Seven facts "about Armenia's departure from Russia"
Is Armenia changing course from Russia to the West
The Armenian authorities have made statements in recent days that have been actively discussed in Russia. An anonymous source from the Russian Foreign Ministry told TASS that “Moscow is extremely dissatisfied with the statements of the Armenian leadership. They are seen as a consequence of Western interference, an attempt “to push Russia out of the South Caucasus, using Yerevan as a means of realizing this goal.”
Armenia’s top leadership has been openly and harshly criticizing Russia’s position on the non-fulfillment of its commitments for a long time.
The incidents on the border with Azerbaijan, when the Russian Federation and Russia’s CSTO military bloc refused to fulfill their obligations to protect the sovereign territory of their ally, became a cause for discontent on the Armenian side. Another pain point for Armenia is the inaction of the Russian peacekeeping contingent deployed on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh to protect the Armenian population.
Russia’s position is considered by a significant part of the Armenian society, politicians and analysts as incompatible with the status of a strategic ally. However, Armenian political analysts in the majority do not share this opinion and do not agree with the opinion that Armenia is changing the vector of its foreign policy.
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Pashinyan’s wife’s trip to Kiev
On September 6, the wife of Armenian Prime Minister Anna Hakobyan flew to Kiev. She is participating in the third summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen in the Ukrainian capital. This event was first organized by the First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenskaya in 2021. Its goal is to unite spouses of the world’s first ladies to exchange experiences, opinions and realize joint projects.
Hakobyan was one of the speakers of the summit along with the spouses of the British Prime Minister and the President of Austria, First Ladies of Albania, Cyprus, Czech Republic.
The fact that she arrived in Ukraine with a humanitarian cargo did not go unnoticed. And after her arrival she wrote on her Facebook page that she visited an exhibition dedicated to the memory of children killed in war: “Children dying in wars is a failure of all of us adults. An unforgivable, irreparable, irreplaceable failure.”
Armenia may ratify the Rome Statute
On the same day, Armenian Parliament Speaker Alen Simonyan said:
“In all probability, the Rome Statute will be ratified. We will discuss, understand what benefits there are, and there are many, since war crimes have been and are being committed against our country. We need it, our country needs it.”
The Rome Statute is the international treaty that established the International Criminal Court. Its creation was explained by the need for an independent court to resolve cases related to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
On March 17, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin as a suspect in the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children. All countries that have ratified the treaty are obliged to extradite him to the court if he is on their territory.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova announced that Moscow has already requested clarifications regarding Armenia’s ratification of the Rome Statute: “We will decide on our further steps based on the content of Yerevan’s response”.
Meanwhile, Armenia’s response has been voiced more than once. About a month ago, Parliament Vice-Speaker Hakob Arshakyan again said that the ratification of the document “is in no way directed against Russia, but will serve to prevent Azerbaijani encroachments on Armenia’s sovereign territory”.
- Ratification of the Rome Statute: will the Armenian authorities go against Russia?
- Armenia at a crossroads: will the country leave Russia’s sphere of influence
Peacekeepers are not fulfilling their obligations
On September 2, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that “the peacekeeping forces of the Russian Federation are not fulfilling the mission entrusted to them within the framework of the trilateral declaration [on cessation of hostilities in Karabakh]”.
This was in response to a question whether he could explain what was keeping Russia from implementing the November 9, 2020 agreements, according to which it must guarantee movements through the Lachin corridor. This is the only road connecting the unrecognized NKR to Armenia. It has been blocked by Azerbaijanis since December last year. Russian peacekeepers, as Armenian experts say, “could not or did not want to unblock the road”.
Exchange of barbs on the same topic
Armenian Parliament Speaker Alen Simonyan also spoke after Pashinyan’s interview about the fact that, according to the November 2020 agreements, the Lachin corridor should be under the jurisdiction of Russian peacekeepers.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in this regard that the Armenian side’s public rhetoric in connection with the Lachin corridor is “on the verge of rudeness.”
Simonyan said in response to a request from Armenian journalists to comment on Zakharova’s words: “I am not going to comment on the words of some secretary of some department. By its inaction Russia actually keeps Artsakh in a blockade by itself”.
“Azerbaijan is creating a ghetto in NK” and other statements from Pashinyan interview
The Prime Minister of Armenia in an interview with France Presse talked about the humanitarian crisis in NK, the likelihood of war, the possibilities of normalizing relations with Azerbaijan and the “balancing” between the West and Russia
“Is Russia withdrawing from the region” or is it an “integral part of it”?
In the same interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the Armenian prime minister declared it a strategic mistake that Armenia’s security architecture was “99.999% linked to Russia”. And he explained, “We see that Russia itself is withdrawing from the region by virtue of the steps it takes or fails to take. […] One day we will just wake up and see that Russia is not here.”
