Coming to Grips With Russia’s New Nerve - September, 2008

Russia's lethal armed forces coupled with its immense natural wealth and its control of Central Asian energy distribution networks are the fundamental reasons why the Russian Federation can potentially become the most powerful political entity in the 21 century. This explains the fear currently felt by the political/financial elite in the West. Since Putin's rise to power Moscow has succeeded in essentially monopolizing Eurasia's energy production as well as its distribution. Moscow is indeed in the driver's seat, to say the least. I simply want Armenia to at the very least be in its passenger seat... With Moscow now fully in command in the Caucasus, we can expect Baku to begin gradually abandoning its projects with the West within the near future. Azerbaijan has no option but to dance to the tune being played in the Kremlin. Nonetheless, I firmly believe that Armenia will not lose its strategic value in the eyes of Moscow. Moscow knows that none of their regional agendas, now or in the foreseeable future could be possible without having a firm foothold in Armenia. Moreover, Western inspired projects similar to the BTC pipeline simply cannot take root in Armenia. Any Armenian politician/businessman attempting to strike such a deal with the West would be eliminated in a heartbeat (Let's remember the events of October 27, 1999. See information at the bottom of this page). Nonetheless, I don't adhere to the false notion that Armenians are bad diplomats and/or politicians. It's just that we Armenians, unlike other regional nations, have not had the proper assets (the ideal geography, a large population, natural resources, etc) to play with. In this light, despite all its serious problems what Armenia had managed to accomplish since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been very impressive and speaks volumes about Armenians as a nation. Sadly, however, many of our compatriots do not appreciate this.



Coming to Grips With Russia’s New Nerve

Alex Jones on Russia Today:

Zbigniew Brzezinski interview: Russia - Georgia war:

September, 2008

We all must think anew about Russia. But this process will prove harder for some of us than for others. When I grew up in the late 1960s and early ’70s, the Soviet Union had already begun to look like the Ottoman Empire on its last legs; the face of Soviet Communism belonged to Leonid Brezhnev, with his drooping cheeks and beetle brows and thick, square glasses. What was there to fear from this pitiful giant? In my left-wing, antiwar, social democratic hothouse world, anti-Communism seemed almost as absurd as Communism. John Kennedy’s call in 1961 to “bear any burden” in the struggle between two world systems was as remote to us as the sectarian debates of the 1930s between Trotskyites, Shachtmanites and so on. We were, unlike an older generation of “cold war liberals,” anti-anti-Communists. Fear of the spread of Communism had gotten us into Vietnam, and rationalized American support for right-wing dictators across the third world. That fear, to us, was thus a far more dangerous force in the world than the thing that we as a country were afraid of — Soviet and Chinese expansionism. “The war against Communism is over,” declared George McGovern, our tribune, in 1972. Several years later, a much more centrist figure, President Jimmy Carter, would lament the “inordinate fear of Communism” that he said dominated public discussion of foreign policy. (That remark looked slightly less sage after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.)

Of course, the Soviet Union continued to keep a chokehold on its own extended empire, sending tanks into Czechoslovakia in 1968; and it kept the pot of insurgency bubbling across Africa and Asia. Yet, drained of all of its ideological attraction and much of its menace, Russia just didn’t seem to me very important, or at least very interesting. In “A New Foreign Policy for the United States,” a book written in 1969 that I read in college a few years later, Hans Morgenthau described the Soviet Union as a conservative and defensive power, driven by traditional national interests rather than ideology, and preoccupied above all with avoiding nuclear war with the United States. For all its bluster, it seemed eminently containable. Russia had, in fact, been successfully contained; this was the era of summitry, détente and arms control treaties. A new generation of hardliners, soon to be known as “neoconservatives” and championed by Ronald Reagan, denounced the rapprochement as naïve; but their dark view of Russia seemed to us at odds with reality. When I visited Georgia this summer, I felt like I had entered a time warp. Everyone in Tbilisi talked about Russia the way people had in the United States in, say, 1962, the year of the Cuban missile crisis. Alexander Rondeli, president of the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies, said to me: “The Russians talk about globalization, of course. But behind this is an absolutely black and white picture: It’s ours. It’s theirs. Everybody is enemy or vassal.” Russia was a nation of “bandits” — predatory, insatiable, calculating. “And they are cynical about it — they know that no one will fight for us.”

