Research & Analytics

Why Is Armenia Looking for Conflicts with Ukraine and Georgia?

War Armenia Azerbaydzan

Two months ago, during the July clash between the armies of Azerbaijan and Armenia, the Ukrainian embassy in Yerevan was indirectly damaged. Then, the crowd doused it with borsch (beet soup) and insultingly demanded Ukraine’s refusal to recognise Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan’s territory. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine did not make such decisive statements as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey and its position did not differ from similar statements of European countries.

The crowd in Yerevan even put up posters: “Ukraine does not support the aggressor” and “Ukraine + Azerbaijan.” Surprisingly, the Azerbaijani army did not find the “Ukrainian trace” that the Kremlin manages to find everywhere, even in Nemtsov’s assassination.

This attack by the Ukrainian embassy in Yerevan is entirely in the context of the undeclared war that Russia has been waging against Ukraine since 2014. It is just an episode in a chain of similar operations by Moscow’s secret services. These include throwing pig’s heads in synagogues in Ukraine, or setting fire to the building of the Hungarian Cultural Center in Uzhgorod in 2018, by the hands of Poles and Germans hired for this purpose. In Yerevan, these special services are not organised as a secret, but a public provocation, and also a group one.

The organisation of this operation was facilitated by the fact that there is a significant layer of Russophilia in Armenia, to which, if given a little money, will bear the placards “Ukraine is away from Artsakh” (a city in Armenia – ed.). The word “Ukraine” can also be easily replaced by the name of any other country at the request of the customer.

Russian Influence

This stratum of Russophilia was severely defeated at the beginning of the Armenian Revolution. But it still retains some influence in society and politics, which is forced to reckon with the government of Nikol Pashinyan (the Head of Armenia – ed.). For this reason, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Yerevan was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia on 15 July, where he was handed a note of protest for the proforma. Pashinyan tries not to give the counter-revolutionaries a reason to accuse him of surrendering Karabakh and makes pleasant statements for them. At the same time, he understands that without solving this problem, the Armenian Revolution is doomed to defeat, like the Spanish Revolution of 1931-1939, which did not want to recognise the independence of Morocco.

The stratum of Russophilia in Armenia is very heterogeneous and includes both those who are far from any geopolitics, but associated with the Russian Federation work, business and family relations, and “real politicians.” The group of “real politicians” is also not homogeneous and consists of those who miss the USSR, just Kremlin clients, and those who dream of using the Kremlin to create a “Greater Armenia” under the 1920 Treaty of Serbia. The first and second are quite satisfied with the transfer of the special status that Armenians had in the Ottoman Empire to the USSR and Russia on the principle: empires appear and disappear, but Armenian businessmen are eternal in them.

The third are actually real politicians, and they build their own plans, assigning Moscow the role of executor, not customer. Pashinyan does not mind finding a common language with them and, so far, he almost succeeds — except for the fact that the Kremlin also understands Yerevan’s game and Putin’s “brigade” is not going to become “Pashinyan’s infantry.”

This is one of the reasons why Moscow is now in no hurry to side with Yerevan: in the Russian-Armenian symbiosis, each side sees itself as the boss, and the other no more than a carrier of chestnuts from the fire.

Moscow willingly uses Armenians, also in its war against Ukraine and Georgia, and even lends weapons to Yerevan, but is not going to fight for “Greater Armenia” because it does not need it yet. In the eyes of the Kremlin, Armenia has the same status of a sham state as the Transnistrian, Abkhazian, Donetsk, Luhansk or South Ossetian “republics.” The only difference is that in the case of Armenia there is no need to invent a special Donbas nation and try to construct a pedigree from Adam and Eve with the involvement of monkeys of the Carboniferous period for greater scientificity.

In the competition of who uses whom more, Moscow is now significantly in front of Yerevan. Armenians are fighting and dying in Karabakh, and the Russian military, as Peskov said, is only “monitoring the situation.”

Now, to please Moscow, they began to “run into” Georgia as well. Karen Ogajanyan, Coordinator of the Helsinki Initiative-92 Committee and winner of international prizes for peace and human rights, called on the Armenians living in the Georgian Sampekh-Javakheti region to revolt and annex the territory to Armenia. At the same time, he called for terrorist attacks against Turks and Azerbaijanis around the world.

