WSJ: Pashinyan sees no advantage in Russian military presence in Armenia

The Kyiv Independent
Oct 26 2023
by Martin Fornusek

Yerevan sees no advantage in the continued presence of Russian military bases in Armenia, as Moscow failed to live up to its commitment as an ally, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published on Oct. 25.

Armenia's rival Azerbaijan launched a military offensive last month against the ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, achieving full military victory after a day of hostilities.

Moscow failed to dissuade or stop Baku's advance even though Russian "peacekeepers" have been present in the region since the last Karabakh war in 2020. Russia is also Armenia's formal ally, as both countries are members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) military pact.

The military cooperation between the two nations includes Russian army garrisons in two locations on Armenian territory, as well as an airbase, Reuters said.

"These events have essentially brought us to a decision that we need to diversify our relationships in the security sphere, and we are trying to do that now," Pashinyan said in the interview.

Armenia has been increasingly looking further west for new allies. French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said earlier this week that France agreed to strengthen the Caucasian country's air defense capabilities.

Pashinyan's steps sparked have ire in Russia. An unnamed Russian official told the state news agency TASS that the Armenian leadership is "trying to turn Armenia into Ukraine No. 3… and Pashinyan is taking leaps and bounds along the path of Volodymyr Zelensky."

In his speech in the European Parliament on Oct. 17, the Armenian head of government noted that not only did Yerevan's allies decline to fulfill their security obligations, but they also attempted to "subvert Armenia's democracy and sovereignty." He stopped short of naming a specific country, however.

Yerevan may need more reliable partners soon. Western leadership is reportedly growing worried that Azerbaijan may not satisfy itself with Karabakh and might try to conquer parts of Armenia in the coming months to create a land bridge with Turkey, the Journal said.

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS