"Yerevan's reluctance to calm down would cause Baku's harsh reaction"
    Russian experts on Caliber.Az

    INTERVIEWS  20 February 2023 - 14:56

    Vadim Mansurov

    The other day in Moscow, Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin met with Azerbaijani Milli Mejlis Speaker Sahiba Gafarova and made more than significant statements. The Duma Speaker did not conceal from his colleague that the Kremlin is considerably irritated by Yerevan's behaviour and that Moscow is definitely considering its partnership with Armenia in another context at the moment.

    Volodin even made an unequivocal remark about Armenia's current policy. "Let us proceed from the fact that there is a decision taken at the level of the heads of state - Azerbaijan, Armenia, and the Russian Federation. We will be guided by this and on our part, we will do everything to implement these agreements. And those who make statements towards European institutions can simply lose the country. Those who want peace, who want to resolve the situation, must not just stay away from these quasi-parliaments - PACE and the European Parliament - but clearly understand that their involvement will aggravate the situation, and create more and more problems. And if they do so, they must bear responsibility for the consequences", Volodin is convinced.

    In short, Yerevan was hinted from Moscow not only opaquely, but also, in fact, threateningly. Moreover, signals of this kind were also sent to Yerevan these days by other representatives of Russia. Igor Khovayev, special envoy of the Russian foreign minister for support of normalisation of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, met with Nikol Pashinyan, Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, and Security Council secretary Armen Grigoryan and delivered some very concrete messages from the Kremlin. According to the Armenian newspaper Past, Khovayev warned the Armenian authorities that Moscow was extremely angered by Pashinyan's latest statement, where the prime minister, in particular, uttered: "...It turns out that Russia's military presence in Armenia not only does not guarantee but, on the contrary, poses a threat to Armenia."

    "Russia believes that Pashinyan has already crossed 'all red lines'. According to our sources, this has become known in Yerevan and has worried the incumbent Armenian authorities. In any case, the country's Foreign Minister and Defence Minister rushed to make "explanatory" calls to their Russian counterparts.

    Incidentally, Moscow also reportedly took very negatively Pashinyan's words that EU observers were visiting them so that the West would not worry that Armenia and Russia were "going to carry out joint aggressive actions against Azerbaijan". "In Moscow, this was seen as the West's desire to establish control over the Russian presence in Armenia," Past wrote.

    Russian political analysts commented on the current uneasy relations between Moscow and Yerevan to Caliber.Az.

    For example, a researcher at the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexander Karavayev, first of all, assured that in the triangle of relations between Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, Moscow has always tried to proportionally consider the interests of the parties. However, he immediately made a reservation that "in the scheme of the balance of relations, which is created recently in the South Caucasus, the proportion of Azerbaijan's interests rightly dominates".

    The Russian expert reasoned why the situation is currently developing in this way: "By objective circumstances - by virtue of the fact that Azerbaijan has realised its interests and rights as a result of the 44-day war. And the geopolitical balance now is such that Russia is closer to and more interested in Azerbaijan's position - the Azerbaijani direction is more important to Moscow than the Armenian agenda. This is not because Russia refuses or has forgotten about Armenia, but simply because Armenia's role is subordinated in this balance of relations. This is the geopolitical and geo-economic reality, and Yerevan needs to accept this long ago.

    Since this position is uncomfortable for Armenia and has always been stimulated by some kind of domestic political ambition of different forces in the country itself, be it the 'Karabakh clan' or the new revanchists already after the 44-day war, contradictions only increase and speculation on this topic in Armenia only grows.

    And now, while Russia is suffering blow after blow in the security sphere - the fighting in Ukraine is dragging on and there are no clear successes, the EU is pursuing an active policy of squeezing Russia out of its zones of influence - from Eastern Europe to the South Caucasus, Armenia is making its bet by thinking of joining the "European game" and all the while probing for Russian "red lines".

    "Today Armenia has come very close to these 'red lines', which is why Moscow is snapping at Yerevan so seriously. Russia sees these Armenian manoeuvres as a desire to attract monitoring groups from France, including the French gendarmerie, and an attempt to pass through the UN a proposal to send its peacekeepers to the South Caucasus. In general, these 'Armenian games', of course, do not fit into the vision of Putin and Aliyev that has developed after the 44-day war of how to stabilize security in the South Caucasus, and this seriously worries Moscow," Karavayev stressed.

