Staunton, October 13 – The objections that Kazakhstan and Belarus raised to the inclusion of Armenia in the Eurasian Economic Union attracted a great deal of attention, with virtually all analysts in Russia and the West saying that their positions reflected a desire to maintain good ties with Azerbaijan concerning the Karabakh dispute.
But an Armenian political scientist, Armen Grigoryan, in an interview to the Yerevan newspaper “Aravot” provides another explanation. Armenia, he says, is a tool that Moscow plans to use against the two other members of the Eurasian Economic Union because its presence gives the Russian government “two votes out of four” and opens the way for introducing Moscow-desired changes in the organization (regnum.ru/news/polit/1855929.html).
To the extent that is the case – and both the balance of interests in the organization and the focus of the leaders of the member states on formal niceties suggests that it is – Moscow will be continuing a long tradition of using an Armenia whose rulers have assumed they have no other choice but to go along.
However, to the extent that this is understood by all concerned inside and outside the Eurasian Economic Union, Moscow will have more difficulty rather than less in attracting new members especially among the Muslim republics of Central Asia. And that, more than anything else, could slow down the expansion of this latest Putin project, possibly killing it altogether.