American analyst: All frozen territorial disputes and conflicts have the potential of becoming hot again, arms races further exacerbate tensions– INTERVIEW

American analyst: All frozen territorial disputes and conflicts have the potential of becoming hot again, arms races further exacerbate tensions– <font color=red> INTERVIEW  </font>
# 04 April 2011 11:13 (UTC +04:00)
- According to regional media, Russia has begun modernizing Gabala Radar Station, which belongs to Azerbaijan and was once proposed for joint to the US. What does this news tell to Washington analysts and officials? Is Gabala station still on the negotiations table between US and Russia?

- If overall US-Russia relations improve and they agree on joint security arrangements in the region, clearly the modernization of the radar station would make its joint use more attractive. However, it is also important to determine against whom the station might be used and whether US and Russia would agree on the target country or countries whose activities would be monitored.

- On the whole, how do you see the cooperation in security sphere between Russia and US and what is the place for South Caucasus in it?

- After 20 years since the disintegration of the USSR, there are still differences of interest and perceptions of security threats between Russia and the US. Moreover, Russia still views the former USSR territories as a special area of its interests. Russia also perceives more security threats from these regions than does the US. Russia and the US also have diverging assessments of threats posed by some other countries. A case in point is Iran. Consequently, the future prospects of cooperation between Russia and the US would depend on whether their perceptions of their respective roles and their assessments of threats to their security grow closer or continue to diverge or even widen.
Already, in some areas such as counter- terrorism in Central Asia and Afghanistan there is a fair amount of US-Russia cooperation. In the South Caucasus, Russia’s relations with Georgia poses the most significant barrier. Also some of America’s broader foreign policy objectives are not shared by Russia or even the Caucasian states or at least some of them. For example neither Russia nor the regional states want a war with Iran which would be extremely destabilizing for the entire region.
Finally the character of Russia’s leadership would also impact these prospects. A pro-West leadership like that of Yeltsin-Kozyrev would be more open to cooperation with America than has been Putin who is basically ambivalent about such cooperation. Medvedev seems more pro-West and if he gets the upper hand relations might improve.

- Missile defense has for a long time been a shaky theme between Western coalition and Russian. Just recently, NATO has stated that, it’ll build a missile defense system separately from Russia. What would Moscow’s reaction on it be?

- NATO has already changed its position and has agreed to a joint missile defense system with Russia and negotiations are under way. However, it is not clear whether these talks will be successful or not.

- Coming to the US-Russia relations, do you believe in prospects of “new era” between the two?

- Russia-US relations, as that of most nations, will continue to be a mixture of cooperation in some areas and competition in others. Because of their specific geography, culture and security needs there will always be differences between Russia and the US. For example, Russia will always feel more challenged by developments in the Caucasus or Central Asia than the US. Even now US concern with these regions is Middle East driven. Without such a connection the US has no vital security interest in these regions.
Also closer relations would depend on whether Russian and US interest grow closer or diverge, as well as on Russia’s economic and other conditions. A more economically powerful Russia might again embark on a more assertive foreign policy as was the case in 2007-8 which could cause rift with the US. Similarly, if the US mood changes toward a less activist and interventionist policy relations with Russia would also be influenced. Another factor is China.
Would Russia and US cooperate to counter China or Russia would cooperate with China against US. More importantly the nature of the international system is changing with new countries emerging and new actors becoming involved. What this means is that in the next few years the old way of looking at the world through the prism of US-Russia relation or great power competition for hegemony could become useless, and there would be a need to find different way of looking at international and regional relations and find new ways of regulating international relations.

- Azerbaijan, especially its Nagorno-Karabakh problem has always been on the agenda of regional policy of the big powers. There are some concerns of new war possibility in the Karabakh region. Do you agree with such concerns and what should be done to prevent a new war?

- All frozen territorial disputes and conflicts have the potential of becoming hot again. Arms races further exacerbate tensions. In the case of the Krabakh dispute domestic politics have also always played a role and are a complicating factor. What this means is that one or the other of parties to the conflict might for domestic reasons become more willing to take risks which could lead to the resumption of hostilities. However, this need not happen, provided proper precautionary measure are taken .What is certain is that the more the problem festers and the more facts are created, such as changes in population composition etc, on the ground the resolution of the dispute becomes more difficult if not impossible . The Arab-Israeli conflict is the best example of such a situation. So all concerned first have to create effective mechanisms to prevent cease fire violation and guard against accidental shooting and then proceed actively and consistently with a peaceful solution.


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