev, United States' activity in the region is intended for preparation of strategic positions for a military attack on Iran. He thinks the States tries to soften Russia's position in terms of the future conflict and to push the country for refusal from military and political support to Iran. He said the States is using Georgia as a tool to impact the official Moscow.
"Presumably the leaders of the United States and Russia are intelligent enough not to let their differences boil over into military action. If any military action is necessary I would expect it to be only after a joint agreement has been reached between the two," Professor Michael Gunter, Tennessee Technological University, said to Trend via e-mail on 6 August.
"I do not think that there will be a Russian-American military confrontation in the South Caucasus. Direct military confrontation is something that both Washington and Moscow seek to avoid," Mark N. Katz, Professor of Government and Politics at George Mason University, said.
According to British expert on South Caucasus Michael Denison, Chatham House, none of the parties have anything to seriously gain from military action. The South Ossetian regime is weak, Georgia does not want to jeopardise its prospects of entering NATO and neither Russia nor the US want a battle over this issue.
"I would expect some brinkmanship but ultimately this may focus the minds of outside powers on a lasting settlement, and make them realise that these so-called "frozen" conflict cannot last forever," Denison said to Trend via e-mail on 7 August.
Baku-based E.Tariverdiyeva and Moscow-based R.Agayev contributed to the article.
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