Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov today begins a two-day visit to Azerbaijan. Tatarstan is one of 21 republics in the Russian
Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov today begins a two-day visit to Azerbaijan.
Tatarstan is one of 21 republics in the Russian Federation, located in the western part of the country. Over half of Tatarstan consists of the Turkic ethnic group known as Tartars. More than 25,000 Tartars reside in Azerbaijan and more than 300,000 in Ukraine.
Ethnic identity was the Russian casus belli for invading Ukraine. Indeed, Moscow says that the protection of Russian-speaking Ukrainians forced Russia’s hand. On the diplomatic level, Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to cement support for the war from former Soviet republics by stressing ethnic ties between Russia and its regional neighbors. Despite injuries and loss of life to Tartars and other Ukrainians with ethnically-Russian origins in eastern Ukraine, expect Minnikhanov’s visit to tout the Moscow-approved line that Baku should support Moscow’s effort toward pan-Russian political unity.
The incentive for Azerbaijan to support Russia’s aim is the stabilizing effect the war’s end could have, in addition to the benefits of engendering Russian support as Azerbaijan seeks to navigate its diplomatic relations with Armenia. Any benefits from supporting Moscow over Ukraine, however, are likely to be reduced by Moscow’s current diplomatic isolation and widespread condemnation of Russia’s part in the war.