"Moscow already has a plan in case Armenia turns rhetoric into action"
    Expert opinions on Caliber.Az

    INTERVIEWS  09 June 2023 - 18:03

    Vadim Mansurov

    The Russian Foreign Ministry has decided once again to put pressure on the Armenian authorities and, making a tough statement, brought into clear view the system disagreements between Moscow and Yerevan. The reason was the recent flagrant statements of the secretary of the Security Council of Armenia Armen Grigoryan. Moscow, as never before, has made it very clear that it is not satisfied with Armenian politics. “I would like Armenian Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan to make up his mind - either a normal dialogue, which should be with the Armenian side, or such statements. We choose the first," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in an ultimatum, referring to the open anti-Russian policy of Armenia.

    Zakharova's rhetoric makes it clear that Moscow is tired of waiting for Yerevan to change its mind and follow its instructions - in particular, to stick to the Trilateral Statement signed by the Russian president. All the more so since it hasn't received an offer to return to the previous more than trusting relations, but actually an offer to withdraw from Armenian territory. It is therefore difficult to regard the current statement by the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry as anything other than an unequivocal warning. What do Russian political analysts think about this?

    Andrey Petrov, Russian political analyst, and deputy director of the information agency Vestnik Kavkaza told Caliber.Az that "Zakharova's answers during briefings are prepared and elaborated in advance and even if she does not read the written text, she answers in a freestyle, this is not her improvisation or personal emotions, but a position formed by the official Russian authorities".

    "By what she says, by the subtle wording that she voices, we can draw conclusions about what Moscow is really thinking now regarding certain geopolitical relations," the political scientist stressed.

    In this case, according to Petrov, Russia was clearly outraged by Armenia's decision to violate clauses of the Trilateral Statement of November 10, 2020, which are of principle for Russia.

    "This is the provision that in the Zangazur corridor, Russian border guards from the FSB structures will control the traffic in the Armenian section. Just as they are now standing on the border with Iran. Although the regime of Nikol Pashinyan is trying to remove them, it fails to agree on this. Similarly, the road that will run near the Iranian-Armenian border along the Araz River will also, according to previously approved agreements, be guarded by Russian border guards, which is logical if only because they are already there.

    But Armenia has decided it will not implement this clause. Armenia does not want to fulfill any clause, but in this case, it is essential for Armenia to have control only in its hands," says the Russian political analyst.

    At that, in his opinion, taking into account the tradition of Armenian-Russian political relations, there is no special problem: if Russian border guards protect the border with Iran, it is logical to give them the control over Zangazur corridor, too. "There is no special sense from the viewpoint of security to have Armenian military there," the expert believes.

    But Armenia apparently does not think so, and insists on replacing Russian border guards with Armenian ones. And Russia, Petrov says, is "extremely irritated by this, because it sees not a kind of method to demonstrate attempts to distance Armenia from Russia, but rather practical work on this distance."

    Russia, he says, does not accept the revision of the results of the Second Karabakh War, does not accept the revision of the Trilateral Statement of 2020, and it stresses this both when it comes to non-Russian formats of mediation in the Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement, and when it comes to the direct implementation of the points of this statement.

    "And Russia certainly wants its border guards to stand in the Zangazur corridor, in the Armenian section, which in general would be both useful and constructive for the smooth functioning of the corridor," states the political scientist.

    Then, there will be no need to be afraid of attempts by Armenia itself or individual amateur Armenian customs officers or law enforcement officers to somehow interfere with the functioning of the corridor.

    "Russia is interested that this route will finally work so that Russia can deliver its goods to Europe through it. And any steps taken by Armenia against the implementation of the Zangazur corridor can only irritate Russia. And in this case, Moscow's discontent was caused by the fact that this was done in public and this is not some closed negotiation where Mirzoyan, Pashinyan, and Grigoryan stated for the Russian representatives not to have Russian frontier guards there but an open announcement about this through Armenian mass-media. This is not the way things are done in politics, this is a clear provocation and a challenge to a scandal," the political analyst is convinced.

