What role is Russia playing in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?

Two centuries ago, Russian czars proudly proclaimed that they “liberated” Armenians from the rule of Ottoman Turkey and Iran.

Right after World War II, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin planned to invade and annex eastern Turkey to “expand” Soviet Armenia and get access to the Mediterranean.

Post-Communist Russia seems to be following the same pattern of “protecting” Armenians from their neighbours – Turkic-speaking ex-Soviet Azerbaijan and its closest ally, Turkey.

And when the festering, decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous breakaway region of Azerbaijan dominated by ethnic Armenians since the early 1990s, reopened in late September, it was Russia that stepped in as a peacemaker.

Armenian leaders still think that their best hopes lie with Moscow.

“In recent days, Russia could play its role of Armenia’s strategic ally … at the highest level,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in televised remarks on October 14.

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