25 September 2023, Monday, 8:35
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Stepan Grigoryan On Conflict Between Armenia And Russia: That Has Never Happened Before In History

Stepan Grigoryan On Conflict Between Armenia And Russia: That Has Never Happened Before In History
Stepan Grigoryan

Yerevan may leave the CSTO.

At the beginning of September, a rather significant public conflict took place between Armenia and Russia. Yerevan speaks of its dissatisfaction with the Russian authorities and wants rapprochement with the West, while Moscow is expressing concern. What has been happening in recent weeks between Armenia and Russia?

Charter97.org journalists talked about this with Stepan Grigoryan, one of the leaders of the democratic movement in Armenia in the 1990s, a former deputy of the Supreme Council of the republic and ex-Ambassador of Armenia to Russia:

– I would not say that this is a conflict of recent weeks. Russia openly took a rather tough pro-Azerbaijani position in the middle of 2020. This could not but cause discontent in Yerevan, although Armenia seemed to be an ally of Russia and the CSTO member state. There were attacks on the territory of Armenia both in May 2020 and in November of the same year. There was also a major aggression on the territory of our country in September last year. Nevertheless, Russia and the CSTO did not even make statements. That's stunning. There are places where Azerbaijani troops entered Armenian territory for seven kilometres, but neither the CSTO nor Russia assessed this situation. Moreover, they said that these are border disputes.

Naturally, the Armenian authorities are also dissatisfied with the Karabakh issue: the Kremlin’s position is really strange. That’s why we see such heightened inter-diplomatic tension between Yerevan and Moscow. Russia almost openly says: “We are not doing anything, but you cannot reorient yourself to others. Yes, we are not helping you, we have our own interests with Turkey and Azerbaijan. We won’t help you, but you have no right to save yourself.” This is a very important point that many people do not get.

Our government began to work with different countries: the USA, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and other European countries, and we are now actively working with India. This causes great jealousy in the Kremlin. This is a very interesting phenomenon when Russia itself does not help, but at the same time declares that we have no right to save ourselves.

I believe that international experts should begin to study this phenomenon: That has never happened before in the history of mankind. Yes, sometimes it happens that an ally stops helping you and betrays you. But this has never happened before when an ally refused help and forbade saving your own people. This is a new and interesting Putin Phenomenon, but Armenia will resist it.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan (this is important information for us) gave an interview, which was shown on public television in Armenia. A large part of it was devoted to foreign policy and relations with Russia. The Prime Minister spoke about the important steps that Armenia is taking. These are, for example, the ratification of the Rome Statute in the near future, Armenian-American military exercises, and the trip of Anna Hakobyan, the wife of the Prime Minister, to Ukraine with humanitarian aid. We will do all this as an independent country that thinks for itself and ensures its own security. This idea is very clear: We will find additional international tools to ensure our security, including working with international organizations, courts and so on.

– Do you think these are symbolic steps or the beginning of big changes in Yerevan’s political course?

– This is the beginning of big changes for Yerevan, because there have been such attempts before, but each time Russia managed to deceive our authorities. We have always warned the Armenian authorities that this is a mistake, they must refuse Russia’s services, the Kremlin is not with us and will not be with us in the near future. Their interests coincide with Turkey a lot, so Russia will always stand for Azerbaijan. We warned that it is necessary to create alternatives in all areas - economics, energy and defence.

But the authorities took one step forward and two steps back, because Russia persuaded and promised to help. Fortunately, our authorities have become more serious and Russia’s manipulations no longer affect them. So this reversal is quite serious. I cannot say yet estimate the intensity of this, but it is already clear that it’s serious and final.

– Should we expect any extreme moves from Pashinyan in relation to Moscow in the near future?

– If there is an extreme move, it will be leaving the CSTO, which I personally consider inevitable. Military cooperation with France, the USA and a number of other countries ultimately demands to leave the CSTO. The organization has protocols that limit our ability to collaborate. Therefore, I think that the next step will be to leave the CSTO.

And then we’ll see how events will develop because there are still such important factors as the unresolved Karabakh issue until a peace treaty with Azerbaijan is signed. Still, I will say more, if this agreement is signed, the departure from Russia will accelerate, that is, Armenia will follow a more independent path, and there will be more cooperation with the West. But there is one specific thing: the Armenian authorities wanted to work with Russia, but, roughly speaking, Russia did not support them and took the side of Azerbaijan. Therefore, the Armenian authorities are looking for an alternative. They will be forced to take a pro-Western course.