"The Kremlin has decided to deprive Armenia of its independence." Opinion from Yerevan
Is Armenia’s security system changing?
“The security system of which Armenia is a member has demonstrated obvious problems. Our partners must fulfill their obligations,” Parliament Speaker Alen Simonyan said, referring to the inaction of Russia and the CSTO military bloc in helping Armenia.
These sentiments were shared by a majority of Armenians and local experts after the September invasion of Armenia by Azerbaijan. Armenia turned to Russia and CSTO for help protecting the borders in May of last year, when Azerbaijan advanced deep into the country for the first time. Armenia has still not received a clear answer. An extraordinary session of the CSTO Collective Security Council is expected on Oct 28, during which “measures to help Armenia” will be discussed.
Meanwhile, Armenian experts see greater risk in remaining in the Collective Security Treaty Organization than in leaving it. Even the authorities of the country are openly expressing doubts, which has never happened before. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that he is waiting for “a clear political assessment of Baku’s aggression against the sovereign territory of Armenia and a road map to restore the territorial integrity of Armenia.”
The opinion of an Armenian analyst about what is happening in the region, what Armenia can expect from its ally Russia, and what measures to take to protect its interests.
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Stepan Grigoryan, head of the Center for Globalization and Regional Change, political scientist
Armenia’s security system has collapsed
“In Armenia, at least until the “velvet revolution” of 2018, the security system was associated with Russia. A Russian military base is stationed here, Armenia became a member of the CSTO, a number of strategically important facilities were transferred to Moscow, the borders with Turkey and Iran are guarded jointly with Russian border guards, and with the advent of the new government a joint air defense was created. The common security complex was built on cooperation with Russia and the CSTO, which is also dominated by Russia.
Yes, Armenia also interacted with other countries, but it connected the military-political components with Russia and the CSTO.
But in recent years Russia has acquired other interests with Turkey and Azerbaijan, and then the entire security system of Armenia collapsed.
While earlier only Armenia was Russia’s strategic ally in the South Caucasus, now Moscow has signed a similar agreement with Baku. Russia and Turkey have serious interests on the issue of Syria, Libya, etc.
Moscow’s rapprochement with these countries intensified with the war in Ukraine, when the entire West turned against Russia and it had no other partners except Turkey and Azerbaijan.
The modification of Russian policy took place even before the Karabakh war of 2020, but the war made Russia’s position absolutely clear.
It has become clear that Moscow refuses to fulfill its strategic and partnership obligations. And since Russia refuses, then accordingly, so does the CSTO. Today Armenia is left without a security system and an ally.
In the case of the CSTO, in addition to the refusal of obligations even in the form of condemning statements, we are faced with a new danger. The CSTO began to interpret all the aggression of Azerbaijan against Armenia, starting from May 2021 (Sevlich, Sotk, Jermuk), as “border incidents”. This organization openly legitimizes Azerbaijan’s attacks on Armenia, stating that delimitation is necessary in order to find out whether this is the territory of Armenia or not.”
Armenia in search of new allies and new security systems
“We need to create an alternative, which is what the current authorities of Armenia are doing, building relations with different countries. They just take too long in doing so.
An attempt is now being made to cooperate in the field of security with France, the US, Canada, India and the EU. Cooperation with the European Union is political and economic, which is also very important. In matters of security, the position of the EU is very important.
Of course, we will not be able to become part of another defensive alliance like NATO, but we can find security in bilateral relations with countries. Moreover, there are countries such as the United States, which, even without the supply of weapons, by their statements and manifestations of interest, seriously affect the general atmosphere.
Today Armenia is already receiving political and diplomatic support from the European Union, France, the United States and a number of European countries. And if not for this support, including at the UN Security Council meeting on September 15, Azerbaijan would already be sitting in Jermuk [a city in southern Armenia, which was badly damaged by shelling from Azerbaijan on September 13-14].”
Armenia needs military assistance
“Armenia receives support capable of restraining Azerbaijan’s aggression without leaving the CSTO.
Monitoring groups from the EU and the OSCE are working on the Armenian border. This is a very serious step, given that we have always been convinced that only Russia exists, and whether you like it or not you must reckon with it. There are other players on the ground today.
Of course, Armenia needs not only observation missions, but also substantive military support in order to protect itself, but such assistance is excluded while it is in the CSTO.
The authorities, alluding to the notion that “Armenia did not withdraw from the CSTO, but the CSTO from Armenia” and stating that “there is no more time to wait for the actions and reactions of the CSTO to aggression against Armenia” expect a clear answer from this organization. Tell us, will you react to Azerbaijan’s aggression or not?
Armenia can either freeze its participation in the CSTO, or simply withdraw from this bloc.”
What if Russia gets offended?
“Armenia’s caution and inaction, torpedoing the West’s arrival in the region, will entail serious consequences for the country.
Russia is so interested in Turkey and Azerbaijan that it is ready to continue sacrificing Armenia for them. It can give them the corridor through Meghri, as well as the so-called enclaves in the Tavush region, which do not legally exist. This is an artificial agenda.
Azerbaijan demands of Armenia the so-called “Zangezur corridor” for connection with its exclave of Nakhichevan. The Armenian authorities agree to provide roads that they will control according to their legislation, but not a “corridor”, since this term implies the loss of sovereignty in the territory.
The corridor is demanded of us not so much by Azerbaijan as by Russia itself. And if the Armenian people agree that Armenia should be dismembered and lose its independence, then, yes, you can sit quietly and not change anything.
Nikol Pashinyan has waited since May of last year, fearing that Russia would be offended, to apply to the UN Security Council, and this led to new aggression against Armenia. It was a mistake.
Armenia had to immediately apply to the UN Security Council as soon as the Azerbaijani troops entered the territory of Armenia [in May 2021]. Even then we would have raised a big fuss, but today, with more aggression, Azerbaijan would fall under sanctions.
We are paying dearly for this mistake.”
The consequences of the "new war" in Ombudsman of Armenia's report
The Office of the Human Rights Defender published an extraordinary report on the consequences of hostilities on the Armenian border. The report presents cases of torture of Armenian prisoners of war, abuse of the bodies of the dead, destruction of civilian infrastructure, and shelling of hospitals, schools and kindergartens.
The Kremlin has decided
“At a meeting in the UN Security Council on September 15, we realized that we have both allies and friends. These countries denounced Azerbaijan for its aggression against Armenia.
Six out of fifteen countries criticized Baku very harshly and supported Armenia, while the rest were neutral, and only Russia was on Azerbaijan’s side.
The Kremlin has made a decision to deprive Armenia of independence. For this it is enough for Russia and Azerbaijan to break through the Meghri corridor in order to tear us away from Iran and to seize the “enclaves” in the north of the country, taking the road to Georgia under their control. And Armenia will lose its independence.
Armenia is looking for a new security system, a requirement as natural as an air.
Risks only for Armenia
“These risks are only for Armenia and only in the form of economic sanctions (disconnection of gas, electricity, etc). Artsakh is not in danger.
Russia knows very well that if it provokes something in Artsakh, Armenians will leave Nagorno-Karabakh, and the Russian peacekeepers will have nothing to do there.
The world, in turn, will then demand their withdrawal from the region. The guaranteed security of the people of Artsakh is the guarantee of Russia’s presence in the region. And that’s the only guarantee; therefore the Kremlin will not move against NK. Everything that Moscow does will only be against Armenia itself.”
Is Armenia’s security system changing?