Impact of Nagorno Karabakh War over the Regional Powers

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Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi state university, Faculty of social and political sciences
The second war in Karabakh known as six weeks war began in September 27, 2020 and ended in November 2020. However, its consequences and impact on regional processes have not lost their relevance to the present day, but attract regional and transregional scholars and politicians‟ increased attention. Everyone agrees that the Karabakh war has significantly changed the geopolitical status quo in the region, but what kind of impact would these changes have in the short- or long-term perspective on the region are hotly debated issues among scholars from the South Caucasus and outside. As soon as the war ended some experts regarded Russia as the winner in the conflict, while others pointed out that Turkey's influence had grown and Russia‟s had weakened. Still others suggested that the role of Turkey and Russia had equally increased, but Iran had actually lost the role of security architect in the region and its influence had been reduced to a minimum compared to Russia and Turkey. Major arguments in the political discourse about the regional players‟ losses and benefits in the post-war situation are the following: Russia has increased its military presence in the region, Turkey openly demonstrates its will towards the South Caucasus geopolitical influence after the break up of the USSR, while Iran‟s position is uncertain and its tools of influence are limited. Of course, all these points are relevant in the evaluation of temporary situation in the region: Even before the second Karabakh war Russia had three military bases in the region: the 102nd military base in Gyumri in western Armenia and two bases in Russian-backed breakaway regions of Georgia: the 4th in South Ossetia and the 7th in Abkhazia. These bases are combined-arms brigade-size units, which, in theory, jointly constitute the core of army corps. Following the 9 November deal, Russia now also has peacekeepers on the ground in Nagorno- Karabakh, something it has sought since 1994. In fact, Russia has not had a military presence in Azerbaijan since the closure of the Soviet-era Gabala radar station in 2012. Now Russia has more opportunities to impact Azerbaijan‟s domestic politics as Moscow does in Georgia after the occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region. But whether Russia‟s position towards Azerbaijan is similar to the Georgian case is questionable and needs in-depth analysis. Turkey really played a crucial role in the recent war. Although Turkey always supported Azerbaijan‟s territorial integrity and demonstrated its sympathy toward brotherly state, this war showed that Ankara‟s support is not only verbal but might be more significant. Ankara‟s huge contribution Azerbaijan‟s military capacity building is a good evidence of this. Turkey‟s army-building capacity was clearly one of the leading factors contributing to Azerbaijan‟s victory in the second Nagorno-Karabakh war and the most important difference between the conflict of 2020 and the first Nagorno-Karabakh war. While the first conflict was between two armies with the Soviet military legacy, the second took place between outdated equipped army versus a modern army responding to the Western standards. No doubt, well trained Azerbaijani military forces represent a challenge to the Russian military power in the region but it is still questionable how far the competition between Turkey and Russia for their influence in the South Caucasus region can go and whether Ankara has a real chance to change the geopolitical status quo created in the region after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. At the first glance, Iran‟s position towards the second Karabakh war was inactive. Tehran seems to have joined the “losers club”, along with Armenia, in the newly formed geopolitical balance as it failed to take proactive role between rival parts and as a result Tehran lost tools of influence over neighboring Caucasian republics. However, a detailed study of Iran‟s position in the post-war geopolitical situation is needed. Why did Iran take a neutral position in this conflict and how is Tehran going to manage its relations with Yerevan, Baku, Ankara and Moscow? The aim of this article is to describe regional powers‟ involvement in the conflict and analyze the achievements and losses encountered by Russia, Turkey and Iran as a result of the Karabakh war.
Karabakh Conflict, Regional Great powers, Security challenges, Geopolitical Rivalry