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Maxim Shevchenko: Russia still no comprehensive policy in the Caucas

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  • Maxim Shevchenko: Russia still no comprehensive policy in the Caucas

    Maxim Shevchenko: Russia still has no comprehensive policy in the Caucasus
    ArmInfo's interview with Maxim Shevchenko, Russian journalist,
    editor-in-chief of

    by Ashot Safaryan

    Saturday, June 29, 18:21

    Mr. Shevchenko, the weapon deal between Moscow and Baku has had a wide
    public response. What made Russia sell weapons to a country - enemy of
    its strategic ally Armenia?

    Russia is connected with Armenia via CSTO, therefore contractual
    relationships between the two countries are deeper than the relations
    of Moscow and Baku. Armenia and Russia are closely cooperating in many
    key fields. However, Azerbaijan is not an enemy for Russia either. In
    Russia we are very upset over the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. As
    regards the sale of weapons to Azerbaijan, I don't know what is the
    logic of the Russian government or the president. I think, however,
    that balance of forces in the region is the guarantee of peace and
    stability. If disarmament is impossible, balance of force is the
    guarantee against military actions and use of force. There is nothing
    anti-Armenian in the sale of the Russian weapons to Azerbaijan. The
    contractual relations of Armenia and Russia make Moscow protect
    Armenia in case of a threat.

    Supply of Russian weapons to Azerbaijan leads to a new wave of
    anti-Russian sentiments in the Armenian public. Isn't Russia concerned
    over that fact?

    Public sentiments in Armenia and Russia have no impact on the
    decisions of politicians. Russia cannot take either pro-Armenia or
    pro-Azerbaijani position in the Karabakh conflict. Moscow will
    observe certain balance in it. We will not allow military

    Russian politicians say that Russia supplies weapons to Azerbaijan not
    to lose its weapons sale market. Otherwise, USA, Turkey or Israel will
    start supplying weapons to Azerbaijan. Do you share these views?

    Russia does not want to lose Azerbaijan as a sales market for its
    military production or yield it to the USA, for instance. That is not
    the point, however. If the USA decides to supply weapons, it will do
    that irrespective of Russia. We have already witnessed how the USA
    'pushes through' its decisions at any cost. I think that in the light
    of rather serious developments in the regions, threats of war around
    Iran, unfortunately, the balance of forces is the guarantee against
    the use of force by the conflicting parties.

    What do you think of further relations of Iran and Azerbaijan under
    new President of Iran Hassan Rouhani? Yet during the presidential
    race, Rouhani called Baku a threat to the security of Iran...

    A confrontation with Iran would be dangerous for Azerbaijan.
    Azerbaijan's decision to let Israel use its territory for anti-Iranian
    reconnaissance is dangerous for Iran, but it is no less dangerous for
    Azerbaijan as it may lead to an Azeri-Iranian confrontation. One of
    the scenarios the United States and NATO are considering for
    withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan is the use of Azerbaijan's
    territory, which will hardly be good for the Azeri people. The mass
    arrests of Shias in Nardaran are aimed against Iran. Azerbaijan should
    not to conduct such a policy now that Wahhabis are getting
    increasingly active in its south.

    Over the last 2-3 years, some experts and politicians in Armenia have
    revised the Armenian-Russian relations criticizing them for
    inequality. What do Russian experts and politicians think of these

    I'd not say that the relations have been revised. We can see certain
    activation of the interests of the USA and NATO in Armenia. I think
    Russia takes little efforts, maybe, because the Armenian-Russian
    relations are at rather a high level and do not need any caution. The
    two leaders have good personal relations and activity of the western
    structures will hardly be able to spoil those relations. However, I
    think it is necessary to be a little more cautious.

    On the other hand, Russia still has no comprehensive policy in the
    Caucasus. Russia does not perceive the Caucasus as a single whole. All
    the countries in the Caucasus are inter-related, which must be
    reflected in the Kremlin's policy. Moscow needs an efficient policy
    meeting the interests of all the subjects in the region.

    There are hot debates in Armenia over deep integration into EU and
    integration projects offered by Moscow. Is it a dilemma for Armenia or
    complementary foreign policy?

    To join the Customs Union, Armenia needs to sign certain documents.
    However, Armenia will hardly manage to fulfill the provisions of those
    documents unless the Russian-Georgian and Armenian-Azerbaijan
    relations are settled and the railway communication via Abkhazia and
    Georgia is restored. The idea of the Eurasian Union is worth
    supporting, of course. I think it is a historical, strategic project
    and the relations of Moscow and Tbilisi must be normalized. As for the
    relations with the EU, I think Armenia's joining that structure is

    European officials speak of `deep integration' and not admission...

    If Armenia continues integrating into the EU, it may be required to
    stop its relations with Iran. The pro-European lobby in Armenia
    consists of politicians receiving grants from Brussels. But they don't
    specify what benefits Armenia may expect from its integration into
    Europe. The EU is not ready to make Armenia its member. On the other
    hand, it may set preconditions, like withdrawal from the Collective
    Security Treaty Organization, closer cooperation with NATO and no more
    contacts with Iran. I don't think that the last precondition will be
    good for Armenia and its big community in Iran.

    From: A. Papazian