Azerbaijan tests Russia’s resolve in the Caucasus, highlighting Moscow’s waning influence on its periphery

Azerbaijan is blocking Armenian access to its contested Nagorno-Karabakh enclave and testing Russia’s resolve in the process, reports the NYTimes’ Anton Troianovski. The conflict is flaring up again two years after Moscow stepped in to end a war over the enclave, but while Armenia is part of the Russian-led military alliance and hosts a Russian military base, the Kremlin has not stepped in again to aid its ally.

In late 2020, Russia brokered the end of a war in the Caucasus between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and placed 2,000 Russian peacekeeping troops between the two sides, positioning Vladimir Putin as a peacemaker and highlighting Russia’s continuing influence in the former Soviet sphere.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has drained its resources, as FMN covered last week, and weakened its hold on its near-abroad in Eastern Europe, Western Asia, and now the Caucasus. Turkey and Iran have benefited from the situation as important sources of trade and weapons for Moscow, while undermining Russian influence in the Caucasus.

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