Wuxiaworld > Empire of the Ring > 722 A New Wind Blowing in the Caucasus 2

722 A New Wind Blowing in the Caucasus 2

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan was due to the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian autonomous province within Azerbaijan's territory since the Soviet Union disbanded in 1991.
The large-populated Armenians caused a conflict as they rejected the Azerbaijani government and advocated the autonomous republic.
So, many Azerbaijanis living in Nagorno-Karabakh were forced to leave their homeland, and the Azerbaijani government ended up fighting a fierce war for it—about two years before a cease-fire.
And there had been countless small and big battles ever since.
Although the area had recently been annexed to Azerbaijan, there were still many Armenians living there, so the cause of conflict had always remained.
There was another reason why the conflict existed.
It was because Armenia occupied some areas accessible by Nagorno-Karabakh, isolated like an island, and had yet to return them to the Azerbaijani government.
Nakhchivan was also in a similar situation. It was a territory of Azerbaijan near the border with Armenia and Iran.
Because of that reason, the residents had to use airplanes, railways, or roads along the Iranian border to travel to and from the mainland.
The reason why President Aliyev was going to invade Armenia was to secure a passage connecting the Nakhchivan and the mainland.
The reason why the two countries' territory issue still existed was because the territories of the two countries were randomly divided during the Soviet era.
This was the result of the policy of recognizing a large number of people among different ethnic groups living in the same area.
Had it not been the collapse of the Soviet Union, this structure would have been maintained and no ethnic conflict would have occurred.
But since the world changed and the independence of the Commonwealth countries, such territorial plots had been a source of conflict.
Until now, major powers had made efforts to mediate between the two countries' ethnic disputes, but no one had come up with a proper solution and only instigated emotions from both sides.
Russia was maintaining a strategic partnership with Armenia to increase its influence in the Caucasus region.
Georgia and Azerbaijan were holding Armenia down in response to the pro-Western foreign policy.
Due to this, Armenia's reliance on Russia was great that the Russian trade volume accounted for 43 percent of Armenia's trade volume.
For Armenia, isolated in the Caucasus, Russia was the only ally.
In other words, if Putin asked, Armenia would have no choice but to comply.
Youngho brought Russia into play to make full use of Armenia's weaknesses.
In any case, it was all thanks to Aliyev that the two countries' problems were able to develop rapidly.
Would the opportunity have come so quickly if he had not planned to invade Armenia?
If the two countries signed a peace treaty, Armenia could also get out of isolation, and Azerbaijan would not have to spend an excessive defense budget.