    Zakharova's statement as a response to Grigoryan warns in rather harsh terms that Russia is aware of Armenia's intentions to cause a scandal, while Moscow would like to have constructive contacts with Yerevan but "will not hesitate in responding to scandalous Armenian rhetoric".

    "Overall, we can see that Armenia is increasing its anti-Russian rhetoric already at the level of the authorities, and although Pashinyan goes to all the summits of the EAEU - he was both at the summit of its heads and at the summit of the prime ministers - this does not mean that Armenia is inclined to cooperate with Russia and Russian integration projects. It has a traditional channel for voicing its discontent with Russia - the Armenian opposition, and if the authorities used to do this through it, now they are already doing it through their own officials. That is, if previously it was possible to blame the opposition and say that democracy was developed in Armenia, then the latest interview with Armen Grigoryan, the Secretary of the Security Council, is already an official statement and an official offer from Yerevan to Russia to reduce cooperation and the level of relations. Naturally, the Russian authorities are looking for ways, and opportunities to preserve ties with Armenia, not to let it go under other spheres of influence. Moscow has invested a lot of resources in this country and does not want everything to be lost just because an anti-Russian government is now at the helm in Armenia. Therefore, one should not be surprised when anti-Russian statements and criticism of Russian integration projects are heard from the Armenian side. Even Armenia is likely to leave the CSTO but will remain in the EAEU for the time being. Russia will also ramp up its rhetoric in response.

    It is difficult to forecast Moscow's further actions because so far we only see an exchange of statements. However, I think that Moscow has already prepared a concrete action plan in case Armenia turns rhetoric into action," Petrov said.

    But in the opinion of the Russian political scientist, deputy director of the Russian Institute of Political Studies Daria Grevtsova, both Azerbaijan and Russia were surprised by Armen Grigoryan's statements since they actually crossed out previous agreements between the sides. And Armenia, she says, is not the first to say one thing and then another, and this confusion in the political statements of Yerevan, of course, irritates both Azerbaijan and Russia.

    "Russia is not only perfectly aware that Armenia is turning towards the West and wants to cooperate closely with it but also sees the desire of Western countries to oust Russia from the South Caucasus. That is why the West has recently stepped up its role as mediator in the peace talks," concludes the political scientist.

    The EU, France, and the US are now actively working in Armenia, including visits of various politicians and activities at the level of special services," Grevtsova said.

    Moreover, in her opinion, both European and US intelligence services are now penetrating into Armenia. Naturally, they are building their system there, which will infringe upon the interests of other countries. That is, in this way, they are not making Armenia a sovereign, independent country, but their vassal. The Russian expert has no doubt that this is very sad because Armenia had all the opportunities and conditions to start a new course and a new policy together with both Russia and Azerbaijan, signing a peace treaty and unblocking communications, including with Türkiye.

    "It is clear that a peace treaty and its implementation is not in the interests of Western countries. The more problems Armenia has, the more the West will be able to influence it, subdue it, and dictate its terms. But even geographically it is clear where Armenia is and where Europe and the US are, and at the same time where Russia is. That is, it is absolutely clear who stands for peace and stability in the Caucasus, and who only pretends to be in favour of peace and peaceful settlement. Therefore, I believe that such contradictory statements will continue to come from Armenia, and Russia will draw the appropriate conclusions about what is happening.

    Especially it should be noted who is Armen Grigoryan. He is from the Soros team and he is very disliked in Moscow because he is a real traitor and does everything to put Armenia at odds with Moscow. That is why the situation is so unstable now in terms of cooperation with this partner: an unreliable and unpredictable Armenia can undermine all existing agreements and this is a very alarming signal. Everything that disappoints Moscow and Baku certainly pleases the West, which wants to subjugate Armenia by any means," Grevtsova said.


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