ONE MAN’S OPINION - The Russian invasion of Ukraine was enough to knock the world order off balance, now throw in Azerbaijan’s armed move against the Armenian enclave within its borders and Hamas’ unexpected, well-orchestrated attack on Israel, and suddenly things resemble the chaos that started World War 1.
The principal region of conflict forms a triangle, with Ukraine being the northernmost point. Israel and Armenia form the southern base if you were to draw a line connecting the two nations.
And the triangle can easily expand along its southern base depending on who comes to whose assistance. Other international relationships can fracture beyond the three points.
Azerbaijan has already taken full control of Nagorno-Karabakh. That move against the enclave, internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, was not technically an invasion of a sovereign nation. But it does – and should – strike fear throughout Armenia, a landlocked country mostly surrounded by both active and potential enemies.
Armenia is a member of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), but the alliance lacks commitment by Russia. Armenia has been longing to align itself with the West, particularly the EU. Just ask Ukraine what Russia thinks of that. Russia also has good relations with Baku despite Azerbaijan’s absence from CSTO.
It would not surprise me if Putin gave the Azerbaijanis tacit approval to seize full control of Nagorno-Karabakh. It would be the first step in eliminating Armenia’s sovereign status. Just as Hitler and Stalin agreed to divide Poland in 1939, Moscow and Baku could agree to do the same with Armenia. They could get away with it because nations sympathetic to Armenia lack physical access to the region. No HIMARS or Leopards would be forthcoming. UN Security Council meetings would be fruitless, as they are with the war in Ukraine.
What would Russia get out of shared control of Armenia?
A land bridge to its ally, Iran: allowing easy transport of weapons between the two; moving resources to improve Iranian naval bases to service the Russian Navy, threatening the flank of the US and its allies in the Persian Gulf, and significantly increasing its access to the Indian Ocean and West Africa.
The United States would be extremely stretched to adequately support Ukraine, Taiwan and the Persian Gulf.
Russia has also been courting Hamas. Some experts believe Russia had a hand in the planning of Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel, if not directly, then through Iran.
By creating multiple hot spots, Russia will cause the already strained logistics supporting Ukraine to deteriorate and give the GOP’s far right coalition more ammunition to substantially cut vital aid.
India could counter the impact by taking a firm position against Russia. It is disgraceful that the world’s largest democracy tolerates Russia’s actions. Yes, India relies heavily on Russia for weapons systems and cheap oil. However, India should embark on weaning itself from Russian sources. It will take a long time, but the world is in for a long-term, global conflict in any event.
(Paul Hatfield is a board member and past president of the Valley Village Residents Association; former Treasurer and board member of Neighborhood Council Valley Village and an Active CPA and Accounting Consultant. )