PM hints that Armenia can’t rely on Russia’s protection amid Karabakh debacle

The Kyiv Independent
Sept 24 2023
by Igor Kossov andThe Kyiv Independent news desk

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan hinted on Sept. 24 that his country can no longer rely on Russia's protection after the Azerbaijani army quickly defeated ethnic Armenian forces in the restive Nagorno-Karabakh region.  

"The recent attacks on Armenia by Azerbaijan allow us to draw an obvious conclusion that the external security systems in which we are involved are not effective from the point of view of state interests and the country's security," he said in a public comment on TV.

Armenia belongs to the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russian-led military bloc.

Moscow has sent "peacekeepers" to the region but they had very little impact on Azerbaijan's military strike. Hundreds are believed to have died and there were widely publicized images of Armenians fleeing through Russia's own peacekeeping base.

Several of these "peacekeepers" were killed, Moscow later admitted.

This may be reportedly causing an upswell of anti-Russian feelings in Armenia. It is also being reported as a sign of Russia's waning influence in the lands of the former Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, Pashinyan's chief of staff, Araik Harutyunyan, charged that Russian media is already waging a hybrid disinformation war against his country.    

In his Facebook account, Harutyanyan cited an example of a fake story, in which protesters in Yerevan supposedly broke into a government building and saw American airborne troops inside.

In reality, no protesters stormed government buildings that day, he added.

On Sept. 20, Nagorno-Karabakh surrendered to the Azerbaijani military in exchange for a Russian-brokered ceasefire after one day of attacks by Azerbaijani forces.

Nagorno-Karabakh is recognized as Azerbaijani territory under international law. Its population of 120,000 is predominantly Armenian.

The territory declared independence in 1991 with Yerevan's military support. Until 2020, Armenia de facto controlled Nagorno-Karabakh together with the surrounding regions.

In 2021 Azerbaijani forces also invaded several internationally recognized Armenian territories in the east of the country and are still occupying them.

Azerbaijan's 2023 offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh came amid deteriorating relations between Armenia and Russia. Speculation is rife that the Kremlin has intentionally allowed Azerbaijan to defeat Nagorno-Karabakh in an effort to unseat Pashinyan, who has flirted with the West.

On Sept. 11, Armenian and U.S. forces started joint military exercises.

Moscow reacted negatively to the exercises. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he does not expect "anything good" to come out of the drills.

On Sept. 1, the Armenian government also sent the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC), to the parliament for ratification.

The move irritated Russia because the ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Russia has called Armenia's intention to ratify the statute "unacceptable" and warned about "extremely negative consequences."

Meanwhile, Russian propagandist Vladimir Solovyov has threatened that the Kremlin could launch an invasion of Armenia and Georgia.