Staunton, December 30 – Calls by some in Yerevan to create a Russian-Armenian “union state” to protect the Armenians from Turkey and Azerbaijan are first and foremost a reflection of the post-traumatic syndrome disorder among Armenians, find little support in Moscow and will soon dissipate, IMEMO Caucasus specialist Vadim Mukhanov says.
Some Armenians are inclined to make such proposals because they really believe that without such a union, Armenia will become “a Turkish vilayet,” while others argue that Moscow’s failure to support Yerevan during the recent fighting shows that Armenia must join Russia or face even worse in the future.
But this idea is going nowhere for “a whole line of reasons, Mukhanov says, and will soon disappear from the public space in Yerevan and, what may be far more important, not gain any traction in Moscow which has compelling reasons now not to agree to such a new arrangement (mk.ru/politics/2020/12/29/soyuznoe-gosudarstvo-armenii-i-rossii-byt-ili-ne-byt.html).
First of all, the Moscow analyst continues, “Armenia is in a intense military-political conflict with Azerbaijan.” Moscow doesn’t want to be drawn more deeply into that. “Second, [Armenia] has not delimited its borders,” guaranteeing that any close ties with it would have exactly that effect. “And third,” Russia and Armenia “do not share a common border.”
To be sure, he argues, “Russia is the guarantor of the security of Eurasia, but only as an ally and not as its new common home. The latter is more an ideological tale than anything else, with the help of which some are trying to calm society. But when a little time has passed, they will forget about it.”
And the future relationship between Moscow and Yerevan will remain “bilateral ties of two independent states.”
On the one hand, this recalls the situation in Soviet times when the Bulgarians asked to become part of the USSR and Moscow said no. But on the other, given Putin’s desire to create a union state, it reflects a recognition in Moscow that at present in any case, Russia’s position in the Caucasus and elsewhere is not strong enough to move to create a union state.
And that realization may lead some in Moscow to urge that the Kremlin to back away from union state plans not only in the Caucasus but elsewhere and in the first instance with Belarus however passionately Putin and his regime may have wanted this up to now.
Ayk Khalatyan, an Armenian political analyst, also reacted to this idea in a comment for Moskovsky komsomolets. He says that there really are people in Armenia who think that a union state is a necessary precondition for their salvation, but there aren’t people in Moscow who believe this is “something Russia needs.”
Armenia has no choice but to be a close ally with Russia, he continues. In the Caucasus now, the only other power center is Turkey; and an alliance with Turkey remains unthinkable for Armenians regardless of their views on anything else. But knowing that is the case, Moscow has no reason to go further than it wants to in meeting Armenian requests.