17 November 2018

Russia is so afraid of instability on its borders - Interview

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12 Punto 14 Punto 16 Punto 18 Punto present the interview with Paul Goble, US special adviser on Soviet nationality issues and Baltic affairs to Secretary of State James Baker.

- Will the action of US, France and UK influence the policy of Russia to Near East?

- Nothing the West has done so far will change the direction of Moscow’s policies in the Middle East. It will only become more sophisticated using Russian troops as human shields to prevent the US from attacking key institutions of the Asad government. Over time, however, Moscow faces real problems in being linked with Iran and the problems that will cause it with the Saudis and the Israelis. But I don’t think Putin sees any reason now at home or abroad to change course.

- Will Russia stop its aggressive policy in Near East and other directions?

Putin’s policy has been the old one of pressing forward until he meets resistance and then quieting down and suggesting that he will be reasonable if the West accepts what he wants up to then. That tactic works and he will continue to employ it. As hard as the sanctions have hit the Russian economy, they have not had much of an impact on Russia’s political elite and in my view are not likely to.

- How does America's striking Syria affect Iran's policy with the region?

-Undoubtedly, Tehran now wonders whether the Trump Administration may be willing to launch an attack against Iran. Whether that is a deterrent for a regime like that of the ayatollahs, however, is difficult to say. My own guess is that Iran will be quite happy to work with Russia in Syria in order to have a cover for what it does. Trump isn’t going to want to cross Putin anymore on Iran than he does on Syria.

- Can US and Israel formulate a joint plan to stop the threat from Iran?

-In principle, yes; in practice, unlikely. The problem is size and attention span. Israel will always be focused on opposing the ayatollahs, but the Americans have a short attention span and are easily diverted. Only if Israel is able to convince Washington that it faces an existential threat will Washington do more than it has.

- In the presidency of Bush, John Bolton told that Azerbaijan should be protected from the aggressive policy of Russia? Now John is going to be national security advisor of Trump. Can this influence America’s policy of Azerbaijan?

- I very much hope Mr. Bolton remembers what he says and acts on it. It is critically important that Azerbaijan remain an independent player in the Caucasus region and not become subordinate to Moscow.

- Ilham Aliyev reelected as the President of Azerbaijan. The situation in Azerbaijan is complicated by the current situation in Russia and in Iran. Will Azerbaijan be able to maintain stability after that?

Russia is currently so afraid of instability on its borders that it probably won’t stir up trouble in Azerbaijan despite having done so in the past. Moscow’s policy in the south Caucasus remains unchanged: using Georgia as the way and Armenia as the tool to get at Azerbaijan which is the prize. Right now my guess is that Moscow will be suggesting a kind of deal in which the Russians will press for a Karabakh settlement and move away from Armenia. That may seem improbable, but the Putin regime is likely to try some such stratagem in the hopes of getting Baku to line up with Moscow. There isn’t much else Russia can offer Azerbaijan.

2018.04.17 / 15:52
Rafiga Alisafa
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