Is the war in Ukraine weakening the Russian zone of influence?

8:54 a.m., September 18, 2022

The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is making a trip this weekend to Armenia, a country which nevertheless maintains privileged relations with Moscow.

In diplomacy, my enemy’s friend is not necessarily my enemy. As proof, this trip that Nancy Pelosi must make this weekend in Armenia, which nevertheless maintains privileged relations with Moscow. The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives gave her support to President Nikol Pashinyan there as fighting with Azerbaijan earlier this week in the Nagorno-Karabakh region left at least 135 Armenian soldiers dead and 71 Azerbaijanis, the heaviest toll since the war in 2020 between these two Caucasian countries. Since Thursday, a fragile ceasefire has been in effect.

If the Democrat’s visit may be a matter of electoral opportunism – the Armenian vote will be important in the American mid-term elections on November 8 – it is also a stone laid in the garden of the Kremlin. The timing – the Russian military debacle in the Ukrainian region of Kharkiv – probably owes nothing to chance.

Military stripping

In theory, in this Caucasus formerly integrated into the USSR and which Moscow still considers its area of ​​influence, Russia plays the police, in particular via the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). It was she who had negotiated the truce between the two belligerents in 2020 and then deployed a peacekeeping force of 2,000 men. However, on Tuesday, it could do nothing to prevent the offensive from Baku, supported by its Turkish ally and encouraged by the caution of an EU that has become dependent on Azerbaijani gas. Worse, for Vladimir Putin, Russian border guards posted in Armenia would have themselves been hit by Azerbaijani artillery.

Read also – War in Ukraine: “Russia no longer has the strength to carry out a major offensive”

Is this new bloody episode a sign that Russia would lose control of its steps, and that Pelosi would act on this setback by trampling its flowerbeds? By launching its “special operation” against kyiv, Russia has certainly weakened itself, undermining its role as guarantor of regional stability. It thus had to withdraw from Armenia 800 of its soldiers to redeploy them on the Ukrainian front. This Russian military stripping would be visible elsewhere since, according to Radio Free Europe, 1,500 men out of the 7,000 based in Tajikistan have also been repatriated to fight in Ukraine. In a disturbing coincidence, the border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan has flared up again this week. The clashes left at least 24 people dead and thousands displaced on the Kyrgyz side.

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