Monday, March 29, 2021

Yerevan Likely to Turn on Moscow Even If Russia Were to Open a Second Base in Armenia, Karakhanyan Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 27 – Several opposition parties in Armenia are calling for a new security relationship with the Russian Federation and urging the opening of a second Russian military base there, but Simon Karakhanyan says these are passions of the moment and that Armenians will likely turn on the Russians and blame them for Yerevan’s losses in the Qarabagh fighting.

            The ethnic Armenian commentator for the Russian nationalist Rex portal says that Moscow should not be taken in by the statements Armenian politicians are making. Those reflect a natural obsession with security in the wake of a war; but they are unlikely to remain stable for long (

            Indeed, he says, the incumbents in Armenia are opposed to a new security arrangement with Russia and to a new base; and the opponents are likely using such calls to set themselves apart from the government of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan rather than as a reflection of a true change of heart.

            Consequently, even if the opposition takes power, there is little reason to think that Armenia will change, Karakhanyan argues. “The main question is whether Russia needs a new base and a new military-political agreement which at any moment could become another argument for the accusation that ‘Russia didn’t help us even though it has two bases.’”

            “Event now,” the Moscow commentator says, “one can hear accusations against Russia that it didn’t help Armenia and that it is necessary to look for alternative” security arrangements because the tripartite agreements on Qarabagh gave Azerbaijan too much just as Moscow gave Kemalist Turkey too much at the expense of Armenia.

            Given how many Armenians already feel this way or are likely to in the future, Karakhanyan argues, Russia should not get itself tied down by any new military-political agreement with Yerevan “or build a new military base” there.

            Three aspects of Karakhanyan’s article are noteworthy. First, it is an indication that at least some in Moscow don’t want to open a second base either because of its costs or because it could create more problems with Turkey and Azerbaijan. Second, it shows that Moscow is not very confident that Yerevan is as ready to turn to Russia as some have suggested.

            And third, and most important, it constitutes a recognition that Moscow’s failure to intervene earlier and more successfully on Armenia’s side in the latest Qarabagh war means that even the Russian leadership now recognizes that it has lost Armenia as a reliable ally and that Armenians will never view Russia as their protector in the ways they did earlier. 

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