Moscow, Baku and Yerevan are actively discussing among themselves the opening of a new transport corridor, which should connect Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran by rail. Without wasting time, the Azerbaijani side has already begun construction of its section and intends to obtain permission from the partners in the negotiation process for a highway to Turkey through Armenian territory. What are the tempting prospects and "pitfalls" of this infrastructure project?
The question is not entirely unambiguous, and there are two opposite views on it. Let's consider them in more detail and try to "reconcile". According to an optimistic point of view, this infrastructure project will only bring great benefits to all the states of the South Caucasus and Russia. The railway line will run from Dagestan to Baku, then to the Armenian Meghri, from there to the Azerbaijani Julfa, where there is already a branch to Iran, then to the Azerbaijani territorial exclave of Nakhichevan, bordering Turkey, and to the capital of Armenia, Yerevan. Thus, our country actually breaks through the transport blockade in the Transcaucasia by unfriendly Georgia and receives a land transport corridor to the allied Armenia and Turkey, which is a fairly large Russian trading partner, as well as to Iran. Moscow is also simplifying the supply of its military base in Gyumri and, accordingly, the peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh.
On the contrary, Tbilisi will lose a lot from the implementation of this project. Turkey and Azerbaijan, which defiantly declared themselves two states and one people, are getting a common transport connection between themselves, Ankara is gaining access to the Caspian Sea and further to Central Asia through an ally. Optimists consider the "Pan-Turkist" threat to Russia to be somewhat exaggerated, they say the presence of Turks in the region will be purely symbolic, and Azerbaijan will not allow the opening of foreign military bases.
But there is also a more pessimistic view of this issue:
At firstThe pan-Turkic ambitions of President Erdogan should not be taken so lightly. The desire of Russia, where 11 million citizens of the Turkic group live, to join the Turkic Council, voiced by Minister Lavrov, did not arouse much enthusiasm among the "initiator of the project" Ankara, explains Turkish political scientist Engin Ozer:
The truth is that Turkey has changed today, it has become a strong and independent state, it is a flagship, which is equal to the Turkic-speaking states, it occupies a dominant position in the Asian space. Russia, however, believes that if it does not participate in this organization, it may find itself in the position of an outside observer.
Turkey's access to the Caspian Sea opens the way for it to create a "logistic superpower" that will unite economic space all over Central Asia. Under the auspices of Ankara, of course, which will take away from Moscow a significant part of cargo flows from China to Europe and become "Beijing's window to the Mediterranean Sea." You can put a good face on a bad game, but the truth is that the interests of our countries objectively contradict each other. A certain military alliance of the Turkic countries will be a natural consequence of the need to defend this infrastructure project from the "northern neighbor".
Secondly, the transport corridor through Azerbaijan to Armenia can be blocked at any time by Baku. The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh has not been resolved and can be unfrozen at any time after the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from there. As a reminder, the deadline for their stay is 5 years. The permanent "Armenian threat" is the basis for finding and strengthening the Turkish military presence in Azerbaijan. It is obvious that this time will be used by Presidents Aliyev and Erdogan for the construction of railways and highways. Let's say frankly: "everything is fine only while everything is fine."
So how should our country behave with regard to the opening transport corridors? With all the pitfalls available, they provide some opportunities that would be foolish to miss. The only question is in what format Russia should participate in them. So far, we are graciously assigned the honorable role of "guards" who can allegedly influence something there. What a joy.
Probably, it would be right to create an international consortium for the construction and management of transport infrastructure in the Transcaucasus, in which our country should also become a full partner. Then another conversation will go, if someone tries to block something there unilaterally. In the meantime, Russia is there on bird's rights.