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?
Confrontation between Georgians and Azerbaijanis on the border of both countries over the ownership of Davit Gareja monastery complex have heightened the tensions around Armenia and the region at large. The dispute between Georgia and Azerbaijan presents a threat to Armenia’s national security and the security of Armenian people residing in Georgia. As such, it is in Armenia’s interest to offer diplomatic assistance to Georgia in settling their conflict with Azerbaijan to prevent the dispute spinning out of control and leading to deadly consequences for the people in the region.
Azerbaijani firing at the Elpin village of Armenia from Nakhijevan is yet another threat to Armenia’s national security that hasn’t been addressed yet. The latest incident should have reminded Armenia that Nakhijevan presents itself a direct threat to Armenia’s national security unless this threat is dealt with and neutralized as soon as possible. The longer it takes to do so the more dangerous it will become to deal with later on.
Moscow’s mistrust of the Armenian government headed by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan dates all the way back to his rise to power last year in the so-called “Velvet Revolution.” And that mistrust has persisted despite Pashinyan’s various foreign policy gambits designed to win Russia’s confidence (see EDM, March 21). At the same time, Pashinyan’s domestic agenda—specifically, his determination to dismantle the previous regime’s oligarchic/kleptocratic order, including by prosecuting former president Robert Kocharyan for abuses of power—seems to be increasingly irking Moscow as well. For years, Russia has fostered numerous collaborationist “deep state” assets in various levels of the decision-making apparatuses in both Yerevan and Armenian-backed Stepanakert, the capital of the province of Karabakh, which broke away from Azerbaijan in 1991. As a result, Moscow is able to benefit politically from the current deepening rift between certain segments of the Armenian political elite. Karabakh (or “Artsakh” as it is known in the Armenian historical designation), the political status of which has long been disputed between Armenia and Azerbaijan, to date is the only ethno-political conflict in the post-Soviet space where Russia possesses neither boots on the ground nor explicit direct control. Nevertheless, for years, Moscow has periodically sought to use the local authorities in Karabakh as a proxy tool of coercive diplomacy against both Baku and Yerevan.