Will Armenia be able to implement its threats against Russia?
Foreign pundits on Caliber.Az
INTERVIEWS 01 October 2023 - 11:21
The fragile little ship called “Armenia” is making a geopolitical turn at full speed, heading from the Russian coast to the western one. Thus, Armenian Defence Minister Suren Papikyan did not go to the meeting of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) defence ministers in Tula, rumours appeared that Yerevan intends to demand payment from Moscow for the deployment of the 102nd base in Gyumri, and representatives of the ruling “Civil Contract” party openly call for a ban on broadcasting Russian TV channels in Armenia. That is, there is a clear anti-Russian trend in Pashinyan’s Armenia.
How is Russia going to respond to these demarches from Yerevan? Caliber.Az asked this question to well-known foreign experts.
As Svyatoslav Andrianov, director of the Center for Political Analysis and Information Security, member of the German Foreign Policy Council, and chairman of the Berlin Committee for Strategic Partnership in Eurasia, noted, exactly what is happening is what he has repeatedly stated in the media.
“Nikol Pashinyan pursues a purposeful pro-Western policy, in this matter he is consistent and relatively predictable. As I expected, in response to the indignation of part of the Armenian society over the situation in the Garabagh region of Azerbaijan, Pashinyan and his team began to direct these sentiments against Russia, saying that it was Moscow that is to blame for everything, that Russia did nothing, that the peacekeepers betrayed them. Well, since the culprit has been appointed, then measures must be taken against him,” the political scientist noted.
According to Andrianov, the current situation in Armenian-Russian relations is designed to weaken Russia's influence in the South Caucasus.
“Will Pashinyan be able to implement his threats against Russia? Some - yes, but some - no, since he [at least for now] does not have the capabilities and resources to implement them. One way or another, Moscow’s image in the South Caucasus has suffered a serious blow, and if the Kremlin does not soon increase the priority of this region in its foreign policy, then new rules for the “new Caucasus” will be written without it,” Andrianov emphasized.
According to Stanislav Tkachenko, a doctor of economics and professor at St. Petersburg State University, Russia was hardly prepared for such a rapid solution to the Garabagh problem.
“Until quite recently, Russian diplomacy proceeded from the fact that it had at its disposal a period until 2025, during which negotiations would be held and key aspects of the Garabagh problem would be agreed upon by diplomats. It seems that Yerevan was also counting on the period until 2025, so they ignored warnings regarding the delay in the process of demilitarisation of Garabagh and the opening of the Zangezur corridor, which Baku made quite openly and unequivocally. When this summer the situation on the borders of Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as in Garabagh, began to escalate sharply, Moscow followed the events, having little influence on them,” the political scientist noted.
For Russia, much has changed in these issues in recent months. Although Russia, the main opponents of which are the United States and NATO countries, is solving its main security problems through special military operation, the need to develop a new policy towards the South Caucasus has been recognised and this issue is now being addressed.
"Among other things, the issue of working out a new modality of relations with Türkiye and Azerbaijan, including both cooperation in the sphere of mutual interests and the curtailment of ties in areas where they are not favourable to Russia is being resolved.
Recent statements by the Kremlin and Foreign Ministry spokespersons, Peskov and Zakharova on issues of relations with Armenia - moderately tough and very critical - reflect this transitional period for the South Caucasus. Moscow is watching with surprise attempts to involve states that are often openly hostile to each other in solving Armenian security problems: the US, Iran, India, France, etc. It appears that Moscow has not yet decided whether this diplomacy from Yerevan is a sign of hopelessness, incompetence or betrayal of the current Armenian leadership. Russia’s reaction to Armenia’s current and future actions depends on what conclusion is ultimately drawn,” said Tkachenko.
According to Stanislav Mitrakhovich, an expert of the National Energy Security Fund and a researcher at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, Russia is unlikely to respond substantively to the Armenian side's demarches, as it is not looking for conflicts itself. He noted that Russia has long perceived Prime Minister Pashinyan's rhetoric as openly unfriendly. But what goes around comes around, although Armenia does not seem to have fully realized this.
“For example, I would note that the very unfavourable outcome for Armenia in Garabagh is precisely the result of Yerevan’s policy of distancing itself from Moscow. Now Yerevan is simply reaping the benefits. Moreover, Pashinyan did not get involved in any number of adventures: he managed to conduct military exercises with the Americans, his wife managed to go to Kyiv shortly before Baku’s anti-terrorist measures in Garabagh. And how should Russia react to all this?
For example, Dmitry Medvedev made a well-known post on Telegram, where he very sharply condemned Pashinyan’s actions - this is already a demonstration of Russia’s course and point of view on what is happening. And Russia’s neutral position regarding the conduct of anti-terrorism measures by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces in Garabagh and the liquidation of this entity, as already noted, is in itself a reaction from Moscow, a consequence, if you like,” Mitrakhovich said.
According to him, the Russian military base in Gyumri will most likely remain, although Armenia is seeking support from France and the United States. But if Yerevan relies only on these countries and forgets about Russia, then it is unknown what else the issue with the Zangezur corridor could turn out for Armenia.
“So, if I were Armenia, I would definitely not turn away from Russia. If we talk about any specific actions of the Kremlin, I think it all depends on what Pashinyan himself will do. If he tries to maintain some kind of relationship in order to rely on Russia on the issue of the Zangezur corridor, finding some kind of compromise is one story. If Pashinyan continues to distance himself from Russia, leaves the CSTO and so on, then the story with the same Zangezur corridor may turn out to be even more difficult for him than with Garabagh, because then he will have to resolve this issue on his own. And here, I think, the West will not interfere in a potentially new conflict. Everyone is the master of their own destiny, and if Pashinyan chose this option, then this is his choice,” Mitrakhovich concluded.
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