According to Putin’s order, the Russian government will sign an agreement with Armenia upon completion of the negotiations. The Russian military base is deployed in the Armenian city of Gyumri in line with the bilateral agreement signed between Moscow and Yerevan in 1995. The Protocol on the Russian military based stationed in Armenia envisages, in particular, extension of the term of its disposition from 25 to 49 years with further automatic prolongation for 5-year- periods. The base is intended to serve for peace-keeping mission and potential aggression control in cooperation with Armenia’s Armed Forces.
The decision on development of military-technical relations came as natural follow-up of the closure of Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan. Russia desperately needs a reliable and possibly strong ally in South Caucasus in case of potential offensive in the region, be it war against Iran or attack on Nagorno Karabakh. In either case Russia will have to intervene, not because of liking for Armenia but the urge to maintain in presence in South Caucasus at any cost.
It is also worth noting that the highway communication between Russia and Georgia is already restored, and Tbilisi is likely to further attempt to expand its contacts with Moscow. The two will not recognize each other yet, but Ivanishvili’s government seems to be quite optimistic. Actually, if it were not for Abkhazia and South Ossetia, things would go smoother perhaps, but Georgia will have to be settling Saakashvili’s reckless schemes for quite a while.
Expansion of the military cooperation with Armenia came as unpleasant surprise for Baku, despite the efforts of the latter to pretend it has nothing to do with this. In response, Azerbaijan is going to develop cooperation with Israel; this, however, is a difficult task in view of the deteriorated relations between Turkey and Israel and Iran’s threat to bomb any country that provides its territory as a springboard for jets to attack the Islamic Republic. In addition, the religious factor should also be taken into account; Shia Azerbaijan cannot possible make friends with Israel, nor even become its strategic ally.
However, these are Ilham Aliyev’s “statehood games”; nobody cares for them except himself, in fact. There was nothing special in Vladimir Putin’s order but the fact that it was voiced ahead of the presidential vote in Armenia is far more important here. Of course, Russia is not going to interfere into the process of elections anyway; it has lots of its own problems to settle. However, both Moscow and Washington are content with the current president. Most likely, prior to the beginning of the election campaign the U.S. will issue a statement indirectly voicing its support to Serzh Sargsyan.
Also, it is worth mentioning that the Christian countries of the region may find themselves in a more favourable situation in view of the wave of anti-Islamic moods worldwide. In fact, Armenia and Georgia may get some preferences from all interested parties which are fed up with burnt vehicles, demographic boom and expansion of Islamic fundamentalism.