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Some analysts try to predict possible developments in Nagorny Karabakh, saying that others, in addition to Armenia and Azerbaijan, will get involved.

"The inviolability of borders and territorial integrity, the fundamental principles of international law, have been violated twice, first by Americans (in Kosovo) and then by Russians (in Abkhazia and South Ossetia)... The events of the past three months have changed the region's political map. Now, no one should be surprised if the world's great powers use force routinely. This can put to rest the once inviolable principle according to which the conflict can be settled only with the agreement of both sides, Armenia and Azerbaijan. This principle can now be amended to include the phrase, 'with the support by a third party.' And this 'third party' will see itself as the ultimate judge." (Azatamtutyun, October 22)

But analysts see a silver lining in that cloud. They say that the conflicting parties have room to maneuver as long as Russia and the U.S. fight over Karabakh.

"The battle over Karabakh is being waged not by Armenia and Azerbaijan, but by the U.S. and Russia, each of whom wants to force its settlement model on the sides. This gives Armenia and Azerbaijan room to maneuver, because nothing is being coordinated in the OSCE Minsk Group, where the two key members torpedo the rival's initiatives. So, nothing so far threatens Armenian-Russian strategic cooperation." (Hayots Ashkhar, October 23)

According to the local media, any settlement model implies the loss of Moscow's influence in the South Caucasus.

"Since the early stages of confrontation, Russia has not wanted the problem to be solved. After all, the Karabakh conflict has been the most effective method of keeping Armenia and Azerbaijan at bay for 20 years, and so it would be naive to think that Russia will abandon this ace in the hole now." (Azatamtutyun, October 24)


Georgian journalists write that Russia will never admit that its problems were created by men who sit in the Kremlin.

"Russia, which has serious political problems in the North Caucasus and is trying to deal with an economic crisis at home, is searching for scapegoats. But it cannot place the blame on the incompetent chekisti sitting in the Kremlin. So who is the enemy of Mother Russia? Of course, it is Georgia. Moscow's crude actions will set all Caucasian nations against it without our assistance... According to the Izvestia daily, Georgian authorities are selling air defense systems to Ingushetia. Guys, if we had enough air defense systems, your aircraft would not have flown so freely over our territory. Everyone knows that your 'workers' and peasants' army' sells arms even to its enemies. The luxury cottages in Rublyovka cost a lot, so they sell arms to pay for their construction." (Gruzia Online, October 27)


Local analysts are discussing Dmitry Medvedev's proposal to hold a meeting of the presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia in November to discuss the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. Observers think that Russia may deploy its peacekeeping forces in Nagorny Karabakh to retain control over the region.

"Russia may propose freeing the occupied area around Karabakh and sending its peacekeepers there. The discussion on the region's status will be postponed. In this case, the conflict will be frozen. But the West will not want to lose its initiative and will insist on the deployment of international forces in the region... After the events in South Ossetia, Russia's international reputation was damaged, and Moscow wants to regain it. To do this, Moscow will try to be a peacemaker in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. Russia will propose a variant that will allow it to keep control over the region. If Azerbaijan rejects the offer, Russia will say: "We offered a way to settle the conflict, but the parties failed to reach agreement." ("Zerkalo," October 24)

"Russia's Karabakh initiative is a PR campaign, an attempt to demonstrate to the world its peacekeeping intentions, but not to contribute to the settlement of the conflict. Russia is trying to show its supremacy over European mediators." (1News.az, October 27)


Speaking of intergovernmental relations within the CIS during the financial crisis, analysts unanimously give Russia the role of "the first among the equal." They believe that Astana could help Moscow support its CIS partners during the crisis. "Russia and to some extent Kazakhstan could act as crisis managers for the CIS, helping their partners survive the crisis and take advantage of the situation to the benefit of their own businessmen. Moscow and Astana could help Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan pay their debt in exchange for economic preferences and shares in industrial facilities, including participation in the energy projects that will define energy set-up in Central Asia." ("Delovaya Nedelya," October 24)

Observers think that during the financial crisis, the CIS has a chance not only to retain its structure, but also to strengthen its position. "It is the moment of truth for the CIS, which will show if its politicians can leave political courtesy behind and move to real economic and financial actions that will unite the Commonwealth. Much will depend on the CIS member-states' leaders. If they fail to unite at a time of trial, then centrifugal tendencies in the region will definitely be back after the situation on the global financial markets is back to normal." ("Delovaya Nedelya," October 24)


Experts believe that Tajikistan's "multi-vector" policy irritates Russia. "In 2007, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov announced the multi-vector policy in energy, which boils down to exports of energy resources to any foreign countries on mutually beneficial terms. Turkmenistan has been actively conducting talks with potential buyers of oil and gas and set hydrocarbon prices "with regard to the world tendencies." But the export of Turkmen hydrocarbon resources is restricted by Gazprom pipes built in Soviet times, which transport gas to Russia through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

Moscow is doing its best to retain its influence on Ashkhabad and opposes any involvement of Turkmenistan in alternative energy projects. The Kremlin is irritated by the Caspian pipeline project backed by the U.S. and EU, and the prospect of a pipeline construction to China which will supply it with 30 billion cubic meters of the Turkmen gas annually... Political changes in a country involved in the international pipeline network inevitable affect supplies. The recent war in South Ossetia affected the oil supplies through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, and in political disputes with Ukraine, Russia often plays the energy card." (Gundogar.org, October 20)

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