It’s hard to determine who started the recent outbreak of fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh.
And it is also a bit of a stretch to argue, as some have done, that Moscow actually provoked the fighting.
But, nevertheless, it’s crystal clear who benefits the most from the hostilities: none other than the regime of Vladimir Putin.
As a member of the Minsk group, Russia is supposed to be a mediator between Yerevan and Baku — and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s current trip to Azerbaijan and Armenia aims to highlight that role.
But it is pretty odd, to say the least, for an alleged mediator in a conflict to also, at the same time, be arming both sides.
And this is exactly what Russia is doing.
The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh weakens both Armenia and Azerbaijan and keeps both dependent upon Russia.
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The longer the frozen conflict lingers, the more Moscow benefits. And every time tensions simmer and the conflict comes unfrozen — as it has over the past week — the stronger Russia’s hand becomes.
An editorial in The Wall Street Journal correctly noted that “Putin’s dream of a Russian-led Eurasian empire depends on a weak South Caucasus in which Moscow is the principal outside power exercising military influence and controlling the flow of Caspian oil across the region.”
So while it was Armenians and Azerbaijanis who were shooting at each other in the past week, the clear winner was Moscow.
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