By Paul Goble
Since Hitler dismembered Czechoslovakia and created the protectorates of Bohemia and Morava, most people have not wanted to use the term even when it obviously applies as now in Karabakh where Putin has established a Russian protectorate in all but name, Aleksey Belov says.
“From now on,” the Russian commentator writes, “a Russian protectorate has been established de facto,” even if people don’t want to use the term because of its associations with Hitler’s machinations. “But one shouldn’t fear words,” especially when particular ones reflect “the essence of what has happened” (alternatio.org/articles/articles/item/85988-protektorat-artsah).
Russia had protectorates in the past in Poland, Georgia and the Kazakh khanate; and “even a passing glance at recent events does not leave any doubts that history is in essence repeating itself, only instead of Greater Persia, we are dealing with its remnant in the shape of Azerbaijan.” In fact, Moscow obtained as much now as it did in 2008 against Georgia.
Russian forces have returned to the area and not just for five years, the term of the agreement, but quite likely forever because no one seriously believes that the conflicts between Armenians and Azerbaijanis will miraculously be solved in the next 60 months. Only an outside power can keep things under control.
According to Belov, “the dislocation of Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh and of Russian border guards along and what is the most important thing at the entrance and exits of the Lachin and Nakhichivan corridors changes in a cardinal way the entire arrangement of forces in the region.”
First of all, the Turks have been kept at arms’ length. They are in Azerbaijan but not in the disputed territory. Second, the West, “which has been dreaming of expelling from there the Russians has been forced to obvserve how Russia not only isn’t leaving but is still more strengthening its position there.
And third, while Baku is celebrating its victory – and it did win one over Armenia, its military actions “only made possible the return of Russia to this most important region and under certain conditions the return of this region to Russia.” That is hardly the outcome the Azerbaijanis thought they were going to obtain.
“As for those residents of Artsakh and those Armenians who now in Yerevan and other cities of Armenia who view the agreements signed as nothing other than a capitulation,” Belov says, they should not be so emotional or so quick in their assessment of what has happened because in reality, things are pointing in a different direction.
What most Armenians in Artsakh have accepted and what many Armenians in Armenia do or will as well is that “Armenia can survive only in a close union with Russia … Stepanakert de facto has already gone along this path. It is time for Yerevan to take a strategic decision” of the same kind.
Having established a Russian protectorate in Artsakh, Belov concludes, will only help them to reach that conclusion.