Stephen Blank: Russia is considering intervening in Armenia after withdrawing from Karabakh – EXCLUSIVE

Dr. Stephen Blank, a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, recently provided insights into Russia's unexpected decision to withdraw its peacekeeping forces from Karabakh, amid increasing military support for Armenia from France, India, and potential discussions of support from the United States. During an exclusive interview with News.Az, Dr. Blank analyzed the factors and possible outcomes associated with this significant geopolitical move.

Dr. Blank explained that Russia's withdrawal is influenced by several factors, including Armenia's shift towards Western alliances and the logistical burdens of maintaining military presence in conflict zones. Contrary to perceptions of external pressure, Dr. Blank emphasized that "Nobody is forcing Russia to leave," and that U.S. support for Armenia was only a subject of discussion, not a confirmed commitment. He noted that while Franco-Indian military support to Armenia plays a role, it is minor in the larger strategic picture.

It may also be the case that Russia is considering an intervention in Armenia that would make peacekeepers hostages to Armenia. "If anything, Russia now leans towards Azerbaijan," Dr. Blank stated, highlighting a significant shift in regional alignments.

The departure of Russian forces from Karabakh opens the door to increased Western engagement in the Caucasus region, according to Dr. Blank. This could extend to Western mediation in Nagorno-Karabakh and possibly broader diplomatic initiatives. Dr. Blank pointed out that Russia's withdrawal is unusual compared to its actions in other regions like Syria and Transnistria, suggesting a unique strategic calculation with respect to Azerbaijan.

Addressing the support Armenia receives from France, India, and Greece, Dr. Blank expressed concern over the potential escalation of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. He advised that both nations should pursue a negotiated peace treaty, with Western support, to prevent further militarization and conflict. He also highlighted the influence of domestic political lobbies in these countries, which often push for more aggressive postures due to historical and ethnic affiliations.

When we asked about the possibility of Russia directly attacking Armenia, Dr. Blank considered it "entirely possible" as a means to shift the current government in Yerevan. As external players like Turkey and France show increasing interest in filling the power vacuum left by Russia, Dr. Blank underscored the importance of Western roles in stabilizing the region.

Dr. Blank’s insights reveal a complex interplay of regional dynamics, where Russian strategic withdrawals could reshape the security landscape of the Caucasus. The involvement of Western powers, alongside the internal political shifts within Armenia and Azerbaijan, could herald a new era of diplomacy and conflict in the region.



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