The balance of power in the South Caucasus: before and after the Second Karabakh War
Before the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, the initial positions of the states of the South Caucasus differed from those currently available. After Nikol Pashinyan came to power, Armenia was focused on strengthening cooperation with the countries of Europe and the United States, despite its membership in the CSTO and the status of a "strategic partner of Russia". Georgia designated itself as a NATO outpost. Azerbaijan, maneuvering between Moscow and Ankara, was more inclined towards an alliance with Turkey, which, under certain circumstances, acted as a conductor of Washington's interests in the region.
Moscow and Tehran behaved passively and often haphazardly, objectively creating conditions for strengthening Ankara's influence. In turn, the European Union is puzzled by the issues of promoting democracy.
After the war, the balance of power in the region began to change rapidly as did the range of influence on the course of events. A unique situation has been created when the conflicting Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as Turkey and Iran, are interested in the Russian military and political presence in the region.
Ankara, together with Baku, took the initiative to create a 3+3 regional security format in Transcaucasia, that excludes the participation of the United States and the EU. Georgia initially stated that it was ready to consider options for its participation in this geopolitical project. But then, under pressure from the United States, Georgia decided to abandon it because of the presence of Russia and its attitude to the recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the absence of the EU and the United States.
Instead, it proposed her 3+2 scheme, excluding Russia. There is another option: "1+6" - USA + Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria, that supposedly corresponds more to Georgia's views of itself as a European and pro-Western country. Tbilisi, of course, understands that in this way they reject the initiative not of Russia, but of Turkey and Azerbaijan, which, through unblocking communication corridors in the region, put specific global economic projects in the foreground. If they are implemented, the relations of regional players to Tbilisi will inevitably be adjusted to take into account the specifics of the new geopolitical alignment.
The West will not cover Georgia's rear, and the new South will press. In Moscow and Ankara, they do not burn bridges, while Tbilisi itself does not say much in this direction.
Georgia's detachment from the 3+3 format will not benefit Tbilisi in the long term. Commitments to the United States and the EU countries contribute to moving away from intraregional issues, which further increases Georgia's dependence on Western countries.
In general, the balance of power in the South Caucasus is gradually changing. The factor of the presence of Russian peacekeeping forces makes it possible to reduce the macro-impact of geopolitical turbulence in the Greater Middle East.