Friday, 05 March 2021

E Editorial

Security environment of Armenia is changing

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A number of events in March demonstrate the continuing deepening of the crisis in international relations directly affecting the security interests of the Republic of Armenia. First of all, this concerns the sharpening of the military rhetoric of the US and Russia regarding the development of the military-political situation in Syria.

There is no less rigidity in the positions of key regional powers: Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The offensive operations of the Syrian Army in the suburbs of Damascus-Ghuta, as well as the deepening of the position of the Turkish army in Syrian Afrin, provoked claims and demands of all the players from one another. It came to the point that the United States and Russia declared their readiness to use weapons if the situation does not develop at their will. Equally disturbing are the demands of Iran and Saudi Arabia to Turkey to stop the operation in Afrin. It can already be asserted that the trilateral format of cooperation between Russia, Iran and Turkey to resolve the situation in Syria is under threat of disintegration. With the continuation of this trend, the balance of power in the region can undergo serious changes. This will directly affect the regional policy of all powers.

Regarding the problems affecting the security of Armenia, one can say that there is a noticeable polarization of the positions of Russia and the Western powers on the issue of military-political cooperation with the countries of the South Caucasus. It's necessary to single out a number of important recent statements here. The US threatened to sanction those countries that will have significant deals on the purchase of Russian arms. The chief of the CSTO's main headquarters stated that this organization will not help Nagorno-Karabakh in case of war. These statements were followed by two important events. On March 14, at a briefing in the Armenian parliament, the chairman of the Committee on International Affairs of the Council of Federation of Russia, K. Kosachev, stated that "after 2016 Russia has seriously changed its military policy on the Karabakh conflict. Russia is only fulfilling the contracts concluded before April 2016." Two days earlier, on March 12, the Azerbaijani army launched large-scale military exercises with military firing and a "counter-offensive" program. Nagorno-Karabakh also began tank exercises. That is, everyone in the region demonstrated their positions. However, it was noteworthy that the President of the Republic of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan visited the US Congress on March 14, where, at the reception given to him, Sahakyan stated: "The development and deepening of relations with the United States of America was, is and will be one of the fundamental directions of our foreign policy." And no less interesting, Armenian-British military-political consultations took place in London on March 12-13, following which the sides signed a plan of cooperation between the two military departments for 2018, which provides for more than 20 joint events in the educational centers of Armenia and Great Britain. These events took place against the backdrop of Britain's new stringent demands on Russia. It's a well-known statement of the British Prime Minister T. May on March 14 on the measures of "punishment" of Russia on its involvement in the poisoning of S. Skripal.

As they say: everything is untwisted and confused definitively. One could expect sharp reactions from Azerbaijan and the future flirtations of Russia. And so it was. US Ambassador to Azerbaijan Robert Sekuta was summoned to the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, where he received a note of protest sent by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry to the US Department of State. On March 15, the Azerbaijani side demonstratively didn't withdraw the OSCE mission to the planned monitoring of the OSCE on the contact line of the troops. And on March 15, Russian MFA spokesperson Maria Zakharova said during a briefing on Thursday that there is no representation of the Artsakh Republic in Moscow. That is, Russia once again "washed its hands" of Nagorno-Karabakh within a month. Armenia and Artsakh necessarily have to deepen relations with the West -- Russia by its actions pushes them to it. In principle, Russia benefits from these trends, as they give it additional opportunities to strengthen its influence on Azerbaijan. But for the time being these tendencies are unusual for everyone. The security environment for all countries in the region is becoming blurred - who and how will behave in the future is not entirely clear. So far, we see only the general desire to prevent any changes. An example is the joint statement on supporting the sovereignty and inviolability of the state borders of four states, made by Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia on March 15.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

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