On 30 September, Minister of Culture, Sports, Education and Science Arayik Harutyunyan demanded that Mikheil Saakashvili be stripped of the title of Honorary Doctor of Yerevan University for his Facebook post stating that “Nagorno-Karabakh is a sovereign territory of Azerbaijan and nothing will change that fact.” Yes, as if Saakashvili used to think differently, having Russian occupiers on its territory. It is just that the Yerevan University didn’t bother him with the question: “Whose is Karabakh?” and was quite satisfied with the fact that the President of Georgia passes its cargo from Armenia to Russia and back.

Thus, to please Moscow, Armenians are increasingly quarreling not only with neighbouring peoples – Azerbaijanis, Georgians and Turks, but also with Ukrainians far from them. The only thing that Moscow has not yet managed to do is to organise rallies in Yerevan against the United States and the European Union. “Real” Armenian politicians do not give up this position yet, but may be faced with a choice: a new batch of weapons in exchange for a rally against the United States or saying “goodbye.” The “raid” on Georgia and Saakashvili is the first “call” that such rallies will have to be held in Yerevan if they want Russian troops to enter Armenia through Georgia.

Russia’s “Peacekeeping” Mission in the Caucasus

It is Russia’s “peacekeeping” mission in the Caucasus, as in all other regions where it “establishes peace,” judging by the so-called “Kazan formula” for Karabakh. Moscow has been insisting on such a formula in Minsk for more than 10 years. According to it, Armenia must recognise Azerbaijan‘s sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh and seven other occupied territories. At the same time, Azerbaijan is deprived of the right to keep troops in these territories, but the Armenian army will continue to occupy not only Karabakh, but also two other areas, which are a “bridge” to this “island,” as Karabakh itself does not face Armenia.

Karabakh’s status is defined by the “Kazan formula” as special, but not definitive. It is suggested that it be the subject of further new discussions. In addition, Azerbaijan and Turkey must end the transport blockade of Armenia and allow cargo from Russia to enter. OSCE peacekeepers, in particular from France, are on the scene to monitor the implementation of the “Kazan formula,” but if they do not arrive, Russian ones are enough.

In fact, Moscow’s “Kazan formula” only preserves the current situation and legitimises the occupation. In essence, it repeats the Russian “formula” for Transnistria and is identical to the “Steinmeier formula” that the Kremlin has been imposing on Ukraine for two years. All these Moscow “formulas” are written off from one copier.

Naturally, Baku cannot agree with it, and the talks have reached a stalemate, from which they are now trying to withdraw them by force of arms. Moscow simply did not leave Baku any other option with its so-called “peacekeeping mission.”

Azerbaijan’s position, thanks to Turkey’s support, is already categorical – the unconditional return of all areas occupied by Armenia. Expulsion of Armenians from Karabakh is not planned. According to Ilham Aliyev (President of Azerbaijan – ed.), the question is not to expel Armenians from them, but to return to them one million Azerbaijanis who were expelled by Armenians and Russians.

The Kremlin is now showing caution and procrastination, not only because it does not want to become a “Pashinyan infantryman,” but also because of other “force major circumstances,” as Russian historian and professor Valery Solovey likes to call it.

Two Reasons

The first fact is that the Kremlin cannot understand what the Azerbaijani army is doing now. Is it really ready to reach the border with Armenia with the fighting or is it just a very hard coercion of Yerevan to peace and flexibility in the negotiations? If anything, to the awakening of conscience and encouragement of minds in Armenia.

Another day of war is coming, but the Azerbaijani army is only grinding the enemy’s forces from afar, and there is no deep advance of troops that was, for example, seen before the fifth day of the Russian-Georgian war.

The Kremlin is now trying to solve this conundrum, hoping that when the Azerbaijanis use up their ammunition, they will return to the negotiating table. If this is the case, and the Russian army now intervenes, it will really become Pashinyan’s “infantryman.” An infantryman who will be forced to fight long and hard to preserve the honor of the uniform.

The second circumstance is the notorious “Islamic factor” or Islamic terrorism, which Moscow has long and comprehensively cultivated, dreaming of directing it against the United States and the European Union. Everything that was said and done by Moscow in this direction can now fly to it with a boomerang.

The Kremlin’s public display of this fear is its efforts to prevent a war between the Armenian and Azerbaijani diasporas in Russia. For the first time, this warning came from the Kremlin during the July clash. But then they spoke about it carefully and in whispers. Now, the Kremlin has forced both communities to declare that they will not wage war on Russian territory. However, the Kremlin does not particularly believe in these assurances, given that during the war with Turkey in Idlib, Erdogan’s entourage directly promised to show Russia “Kuzkin’s mother” in an Islamic manner. He who sows the wind will reap the storm himself as a result.

Sergey Klimovsky

An author opinion can differ from the editorial position

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