RFE/RL Armenian Report – 04/13/2023


U.S., Armenian Officials Discuss Sanctions Against Russia

U.S. - U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo mees Armenian Deputy Prime 
Minister Mher Grigorian, Washington, April 11, 2023.

Senior U.S. officials appear to have pressed the Armenian government to comply 
with U.S. sanctions against Russia during talks held in Yerevan and Washington 
this week.

The issue was on the agenda of U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo’s 
meeting on Tuesday with Armenia’s visiting Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigorian.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, Adeyemo “discussed recent economic 
developments in Armenia” and “highlighted the United States’ global efforts to 
prevent evasion of U.S. sanctions and export controls imposed on Russia.”

An Armenian government statement on the meeting made no mention of the 
sanctions. It said the two sides discussed a “wide range of issues” relating to 
bilateral U.S.-Armenian relations.

Khachatrian was accompanied by Deputy Finance Minister Eduard Hakobian and Armen 
Nurbekian, a deputy governor of the Armenian Central Bank

U.S. Assistant Commerce Secretary Thea Kendler visited Armenia on Monday. The 
U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, Kristina Kvien, tweeted that she joined Kendler in 
meeting with senior Armenian officials “to discuss Armenia’s continued 
commitment to upholding U.S. sanctions.”

Kvien said nothing about the results of the meetings with the chief of Prime 
Minister Nikol Pashinian’s staff, Arayik Harutiunian, Finance Minister Tigran 
Khachatrian and the secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, Armen Grigorian. 
There was no word on the sanctions, imposed after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, 
in official Armenian readouts of the talks.

Two other senior U.S. officials travelled to Yerevan last week for a session of 
the U.S.-Armenia Strategic Dialogue.

Last month, the U.S. departments of Justice, Treasury and Commerce issued a 
joint “compliance note” warning companies about the risk of violating the U.S. 
sanctions on Moscow. The notice said that third-party intermediaries have 
commonly used China, Armenia, Turkey and Uzbekistan as “transshipment points” to 
Russia as well as Belarus.

Armenia’s trade with Russia has skyrocketed since the outbreak of the war in 
Ukraine and the resulting Western sanctions.

Armenian exports to Russia nearly tripled, to $2.4 billion, last year. Goods 
manufactured in third countries and re-exported from Armenia to Russia are 
believed to have accounted for most of that gain.

Official Armenian statistics also shows that individual cash remittances from 
Russia to Armenia quadrupled to almost $3.6 billion. The soaring trade with and 
cash flows from Russia are the main reason why the Armenian economy grew by 12.6 
percent in 2022.

Another Azeri Soldier Detained In Armenia

        • Ruzanna Stepanian

Armenia - A screenshot of video of Syunik residents apprehending an Azerbaijani 
soldier, .

Armenian authorities detained on Thursday another Azerbaijani soldier who 
crossed into Armenia in unclear circumstances.

The reportedly unarmed soldier was spotted and apprehended by several men on a 
highway near Kapan, the administrative center of southeastern Syunik province. 
They handed him over to police.

“At first he claimed to be an Iranian. But he wore an Azerbaijani military 
uniform,” one of the men, Ara Sukiasian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

“We tied his hands and I told my wife to call the police so that they come and 
deal with him,” he said.

Law-enforcement authorities in Yerevan did not clarify whether the soldier is 
connected to another Azerbaijani serviceman who was detained on Monday in a 
Syunik village located about 100 kilometers northwest of Kapan. According to the 
Armenian military, the latter claimed to have crossed the Armenian border with 
Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave together with another soldier.

They deserted their army unit in Nakhichevan because of “being subjected to 
hazing and humiliation by other soldiers,” Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian 
claimed on Wednesday as the Armenian authorities continued looking for the other 
presumed fugitive.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported on Monday that two of its soldiers 
serving in Nakhichevan have done missing in heavy fog. It subsequently 
identified the conscripts as Akshin Bebirov and Huseyn Akhundov and asked 
international organizations to help repatriate them.

The Armenian authorities have still not released the identity of either soldier 
held by them in detention.

The second detention came one day after the killing of a security guard working 
for a Syunik-based mining company. The 56-year-old man was found shot dead 
outside a village located several kilometers from whether the second Azerbaijani 
was caught.

