The three states (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) had the role of the periphery for the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union over the last two centuries. Nowadays, the security situation is complicated and fragile in the South Caucasus because it has a strategic interest for many states and for that reason; I emphasize the importance of this complex region for the readers. This occurs since the region has historically been a transit place between the two continents such as Asia and Europe and the region is plentiful by the natural resources. Access to the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea is vital and control over the Great Caucasus Mountains is strategic. The Islamic Republic of Iran, The EU States alongside the United States of America and Turkey as the main members of NATO, the Russian Federation, and the People’s Republic of China compete with each other for geopolitical and geo-economic dominance in Caucasus.
The South Caucasus has a special place for the Russian state interests and it gives Russia a firm foot /base on the southern side of Caucasian mountains and easy access to the Black and Caspian Sea. The Russian authorities influence the Caucasian states to cooperate in-depth with the pro-Russian political organizations and movements. Some fractions of the Russian elite uses the patriotic sentiments of nostalgia about the communist past among the old generation and tendency of the political apathy among the young generation as well in order to increase mistrust attitude towards the state institutions in the South Caucasus.
Russia tries sometimes to implement the policy of regional hegemony, which is similar to action of the other powerful states. The current foreign policy of Russia is understandable because they do not intend to give up their position in the region. Moreover, from their viewpoint, they should remain active there because the South Caucasus is the security belt for the North Caucasus and all the southern provinces of Russia. Furthermore, Russia cannot merely give up these territories. It wills a recurrence of the situation that occurred after the elimination of the bipolar world and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russian authorities consider themselves as a single moderator of the region and approach their own intervention into the internal situation of the South Caucasian states by demonstrating their responsibility as a hegemon state. Russian elite reckon that the role of the South Caucasus is equivalent to the role of Central America for the United States of America
The essential point is that merely two states Azerbaijan and Georgia have the direct state frontier with Russia, even though Russia has military troops on the territory of Armenia and officially controls its boundaries with Iran and Turkey. Russia has enormous bases in Abkhazia, Armenia and South Ossetia. This is clear that the Russian armed forces and military technology are not only based on the defence from the hypothetical war or military provocations but on the entire control of the Russian national interests in the Southern Caucasus and Western Asia. Since Russia possesses tactical ballistic missiles and it signifies that Russia can use them not only as a weapon of defence against the enemies. Russia has a conception that this region should be under the control of Moscow due to geographical, historical, and cultural reasons. In this sense, Russia reacts sometimes invasively to any attempt of these states to develop serious military partnerships with other states and considers it as a direct threat to their dominance in the region.
Russia has profound and specific information about the political, economic, and military situation in these states and it is applicable vividly throughout the process of control this region. For that reason, it is unfaithful to collate by detecting identical parallels in the case of the Southern Caucasus with the policy of Russia in Central and Eastern Europe as well as the Balkans or the Baltic states. Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia are not members of NATO. This is one of the main motives about the hypothetical using not only soft power against them but also hard power since the Russian military authorities are careful only with the members of NATO.
Certainly, this situation does not seriously influence Azerbaijan because the Azerbaijani government follows an independent, pragmatic and friendly foreign policy with all states, especially with neighbours.
However, in other words, the case of the Southern Caucasus is different from the situation in Balkan and the Baltic states. Russia has antipathy due to the active participation of NATO in the South Caucasus. It could have been eliminated its plans for open and absolute dominance if these states would become members of NATO and simultaneously integrate with NATO. Russia has discomfort also about the active economic presence of Turkey in Georgia and the fear about the influential diplomatic presence of France and the USA in Armenia.
The Russian authorities have proceeded with their hypothetical intervention in terms of the geopolitical opponents, which explains that it is one of the initial targets for the Russian services to obtain professional training and experience as well. This experience involves not the military attacks but also the skills of sabotage of the state apparatus and the creation of cyber services against national security. Russia is the most powerful country in cyberspace after the USA. For that reason, the enormous role belongs to the cyberwarfare of Russia in these operations that could engender this negative experience in other states with the result of the profound societal fragmentation in the nearest future. This attitude vividly affirms that such a foreign political approach is sanctioned and acclaimed by some radical branches of the Russian military hierarchy since the foreign political approach is influenced by them in such a highly centralized state as Russia. Certainly, Russia implements this policy only against geopolitical opponents.
The important factor that is used also by Russia to control the situation is common orthodox religious values and the Orthodox Church. The goal consists of fact that orthodox states should avoid cultural integration with the mainly Catholic and Protestant states and develops cultural unity and solidarity with the mainly orthodox Russia and remains to be as loyal towards their common traditional values. As was mentioned above, the Church is one of the effective tools, which correspondingly and vigorously could influence the perception.
Finally, we currently experience the total geopolitical weakness of the USA and EU because of the current fragmentation and instability in the world. This hypothesis implies that each chaos could stimulate Russia for additional actions. The Russian government understands the contrast between the practical implementation of the main international principles and the real political atmosphere in the world. Any serious division in the world and an unpredictable political process is always a big advantage for Russia.