Staunton, November 21 – Armenia’s losses in the recent war with Azerbaijan highlight for Armenians an unpleasant truth: their country is “a failed state,” Yana Amelina says. Moreover, it is one that has no chance for survival except in the closest possible union with Russia, something that at present Moscow is currently inclined against.
If Armenia is to survive, the Russian specialist on the Caucasus says, it needs a union with Russia in which it would have to give up part of its sovereignty in order to get the assistance it needs to address its most pressing problems, including the imminent arrival of tens of thousands of refugees (kavkazgeoclub.ru/content/spasti-armeniyu-mozhet-tolko-rossiya).
But the question is, she says, “does Moscow need this?” At present, “the answer is obvious, more no than yes. But political arrangements as before are defined by historical ties and Christian unity and it is there that the last hope of Yerevan lies.” It certainly helps to explain why Armenians have looked to Moscow in the past.
Amelina reviews polls in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh over the last several years to reach this conclusion, but she says that Armenians in both places have failed to articulate the kind of national idea on which an integral nation state could be built and have thought they could pursue a multi-vectorial foreign policy despite the key position Russia occupies.
As a result, she suggests, Armenia is less attractive to Russia as even a tightly linked ally than many in Armenia are inclined to assume. And unless that changes, she suggests, Moscow will continue to avoid taking steps toward a closer set of relations that are required if Armenia is to survive.
Three things make these remarks intriguing – their timing, their tone, and their dismissive attitude toward Armenia. Amelina has consistently backed Moscow’s desire to expand its influence in the Caucasus. For her to say this just now and in this way suggests that many in Moscow are fed up not just with Nikol Pashinyan but with Armenia as such.
If many around the Kremlin feel as she does, Armenia faces a very difficult future. Russia is no longer the ally it thought it was and won’t be again unless Armenia makes concessions to Russia that may be just as humiliating as those Yerevan had to make to get a ceasefire.
And in the absence of a Russian ally, it is not clear who else might step in. France and the US may be rhetorically in Yerevan’s corner for domestic reasons but they are unlikely to do anything on the ground as it were that would significantly help Yerevan. Iran might but would be opposed by others. And China is very far away and has interests that point in another direction.