Amid the recent influx of migrants from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, the country has sought assistance from Western nations. However, this move has exacerbated the already strained relations between Armenia and Russia. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has expressed strong criticism of the Russian troop presence in Armenia, characterizing it as superficial and lacking substantial benefits.
Notably, he refrained from openly criticizing or withdrawing from Armenia’s commitment to the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). At present, Armenia hosts approximately 10,000 Russian soldiers, with around 5,000 stationed at the 102nd Russian military base in Gyumri, near the Turkish border. Additional Russian forces are deployed at Zvartnots airport, the Erebuni military base, and in various regions in southern and eastern Armenia.
The reputation of the Armenian Prime Minister has been tarnished by a series of propaganda theories circulating in Russian media. Russia has openly criticized him and issued threats, warning of a potential scenario similar to the situation in Ukraine. In response, the Armenian Foreign Ministry has lodged a formal protest with Russia and summoned Ambassador Sergei Koprikin over the anti-Armenian statements and insults directed at Prime Minister Pashinyan in the media. Russian media and propagandists have been consistently advocating for a change in Armenia’s government.
Additionally, Russia has taken measures such as suspending Armenia’s driver’s licenses and demanding that Russian be made the official language, a move in line with policies seen in other Central Asian countries. Amid these developments, India and France have been supplying weapons to Armenia as it adopts a defensive stance in the face of these challenges.
Conflict with Russia:
Armenia’s distrust of Russia can be traced back to several factors, one of which is the perception that Russia did not initially intervene when the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan escalated in the two regions. This perceived lack of support may have eroded Armenia’s confidence in Russia as a reliable ally.
Furthermore, Armenia’s decision to welcome the ICC’s issuance of an arrest warrant over war crimes in Ukraine for President Putin could have further strained the relationship between the two countries. This move may have exacerbated tensions, given that Russia and Armenia have traditionally had a close partnership.
Support from EU
The European Union, as a staunch supporter of Armenia, has already made significant contributions, providing millions of dollars to assist in caring for the displaced population, many of whom were affected by Azerbaijan’s nine-month blockade and the military assault that occurred in September. Armenia has expressed a preference for EU-led peace talks in the ongoing conflict, seeking their involvement in the negotiation process.
In contrast, Azerbaijan has shown a preference for Russian-led peace talks and has rejected EU-brokered peace negotiations. This divergence in preference for mediators reflects the complex geopolitical dynamics surrounding the conflict and the different roles that external actors like the EU and Russia play in the region. The choice of mediator can significantly impact the negotiation process and the prospects for reaching a peaceful resolution.