US bolsters ties with Armenia: A prelude to South Caucasus destabilisation?
    Analysing Washington's motives

    ANALYTICS  12 June 2024 - 11:30

    Matanat Nasibova

    US Undersecretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, James O'Brien, made notable statements regarding the regional agenda of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations and Armenia-US bilateral ties during his meeting with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan. O'Brien's visit to Yerevan is part of a three-day trip to participate in the final session of the Armenia-US Strategic Dialogue from June 10-12.

    At the opening of the event, O'Brien reaffirmed the US commitment to agreements reached in Brussels on April 5 in the Armenia-US-EU format. "Our two countries will sign an agreement today on customs information exchange, which will facilitate trade and business in the coming years," O'Brien stated.

    In a one-on-one meeting with Mirzoyan, O'Brien proposed changing the format of the US-Armenia strategic dialogue to the Strategic Partnership Commission. Mirzoyan responded that "reaching a new level of strategic dialogue will help further strengthen the structural foundations of multifaceted cooperation."

    Given both parties' expressed desire for a format change, the potential mutually advantageous agreement holds promise, aligning with the interests of the US and Armenia. Armenia's openness about seeking new alliances in the West and its readiness to diminish reliance on Russian influence raises the question of the US's strategic intent in enhancing cooperation with Yerevan. The rationale behind this is evident. The US aims to bolster its position in the South Caucasus to advance its objectives. Primarily, this involves displacing the Russian presence in the region and reshaping it in alignment with Western standards. To this end, the complete withdrawal of the Russian military from Armenia is imperative for the potential establishment of American military bases. The imminent conclusion of the removal of Russian border guards from Zvartnots airport in Armenia in August suggests impending developments. Consequently, the prospect of Yerevan raising the matter of the withdrawal of the Russian military base from Gyumri in the future cannot be disregarded.

    The elevation of Armenia's status to a strategic partnership with the US represents a calculated move by the American side, providing another incentive for Yerevan. By aligning itself more closely with American interests, Armenia emerges as a potential weak link in the region, ripe for exploitation. It's conceivable that Washington, by heavily investing in Yerevan, aims to sow instability in the South Caucasus, creating chaos along the borders of Russia and Iran.

    It is also worth noting that the information that the United States will provide Armenia with funds under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme to facilitate its access to advanced military equipment and the latest technologies casts doubt on Washington's interest in full-fledged peace in our region. The Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme is one of the key instruments of American foreign policy designed to support US allies and partners by providing grants or loans for the purchase of equipment, training and military needs. Caliber.Az previously reported that through FMF, the US intends to facilitate Yerevan's access to modern military technologies and high-tech equipment and will work to accelerate the widespread use of GPS Global Positioning System technology throughout Armenia.

    In essence, James O'Brien's statements regarding the shift to a Strategic Partnership Commission in US-Armenia dialogue can be interpreted as a clear message from the US signalling potential support for Armenia's military aspirations in the future.

    At the concluding session of the Strategic Dialogue between Armenia and the United States, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan expressed optimism about the "historic chance" of signing a peace agreement with Azerbaijan. He also reiterated Armenia's interest in opening all regional communications based on principles of sovereignty, equality among nations, and reciprocity, as outlined in the government's "Crossroads of Peace" initiative.

    The United States has shown support for Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's "Crossroads of Peace" initiative, as Secretary of State Anthony Blinken affirmed during a press conference before a trilateral meeting with Pashinyan and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on April 5 in Brussels. Blinken stated, "We support the ideas that underpin the Crossroads of Peace proposal. We envision a more integrated South Caucasus with new transport routes, energy cooperation, and telecommunications. This will help diversify the economy, expand opportunities, and contribute to peace and reconciliation efforts."

    Despite Armenia's hopes for American support in implementing this project, it appears that Baku has already dismissed Pashinyan's plan, branding the Peace Crossroads initiative as mere PR and a guise to obfuscate the Zangezur corridor.

    Armenia is taking a risky approach by trying to strengthen its ties with the United States and the West while delaying the signing of a peace treaty with Azerbaijan. Attempting to maintain good relations with multiple parties can lead to problems, similar to trying to sit on two chairs at the same time.


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