Explaining Russia's Inertia in the Azerbaijan-Armenia Dispute: Reward and Punishment in an Asymmetric Alliance


EUROPE-ASIA STUDIES, vol.75, no.6, pp.972-988, 2023 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 75 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/09668136.2023.2191903
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Periodicals Index Online, ABI/INFORM, American Bibliography of Slavic & Eastern European Studies (ABSEES), Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, Geobase, Historical Abstracts, Index Islamicus, PAIS International, Political Science Complete, Public Affairs Index, Social services abstracts, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.972-988
  • Anadolu University Affiliated: No


Russia has been conventionally portrayed in the area studies literature as a close ally of Armenia, although the latter is a subordinate rather than an equal partner. More recent scholarship has focused on Armenia's dilemma as to whether to align itself with the liberal West or to enhance ties with its former patron. The Armenian foreign policy establishment has demonstrated in political action and discourse a marked preference for Europe's institutions and political vision. Russia's neutrality in the recent escalation of tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan, despite bilateral security arrangements with Armenia, showed the inherent fragilities of this asymmetric alliance. Drawing on asymmetric alliance literature, this article seeks to explain Russia's reluctance to involve itself in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute in favour of Armenia and identifies how Russia rewards or punishes its ally, based on its assessment of whether the 'side payments' attached to the alliance have been honoured.