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The Azerbaijani-Russian action plan is mutually beneficial

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12 Punto 14 Punto 16 Punto 18 Punto presents the article "The Azerbaijani-Russian action plan is mutually beneficial" by Andrew Korybko.

Azerbaijani and Russian Deputy Prime Ministers Shahin Mustafayev and Alexei Overchuk agreed last week to implement an action plan for improving bilateral relations with a particular emphasis on trade and connectivity. This shared vision is mutually beneficial and will also strengthen stability in the South Caucasus. Relations between the two neighbouring nations have been rapidly intensifying since the Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement last November ended the last Azerbaijani-Armenian War. It's therefore worthwhile to review the foundations of their emerging strategic partnership and forecast is future evolution.

Azerbaijan and Russia are neighbours with very deep people-to-people and historical ties. Pragmatic ties between them are therefore a must since no other option is realistically possible. Anything other than close relations would be mutually disadvantageous and create space for third parties to meddle in their ties for divide-and-rule purposes. Despite some disagreements in the past, these countries' leaders have consistently remained focused on improving their relations for the betterment of their people and the broader region that they inhabit. Their commitment to this vision is responsible for the contemporary closeness of their ties.

It also lays the basis for their economic and political cooperation too. It's only natural that they'd seek to increase bilateral trade, which has continued to grow in recent years. Their economies are commercially compatible with one another, which facilitates further expansion in this respect. On the political level, Azerbaijan and Russia share the same regional outlook: peace, stability, and development. To this end, they've also increased their military cooperation, specifically in the arms trade. This testifies to how much they trust one another since Russia wouldn't sell weapons to Azerbaijan if it thought they'd be misused for aggression.

Last November's Russian-brokered ceasefire also resulted in the deployment of Russian peacekeepers to parts of Karabakh. Azerbaijan would never have allowed this to happen had its leadership not sincerely trusted Russia's peaceful intentions. Once again, it can't be emphasized enough just how much their prior economic, political, and military (arms trade) closeness contributed to this outcome, all of which is directly related to the shared vision of their leaders. Many observers never predicted that such a scenario would ever come to pass, but in hindsight, it all makes sense when considering the increasingly strategic nature of their ties.

On that topic, Azerbaijan and Russia have overlapping grand strategic visions. President Aliyev unveiled his proposal for a six-nation regional integration platform after the end of the latest war while President Putin has been discussing Russia's Greater Eurasian Partnership for several years already. Each one complements the other, without which neither is achievable. In other words, Azerbaijan and Russia need one another in order to guarantee the future prosperity of their people and ensure regional stability. The Zangezur Corridor that was enshrined in November's Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement in all but name is the perfect case in point.

This crucial provision mandates the unblocking of all economic and transport links in the region, with a specific focus placed on Armenia guaranteeing the safety of transport links between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic. The successful implementation of this project will enable Russia to indirectly boost its trade with Iran and Turkey, thereby strengthening its Greater Eurasian Partnership. Azerbaijan and Armenia, meanwhile, will profit from facilitating this. Altogether, the six nations of the South Caucasus region will become more closely tied together as a result.

With all of this in mind, Azerbaijani-Russian relations are arguably among the most strategic in the post-Soviet space. They share the same grand strategic vision of advancing Eurasian integration, which is among the top trends of the 21st century. These two countries indisputably need one another and cannot fulfil their promises to their people without first ensuring that bilateral ties remain excellent. The recently agreed action plan between their Deputy Prime Ministers will therefore go a long way towards achieving this, which is why it should be applauded by the larger region that also stands to benefit from its successful implementation.

2021.05.03 / 15:39
Andrew Korybko
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