It all seemed hyperbolic, and possibly paranoid — a neocon nightmare in the Caucasus. But the Georgians had spent almost two centuries under the Russian boot. And then, a month later, Russia sent its tanks into Georgia, and Mr. Rondeli’s worldview looked a great deal less far-fetched. The Georgians, of course, had provided a provocation by launching an assault on South Ossetia, the breakaway region on its border with Russia. But when the Russian Army not only ejected the Georgians from South Ossetia but moved further into Georgia, occupied major cities and destroyed infrastructure, the safety of the Ossetians began to look like little more than a pretext. Russia’s prime minister, Vladimir V. Putin, had apparently decided to teach Georgia, and its flamboyantly pro-Western president, Mikheil Saakashvili, a lesson they would not soon forget. But what is that lesson? That is the question the West must answer. Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev, said last week that, like other countries, Russia “has regions where it has privileged interests,” adding that Russia has friendly relations with countries in its sphere of influence. Presumably this was meant more as an assertion of right than as a statement of fact. Moscow has amicable relations with Armenia and Belarus, which comport themselves with suitable deference, but extremely turbulent relations with Ukraine and Georgia, which have openly allied themselves with the West. Perhaps President Medvedev was trying to express delicately the view that Russia could have on its borders only enemies or vassals.

This was plainly a very different Russia, if not from the containable one I grew up with, then certainly from the nascent democracy of the 1990s that aspired to join the West. Many American officials and analysts have condemned Russia’s violation of Georgian sovereignty in language very much like that of the Georgians. Vice President Dick Cheney in Tbilisi last week told the Georgians they had endured “an illegal, unilateral attempt to change your country’s borders by force.” But it’s not only cold warriors like Mr. Cheney who have characterized Russia as a rogue state. Richard Holbrooke and Ronald Asmus, former officials in the Clinton administration, compared Russia’s assault on Georgia with Hitler’s march on Czechoslovakia, airily justified by the alleged need to protect ethnic Germans. For the first time in almost 30 years — at least since the invasion of Afghanistan — Russia has come to be seen as a threat to world order. But though widely shared, this view is not universal. A number of scholars and diplomats argue that Russia acted not out of an age-old impulse for territorial expansion, or the wish to banish the humiliation and contraction of recent years, but in response to a series of intolerable provocations. It was we, not they, this argument goes, who had violated the status quo.

“American unilateralism in the Balkans,” wrote Flynt Leverett, another former Clinton diplomat, “along with planned deployments of missile defense systems in Eastern Europe and support for ‘color revolutions’ in former Soviet republics, trampled clearly stated Russian redlines.” This was, I suppose, the kind of view I once would have embraced, though I don’t think I would have equated support for democracies with missile deployment. These two pictures offer very different understandings of the nature of Russia in the Putin era: It is either an expansionist, belligerent power whose ambitions are insatiable, or a “normal” state seeking to restore influence and regional control along its borders, commensurate with its growing wealth and power. If the first, Russia had no right to demand acceptance of its “sphere of influence.” Invading a neighbor who poses no threat to you or others is, as President Bush put it, “unacceptable in the 21st century.”

If, on the other hand, Russia was essentially demanding its due, then the moralistic response was inappropriate (not to mention hypocritical), and America should acknowledge the legitimacy of Russia’s concerns. The author Francis Fukuyama offered a variation on this theme, asserting that “an adversely shifting global power balance” means that the United States is no longer in a position to enforce its will, whatever the merits of the case. How you think about the nature and legitimacy of Russia’s ambitions largely determines the response you advocate. Mr. Leverett argues that “America’s promotion of a dubious ‘democratic’ movement in Georgia — or in other ethnically divided and unstable post-Soviet states — is not as important to Western interests as working with Russia on the most significant energy, economic and international security challenges of our time.” He and Mr. Fukuyama would quash the ambitions of Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO; more broadly, they would reduce the grasp of American policy to reflect our more modest reach. If, on the other hand, Mr. Putin’s Russia has embarked on a drive for regional hegemony — if not through conquest, then through intimidation and economic blackmail — then the policy question is: How can the West block Russia’s ambitions? Mr. Cheney promised the Georgians $1 billion in reconstruction aid and vowed to redouble American support for Georgia’s campaign to join NATO — an absolute redline for Russia.

