Russia's Strategy Toward Nagorno-Karabakh and Georgia (2008-2020)

Document Type : Original Article


Department of Political Science, Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg, Russia,


The South Caucasus region is experiencing crises that have continued for many years. Russia's war with Georgia in 2008 and the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region after the collapse of the Soviet Union (1991) changed the security order in the South Caucasus. Russia has interests as a global player in the South Caucasus region and Kremlin considers it's near abroad as its backyard and exclusive sphere of influence. This article uses a descriptive-analytical method as well as the theory of regional security of Barry Buzan to answer the question of what is Russia's security strategy towards the South Caucasus region. The main hypothesis emphasizes that Russia's strategy in the South Caucasus region is to prevent securitization of the region against its economic and political interests, as well as prevent the influence and presence of NATO, in the region. The results show that in tensions with Georgia, Russia seeks to prevent Western interference and urges them to recognize the separation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia. On the other hand, Russia's foreign policy in the face of the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis is to maintain a balance between the two parties involved, Armenia and Azerbaijan, to cooperate with both countries, and to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by a political solution, not a military one. The purpose of this article is to examine Russia's security strategy in the South Caucasus, with a particular focus on Georgia and the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis from the beginning of the crisis until 2020. And then it offers specific reasons for the confrontation between Russia and the West, as well as Iran's role in regional security issues. 


Main Subjects

Article Title [فارسی]

راهبرد روسیه در قبال ناگورنو-قره‌باغ و گرجستان

Author [فارسی]

  • عارف بیژن
  1. Amirahmadian, Bahram. 2009. “A Study of the Reasons and Consequences of US Presence in Caucasus.” Journal of Geopolitics Quarterly, vol. 5, No. 15, pp. 66-97. [In Persian] 

    Aljazeera. 2020. “Fighting erupts between Armenia, Azerbaijan over disputed region.” 27 Sep, Available at: 2020/ 9/ 27/ heavy-fighting-erupts-in-disputed-nagorno-karabakh-region (accessed January 2, 2021).

    Aliker, Olga. 2003. Conflict faults in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Mohammad Reza Golshanpajooh, Abbas Kardan, Hossein Saeed Kolahy St., Tehran: Abrar Contemporary International Cultural Studies and Research Institute.

    Amitav, Acharya. 1992. “Regional security complex in the third world: stability and collaboration.” department of political science national university of Singapore, curriculum paper. Available at: https://www.amitavacharya. com/? q=content/regional-security-complexes (accessed January 2, 2021).

    Balakishi, Samir. 2016. “Eurasian Economic Union: Russia’s New Foreign Policy in the South Caucasus.” Maastricht Scholl of Management.

    Buzan, barry. 1999. People, States and Fear, translate by Institute for Strategic Studies, Tehran: Institute for Strategic Studies [In Persian]

    Buzan, Barry; Waever, Ole and Wilde, Jaap de. 1998. Security: a new framework for analysis, Translate by Alireza Tayeb, Second Edition, Tehran: Institute for Strategic Studies [In Persian]

    Buzan, Barry; Waever, Ole and Wilde, Jaap de. 1998. Security: a new framework for analysis, United States: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

    Buzan, Barry and Waever, Ole. 2009. Region and powers, translate by Rahman ghahramanpoor, Tehran, Institute for Strategic Studies [In Persian]

    1. Wezeman, Pieter; Fleurant, Aude, Kuimova, Alexandra; Lopes Da Silva, Diego; Tian, Nan and T. Wezeman; Siemon: Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2019, SIPRI Fact Sheet, Available at: sites/default/files/2020-03/fs_2003_at_2019.pdf (accessed January 30, 2021).

    Deutsche Welle. 2020. “Half of Nagorno-Karabakh's population displaced by fighting.” Available at: https:// www. dw. com/ en/ half- of- nagorno-karabakhs- population- displaced- by-fighting/ a-55183758 (accessed January 2, 2021).

    De Waal, Thomas. 2010. The Caucasus: An Introduction 1st Edition, New York: Oxford University Press.

    Fischer, Sabine (Ed.). 2016. “Not Frozen! the Unresolved Conflicts over Transnistria, A, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh in Light of the Crisis in Ukraine.” Berlin: German Institute for International and Security Affairs, pp. 1-97, Available at: contents/ products/ research_papers/2016RP09_fhs.pdf (accessed January 6, 2021).

    Fischer, Sabine. 2016. “The Conflict over Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Light of the Crisis over Ukraine”. German Institute for International and Security Affairs, in Fischer (ed.) (2016), Available at:  (accessed January 7, 2021).

    Gasanova, A. 2019. “The role of Russia in resolving the conflict in Nagorno karabakh”, post-soviet studies, NO. 2 [in Russian] (accessed December 28, 2020).

    Global Security. 2020. “Azerbaijan Military Spending”, Available at: https:// www. (accessed November 25, 2020).

    Hedenskog, Jakob; Holmquist, Erika and Norberg, Johan. 2018. “Security in the Caucasus: Russian policy and military posture.” FOI, February, Available at: file:///C:/Users/aus/AppData/Local/Temp/FOIR4567SE.pdf (accessed November 26, 2020). 

    Hayrapetyan, Anahit. 2020. “UNHCR helps displaced Syrian-Armenians facing hardship amid pandemic”, UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency), 28 May, Available at: 2020/5/ 5ecf78874/ unhcr-helps-displaced-syrian-armenians-facing-hardship-amid-pandemic. html (accessed November 26, 2020).

