Issue of Boundaries: Russian withdrawal from Syria regarded as likely prelude to regional border reshape

Some experts in Armenia consider that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unexpected ordered to withdraw the bulk of the country’s troops from Syria may mean that Moscow will be focused more on Ukraine and the Caucasus region where Armenia hosts a Russian base.

Political analysts say that the withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria could mean that Russia has agreed to Syria’s partition in one of two ways - federalization with the maintenance of the formal state or the creation of separate states.

The events in the region will develop depending on which option is chosen. If federalization in a single Syria fails and a revision of borders in the region starts, it will inevitably lead to revision of borders in the entire region, including in Turkey.

Turkey itself is being torn apart by terrorist attacks and Kurdish resistance. And the country’s government and opposition more and more often talks about intentions of the “international community” to divide Turkey, contributing to the creation of “Great Kurdistan”.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on March 15 visited Turkey. On that day it was Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was scheduled to visit Azerbaijan, but he had to postpone the visit for the second time due to another large terrorist attack.

During the visit, President Aliyev reaffirmed the commonality of the two countries’ positions on the Karabakh issue and the preservation of the territorial integrity of countries.

Territorial integrity, apparently, becomes the main starting point of the processes in the region. The Russian Foreign Ministry gave a negative opinion on March 15 to the bill criminalizing denial of the Armenian genocide, as it “involves changing the boundaries.” The bill was introduced in the Russian State Duma after Turkey shot down a Russian plane in November 2014 and relations between the two countries worsened.

Experts say that in spite of its worsening relations with Turkey Russia will be careful not to seek the alteration of the latter’s borders, as they are also determined by agreements with Russia, and their revision is fraught with Russia’s losing its influence in the Caucasus region.

Thus, a Turkey-Azerbaijan-Russia triangle guarding the current borders has emerged in the region. Armenia, in fact, has not till today recognized its border with Turkey, which is determined by a Russo-Turkish treaty.

Many experts took the withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria as a kind of retreat of Russia in the issue of revision of borders. And now many are waiting for the next step – the transfer of main hostilities to the territory of Turkey.