02/15/2023, 09.19
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Contradictory Yerevan teeters between Moscow and the West

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Armenians agree EU observer mission at disputed border with Azerbaijan. The irritation of the Kremlin, their historical partner. The Russians fear that Armenia is preparing a geopolitical turn. After Syria and Ukraine, risk of a third front of conflict between Putin and the Western front.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The report of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, with an appeal to Azerbaijan to pull its troops out of Armenia's territory, has been greeted in Yerevan with great enthusiasm.

Added to this was the decision to form an EU observer mission to monitor the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, seen as a diplomatic victory for Armenia. At the same time, these moves have provoked strong opposition from Russia, which remains the Armenians' first partner.

Moscow considers the declarations of the Yerevan leaders in favour of the arrival of European representatives on the border with Azerbaijan unconvincing. Prime Minister Nikol Pašinyan's words about the mission also having to verify the movements of Russian and Armenian troops, in order to avoid improper accusations by the Azeris, have been received by the Kremlin with great perplexity and irritation.

In Moscow they are convinced that the EU is trying to change the security system in the South Caucasus. Foreign Representative Maria Zakharova spoke of an 'attempt to drag the EU into the region', while 'Russian peacekeepers guarantee peace in Nagorno-Karabakh'.

Adding fuel to the fire was the news that the EU mission might not only be civilian, with the addition of a group of French gendarmes. Yerevan's explanations that gendarmes are better suited by profession to compile the necessary reports did not convince the Russian side much.

In this context, statements by Moscow and Yerevan on intentions to strengthen mutual cooperation, including in the military sphere, arouse suspicion among Moscow politicians that the Armenians are actually preparing a geopolitical turnaround, not liking Moscow's attentions to Baku while trying to rein in Armenia.

Moscow's mediation is more acceptable to the Azeris than to the Armenians, who feel they are not adequately supported by their historical allies, not only in deeds, but also in words. Moscow's appeals to free the Lačin corridor, addressed equally to the two contenders, were considered a provocation and a form of naive amateurism.

Not to mention Yerevan's difficult relations with Csto, the Russian-led Eurasian military alliance, which has done nothing to defend one of its members from Azerbaijani aggression, again without wasting any statements in favour of Armenia. Even Belarusian President Lukashenko advised the Armenians to meet all Baku's demands.

It is therefore not surprising that Armenia turned to the EU, where it found more understanding than its former Soviet 'friends'. Moreover, the circumstances surrounding the war in Ukraine make the Europeans themselves very unwilling towards the Russians, and in this Yerevan risks being caught between a rock and a hard place, represented in this scenario by Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Europe's attraction in these areas could also alarm Iran, which is very interested in unblocking the Caucasian communication routes. Tehran has already declared itself against the involvement of other players in the game, declaring itself willing to lend a hand in solving the problems.

Armenian political scientist Beniamin Matevosyan, commenting on all these entanglements on News.am, recalled that the clash between Russia and the West is developing in two directions, that of Ukraine and that of Syria, and considers it very dangerous for a third front to open up in the Caucasus. The contradiction, moreover, has already penetrated inside Armenia, with the risk that 'Artsakh [Karabakh] and Armenia itself will become a new global war scenario'.

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