Throughout the Cold War, Turkey was considered a bulwark against Soviet expansionism, but with the end of that standoff, Moscow and Ankara have become competitors in many regions of the world and they have brought their competition to its conclusion in compromises that affect the vital interests of the indigenous people in a particular region.

Thus, Russo-Turkish deals were made in Syria, Libya and most recently, in the Caucasus. The latter compromise was made at the expense of the Armenians.

After the fall of the Soviet Empire, Russia played the role of guarantor of Armenia and it established its regional military base there. But when the chips were down, the Armenians discovered that there were nuances in the guarantee which made a difference of life and death on the receiving end.

During the 44-day war between Armenia and the combined forces of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Pakistan and freelance jihadists, the Russian-supplied SU-30 combat planes remained parked with their missiles missing and the awesome Iskandar missiles did not fire because the keys were kept in Moscow.

And, after all those calamities, Armenia had to thank President Vladimir Putin for brokering a ceasefire and “sparing” Armenians from further losses. The Russian President could have used his influence if he really meant to defend a strategic ally. The Russian behavior boils down to the fact that it created the problem in order to be in a position to resolve it.

Right now, there are more than 100 Armenian POWs in Azerbaijan, contravening the terms of the November 9 agreement. It is within the power of the Kremlin to ask President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan to release them, and not to use them as bargaining chips to extract further concessions from the beleaguered Armenia.

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Thus far, all calls from Armenia and the international community to free the prisoners have fallen on deaf ears. Besides the issue of the prisoners, most of the nine points of the declaration remain frozen because of Azerbaijani intransigence.

A recent announcement by the former Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Tofiq Zulfuqarov, sheds light on this stalemate.

He stated recently: “Azerbaijan has chosen the international format which helps the reintegration of those regions into its territory. That format excludes any status for Karabakh. The Russo-Turkish tandem that we depend on for the issue of reintegration is perfectly acceptable for us. The efforts to revive the issue of Karabakh’s status by the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] Minsk group and the EU [European Union] will go nowhere.”

Armenians had been wondering why the OSCE had not taken over the process yet. Now we get the answer from Mr. Zulfuqarov’s statement, where the collusion between Moscow and Ankara is clear.

The two co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, the US and France, have criticized the terms of the November 9 declaration. They claim that the use of force has not resolved the Karabakh conflict. As a matter of fact, the use of force has violated one of the fundamental principles on which the Minsk Group operates. Moscow claims that the issue of Karabakh’s status has not yet been determined and that it will be decided at a later date.

President Aliyev, for his part, claims that he has solved the Karabakh conflict through the use of force and that there is no issue regarding the enclave’s status.

The Armenian side has pinned its hopes on the OSCE process, where Azerbaijan may be held accountable for initiating the war. Blame has to be shared also with Turkey for its participation in the war and for introducing the Jihadists onto the battlefield. Washington and Paris have already raised their objections to the move.

Azerbaijan’s intransigence is supported by Turkey and encouraged by Russia.

Turkey was armed and financed by the West to become independent and defy all major powers. During the most recent NATO meeting, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated, “It is no secret that we have differences with Turkey. It’s also no secret that Turkey is a longstanding and valued ally and one that I believe we have strong interest in keeping anchored to NATO.”

Although this statement was made to win over Ankara, after the recent escalation of tensions between the two countries, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who was attending the same NATO meeting, did not shy away from responding bluntly to criticism of Turkey acquiring Russian-made S-400 missiles. “On the S-400, we are reminded once again why Turkey had to buy them” and then repeated that Turkey had bought them and this is a “done deal.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself was very indignant in chiding another NATO ally, France, when its president, Emmanuel Macron, criticized Turkey for exploring hydrocarbons in Greek territorial waters.

In fact, Erdogan told Macron to go and check his head.

Turkey has been conducting a two-pronged policy vis-à-vis Russia. On the one hand, it operates under the pretense of containing Russia’s influence at the behest of NATO, which is in compliance with US policy towards Russia (particularly after Biden called Putin a killer), while pursuing its own ethnic agenda of working towards building a Turkic empire on Russia’s periphery.