    Hedenskog, Jakob and Korkmaz, Kaan. 2016. “The Interests of Russia and Turkey in the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict,” RUFS Briefing, 35, May, Stockholm: Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), Available at: file:/// C:/ Users/ aus/AppData/ Local/ Temp/ FOIMemo5693. pdf (accessed November 28, 2020).

    Kofman, Michael. 2020. “Armenia-Azerbaijan War: Military Dimensions of the Conflict”, Russia Matters, October 02, Available at: https://archive. vn/ 7V4MH#selection-398.0-398.2 (accessed November 20, 2020).

    Koohkan, Alireza. 2009. “Georgian Crisis and Powers in the Region”, Rahbord Tousee, No. 15. [In Persian]

    Koolaee, Elaheh. 2010. “Islamic Republic of Iran and the Geopolitics of the South Caucasus.” Journal of Geopolitics Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 17, pp. 75-111.

    Koolaee, Elaheh and Abedi, Afifeh. 2018. “Geopolitical Components of the Russian Foreign Policy.” Journal of Geopolitics Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 49, pp. 1-25.

    Kuimova, Alexandra and T. Wezeman, Siemon. 2018. “Russia and Black Sea Security.” Sipri, December, available at: Https://Www.Sipri.Org/ Sites/ Default/ Files/ 2018-12/ Bp_1812_Black_Sea_Russia_0.Pdf (accessed January 20, 2021).

    Kulumbegova, Lina. 2020. “Principles for the settlement of ethno-political conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh”, Journal of Geopolitics Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 56, pp. 146-162.

    Losh, Jack & Roth, Andrew. 2020. “Nagorno-Karabakh peace deal brokered by Moscow prompts anger in Armenia.” 10 November, https://www. theguardian. com/ world/2020/nov/10/ nagorno- karabakh- armenia- pm-signs- deal- to-end-war-with-azerbaijan-and-russia (accessed January 12, 2021).

    Markedonov, Sergey. 2017. “Russia’s Evolving South Caucasus Policy Security Concerns amid Ethno-political Conflicts.” German Council on Foreign Relations, Nr. 1, January, Available at: files/article_pdfs/analyse_1.pdf (accessed January 24, 2021).

    Markedonov, Sergey and A. Suchkov, Maxim. 2020.  Russia and the United States in the Caucasus: cooperation and competition, Caucasus Survey, DOI:10.1080/23761199.2020.1732101

    Markedonov, Sergey. 2018. “Russia and the conflicts in the South Caucasus: main approaches, problems, and prospects”, Caucasus Edition, Journal of Conflict Transformation, Vol. 3, Issue 2, Available at: https:// caucasusedition. net/ wp- content/ uploads/ 2018/12/ Russia-and-the-conflicts- in-the-South- Caucasus- main- approaches- problems-and-prospects. pdf (accessed February 17, 2021).

    Маркедонов, Сергей. 2020. “Совмещая роли. Что означает для России новая армяно-азербайджанская эскалация.” Московский Центр Карнеги, Available at: [in Russian] (accessed January 15, 2021).

    Mitoyan, Nona. 2017. “The Frozen Cross-Cultural Conflict: Armenians, Azerbaijanis and Nagorno-Karabakh.” Pepperdine Journal of Communication Research: Vol. 5, Article 20. Available at: https:// digital (accessed January 16, 2021).

    Nersisyan, Leonid. 2019. “Can the South Caucasus Conflicts Escalate into a Regional War?, RIAC, June 25, available at: analytics- and-comments/ columns/ military-and-security/can-the-south-caucasus- conflicts-escalate-into-a-regional-war/ (accessed January 24, 2021).

    OC Media. 2017. “South Ossetia to be renamed ‘Alania’ as Bibilov wins presidential election.” OC Media, 10 April, Available at: http://oc-media. org/ south- ossetia- to-be-renamed-alania-as-bibilov-wins-presidential-election/ (accessed January 20, 2021).

    Reuters Staff. 2020, A. “Nagorno-Karabakh announces martial law and total mobilization.” September 27, Available at: armenia- azerbaijan- martial-law/ nagorno-karabakh-announces-martial-law- and-total-mobilization-idINKBN26I086?il=0 (accessed January 14, 2021).

    Reuters Staff. 2020, B. “Azerbaijan's parliament approves martial law, curfews - president's aide”, Available at: (accessed January 14, 2021).

    Sheikh Zadeh, R. 2012. An Analysis on Afghanistan Security Challenges on the Base of Copenhagen School s Securitization Approach During 2001 to 2010 (with Emphasis on Pashtunism and Talibanism), Master Thesis, University of Isfahan.

    Sazmand, Bahareh; Bijan, aref and Taghipour, Morteza. 2018. “Russia’s Threat and its Influence on Georgian Security Policies.” Journal of Central Eurasia Studies, vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 141-155. Doi: 10.22059/jcep.2018. 208512.449649 [in Persian]

    SIPRI Military Expenditure Database. 2020. SIPRI, Available at: and Data%20for %20 all%20countries%20from%201988%E2%80%932019%20 as%20a %20share%20of%20GDP.pdf (accessed January 24, 2021).

    Valigholizdeh, Ali. 2016. “Geopolitical Explanation of the Factors Determining the States’ Behavior in Karabakh Crisis.” Journal of Geopolitics Quarterly, vol. 12, No. 43, pp. 85-120.