Georgia’s fate, however, rests not with President Bush, but with his successor. John McCain, a longtime friend of Georgia and President Saakashvili, has threatened “severe, long-term consequences” for United States-Russia relations, and has proposed offering security guarantees to Ukraine and Georgia, including NATO membership. Barack Obama, whose natural inclinations are less punitive, has also declared that we “must review all aspects of relations with Russia,” though he and several leading Democratic policy figures have been more cautious on the question of NATO. Of course, American policy will not be shaped only by our view of Russia. Our European allies, especially Germany and France, are more dependent on Russian energy and trade than we are, and far more directly threatened by Russian aggression. European officials, by and large, have been every bit as appalled by Russian behavior as Washington has been; but most have taken a less confrontational line. Sheer proximity made ideological anti-Communism an unaffordable luxury for Europe a generation ago; the same may be true for an anti-Russian posture today. In America, though, where we do have the luxury, the struggle between Russia and Georgia feels almost Miltonic. Even some former ’60s peaceniks find themselves sounding like neocons, who no doubt would say the peaceniks have finally woken up to the truth. Or perhaps there’s another explanation: that there’s all the difference in the world between an enfeebled and defensive empire, and a nation emboldened by vast wealth and brimming with resentment at past humiliations. This Russia does not look so very containable.



Former Russian intelligence agent turned British spy, Alexander Litvinenko, had claimed before he was killed by FSB agents in London that the assault on the Armenian parliament on October 27, 1999 was organized by officials in Russia. Despite his less-than trust worthy credentials, was Litvinenko right? No one can be certain. Vladimir Putin, incidentally, was the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation at the time of the assassinations and together with the FSB and the GRU was already plotting to regain control of the Kremlin from the hands of Western backed Oligarchs. At the close of the disastrous 1990s Russia's intelligence apparatus' were clearly engaged in the long and meticulous process of cleaning house and reasserting their will within Moscow's various spheres of influence, especially within the strategic Caucasus. I remember soon after the assassinations in Yerevan a Russian news media release clearly insinuated that the operation was the work of intelligence services operating under direct orders from Washington. In hindsight this now seems nothing but a simple case of diversionary disinformation. In my opinion, taking regional political developments at the time into consideration, it clearly would of been in Moscow's interest to attempt a beheading of the Armenian government when Vazgen Sargsyan and Karen Demirjian, the two leading political figures in Armenia, began signaling that they were in favor of a settlement deal with Washington regarding Nagorno Karabakh independent of Moscow. What was Hunanyan's role in all this? Was he an ideologically driven patsy, manipulated by foreign intelligence to serve a greater geopolitical purpose? Hunanyan's uncle, incidentally, who may have been the assassination cell's contact man curiously died of a heart attack not long after their arrest. Needless to say, authorities in Yerevan have not revealed any evidence implicating Russia in the assassinations, or the United States for that matter. The official storyline that remains to this day is that the parliamentary killings was an isolated case of ideological fanatics taking the law into their hands. However, the only political entity that clearly had an interest in carrying out this operation in light of regional political developments then was Moscow, and to some extent the current pro-Russian ruling administration in Yerevan.




Former employee of Russia's Federal Security Service, colonel Alexander Litvinenko, stated form his political asylum in Great Britain that the shooting of Armenian parliament on October 27 of 1999 was organized by Russian special services, more precisely Russian Military Reconnaissance.

