Posted 27 сентября 2021,, 12:14

Published 27 сентября 2021,, 12:14

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:36

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:36

Partnership in words or in deeds: why would Azerbaijan buy Russian weapons

Partnership in words or in deeds: why would Azerbaijan buy Russian weapons

27 сентября 2021, 12:14
Фото: Фото:
Moscow should not trust Baku's intentions to buy Russian weapons and normalize relations with Armenia

Victor Kuzovkov

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in his interview to the National Defense magazine that Baku is interested in purchasing Russian weapons. Moreover, the newest, literally: "Naturally, we are looking at new developments". And just yesterday he voiced Azerbaijan's desire to normalize relations with Armenia, which in itself can be called a very positive signal.

All these words and statements, of course, are very encouraging. And yet, in the entire situation with the conflict in Transcaucasia, there is something dubious, which makes us take such news with a fair amount of caution. Whether we like it or not, there are some problematic moments that make us look closely at the most seemingly peaceful initiatives of the Azerbaijani side. And the main such circumstance is, of course, Turkey.

Yes, it just so happened that at the moment it is Ankara that is one of the key participants in the Transcaucasian conflict. Moreover, she is not a mediator or an observer, not even just an interested person, but in fact a direct participant. Turkey and Azerbaijan do not hide their allied relations, and even more than that - Ankara talks about the concept of "one people - two states", and Baku, it seems, does not really object to this. And everything would be fine if in recent years we did not have the opportunity to make sure that Turkey, represented by its President Erdogan, is a very unstable and completely unpredictable partner for Russia.

In fact, Ankara is currently trying to play the role of a regional superpower, equally ignoring the interests of Moscow and Washington. Moreover, being perfectly aware of the interest of the two main geopolitical players, Ankara is quite adept at playing on this. True, the Russian proverb about the affectionate calf in this case is far away - the "calf" is very restive, every now and then it tries to butt its neighbors, loudly mumbles about its geopolitical ambitions and frightens its "seemingly partners" with more and more sharp horns.

Turkey is known to be an old and one of the most valuable members of the NATO bloc. Its geographical position and one of the strongest armies in Europe for a long time provided her with a privileged position in the North Atlantic bloc, and relations with the main patron, the United States, were completely cloudless. That is, even ten years ago, Turkey was Washington's undoubted geopolitical asset, and one of the most valuable at that. But a young and very ambitious politician, Recep Erdogan, who was openly nationalistic, came to power. His power in the country was growing, and Turkey's foreign policy aspirations gradually began to frighten not only its neighbors, but also serious people from distant Washington.

And then they decided to remove it. Moreover, rather crudely, with the help of a military coup, which was directed and organized by the CIA. But the trouble is that the coup failed. Moreover, as evil tongues say, not without the participation of Russian special services. As a result, Erdogan's confidence in the American "partners" was catastrophically undermined, relations between the countries deteriorated, and Moscow was happily rubbing its hands in anticipation of the weakening of NATO. The refusal of the United States to supply Ankara with F-35 fighters also added fuel to the fire, although Turkey from the very beginning was a participant in this program and even developed some minor components and assemblies for this aircraft. As a result, relations between Ankara and Washington are now not at all what they used to be, although it has not yet reached the point of open hostility.

But Moscow also failed to win Ankara over to its side. Despite the obvious interest of both sides, they are not only in no hurry to get closer, but periodically find themselves on the verge of a direct military clash with each other. So it was in Syria, where the Turks once even shot down our plane, in Libya, where Turkish drones repeatedly attacked the Russian Pantsir-C1 air defense missile systems and, according to rumors, the units of some private military company owned by almost a friend of the president of some superpowers. And then Turkey directly intervened in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, in fact, initiating its escalation and achieving an unacceptable result for Moscow, with the accompanying discrediting of Russian weapons.

It should be noted that in all these cases, Ankara behaves assertively, if not arrogantly, not agreeing to any concessions. Moscow, at best, arranges "tomato wars" and "tourist boycotts" - that is, in the most crisis situations it is limited only by economic measures of influence. And this clearly shows how the Turks are aware of their current invulnerability. In fact, they can play on the contradictions between Moscow and Washington for many years to come, blackmailing some with a possible withdrawal from NATO, and others with a possible warming of relations with the United States.

If we add to this Turkey's principled position on the recognition (or rather, non-recognition) of the Russian status of Crimea, the picture of "friendly" relations between Ankara and Moscow becomes even more eloquent. Alas, all talk about a probable, at least in the future, alliance between Russia and Turkey is not worth a damn - it is clear that this is a temporary partnership of states that need each other, but pursue completely different, and sometimes directly opposite, goals. And if we take into account how serious the existing differences are - and this is not just a "tickling" of Russia in its "soft underbelly", but quite hostile to Russia plans to create the Great Turan on, including the current Russian territories - it becomes obvious that earlier or later Moscow and Ankara will collide head-ons in a serious battle for spheres of influence.

