Moscow-Baku Rapprochement Continues—But With Tests Ahead

More than 20 years ago, Baku-based commentator Wafa Galuzade pointed out to this author that, for Russia in the South Caucasus, Georgia is the way and Armenia is the tool, but Azerbaijan is the prize.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s participation in this year’s Valdai Conference (September 30–October 3) and his two high-profile interviews with Russian state-owned television channels (Regnum, October 6) have led some in Baku to conclude that this time, unlike in the past, the bilateral rapprochement reflects far more than just immediate developments in the South Caucasus. Rather, in their view, it has gone further, showing that Russia has shifted to Azerbaijan’s side not only because of its current problems with Armenia but also because of larger calculations concerning relations with Iran and the West.