By Edmond Y. Azadian
For the last two centuries, relations between Turkey and Russia have directly impacted Armenia’s destiny. Ironically, improved relations between the two powers have worked to the detriment of Armenia’s interests.
The Ottoman Empire waged three major wars against Russia: the Crimean War of 1853-1856, which ended with the defeat of Russia at the hands of Turkey and its allies; the War of 1877-78 which resulted in the advance of Russian forces all the way to San Stefano (Adrianopolis), close to the Ottoman capital, and of course, World War I, when although the Ottoman Turkish alliance with Germany was defeated, the ensuing collapse of the Russian Empire did not help Armenia’s plight.
At the conclusion of the second war between the two powers, Armenia’s fate was featured in two consecutive congresses, San Stefano and Berlin.
The vague clauses of the Berlin Treaty eventually came to fruition in 1914, with the appointment of two European governors in Armenian villayets, a move which was frustrated because of the war and the Genocide. However, during the war, the Russian presence helped Armenians to wage a self-defense war in Van, thereby saving the lives of 200,000 Armenians.
During the Cold War, Turkey joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the West, however, Moscow has tried to win over Ankara through some political gestures at the expense of the Armenians. Nikita Khrushchev announced at one point that the Soviet Union did not have territorial claims from Turkey, indirectly validating the Treaties of Moscow and Kars, which have sealed the present border between Armenia and Turkey.