Another Syunik resident who apprehended him told News.am that the soldier 
possessed the murdered guard’s mobile phone. Sukiasian said, however, that he 
“did not see the phone.”

Rumors about the Azerbaijani soldier’s involvement in the murder intensified 
after the circulation later on Thursday of an Instagram video of seemingly the 
same soldier bragging about killing Armenians and saying at the same time that 
“we are not traitors of our fatherland.”

A spokesman for Armenia’s Investigative Committee said afterwards that the 
law-enforcement authorities not yet have any evidence that the detained soldier 
committed the murder.

Armenia’s Border Guard Chief Sacked

        • Astghik Bedevian

Armenia - Colonel Arman Maralchian.

Opposition leaders accused Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on Thursday of trying 
to dodge responsibility for continuing national security failures after he 
sacked the commander of Armenia’s Border Guard Troops.

The official, Arman Maralchian, was relieved of his duties on Wednesday one day 
after four Armenian soldiers were killed in fighting with Azerbaijani forces 
near the Armenian border village of Tegh.

Azerbaijani army units took up new positions in that area on March 30 after 
advancing into what Yerevan regards as sovereign Armenian territory. They 
completed a partial change of the route of the Lachin corridor connecting 
Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Pashinian and the National Security Service (NSS) initially downplayed the 
Azerbaijani advance but later acknowledged the loss of a large part of 
agricultural land and pastures belonging to Tegh’s farmers.

Pashinian’s political opponents blamed him for the fresh Azerbaijani territorial 
gains, saying that the Armenian army should have taken up positions along the 
Armenian side of the border section beforehand. They said that Pashinian not 
only failed to issue such an order but also declared on March 30 that from now 
on the Tegh area will be patrolled and protected by lightly armed border guards 
subordinate to the NSS, rather than army units.

The criticism intensified following Tuesday’s border clash, which also left at 
least three Azerbaijani soldiers dead.

Pashinian claimed on Wednesday that the deadly violence occurred because 
security officials failed to execute his “concrete instructions.”

“What happened should not have happened and it is clear, at least for me, that 
we need to investigate what happened there and why it happened,” he told the 
Armenian parliament.

Maralchian’s dismissal was announced shortly after Pashinian’s remarks. Armenian 
government officials and pro-government lawmakers declined to comment on it on 

Tigran Abrahamian, a senior lawmaker representing the opposition Pativ Unem 
bloc, said that Pashinian’s government is seeking to scapegoat security 
officials for its inability to defend the country.

“I believe that the sacking of the commander of the Border Guard Troops 
primarily stems from the authorities’ obsession with dodging political 
responsibility and finding scapegoats whom they can blame,” Abrahamian told 
RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

France Demands Azeri Withdrawal From ‘Armenian Territory’

France -- The building of the French Foreign Ministry.

France accused Azerbaijan of occupying Armenia’s sovereign territory when it 
reacted late on Wednesday to the latest deadly clash on the border between the 
two South Caucasus states.

It said the fighting, which left at least seven soldiers from both sides dead, 
broke out Tuesday “in Armenian territory” near Tegh, a border village in 
Armenia’s Syunik province.

Azerbaijani army units took up new positions in the area on March 30 after 
advancing into what Yerevan regards as Armenian territory. Baku denies that they 
crossed the border.

“We reiterate that the delineation of the border must be achieved exclusively 
through negotiations, and we urge the Parties to continue their efforts to that 
end,” read a statement released by the French Foreign Ministry.

“Armenia’s territorial integrity must be respected and Azerbaijani forces 
occupying positions on the Armenian side of the line of contact must withdraw in 
order to prevent future incidents and preserve the foundations of a lasting 
peace in the region,” it said.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry condemned the “one-sided” statement and 
presented is as another example of France’s “biased attitude” towards Azerbaijan.

Unlike France, the European Union did not blame either side for the fighting. An 
EU foreign policy spokeswoman urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to withdraw their 
troops from the volatile border and respect each other’s territorial integrity.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian hailed the EU’s reaction on Thursday, saying that 
Yerevan has backed the idea of troop disengagement for the last two years. “Such 
a solution is hampered by Azerbaijan’s unconstructive position,” he said.

The Armenian military has said that Tuesday’s fighting erupted when its troops 
deployed just outside Tegh came under Azerbaijani fire. Baku has blamed the 
Armenian side for the escalation.

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