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Turkey-Russia Conflict Divides South Caucasus

A soldier with the breakaway region of Nagorno Karabakh enters a fortified bunker on the frontline with Azerbaijan near the town of Agdam in August 2012. The standoff between Russia and Turkey could strain allegiances and political relations with countries in the South Caucasus. (Photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)

Sandwiched between Turkey and Russia, and for centuries a battleground for the erstwhile empires, the South Caucasus is bracing for fallout from the geopolitical furor sparked by the Turkish downing of a Russian fighter jet. 
 
Memories of multiple Ottoman-Tsarist wars that ravaged the South Caucasus from the 17th to the 20th centuries still exert influence over public opinion in the region. But modern-day issues wield the most influence in shaping loyalties, splitting the region into pro-Turkey and pro-Russia camps. The three states in the region – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – are coming under growing pressure to choose sides following Turkey’s November 24 shoot-down of the Su-24 fighter.
 
Armenia, Russia’s main, if only, committed ally in the South Caucasus, has been quick in unequivocally backing the Kremlin. With no diplomatic ties with Turkey to worry about, Yerevan essentially has echoed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “stab-in-the-back” line about Turkey’s conduct.
 

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Giorgi Lomsadze is a freelance journalist based in Tbilisi. He is a frequent contributor to EurasiaNet.org's Tamada Tales blog.

Turkey-Russia Conflict Divides South Caucasus

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