    According to the Russian political scientist, there is another important point: it is time to start the transport corridor by the results of the Trilateral statement of November 10, which is an extraordinary point of Russia's agenda in the south to create transit to Türkiye, Iran and the Persian Gulf, but Armenia has refused to launch the Zangazur corridor - and this also causes the resentment of Moscow.

    "If Armenia does not give up and persists in pushing its initiatives that disrupt this system of balance and Russia's presence in the region in favor of the EU and the United States, I do not rule out that Moscow may turn a blind eye to Baku conducting another military operation - in Zangazur or Karabakh. However annoying it may be to Yerevan, the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from there is absolutely not in Russia's interests, and the prolongation of their presence in Karabakh after 2024 depends solely on relations between Putin and Aliyev, not with Pashinyan. Armenia needs to understand and take this into account. It seems to me that this obviousness will be brought to the consciousness of the Armenian leadership one way or another," Karavayev said.

    Another Russian political analyst, Vitaly Arjkov, head of the information and analysis portal PolitRus, in a conversation with Caliber.Az recalled that a few years ago Armenia switched to the conditionally parliamentary form of government, when the role and influence of the National Assembly deputies are higher, and expressed hope that there are those in this country "who cannot tolerate the fact that by his actions Nikol Pashinyan is leading Armenia to a national tragedy, actively inviting external forces to the South Caucasus, in particular the EU mission and other pro-Western elements that threaten the entire region."

    According to Arjkov, Armenian parliamentarians have the power to stop Pashinyan's catastrophe. In particular, the National Assembly can start establishing inter-parliamentary dialogue within the CSTO, EAEU, and CIS frameworks.

    "By the way, the latter format allows starting a peaceful dialogue between Yerevan and Baku at the level of parliaments, using opportunities of people-to-people diplomacy. Moscow represented by the RF State Duma and the Federation Council will certainly support this initiative and provide a platform for a constructive dialogue between the two neighboring nations, which now, as we see it, is hindered by Mr. Pashinyan in the interests of his Western masters," said the political analyst.

    Russia's negative reaction to the actions of the Armenian leadership is, in his opinion, explainable: official Yerevan's aspiration to keep Moscow out of the negotiation process with a simultaneous attempt to replace it with Brussels has become more and more obvious in recent months. Russia is no less perturbed by Paris, which is increasingly assuming the role of curator of Armenia on behalf of the collective West. And this development of events is dominated directly by French interests, the political analyst is convinced.

    "By developing its activities in the historically strictly Russian zone of interest, the Elysée Palace is avenging the Kremlin for its defeat in the standoff over the control of Mali and the Central African Republic, attractive to the world powers for their enormous reserves of strategic minerals. Secondly, France is seeking to keep pace with Britain, which has considerable influence in the region and to gain a foothold in the South Caucasus.

    France has been building relations with Armenia for decades but has now decided to accelerate them: Paris mistakenly believes that Moscow is bogged down in Ukraine and weakened by sanctions, while Tehran is experiencing a serious internal political crisis in addition to years of economic restrictions. Consequently, they are not in a position to prevent France from finally getting its hands on Armenia.

    Perhaps that was what the puppet and comical Nikol Pashinyan convinced the not-very-far-sighted and not-at-all-self-sufficient Emmanuel Macron. So much the worse for Macron, since Pashinyan's days as prime minister are numbered, and shady French vested interests will ask their president for the inevitable deafening failure of the project in the South Caucasus. So, it is time for Macron to look for his own island of St. Helena," says Arjkov.

    Baku and Ankara are also not pleased by the activisation of Parisian claims in the direction of Yerevan. And it is not only a matter of solidarity with Moscow and London, which does not see the need for Paris here. Baku perfectly remembers how in the autumn-winter of 2020, after the signing of the Trilateral Declaration, Paris urged Yerevan to continue the Second Karabakh War and restore control over the previously occupied Azerbaijani lands. And even earlier, at the instigation of Paris, some countries accused Baku of violating of democratic freedoms and persecution of dissidents and demanded to impose sanctions against it.

    "Armenia, which is losing its sovereignty and common sense under Pashinyan, is becoming a new colony of France before our eyes. And at the same time, a lever of pressure on Azerbaijan, Russia, Türkiye, and Iran. The French establishment has no pity for the Armenian 'natives', just as it did for Africans in the past. And if Paris finds it expedient to put pressure on Baku in this way, it can order Yerevan to start a new war for Karabakh," Arjkov summed up his comments on the issue.


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