The Republic of Armenia—smaller than Maryland or the English West Country—is the only territory of non-Turkic people in a belt stretching across the whole Russian underbelly from Bulgaria to China. Armenia’s southern half is just 20 km wide. For all that Armenia is the furthest-flung corner of Europe, its disappearance would release the whole power of renegade Turkey to encroach on the Middle East, Greece and the Balkans.
For the Eastern Approaches podcast series, Alex Thomson and Gevorg Virats examine both the historical and the immediate build-up to the war that broke out at the end of September 2020 over the territory of Artsakh (dubbed “Nagorno-Karabakh” by the USSR). It is an almost exclusively Armenian-populated tiny pocket of remote highlands whose inhabitants do not accept the validity of the Soviet-era territorial claim laid to it by Turkey’s intimate ally, Azerbaijan. Will Erdoğan and the jihadists he has fostered in Syria succeed in breaking Armenia on Azerbaijan’s behalf?