"Pursuing certain political aims, the Russian special services often turn to subversive activity. Many know in highest echelons of Russia's special services that the shooting of the Armenian parliament in 1999 was organized by RMR. This sabotage enabled Russia's political elite to prevent signing of the agreement on Karabakh settlement. If I am not mistaken, it was said that president Aliyev and Kocharian were to sign a memorandum at the Istanbul summit of OSCE. The peaceful process was developing aloof from Russia's control and that made Russian special services to carry out the special mission in the Armenian parliament", Litvinenko told Real Azerbaijan online newspaper (

Litvinenko said that he personally recruited employees of Azerbaijan's special services who occupy high positions today as well. "I was working at the anti-terror department. We actively engaged against Azerbaijan. I personally recruited 12 employees of Azeri National Security Service", he noted. "There are now 30 agents of Russian special services. Why? Because Putin does not trust Ilham Aliyev. Putin needs alternative sources of information. All Russia's institutes of Azerbaijan carry out tasks of the center, watch and control Aliyev", Litvinenko said.

Source: AZG Armenian Daily #079, 03/05/2005

Some Thoughts on the Killings in Armenia – Who did it and Why?

The slaying of 8 prominent politicians in Armenia on 27th October including the prime minister, Vazgen Sarkisian, and speaker of the parliament, Karen Demirchian, took the Western media completely by surprise. Experts seemed to be thin on the ground – CNN provided a young lady from the Economist Intelligence Unit who squirmed in discomfort when asked about the complexities of Yerevan politics; editorial staff from a leading US newspaper was surprised to learn that 'Karen' Demirchian was not a woman. Yet, while such a drastic scenario was impossible to predict, some glitch in Armenia's political life could have been predicted. The reason is this: a solution to the ongoing problem of what to do with Nagorno Karabakh seemed to be on the horizon. Although fighting between the neighbouring republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia ended in 1994, the permanent status of the small Armenian enclave of Nagorno Karabakh situated within Azerbaijan itself remained unresolved. An OSCE-sponsored peace initiative, the Minsk Process, had made little progress with different solutions put on the table at various times – the one seeming to favour Baku while yet another benefited Yerevan, and vice versa.

Since 1994 the United States has become more entrenched both economically and politically in the Caucasus region. But investments in the oil-rich Caspian remain insecure as the pipelines needed to get the oil and gas out to the West transit Russia to the north or go through Georgia to the north-west. Both logistics and financing call for a more direct route, ideally through Armenia and on to Turkey. Investors themselves would also be more enthusiastic if regional squabbles, like Karabakh, were to be settled once and for all. It goes without saying that they care little whether Armenia or Azerbaijan are the winners in this particular struggle as long as the problem goes away. However, it looks very much as though somebody, somewhere does not want the problem of Karabakh to go away, not yet, that is. In February 1998 when it looked as though a previous deal was about to be struck, Armenia's president, Levon Ter Petrosian, was removed from office by, it was assumed, hardline supporters of Karabakh independence, including the murdered Vazgen Sarkisian and the then-prime minister, Robert Kocharian. Kocharian himself was a former president of Nagorno Karabakh. Kocharian stood and won the presidency in elections that took place in Armenia in March 1998 but only a after a strange and unsatisfactory campaign. Out of the blue, he was challenged for the post by the country's last Communist leader, Karen Demirchian, who had resigned in 1988 when the Karabakh protests were at their height. Since then Demirchian had pursued a career as a businessman running the Armelektromash factory in Yerevan, presumably without the faintest intention of returning to the political fray.

But his candidacy was heavily promoted by the West, the US in particular. The 'plan' was obvious: to shoe the maleable Demirchian into the presidency so that negotiations on Karabakh's future could be resumed from where Ter Perosian left off. It was generally assumed that Armenians would likely go for the nostalgia vote: Demirchian a reminder of the old Soviet days of plenty as against the younger Kocharian, a by-word for the present miserable standard of living. One American journalist was told not to bother going to Yerevan for the election as it was "all sown up – Demirchian is going to win" But things did not go according to plan. While many older Armenians may have associated Demirchian with happier times, others saw him as the old Communist boss who, among other things, had presided over the construction of the thousands of shaky high-rise buildings that had collapsed in the terrible earthquake of December 1988. On top of this, Armenians had developed a passionate hatred for Ter Petrosian during his 8 years in power. Kocharian was not only perceived as being younger and more dynamic than Demirchian he was also regarded as a refreshingly honest successor to the former president and his regime. When it became obvious that Demirchian was not going to win as easily as expected a vast array of American 'election observers' descended on Yerevan from where they fanned around the small republic and, allegedly, found evidence of huge electoral fraud perpetrated by the supporters of Robert Kocharian. Despite the fact that over 80% of the official OSCE observer team reported no such irregularities, a cleverly organized beat-up by a number of vociferous, mainly American observers, managed to taint the conduct of the election in the eyes of the world.

