By provoking Moscow and Baku, Pashinyan risks jeopardising Armenian statehood
    Begging for war?

    ANALYTICS  13 September 2023 - 13:02

    Murad Abiyev

    Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan gave an interview to Armenia's Public Television. Prime minister demonstrated good oratory skills, a high degree of casuistry, and verbal cunning, i.e. everyone was convinced that he stood still at the helm of the state. 

    It is quite logical that the interview is Pashinyan's own initiative. Had he not wanted to speak in this tense atmosphere, he would have at least postponed it until a more convenient moment. It means that he decided to send messages to someone after all. The question is who is the addressee?

    Pashinyan, who, amidst the aggravation of the "crisis of roads" and the related threat of military escalation with Azerbaijan, does not seem to be in a hurry to round off rough corners. On the contrary, during the interview, he voiced a number of provocative statements against Baku. Firstly, he actually recognised the fake "president" of the illegal entity Shahramanyan, "endowing" him with some "responsibility". Moreover, when asked by the reporter "whether there is contact between the governments of Armenia and Karabakh", Pashinyan replied: "Of course, this contact has been and will be, it is very important from the point of view of familiarisation with the situation". Coupled with the congratulations of the Armenian people on September 2 on the next anniversary of the proclamation of a separatist entity on the territory of Azerbaijan, this is enough to consider provocative statements as a reason for war and turn Pashinyan himself into a legitimate target.

    However, despite this, the main foreign policy agenda of the interview was still relations with Russia. One of the episodes, which can be called the key one in the whole interview, was a kind of casus belli for Moscow due to its odiousness. It concerns the Armenian leader's thoughts on the imminent ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which has already become a red line for the Russian leadership. Instead of remaining silent in this extremely slippery situation, he continued to insult the intelligence of the Kremlin. Look at this: "...We started the ratification of the Rome Statute in December 2022, it's just that according to our procedures it takes some time. Unfortunately, there was a bad coincidence in the context of relations between the Russian Federation and the Hague Criminal Court. This process is not related to ties with the Russian Federation at all but to border tensions." That is, it sounds something like this: "Yes, we are obliged to arrest your president, but it just happened by chance".

    And as if not satisfied with this insulting comment, the Armenian Prime Minister continued to mock his "big brother". In response to the journalist's remark that the result of Yerevan's actions was a note from Moscow, Pashinyan said that Armenians are actively working with the Russian Federation to form a correct perception of what is happening. "In connection with the same Rome Statute, we have proposed a very concrete solution that can dispel all fears, and we can continue to work on this solution," he remarked.

    In addition to this obvious knockout, Pashinyan with sadistic pleasure added bewilderment about the politicisation of his wife Anna Hakobyan's visit to Kyiv (we will not descend to the discussion of such a provocative, including for Baku, statement).

    Thus, in addition to small jabs, we can count as many as two thorough blows against Russia in one interview. Of course, Pashinyan is not doing this out of stupidity. The offensive tone he takes is perfectly clear. And if he is escalating with Russia, it means that he has no way to retreat. Obviously, Moscow is determined to use all its resources to bring people loyal to it to power in Armenia. Under these circumstances, the Armenian leader must provide himself with maximum protection. In the physical sense, this is done by the agents of the European mission and the staff of the American embassy, and in the political sense - by the electorate.

    It can be concluded that by such disrespectful rhetoric both towards Moscow and Baku, Pashinyan is consolidating the anti-Russian and revanchist part of the society around him in order, firstly, secure victory for his party in the Yerevan mayoral elections, and secondly, to secure sympathy and even protection for himself in the event of the Kremlin's active steps to oust him from power. It is not excluded that the next step in this direction will be a call to the people to take to the streets to defend Armenian democracy from the threat of Russian interference.

    As for Baku's hypothetical actions, it is obvious that the Armenian prime minister does not consider this threat catastrophic compared to Moscow's plans. For the simple reason that military escalation with Azerbaijan, in his opinion, does not threaten him personally with ousting, while Russia's actions are precisely aimed at such an outcome. Pashinyan's number one goal is to withstand the onslaught of a pro-Russian rebellion.

    Consequently, the main and perhaps only target audience of Pashinyan's messages is the Armenian population, which he tries to assure of his patriotism and unwillingness to compromise with anyone. In fact, he has positioned himself as a leader in the face of an external threat.

    Pashinyan, due to his natural adventurism, is playing a very dangerous game. Yerevan's bias towards simultaneous escalation with Baku and Moscow, in the absence of both grounds and mechanisms for intervention by Western powers, threatens Armenia with great trouble. If the blows from these two forces of confrontation converge in time for Yerevan, it threatens to sweep away not only Pashinyan himself but the Armenian statehood as such.

    P.S. In the meantime, rumor has it that Russia has allegedly begun enlisting persons of Armenian nationality into the army to be sent to the Ukrainian front. The aim of this is to get outraged and frightened Armenians to return to their homes in Armenia and form a strike force to overthrow Pashinyan.


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