But it will be a little later. In the meantime, as you can see, both sides pretend that everything is fine in their relationship, with the exception of minor contradictions. Well, think about it, Erdogan called the annexation of Crimea to Russia an annexation - as Peskov said, "in no way destroys the prospects for a successful, meaningful and constructive working visit of President Erdogan to Russia." Such is the strong friendship of two masochists. Or, rather, patience on the verge of fantasy...

Such serious discussions about Turkey and Russian-Turkish relations in the context of Aliyev's statement are needed in order for the reader to understand that it would at least not be very reasonable to take them for reality. Rather, it can be assumed that the Turkish side is playing some kind of game, in which Azerbaijan has joined with pleasure.

In fact, there are several options at once of what they want to achieve in Baku and Ankara behind it. Let's try to formulate and consider them.

Option one. Erdogan, once again spitting in Moscow's face, simply wants to defuse the situation a bit ahead of his visit to Russia and talks with Putin scheduled for September 29. This is supported not only by Aliyev's statement about his desire to buy new Russian weapons, but also by the fresh news about Baku's readiness to normalize relations with Yerevan. This wonderful peacefulness, voiced at the right time, is clearly not accidental. Yes, the price is not very high for it, especially after the relatively recent promises to provide transport links with the Nakhichevan region by force, which can only be done with the help of the annexation of the Armenian territory itself.

As if wishing to whet the Kremlin's interest in the summit, Erdogan himself added fuel to the fire of Russian illusions, calling his meeting with American President Biden "disappointing." The fact is that in diplomacy there is one rule - usually, the more disappointing the meeting turns out to be, the louder it is afterwards that its success is trumpeted. There are, of course, exceptions, but only in those cases when the parties are preparing for war with each other. In this case, there is no need to talk about a probable American-Turkish war ...

Option two. Azerbaijan wants to sabotage the supply of Russian weapons to Armenia. To do this, he is trying to create the illusion of the likelihood of purchasing large quantities of Russian weapons. And in order not to disrupt possible deals, the Kremlin suspends military-technical cooperation with Armenia, slowing down and dragging out negotiations.

The method is quite effective. Suffice it to say that Saudi Arabia and some of its allies from the Arabian Peninsula have been leading Russia in this way for a long time. Then Riyadh tried to prevent large deliveries of modern weapons from Russia to Iran, for which it began to pose as a potential buyer of huge consignments of Russian weapons. Naturally, all this was accompanied by not official, but very clear backstage hints about the impossibility of concluding agreements if Moscow sold modern weapons to Tehran. And it worked for several years, until the Russian military-industrial complex finally became disillusioned with these “potential buyers”.

This option can probably work now as well. Alas, many people walk in the corridors of Russian power, piously convinced that rich Azerbaijan is a better partner than impoverished Armenia. And since the main state interest for them is usually personal enrichment, such a maneuver by Baku may well turn out to be effective.

At the same time, it is clear that Aliyev will not be able to endlessly lead Moscow by the nose. And he is not so stupid as not to understand this. And if so, this can only mean one thing: Baku's goal is to win a relatively short time to prepare for the next phase of military operations in Karabakh.

Well, this is quite logical: to finish off a seriously wounded enemy, to solve the Karabakh issue for yourself forever, and with Moscow's silence, to secure a corridor to Nakhichevan for itself - a completely reasonable and far-sighted goal for Azerbaijan and its Turkish allies. The Kremlin may not like it, or even very much, but has it swallowed pills before? So why not swallow it now?

This option is as realistic as it is unpleasant. It is clear that Moscow is now trying with all its might to avoid being drawn into any conflicts. There are many reasons for this, although there are enough of the problems that hit the country after the annexation of Crimea. And if so, Baku is very tempted, and a new round of the war in Karabakh should be expected no later than next autumn.

Option three. Baku really wants to buy weapons from Russia. The problem (for us) is that this option does not contradict the first and second options in any way. Indeed, now it is useful for softening Moscow's position in possible negotiations between Putin and Erdogan, and in the future, new Russian weapons can be successfully used against the Armenians remaining in Karabakh. The question here is rather the timing of the implementation of these agreements.

Although, let's be frank, at the moment Azerbaijan has enough forces and means to successfully continue the "Iron Fist" operation. The only question is what Armenia will be able to oppose, and here we return to the supply of Russian weapons to Yerevan. Which, from the point of view of Baku, should be sabotaged somehow...

In general, to paraphrase the well-known saying, “do not believe the Azerbaijanis, even those who buy weapons from you”. Although, perhaps, the author is just a bad person who does not believe in the good intentions of the wolf, who ate only half of the lamb...