Armenia edges closer to permanent alienation from Russia
    Experts comment on Grigoryan's ultimatum statements

    INTERVIEWS  06 June 2023 - 14:22

    Matanat Nasibova

    The day before the Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia Armen Grigoryan made unflattering statements regarding Moscow on the air of Armenia's Public Television. The most imprudent statement was that Armenia was not going to provide control functions to Russia at border and customs points at the entrance and exit to the Zangazur corridor. Grigoryan quite concretely informed Moscow that in the future Armenia will refuse the control of the Border Service of the Federal Security Service of Russia over the transport communication in the Armenian borderland after the unblocking of economic and transport communication with Azerbaijan.

    "In terms of unblocking, there is one important detail, which I think is already clear to all partners involved. Full control of the borders and control of the border services will be exercised by Armenia. That is, unblocking in the context of Armenia means that only Armenia will carry out border services," Grigoryan clarified, adding that Yerevan's position is very clear.

    In principle, the fact that Armenia was initially dissatisfied with many aspects of the post-conflict settlement, in particular the conditions for the unblocking of communications, has long been known. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that any advancement that implies stability in the region is not in the interests of the Armenian side, despite Yerevan's occasional assurances of readiness to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan. This time, Grigoryan expressed concealed dissatisfaction, but nevertheless added that "there is a chance to sign a peace agreement with Azerbaijan by the end of this year".

    "Our attitude is that we are finding solutions, moving the peace agenda forward within these solutions, and concluding a peace agreement," Grigoryan said, stressing that some progress had been made between the sides during a meeting between the heads of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Chisinau the other day.

    However, yesterday's statements by Grigoryan show that Armenia is trying once again to delay the implementation of all points of the Trilateral Statement of 2020 signed by the leaders of Azerbaijan, Russia, and Armenia, which states in black and white that Yerevan guarantees the safety of transport communication between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic in order to organize the unimpeded movement of people, vehicles, and cargo in both directions and control the transport communication. Furthermore, at a meeting with his Azerbaijani and Armenian counterparts on June 2, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Overchuk stated that "substantial progress has been achieved in agreeing on the modalities for the unblocking of transport communications between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia, and a common understanding has been reached on the implementation of concrete steps to restore and organize the railway link along the Yeraskh-Julfa-Meghri-Goradiz route".

    In other words, as can be seen from Grigoryan's recent statements, the Armenian side is clearly still trying to twist around unblocking of communications and Armenian-Russian contacts. This is also counting on Russia's support, bearing in mind that after the establishment of the Lachin checkpoint by Azerbaijan, Yerevan's own maneuvering opportunities have significantly diminished. Baku has demonstrated that it will remove any obstacles on the way to a peace treaty, which means that sooner or later Armenia will have to withdraw its remaining bandits from the region.

    As for Armenia's position on the CSTO, it is also obvious that Yerevan is once again trying to blackmail Moscow by withdrawing from this military structure. And here Grigoryan stated that Armenia's membership in the CSTO was problematic but did not limit Yerevan's cooperation with other countries, hinting more than transparently that it was about Yerevan's interaction with the West.

    "Armenia's participation in the CSTO creates certain problems but does not limit cooperation with different countries. We are working intensively with Western partners to strengthen our security cooperation and will continue to do so," Grigoryan said, once again rebuking Russia, which holds the leading role in the CSTO, for not providing military support to Armenia in the conflict with Azerbaijan.

    "Yerevan is holding intensive discussions with other countries on the purchase of weapons. Some of them have already yielded results, while others are still under negotiation. Armenia is looking for alternative solutions until the problem of arms supply between Armenia and Russia is resolved," Grigoryan said.

    However, it is worth noting that Armenia has always expressed discontent with Russia's policy on arms supply to Baku, including during its occupation of Azerbaijani territories. And after the defeat in the Second Karabakh War in 2020, Yerevan sends targeted claims to its patron at every opportunity. Moscow, on the other hand, is patiently watching the intrigues of the rebellious South Caucasian outpost for the time being, but how long it will last will be seen.

    Russian-Israeli expert Konstantin Pakhalyuk shared his views with Caliber.Az on the consequences of Armen Grigoryan's ultimatum statements regarding the unblocking of transport communications in the region and the possibility of splitting up with the CSTO.

    First of all, the political scientist expressed the belief that Armenia's dependence on Russia will be maintained under any circumstances. He noted that Moscow will remain an important partner for Yerevan for a long time, "but close economic relations do not automatically convert into political ones".

    "Pashinyan appears to be seeking a new formula for balancing interests by strengthening relations with the West, which is deliberately kicking Russia out of the South Caucasus. And against this background, in view of the Russian-Ukrainian war, Russian security guarantees are being devalued. Accordingly, Armenia's refusal to be controlled by the Russian FSB Border Guard Service while unblocking economic and transport links with Azerbaijan in the future is an attempt to demonstrate to Moscow that Yerevan can get by on its own in the future. But the key word here is 'if', because the peace treaty has not been signed yet," Pakhalyuk stressed.

    Dmitry Solonnikov, Director of the Russian Institute of Contemporary State Development, also expressed his opinion on Armenia's anti-Russian rhetoric.

    He believes that Armenia "demonstrates consistent steps to break relations with Russia and other member states of the CSTO and the EAEU, so there is nothing supernatural in Grigoryan's statements".

    "In the long run, apparently, Armenia will withdraw from the CSTO and EAEU and apply for accession to NATO, and the EU, that is, the current course of the Armenian leadership will continue. Apparently, Armenia is following Ukraine's path, which is what I have been talking about for the last six months. Another thing is that if there was no CSTO, most probably, there would not be any questions about Karabakh. Back in 2020, Azerbaijan would have easily solved its issues. If it wasn't for Russia, there would be no Armenian formations and self-appointed authorities in Karabakh today - everything there would have been cleaned out by the Azerbaijani army, if Vladimir Putin had not agreed then to suspend military operations and begin a peaceful settlement. And if Armenia had not been in the CSTO, it is likely that the Zangazur corridor would already have been working, and part of Armenia would no longer be under Armenian control - the Azerbaijani army was perfectly capable of creating this corridor on its own, connecting "mainland" Azerbaijan with Nakhchivan. Then there would be the question of reviving the Yerevan Khanate. Why, in fact, have we forgotten that at one time this entire territory was the Iravan Khanate and there was no Armenia there in the 18th century? Therefore, all issues would have been resolved in this very way if there had been no CSTO. But now the Armenian authorities do not seem to remember all this and pretend that no one has ever helped them," Solonnikov said.



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