Armenia is a small landlocked country with few resources and under constant threat from Azeri chauvinism. The recent resumption of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan cannot be taken in isolation from the world international situation, however, especially since Armenia is aligned with Russia, and is in a collective security pact with other former Soviet nations.
Azerbaijan has been obtaining weapons from Turkey and Israel. If Russia is drawn into a conflict on Armenia’s side, this could complicate Turkish/Russian relations, which is very much in the imperialists’ interests. As to is the extending of the war flank from Ukraine all the way to the south Caucasus.
The imperialists have been kind enough to publish a complete blueprint for their plan of “over-extending Russia”. Written by the Rand Corporation in 2019, this document reads like a timetable for events that have taken place since.
Imperialist intentions writ large
“Providing lethal aid to Ukraine would exploit Russia’s greatest point of external vulnerability. But any increase in US military arms and advice to Ukraine would need to be carefully calibrated to increase the costs to Russia of sustaining its existing commitment without provoking a much wider conflict in which Russia, by reason of proximity, would have significant advantages.
“Increasing support to the Syrian rebels could jeopardise other US policy priorities, such as combating radical Islamic terrorism, and could risk further destabilising the entire region. Furthermore, this option might not even be feasible, given the radicalisation, fragmentation, and decline of the Syrian opposition.
“Promoting liberalisation in Belarus likely would not succeed and could provoke a strong Russian response, one that would result in a general deterioration of the security environment in Europe and a setback for US policy.
“Expanding ties in the south Caucasus – competing economically with Russia – would be difficult because of geography and history.
“Reducing Russian influence in central Asia would be very difficult and could prove costly. Increased engagement is unlikely to extend Russia much economically and likely to be disproportionately costly for the United States.
“Flip Transnistria and expel the Russian troops from the region would be a blow to Russian prestige, but it would also save Moscow money and quite possibly impose additional costs on the United States and its allies.” (J Dobbins, RS Cohen, N Chandler et al, Overextending and Unbalancing Russia, 2019)
Right on cue, we have since seen the Ukrainian conflict grow, the attempted ‘Slipper revolution’ (US-sponsored coup) in Belarus in August 2020, the current conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the imperialist attempts to ignite strife in Moldova. Georgia, too, has offered a referendum on whether to start a war with Russia.
Encouraging and stoking Azeri chauvinism
The Azeris have been displaying great chauvinism toward Armenia, with President Ilham Aliyev stating: “Yerevan is our historical territory, and we, the Azerbaijanis, must return to this historical land. This is our political and strategic goal, which we must gradually move towards.” (Ilham Aliyev wants to ‘return’ Yerevan to Azerbaijan, Belsat TV, 9 February 2018)
The imperialists have cunningly used Azeri chauvinism to engender hostility towards Russia, with Azerbaijan’s government saying it will increase gas exports by 30 percent whilst expanding the Southern Gas Corridor.
“In July, the European Union and Baku signed a memorandum of understanding with Azerbaijan to double imports of gas to at least 20 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year by 2027.
“The agreement also provides for the expansion of the Southern Gas Corridor running through Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and Greece.” (Azerbaijan says will increase gas exports to Europe this year by 30 percent, RFE, 12 September 2022)
Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu warned the Azeri government in Baku that the Russian military can conduct large-scale operations in multiple theatres – a thinly-veiled warning against allowing Azeri chauvinism to become any more bellicose.
The recent ‘setbacks’ (particularly in Kherson) of the Russian military have provided an opening for Azeri chauvinism, cheered on by imperialism.
“Over the years, the oil-rich Caspian nation has cultivated a network of allies in mostly hawkish Washington think-tanks, such as the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, Hudson Institute, the Heritage Foundation and even some relatively more centrist outfits like the Atlantic Council.
“Neoconservatives appreciate Azerbaijan because it is friendly to Israel and assumed to be hostile to both Iran and Russia. Since such positions are deemed to favour Washington, Azerbaijan deserves, according to these circles, particularly strong US support – or a degree of dispensation at the very least.” (Caucasus conflict highlights US hawks’ reckless support for Azerbaijan by Eldar Mamedov, Responsible Statecraft, 16 September 2022)
Overestimating Russia’s difficulties, underestimating their own
The ‘setbacks’ in Kherson have been a trade-off. Ukraine has traded countless men’s lives and equipment to advance over abandoned territory in Kherson whilst Russia has been destroying Ukrainian forces and preserving the lives of its own soldiers.
The US regime of Joe Biden has ordered these advances because it is desperate for some semblance of a ‘victory’ to show to the American people in advance of next month’s elections – something to justify the billions and billions of dollars sent abroad in the name of ‘Standing with Ukraine’. The narrative portrayed is: “Look, Russia is on its last legs, it’s retreating in Ukraine; it has all been worth it!”
Well, if that is as the imperialist media say, then so be it. But Opec+ just decided to decrease oil production, prompting the Biden regime to accuse the oil-producing nations involved of ‘siding with’ Russia and forcing the USA to eat into its oil reserves. (White House says Opec ‘aligning’ with Russia after production cut, will tap reserve by Steven Nelson, New York Post, 5 October 2022)
Meanwhile Europeans, Britons included, who are facing a very bleak winter, do so because they are saddled with a capitalist class that serves bourgeois cosmopolitans and imperialist domination instead of the broad masses of the workers.