"War in Ukraine may reignite frozen and semi-frozen conflicts in Europe"

"War in Ukraine may reignite frozen and semi-frozen conflicts in Europe"
A+ A-
Eurasia Program Director at US-based think tank warns of possible escalations of armed conflict in Europe and Caucasus in the course of the war in Ukraine.

The Director of the Eurasia Program at the US-based Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft said that the recent clashes between Azeri and Armenian forces in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh may be interpreted as a signal that "the war in Ukraine will reignite other frozen and semi-frozen conflicts in Europe."

Anatol Lieven, a former academician and a former correspondent in several Eurasian countries, whose work currently focuses primarily on Russia and Europe, said in a recent article that "with the Russian armed forces bogged down in Ukraine, an obvious temptation exists for Azerbaijan to disregard the Russian peacekeeping force and launch a new offensive with the aim of total victory in Nagorno-Karabakh."

He outlined the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh noting that Azerbaijan, who was "armed by Turkey and supported by plentiful energy revenues," launched an offensive in 2020 against Armenia and reconquered much of the territory held by Armenia, and that the war was ended by a "ceasefire brokered by Russia, and enforced by around 2,000 Russian peacekeeping troops."

"Armenia itself has a defense agreement with Russia, and Moscow maintains a military presence there. This agreement however does not extend to Nagorno-Karabakh, whose independence Russia does not recognize," he added.

"Armenians regard the Russian alliance as crucial to ensuring that Turkey does not intervene directly in the Karabakh conflict on the side of the Azeris, with whom the Turks share a strong ethnic affinity."

Lieven said that Iran was also indirectly involved in the Armenian-Azeri conflict, as it "wants a continued Russian presence in the southern Caucasus to prevent NATO expansion to the region."

He added:

"It fears that Georgia and Azerbaijan might host U.S. military bases to threaten Iran, and that Azerbaijan might receive U.S. support to stir up separatism in Iranian Azerbaijan."

He continued:

"This temptation also exists in Georgia. As with Nagorno-Karabakh, the ethnic minority territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke away from Georgia during the Soviet collapse, and were placed under the protection of Russian troops. A Georgian attempt to recover South Ossetia by force in 2008 resulted in crushing defeat by the Russian army. Once again, the war in Ukraine might seem to give Georgia the chance to redress this defeat and recover its lost territories."

He concluded:

"The West should go on working to try to resolve these conflicts, while doing its utmost diplomatically to prevent their escalation. Condemnation of Russia’s role in the southern Caucasus is easy. Replacing that role would be extremely hard."