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Tuesday June 25 2024

Politics changing history: New chapter in Azerbaijan-Russia relations

6 June 2024 20:16 (UTC+04:00)
Politics changing history: New chapter in Azerbaijan-Russia relations
Fatime Letifova
Fatime Letifova
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Relations between Azerbaijan and Russia have developed in different forms throughout history. For this reason, Russian-Azerbaijani relations can be divided into historical segments and shown at different stages. For example, the 18th and 19th centuries can be cited as the period of Russian occupation of Azerbaijan.

Besides, in the early 19th and 20th centuries, formerly Soviet Russia's direct support for the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani lands laid the foundation of the conflict in the South Caucasus. However, in recent years, relations between Russia and Azerbaijan have evolved from hostility to a strategic partnership. Thus, the importance of this partnership was that the military and political support given to Armenians in the First Garabagh War was not repeated, especially after the recent anti-terrorist measures, the Armenian separatism in Garabagh was easily prevented.

The processes after the Second Garabagh War play an exceptional role in the further development of Russian-Azerbaijani relations.

Obviously, during the 30 years, the Armenian Armed Forces kept attacking the Azerbaijani lands mostly relying on Russia's support. On 27 September 2020, Armenia attacked the positions of Azerbaijan’s Army from several directions again. It used heavy artillery to fire at Azerbaijani residential settlements.

In response to yet another attempt at military aggression by Armenia, Azerbaijan’s Army launched a counterattack and, as a result of the 44-day Patriotic War, managed to crush the Armenian army, bring it to its knees, and liberate the occupied territories. Operation Iron Fist carried out by the victorious Azerbaijani Army under the leadership of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, President Ilham Aliyev went to the history of the Azerbaijani people in golden letters as it led to Armenia’s capitulation, a country that glorified occupation and Nazism and turned it into a state policy.

On 10 November 2020, the “Statement of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia and the President of the Russian Federation” was adopted and Armenia signed an act of capitulation. This put an end to the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict and Azerbaijan restored its territorial integrity. The President of Azerbaijan said on that occasion, “The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been resolved, Azerbaijan has resolved this conflict alone, both on the battlefield and then at the table. Victory on the battlefield forced the enemy to wave the white flag, surrender, and sign an act of capitulation. The document signed on 10 November is an act of capitulation signed by Armenia. Thus, according to this document, the Aghdam, Kalbadjar, and Lachin districts were liberated without a single bullet.

Based on the trilateral declaration signed by Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia on November 10, 2020, Russian peacekeepers were deployed in Garabagh and near the border between Lachin and Armenia (as Armenia illegally used it as a corridor).

Finally, in April this year, Russian peacekeepers withdrew from the entire Azerbaijani territories. In response to this, Armenia’s political leadership accused Moscow over which they said that "Russia failed to “protect” Armenian interests". The peacekeepers had originally been due to stay until November 2025 as per the document signed. However, as separatist elements and terrorists were then removed from the rest of Garabagh there was no need for peacekeepers' activity anymore.

Although Russia's rational decision did not satisfy Armenia, the geopolitical reality in the region had already changed. The myth that "Russia will not leave the Caucasus" and "The peacekeepers will stay in Garabagh forever" was dispelled at once. This event also had no small impact on the political position of Armenia. Yerevan, which based its hopes about Garabagh on the Kremlin, then completely leaned towards the West after all of its dreams were shattered.

But what happened to the ideas of some forces that turned Russia into a nightmare?

From the Second Garabagh War until now, all the eyes of the Western forces have been on the South Caucasus. Against the backdrop of the ongoing war with Ukraine, the West wanted to weaken its rival with the help of the Caucasian states. Although Georgia and Armenia are potentially pro-Western, it was more important for the West to attract a strong and strategic state like Azerbaijan to use against Russia. However, since the West's position on the Garabagh conflict in the last 30 years has not yielded results, it has undermined its credibility in the eyes of Azerbaijan. For example, the anti-Azerbaijani rhetoric voiced in the OSCE Minsk Group, PACE, and European Parliaments clearly showed who stood by whose side. The political parameters have already changed long ago because the Western policy, which mostly defends the invading Armenia, did not foresee the current situation in the region.

Today, relations between Azerbaijan and Russia are developing successfully, reliably and very pragmatically. Azerbaijan and Russia have strategic partnership relations, and political co-operation between the two countries has significantly increased over recent years. Mutual visits of the heads of the two states have given an important impetus to the development of Azerbaijani-Russian relations.

Note that diplomatic relations were established on the 4th of April 1992. The embassies of the two countries were opened in 1992. Russia is also one the main trading partners of Azerbaijan. More than forty-five documents were signed between Azerbaijan and Russia in the economic area. Besides, Russia is the largest exporter of Azerbaijani non-oil products.

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