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to this statement: “Russia is an absolutely integral part of this region, so it cannot go anywhere. Russia cannot leave Armenia.”
He said nothing about the failure to fulfill its obligations – neither on Armenia’s borders nor in the Lachin corridor. He only mentioned that the situation has changed: “But this does not mean that Russia is going to curtail its activities in any way.
Withdrawal of Armenia’s Representative to the CSTO
On September 5, many Russian media published information that “Armenia recalled its permanent and plenipotentiary representative to the Collective Security Treaty Organization”.
Viktor Biyagov was immediately appointed Armenian Ambassador to the Netherlands and Permanent Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
However, Russian experts did not take this circumstance into account and linked the recall to Armenia’s dissatisfaction with the position of the military bloc.
The problems with the CSTO are explained by the lack of a clear position on the incursion of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces into the sovereign territory of Armenia.
“Since May 11, 2021, Azerbaijan has used armed forces three times and occupied approximately 140 square kilometers of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia. What do we expect from the CSTO in this regard? A statement of this fact in the form of a clearly formulated political assessment. To refrain from such an assessment by saying that there is no border between Armenia and Azerbaijan is to say that there is no CSTO zone of responsibility. And if there is no zone of responsibility, there is no organization itself,” said the Armenian Prime Minister on November 23, 2022 during the meeting of the CSTO Collective Security Council in Yerevan.
Armenian-American military exercises
On September 11, the joint Armenian-American military exercise “Eagle partner 2023” will start in Armenia. They will last for 10 days.
“The purpose of the exercise is to increase the level of interaction between units participating in international peacekeeping missions within the framework of peacekeeping operations, exchange of best practices in the field of command and control and tactical communication, as well as to increase the readiness of the Armenian unit for the planned assessments of the “Operational Capabilities Concept” of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program,” the Armenian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
In Moscow, this information caused concern. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said:
“This causes wariness, especially in the current situation. Therefore, we will deeply analyze this news and monitor the situation.”
Political analyst Areg Kochinyan does not believe that Armenia is changing course and the statements voiced are anti-Russian rhetoric:
“The country’s authorities are simply openly expressing their disagreement or dissatisfaction with Russia’s policy. In particular, on the Karabakh issue. This does not mean that the country is pursuing an anti-Russian policy. The Prime Minister of Armenia openly states that Russia’s policy and actions do not satisfy the Armenian people. And this is an objective reality. Today the lives of 120 thousand Armenians of Artsakh are actually in danger – because of the blockade and hunger,” he told JAMnews.
In recent days, the political analyst notes numerous publications in the Russian media, “stirring up hysteria”. As a vivid example he cites the discussion of information about the recall of Armenia’s representative in the CSTO.
“Recall is a diplomatic procedure, it is called recalling an ambassador for consultations. And Armenia has not recalled him, but has already appointed him Ambassador to the Netherlands. As far as I understand, a new representative will soon be appointed to the CSTO.”
Kochinyan explains the “artificial hysteria” with the intention to use this information in the future to justify his inaction in the eyes of his own and Armenian society:
“This is a preparation in case of another invasion of Armenia’s sovereign territory by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces. There is every reason to believe that Azerbaijan is preparing for large-scale military actions.
Armenia is trying to bring this issue to the international level. It is trying to be on the same page with the entire civilized world, which is on the other side of Russia in the Ukrainian issue. Thus, the country creates additional security guarantees for itself”.
Commenting on the provision of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, he says that it was necessary to “work with Russia” before sending it. He believes that this work has been done.
And statements by the Armenian Prime Minister about a new approach to Armenia’s security architecture, he considers the accusation concerning Armenia’s political elite, not Russia:
“It is strategically wrong for any state to build its security policy in the logic of relations with one state.”
He believes that the Armenian-American military exercises to be held next week should be viewed in the logic: Armenia realizes that Russia’s guarantees are not enough.
The political analyst calls worries about the possible ratification of the Rome Statute a false narrative. He says that the process started long before the arrest warrant for the Russian president was issued:
“The Armenian side has always openly explained to the Russian Federation that this is necessary for the country in the logic of the process of bringing the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan to justice. And Putin, of course, will not be arrested if he comes to Armenia. Steps can be taken in this direction – Armenia can join the Rome Statute with reservations”.
Kochinyan believes that Armenia needs to increase its resilience and work with those partners with whom there is a convergence of interests. “I don’t think anyone will ever give us any guarantees or is obliged to give them,” was his response to a question whether Armenia receives signals of possible support from the West.
Is Armenia changing course from Russia to the West