Since the change of government in Armenia last year Armenia’s foreign policy is gradually taking shape. It is developing very slowly and steadily but so far it hasn’t fully matured yet. Armenia’s foreign policy attempts to balance between competing interests of the East (Russia) and the West (US/EU/NATO) while refusing to benefit from the ongoing political confrontation between the two sides. Furthermore, the present status of Artsakh became a point of discussion in Armenia as Armenia’s foreign policy establishment attempts to figure out which approach will be most beneficial to the security of Armenian people-treating Artsakh as an independent republic or as one of Armenia’s provinces in par with Syunik Region, Ararat Region and others. Consequently, what changes are needed to resolve this question and how effective is the present course of Armenia’s foreign policy ?
Turkish invasion of Kurdish dominated northeast and northwest of Syria after rapid withdrawal of American troops has somehow caught many political observers and analysts both in the US and around the world off-guard, yet such a move was long time coming and it was just a matter of time before American troops would start their withdrawal. For many Armenians around the world recent developments in Syria were reminiscent of unexpected Russian troops withdrawal from what is commonly known as “West Armenia” before the end of WW-1 when countless of Armenians became victims of a genocide perpetrated by the government of Turkey against ethnic and religious minorities of the Ottoman Empire. As such, one needs to reflect upon latest events and analyze historical precedents to better understand present and future threats facing the Armenian people and the Armenian statehood in light of multi-fold security implications that arise as a result of sudden but significant political maneuvers on behalf of bigger powers dominating the region. What are those threats and how do they need to be countered as we analyze our present and look into the future?
Armenia’s 2018 Velvet Revolution raised hopes for a reinvigoration of the country’s decades-long partnership with the U.S. However, this relationship remains stagnant, despite the visit of a U.S. delegation led by National Security Adviser John Bolton in October 2018 and the subsequent visit of Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent to Yerevan in May 2019, resulting in the formal elevation of Armenia’s relations with the U.S. to the level of “strategic dialogue.” Moreover, Yerevan’s decision to dispatch a military-humanitarian mission to Syria remains an irritant in its interaction with Washington. As a consequence, the ties have reached a historical low-point in comparison with the improving cooperation between the U.S. and other Caucasian states.
Russia recently supplied Turkey with S-400 air defense systems which has raised many questions in the region and the world at large considering that Turkey is a NATO member that has defied American warnings not to proceed with this deal. United States offered Turkey its equivalent air defense system: MIM-104 Patriot. As a result of such defiance United States removed Turkey from the F-35 development program and stopped training Turkish pilots in the United States. According to some Turkish sources, one of the S-400 air defense regiments is planned to be stationed on the border with Armenia while the other one will be positioned somewhere near Ankara.
Stationing of S-400 air defense regiment next to Armenia is capable of altering Armenia’s security calculations as it relates to countering threats originating from Nakhijevan and the functioning of a number of air bases in Armenia, including the Russian patrol airwing at the Erebuni airbase near Yerevan. What counter measures should Armenia consider to address the threat emanating from Turkey-based S-400 air defense system and exactly what are the security implications that need to be addressed by Armenia’s air force?