Azerbaijan in a Loop: Moscow Keeps up with Tehran


On March 12, the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs addressed the Russian citizens preparing to visit Azerbaijan, informing that Azerbaijan is causing problems for those with an Armenian origin who are trying to visit Azerbaijan. The Russian ministry warns the Russian citizens about the risks related to entering Azerbaijan for those who have Armenian origin, noting that Russia’s calls to Azerbaijan to refrain from discrimination against its citizens are useless. The wording is interesting: calls to refrain from discrimination are ignored.

The problem between Russian and Azerbaijan is not new. It has a long history and is therefore interesting that the warning of the Russian MFA comes now. In addition, while it is addressed to the Russian citizens with an Armenian origin, in the political sense the statement by the Russian MFA is a warning to Baku.

The question is what could be the motive for what is between the lines. In this sense, the political context in which the statement of the Russian MFA is made is notable. From the Armenian point of view, it is immediately associated with or looked at through the prism of the Artsakh issue, therefore it looks interesting against the speech of the Armenian prime minister in Stepanakert which was a new proposal to the co-chairs and the stakeholders of the regional security system for a dialogue.

Yerevan started stating this proposal step by step after the velvet revolution, maturing the joint meeting of the Security Councils of Armenia and Artsakh in Stepanakert and the speech made during it.

Could the statement of the Russian foreign ministry be seen as the first response to it? The point is that the statement is ambiguous. On the one hand, Moscow is helpless to protect its citizens. On the other hand, it states that the hatred against Armenians in Baku is a state policy in Azerbaijan which goes beyond Armenia and Azerbaijan.

And this indicator adds another argument to the balance of the new Armenian approaches. Of course, the Russian-Azerbaijani relations are not confined to the Artsakh issue. On the contrary, this issue fits in a wider context of their bilateral relations. In this sense, it is beyond doubt that Baku’s stance on the citizens of Russia is aimed at some advantage over Russia.

In addition, Baku keeps in jail Marat Ueldanov the Russian citizen with Armenian origin arrested in Baku allegedly for drugs but in fact for being Armenian. In fact, he is a Russian hostage in Baku.

Here Baku will try to put forth its conditions to Moscow not only with regard to the Artsakh issue as a co-chair of the Minsk Group but also as an important actor of the regional security system. Baku looks at the Russian-Azerbaijani relations in a wider Eurasian-Near Eastern context.

The unrest at the Iran-Azerbaijan border happening in the past 3-4 days along with the statement of the Russian foreign ministry gets more interesting. There were two incidents of border trespassing, shooting. An Azerbaijani border guard died. One of the incidents was in the self-declared Talish Republic. And, in this context, it is interesting that a few days ago when the Armenian Prime Minister was in Iran, a Russian-Azerbaijani deal was made on the extradition of the Talish leader Aboszoda to Baku.

Next the Azerbaijani foreign minister Mammedyarov left for Tehran. Tehran did not treat Mammedyarov in a very friendly way. Interestingly, his visit was followed by the incidents at the Iran-Azerbaijan border. In this situation, Russia’s pressure from the northern border follows. It appears that Moscow and Tehran are sending tough border messages to Baku in turn.

Is the reason Azerbaijan’s attempt to play a double game, such as in the case of the Talish leader, agreeing with the Russians, then in Tehran trying to blame Russia for everything? At the same time, did Tehran and Moscow get the chance for tough messages thanks to the policy of the Armenian side which closes the roads of the traditional maneuver for Azerbaijan significantly.

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