It was nonsense for a tiny country to spend 4.5 billion dollars a year on defense.
If the huge amount of defense spending was spent on economic development, Azerbaijan could soon join the ranks of advanced countries.
The level of awareness of Baku's citizens, in Youngho's opinion, was already surpassing that of middle-power countries.
It was a problem, however, because the level of politicians and bureaucrats lagged behind.
Baku was like the final destination of the Silk Road and was a place where all cultural objects were collected, so it also had superior culture.
There remained pride that it had been a commercial city of the world for more than a thousand years.
Either way, if a peace treaty was signed, the Aliyev government, which had enjoyed much fun due to the conflict with Armenia, would lose its power.
That meant the fall of the Aliyev regime.
Fatima, who had revisited Baku, was again pushing ahead day and night.
This time, she met religious leaders, by visiting the Orthodox Church and the mosque.
Azerbaijan had an overwhelming number of Muslims, but it advocated secularism, so other religious activities were also possible.
Muslim leaders were very pleased with the queen's visit.
The fact that the queen visited the mosque alone was tantamount to opening a door for religious reconciliation.
Fatima met with religious leaders and appealed to them to find ways to live in peace without antagonizing Armenia.
Although secular, the voices of religious leaders were as powerful as the president in Azerbaijan, where 93 percent of the people were Muslims.
Fatima visited not only religious facilities but also universities and met with professors to stress how important peace with Armenia was for Azerbaijan's future.
This was because they could persuade students, and persuading students naturally would persuade their parents.
Because of these efforts, Azerbaijan's public opinion gradually began to lean toward peace rather than war.
There was a growing consensus that Armenia was a victim of a dark history just like Azerbaijan.
Such an atmosphere was also felt in Armenia.
As a mood was being created to resolve the bilateral relationship peacefully, a public opinion was also created in Armenia to cut off ethnic antagonism and live in peace.
Russia's strong request also played a big part in why such an atmosphere could have been formed.
Putin was very active in encouraging such a mood recognizing the reality that the stability of the Caucasus was in Russia's interest.
On the other hand, it was also a golden opportunity to increase Russia's influence in the Caucasus region.
He calculated to reduce U.S. influence through improved relations with Georgia and Azerbaijan.
***
When Michael, the director of the U.S. CIA visited Kazakhstan, the atmosphere of peace in the Caucasus was in full swing.
"Duke. How can you leave the U.S. out of this? How much effort has our government put into the Caucasus region so far?"
The U.S. was in considerable urgency as the peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan was under the leadership of the Kazakh royal family and Russia.
If this continued, the U.S. influence in the Caucasus was likely to hit rock bottom.
"Why do we have to go all the way to the U.S. when Russia, the original source of the problem, is willing to solve it? A peace treaty doesn't mean Georgia or Armenia will neglect the United States. As they say, too many cooks spoil the broth."
"Our intelligence service is in a very awkward position. I'm getting a lot of pressure from the administration. If Russia takes the initiative and solves this, the United States will be mocked by the world."
The look on Michael's face was not just a bluff.
The U.S. was worried that the coordination of the peace treaty would increase Russia's influence in the Caucasus.
Armenian immigrants who moved the U.S. government were pressuring the U.S. government that there would be no peace treaty led by Russia.
They were afraid that Russia might exert its influence on Armenia later for this.
The same was true for the United States. The U.S. had provided billions of dollars in loans to Armenia under the rise of Armenian politicians, and all such efforts would go down the drain.
"We can't let the position of American politicians spoil this. Caucasian countries will solve the problem on their own."
Michael flew in a hurry to persuade Youngho but when Youngho came out so determined, he looked disappointed.
However, he was not in a position to protest, so his face was stiffened.
So, Youngho came up with a way to save Michael's face without compromising his pride.
"I will instead discuss with Putin so that the United States can participate as an observer."
"An observer doesn't have a say. We'd rather not participate than be the best man."
"Our kingdom and Russia are only going to observe as well. I don't want to be in-between the two countries. They'll eventually blame it on us when things get messed up."
No matter how good you were at this kind of work, you would be criticized later.
This was because there was no negotiation that satisfied everyone.
"Hmm. That arrangement should convince our Congress and the administration."
In the end, the U.S. intention to intervene was due to Russia.
"I don't know what people who are so interested in the Caucasus have done so far. Didn't you encourage Armenia in the end so that it would only be eager to prepare for war?"
The provision of billions of dollars in loans to Armenia enabled Armenia to be armed.
That was not it.
The CIA had hired Youngho and his friends to be in charge of military training of the Armenian militia in Nagorno-Karabakh as well as supplying military supplies.
"Past is past. We just need to think about what's going to happen."
It was a convenient way of thinking, but since Youngho also took part in it, he did not say anymore.
"Chief, please refrain from further intervention. I'm sure you know better than anyone else that the well-being of the Caucasus is directly related to the future of Kazakhstan."
"Oh, you sound like you're going to blame the U.S. if things go wrong."
"You know that public opinion manipulation here is a piece of cake, right?"
Youngho jokingly warned Michael.
It was because the involvement of the U.S. could make Armenia ask for unreasonable demands trusting the U.S.
Although it was afraid of Russia, it was possible for Armenia to turn a deaf ear to Russian advice as Armenian Americans were actively supporting the country.
Then all the efforts that had been made would go to waste.
That was why Youngho was so serious about the U.S. getting involved.
"Some people in our administration are worried that you're getting too close to Russia these days. Have you really turned back on us?"
"How close can a democratic country be to a socialist country? it's all about political acts between two neighboring countries."
Although Kazakhstan seemed to be on a honeymoon with Russia, Russia was the second most dangerous country after China.
Youngho was only watching Russia closely to prevent any future threat.
"I'm glad to hear that but I can't help paying attention to the Russian influence. The U.S. is looking forward to peace in the Caucasus. We want oil in the Caspian Sea to stabilize global oil prices."
Youngho pondered for a long time about what Michael had just said.
It seemed the U.S. was coming out so aggressively because of the offshore oil field he found recently.
"Is it because of oil? You're afraid it'll flow over to Russia?"
"I can't help but worry. It's hard to believe that Russia has suddenly offered to help the Caucasus region."
It was Youngho who got Russia involved, but he did not say anymore.