As Russia’s military invasion in Ukraine enters its eighth month, Moscow is steadily losing strategic superiority as Ukraine retakes lost territory through its tremendously successful counterattacks. Russia’s defeat along the Kharkiv-Lyman front and its retreat in Kherson, compounded by the difficulties of implementing its partial mobilization order, have diminished Moscow’s optimism regarding the war’s outcome. To rectify Russia’s increasingly weak strategic position and depleted weapons stockpiles, Moscow has turned to its long-term partners—namely China, Iran, and North Korea—to meet its needs for combat drones, modern artillery pieces, and ammunition.
In July, the White House claimed that Iran was preparing to supply Russia with hundreds of weapons-capable drones for use in Ukraine. According to U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, “information further indicates that Iran is preparing to train Russian forces to use these UAVs, with initial training sessions slated to begin as soon as early July.” These allegations caused an uproar in Ukraine and the West, though Tehran categorically denied the charge. American reports were confirmed in late-September, when Ukrainian forces shot down Iranian combat drones in the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region, the southern city of Odesa, and the nearby Pivdennyi port. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry identified the downed aerial vehicles as Shahid-136 unmanned kamikaze drones and Mohajer-6 drones, which can carry missiles or perform reconnaissance missions. Continue reading
President Ilham Aliyev and President Vladimir Putin sign “Declaration on allied interaction between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation”, Moscow, Russia, February 22, 2022 / President.Az
On Feb. 22, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev visited Moscow at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin at what was a sensitive moment—just a day after Moscow officially recognized the independence of the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, and a day before Russia launched a full-scale invasion of the country.
The main agenda of Aliyev’s visit was to sign a new declaration that upgraded the two countries’ relationship to one of “allied cooperation.” The declaration expresses both sides’ intention of strengthening cooperation across a wide range of fields, including regional security issues, military ties, energy, and trade, while calling for mutual consultations on joint efforts in international organizations, with the aim “to protect the interests of Azerbaijan and Russia.” It builds on two previous agreements signed between the two countries in 1997 and 2008 that elevated their relationship to a strategic partnership. Continue reading
Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev attend a meeting of heads of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan October 11, 2019. Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin)
One week from the start of the dispute on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, the situation remains without a resolution. In this opinion piece for KarabakhSpace.eu, Fuad Shahbazov looks at what is driving Azerbaijani actions on the ground and in the diplomatic arena, and the possibility of escalation.
Half a year after the Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement was signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia ending the 44-day war in Karabakh, peace in the complex region is not on the horizon. A new stage of discontent and harsh statements came last week after Azerbaijani Armed Forces reportedly crossed the border with Armenia in the Syunik province and advanced around 3 kilometres by Sev Lake. Yerevan dubbed this action as an explicit provocation and an attempt to occupy Armenian territory, whereas Baku denied the accusations, stating that Azerbaijani border guards established a military control point at the heights around the lake without advancing into Armenian territories. A day later, another official statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan said that there is no reason for panic as border demarcation/delimitation process is a complicated process. Continue reading
Photo: Opening ceremony of accommodation for the Russian peace-keeping contingent in Karabakh; Russian Ministry of Defence
As part of the 10 November ceasefire agreement that ended last year’s 44-day war, a contingent of Russian soldiers was deployed to Karabakh as peacekeepers. However, the lack of a formally agreed mandate and perceptions of Russian overstepping has led to growing tensions between Baku and Moscow, writes Fuad Shahbazov in this op-ed for KarabakhSpace.eu.
The second Karabakh war ended with the signing of a Russia-brokered ceasefire agreement and the deployment of Russian peacekeeping forces with the aim of preventing further hostilities and ensuring stability in the region. However, the ceasefire arrangements between Azerbaijan–Armenia on one side and Russia–Turkey on the other has left more questions than answers. The fact that there is still no formally agreed mandate for the Russian forces operating on the ground causes outrage in Azerbaijan as local authorities loudly criticise Moscow for provocative actions. Continue reading
Turkish soldier greets an Azerbaijani colleague during recent military exercises between the two countries (photo TRT Istanbul)
The bloody six-week conflict erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia on September 27 in the Nagorno-Karabakh region resulted in significant territorial gains for Azerbaijani forces. It was no secret that since the early 2000s Azerbaijan had been steadily building up its armed forces. The defeat of the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, an unrecognized Armenian populated territory within Azerbaijan’s borders, revealed serious military-technical problems on the Armenian side, which triggered mass anti-government riots in Armenia itself. The recent Russia-brokered ceasefire agreement between Baku and Yerevan halted the ongoing bloodshed and enabled the deployment of Russian peacekeepers in the conflict zone. It also marked a significant shift in regional geopolitics. Continue reading
Photo by Alexander Shcherbak/TASS via Getty Images
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made a four-day trip to the Gulf in early March, stopping in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of a broader effort to boost Moscow’s ties with the region. Although the Gulf monarchies are traditionally considered some of the U.S’s closest allies, relations between Russia and the Gulf have improved in recent years and there is potential for further cooperation going forward.
Russia’s interests in the Gulf are multifaceted, but key areas include energy, military affairs (especially arms sales), and investment, as well as regional conflicts, most prominently Syria. During his official meetings, Foreign Minister Lavrov focused on economic cooperation, in particular Gulf investment in Russia, and negotiations over further coordination on Syria. Russian-Gulf commercial ties are especially relevant at the moment as Moscow is set to host several events next month, including the fifth ministerial session of the Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum, Arabia-EXPO 2019, and a meeting of the Russian-Arab Business Council. Part of Lavrov’s mission was to invite the Gulf countries to attend, and he no doubts made a major effort to persuade them to send high-level delegations. As yet, however, the Gulf monarchies have not shown a willingness to take part. Continue reading