Currently, Washington is at odds with Ankara not only on the S-400 missile issue, but also on some human rights issues which have become the centerpiece of President Biden’s foreign policy; one is the harassment and push to ban the third largest political party, the pro-Kurdish HDP and the other is the withdrawal of Ankara from the Istanbul Convention regarding the protection of women from violence, which will return Turkish society to the Middle Ages.

It will take a lot of time and political maneuvering between the two capitals to overcome these differences. This situation offers an opportune time for President Biden to recognize the Armenian Genocide. In 2019, when Turkey attacked and massacred the US’s Kurdish allies in Syria, the two US legislative houses moved overwhelmingly to pass a bill recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

Turkey is equally defiant against its friendly foe, Russia. The latter’s footprints are on Azerbaijani territory, thanks to the good graces of Ankara.

Russian peacekeeping forces were introduced into Azerbaijan, on condition of Turkey sharing the same strategic space, bringing its guns closer to Armenia’s borders.

Russian peacekeeping forces are tolerated and conditioned by the excuse of defending Karabakh Armenians. Although Armenian presence in Karabakh is a historic and legal right, it also provides an excuse for Russian presence there.

On the flipside, it is also in line with the perennial Russian policy of defending the Christian Armenians against the Turks, a policy which began in 1878 when the Russian forces had reached the Strait of Bosporus.

While Russia and Turkey have been accommodating each other on Azerbaijani soil, at the expense of Armenians, Ankara is openly challenging Russia on the issue of Crimea.

When Russia took over Crimea, Turkey’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoglu stated that “we will defend our Tartar brothers in Crimea,” while the Tartars barely constitute 12 percent of the territory’s population. The peninsula has been under Russian rule since 1773, during the reign of Catherine II (the Great). Currently, the Russians constitute the majority of the population, 65 percent. The Western powers have made Crimea a cause celebre as a victim of Russian aggression. If East Timor and South Sudan can hold a referendum to declare independence, which international law forbids, why can’t the majority Russians in Crimea vote to join Russia the same way?

Crimea was turned over to Ukraine in 1954, during the celebration of the 300th anniversary of Ukraine becoming part of Russia. Rumor has it that Nikita Khrushchev, after imbibing excessive quantities of vodka, signed Crimea over to his native Ukraine.

This reminds me of my own encounter with Yakov Zarobyan, a patriotic Soviet statesman, during whose rule as the Communist party chairman in Armenia, resulted in many reforms and major projects. At that time, internal borders within the Soviet Union did not matter.

During that encounter in 1962, I asked Mr. Zarobyan when Karabakh will be returned to Armenia. His answer was “Borders within the Soviet Union don’t matter.”

Then I asked, “How about joining Karabakh to Armenia and still claiming that borders don’t matter in the Soviet Union?”

Then he got very serious and said in a muted voice, “My son, you think we Armenians are nationalists, but I assure you that the Azerbaijanis are more nationalistic.”

This statement was made by a Soviet official in the heyday of the Soviet empire, when internationalism was the cornerstone of their credo.

Today, Ukraine has become a bone of contention between the West and Russia, and Turkey has become the West’s point person in this confrontation. Indeed, Turkey has recently entered into a military alliance with Ukraine, to help the latter liberate Donbass and Crimea from Russian rule. Ankara, in particular, has supplied Bayrakdar drones, which defeated Russian armaments in the recent Karabakh war.

As we can see, Turkey’s arrogance has been intimidating Russia on all fronts. Turkey has surrounded Armenia on its border in Kars and from Nakhichevan, where it has concentrated its troops.

Russia is the guarantor of the autonomy of Nakhichevan by the Treaty of Kars, which also allows Moscow to challenge the Turkish takeover of Nakhichevan. Instead of using the provisions of the Treaty of Kars to push away the Turkish army occupying Nakhichevan, Moscow and Ankara have been celebrating the centennial of the Treaty of Kars (March 16, 1921) and renewing their “friendship and brotherhood.

When the 11th Red Army moved into Amenia on December 2, 1920 to snuff out the independence of the First Republic, its last prime minister, Simon Vratzian, wrote: “Armenia is caught between the Russian hammer and the Turkish anvil.”

It looks like little has changed in the last 101 years

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