Peacekeepers or border guards? Russian checkpoints on the roads of Armenia
Russian checkpoints in Meghri
“Russian border guards a few months ago set up roadblocks on the roads leading from Meghri to Agarak and Shvanidzor, Alvank, Nrnadzor.” Thus a Maghri community representative explained the situation in the south of Armenia.
For several days now information has been circulating on social networks that Russian peacekeepers have set up checkpoints and are checking documents on the Agarak-Meghri section of the road. However, according to the words of the head of the Meghri local administration, as well as a message from Russian border control, they were not talking about peacekeepers, but about border guards.
Since the autumn of 2020, the Russian peacekeeping contingent has been stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh. Information about the appearance of checkpoints allegedly set up by peacekeepers near Armenian towns has caused confusion among residents. There have been discussions on social media about what this could be.
The Border Department of the FSB of Russia protects the state border of Armenia with Turkey and Iran on the basis of the interstate agreement “On the status of the border troops of the Russian Federation stationed on the territory of the Republic of Armenia and the conditions for their activities,” which the parties signed in 1992.
According to the Russian Federal Security Service’s border department, the new checkpoints were installed “in agreement with the Armenian government, the National Security Service, and other competent authorities.” Meanwhile, during this time, no Armenian state institution has announced that border checkpoints would be set up on roads in the southern Armenian region of Syunik – and not at the border, but near towns.
All information known at this time.
- Opinion: “Cooperation between Armenia and Iran in the military sphere is unlikely”
- Echo of the second Karabakh war: why Baku got the opportunity to blockade the south of Armenia
- Putin-Erdogan negotiations: agreements on the region and risks for Armenia. Opinion
“Tense situation on the Armenian-Iranian border”
The border department of the Russian FSB in Armenia reported that the need for increased control is caused by tension at the Armenian-Iranian border:
“The tense operational situation has been caused by attempts to smuggle narcotics and psychoactive substances (hashish, methamphetamine, heroin) from Iran to Armenia.”
In its message, the Border Department also brought up an earlier violation of the Armenian border.
In 2021, Russian border guards arrested two people with weapons, grenade launchers and a large amount of ammunition. The incident occurred on the territory under the control of the Meghri border detachment. The culprits entered from the Iranian border.
According to the border department, since the beginning of 2022 several new, equipped border control posts have been installed in the south of Armenia to “carry out inspection of persons and vehicles.” The goal is to identify, prevent and stop “smuggling, illegal migration and other offenses.”
The statement also says that, if it becomes necessary to search for and prosecute border violators, measures are to be taken not selectively but without exception:
“Citizens moving within the border zone, please treat with understanding the legitimate requirements of law enforcement agencies.”
“Inspections are carried out in accordance with the legislation of Armenia”
Commenting on news of the appearance of checkpoints in the Syunik region, the head of the town of Meghri, Bagrat Zakaryan, stressed that the Russian border guards have set up five new modular checkpoints here.
“Checks fully comply with laws adopted in Armenia and government decisions,” he said, referring to the law “On the State Border” and the government’s decree “On the establishment of a border regime on the state border of Armenia and the regime of checkpoints across the state border,” which went into effect on 2011.
However, Zakaryan also acknowledged that the checkpoints create problems for both local residents and tourists:
“When tourists want to go to Nrnadzor, Shvanidzor, in the countryside, they face a serious problem. They are not allowed in until the officers of the border military unit check the presence of their passports and verify them in the manner prescribed by law,” Zakaryan said.
Social media comments
“According to what clause of what agreement is a checkpoint on the Meghri-Agarak road provided? Let’s face the fact that even on social media there is very little public dissatisfaction with the situation; all this is being carried out without resistance from the public.”
“A Russian checkpoint in the Meghri-Agarak area, that is on the sovereign territory of Armenia, can be equated with an act of occupation against Armenia de facto.”
“The opposition took to the streets in protest of Russian border guards blocking the Meghri-Agarak road? Are you giving up the Armenia-Iran border to the Russians so easily? What else are you giving away?”
“These traitors give away the country piecemeal, and you drink tea and coffee in cafes for yourself.”
“If we remove the Russian “boot” from Armenia, we will have a country. And if not, we will lose everything.”
Iranian FM visits Armenia, discusses Armenian-Azerbaijani border tensions, expansion of Iran's economic presence in the country
Experts believe that the main topic of discussion was security issues and the explosive situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, since it is not in the interests of Iran.
Russian checkpoints in Meghri