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“Regards from Karabakh” to Putin: Is Erdogan seeking contact with Russia?

With the unprecedented escalation of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, more and more substantiated doubts arise regarding the countries behind that escalation. It appears that it was the sovereign decision of the Azerbaijani leadership to break the status quo and not “the insisting recommendations” to President Ilham Aliyev by his patrons Turkey and U.S. According to some assessments, Turkey’s interest in unleashing the Karabakh conflict is now dominating over the interests of Azerbaijan that is turning into an instrument of pressure on Russia for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

This explains the open and large-scale support of Turkey to Azerbaijan’s military actions in Nagorno-Karabakh, starting from Erdogan’s statements of solidarity up to propaganda by Turkish media. However, this is not only about diplomacy and technologies. According to reports from the frontline, Turkish mercenaries and instructors are operating in Karabakh. They are actually commanding the Azerbaijani troops. Turkish media indirectly confirm this information.

What did make Turkey unleash a war in the South Caucasus, the region of Russia’s vital interests, just now? Besides the popular suggestions saying that NATO countries seek to involve Russia into a new conflict to make it weaker, Turkish media disseminate other views of the situation. Ankara seeks to achieve unfreezing of the relations with Russia in such ‘a sophisticated way.’ At first sight, it may sound absurd, but argumentation of the authors of the given views quite fit into the logic of the Turkish leadership’s actions. According to Turkish media, “Turkey’s relations with the United States have become tense. Actually, with its actions, U.S. hints that Erdogan’s regime has run its course. Washington’s direct hints at Erdogan’s authoritarianism and the ‘predictions’ of a possible military coup in Turkey make the Turkish authorities step up efforts to restore contacts with Russia.”

According to these views, the strategy Erdogan has chosen is a tangle of various political, diplomatic and military manipulations pursuing to bring Russia to the negotiating table. Figuratively speaking, the actions of the Turks develop on two tracks: “positive” and “negative.”

On the “positive” track, there are the latest statements of Turkish politicians on their readiness to “sort out immediately the misunderstanding with the Russian partners caused by the crashing (!) of the Russian bomber aircraft” and the nostalgia for the times when “Turkey and Russia were friends.” The given rhetoric is back with various PR campaigns like the detention of Alpaslan Celik, who boasted of killing the Russian pilot Oleg Peshkov. To recall, before his detention, Celik was giving interviews to Turkish mass media and was considered a national hero in Turkey. In addition, Turkey suddenly decided to restore the monument to the Russian soldiers in Istanbul who were killed in the numerous Russian-Turkish wars.

On the “negative” track, Ankara develops pressure on Russia by supporting various anti-Russian forces, starting from funding the notorious “Crimean-Tatar Mejlis” in Ukraine up to feeding the terrorist organizations in Syria. Unfreezing the Karabakh conflict is the most effective instrument of driving Russia to direct talks with Turkey, Turkish analysts say.

The following scenario has been launched: Azerbaijan attacks Nagorno-Karabakh, unleashing large-scale military actions, and no matter who will win the confrontations – Armenians or Azerbaijanis. It is important that the fighting results in many victims. The Russian side will face the threat of being involved into a new bloody conflict.  Considering that Turkey manages the marionette regime of Ilham Aliyev, Russia will start direct talks with Turkey to settle the problem. This will enable Turkey to launch direct talks with Russia on a broad spectrum of issues.

This scenario does not seem fantastic, despite the Turkish media’s seeming extravagant interpretation of the reasons behind the resumption of the military actions in Nagorno-Karabakh. In addition, Erdogan has already started speaking on behalf of Azerbaijan. Speaking about the escalation in Karabakh, the Turkish president said that if the Armenian side announces cessation of hostilities and stops the military actions, Azerbaijan is also ready to do it, according to Anadolu.

What if it does not do it?

Arman Abovyan, political analyst (Yerevan) for EADaily

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