OpinionWorld News

Peace in the Caucuses is good for the West and bad for Russia

Armenia will finally have a chance to move out of the Russian and Iranian spheres of influence.

Russian President Vladimir Putin negotiates with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Ukrainian wheat, July 18, 2022. Credit: 42nd Street in Manhattan/Shutterstock.
Russian President Vladimir Putin negotiates with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Ukrainian wheat, July 18, 2022. Credit: 42nd Street in Manhattan/Shutterstock.
Israeli Minister of Communications Ayoob Kara.
Ayoob Kara
Ayoob Kara served as Israel’s minister of communications.

When I visited the war-torn Karabakh region, I personally witnessed how Russia was the main beneficiary of the lack of peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Russian troops were present throughout the region, expanding Russia’s sphere of influence and serving as a thorn in the side of the West.

But now, in the wake of Azerbaijan’s recent victory over Armenia and the possibility of peace in the region, Azerbaijan and Armenia do not need Russian mediators to solve their conflict anymore. This is wonderful for the West and bad for Russia.  

In recent days, Armenia has joined the International Criminal Court (ICC). This institution ordered an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine and the illegal deportation of children to Russia. Yerevan is now obligated to arrest the Russian leader if he sets foot on Armenian soil.

“ICC Rome statute officially entered into force for Armenia on 1 February,” Armenia’s official representative for international legal matters, Yeghishe Kirakosyan, told AFP. The Russians are furious. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Armenia made the “wrong decision” when its parliament voted in October to ratify the ICC’s Rome statute, and the Russian foreign ministry called the move an “unfriendly step.”

Armenia is home to a permanent Russian military base and is part of the Moscow-led military alliance the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which consists of several ex-Soviet republics. Therefore, Russia stands to lose a great deal in the wake of Armenia’s decision.

At the same time, the West stands to gain a great deal from peace in the Caucuses. For starters, any peace deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia will pull Armenia away from Iran’s sphere of influence, helping to weaken the mullahs at a time when the U.S. is fighting Iran’s terrorist Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in Iraq and Syria following a deadly attack on U.S. troops by the mullahs’ proxies. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said after the incident: “We do not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else, but the president and I will not tolerate attacks on American forces.”

In the wake of the war between Israel and Hamas, the conflict between American forces and Iranian proxies has increased. Should there be peace in the Caucuses, it will be harder for Iran to bypass sanctions via Armenia, altering how Iran operates in the entire Middle East. If Tehran is pressed for cash, it will be forced to fight American forces in the Middle East from a position of weakness rather than strength.

The Iranians have relied on Armenia to be their window to the outside world at a time when the mullahs’ regime is an international pariah. Via Armenia, they can operate like a normal country and minimize the effect of sanctions. For this reason, Iran supported Armenia in its conflict with Azerbaijan since the First Karabakh War.

Armenia’s alliance with Iran is of long-standing and often made Armenia little more than a proxy for its ally. Should there be peace in the Caucuses, however, Armenia will be able to develop ties with Azerbaijan, Turkey and other countries in the region. It will not need an alliance with an international pariah like Iran. This will greatly benefit the West but not Russia, which has a close working relationship with Tehran, including supplies of Iranian-made weapons that are used against Ukraine.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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