So, with the Armenian presidency in the hands of the reputedly 'hard-line' Kocharian another year was to pass before progress on the Karabakh question could be attempted again. The next opportunity presented itself with parliamentary elections that took place at the end of May this year. In the previous twelve months the loser in the presidential election, Karen Demirchian, had formed a new political party with a vague leftist agenda. In February 1999 the party joined forces with the hard-line, nationalist Republic Party under Defence Minister, Vazgen Sarkisian, to form the Unity Bloc which became the largest and most effective party in the parliamentary elections. Unity won the largest number of votes with 44.67% of the poll after an election plagued, this time , by genuine irregularities. President Kocharian made Sarkisian prime minister in the new government, Demirchian effectively became his deputy as speaker of parliament.

The cooperation between Sarkisian and Demirchian was an unlikely one – at first sight anyway. But astute commentators in Armenia had noted that Sarkisian and his Republican Party would not necessarily be unresponsive to the blandishments of the West. This has proved true. In the last three months negotiations have seemed to be up and running again over the status of Karabakh. The Americans have been pushing hard hoping to announce a deal at the upcoming OSCE summit in Istanbul. President Kocharian has met Azerbaijan's Haider Aliev on four separate occasions, but more importantly Sarkisian has visited the US and received substantial backing from both the World Bank and IMF to, presumably, reinforce his helpful line on sorting out Karabakh. Relations with Turkey were even beginning to get back on track, thanks to American mediation. So much, then, for the theory that Sarkisian was a hard-line nationalist. It is probably true to say that like many people in the former Soviet Union he too had his price. But could he have expected that he and Demirchian were to pay with their lives for their dealings with the Americans? Ter Petrosian had merely been toppled, they were slaughtered. Who might have been responsible ? Who benefited?


Although the killers claimed to be taking revenge for the corruption and graft of Armenia's political class, this is unlikely to be the reason for the killings. Armenia is much less corrupt than many other post-communist countries, if only because it is so much poorer and has had much less foreign investment to steal. Anyway, with the fall of Ter Petrosian the country has probably become marginally less corrupt. Domestically, there has been a spate of political/mafia killings over the past few years but never in the centre of political life like the parliament. However, the parliamentary chamber has one thing in its favour as a venue for these assassinations – the intended victims would be without bodyguards and weapons. Sarkisian, in particular, went everywhere with a bunch of weapon-touting heavies. It was also the one place where both Demirchian and Sarkisian would likely be in the same place at the same time. Although media commentators have insisted that the killers only meant to kill Sarkisian out of their eight victims, it was important for them to also get Demirchian. Both are associated with the negotiations over Karabakh. Nevertheless, it is Western nonsense to say that Sarkisian was 'popular'. A certain nonchalance about any threat to his person could explain the ease with which the gunmen got into the parliament which is situated in large grounds behind high railings with various layers of security. It is important to remember that this parliament had been under siege before in recent times. After Ter Petrosian claimed victory in the 1996 presidential election angry crowds stormed the building in protest. Yet despite the urgency of the situation TV pictures on the night of 27th October showed Armenian police, relatively relaxed, facing outwards. They seemed to be unperturbed for their own safety at the hands of the gunmen still, apparently, trigger-happy somewhere in the building behind them.


Both deputy Secretary of State, Stephen Sestanovich and Strobe Talbott have shuttled to and fro between Yerevan and Baku recently. Talbott met Sarkisian and Kocharian shortly before the assassination took place and has since been ordered back to Yerevan by an anxious Madelaine Albright. It is hard to see why the US should have promoted the kind of violence that occurred later in the day – the American team was obviously optimistic about a deal on Karabakh. Nor can the United States treat Armenia like Kosovo and lead a NATO intervention to occupy the country under the guise of stopping regional violence and instability – there are around 14,000 Russian troops in Armenia who are unlikely to follow the Serb lead and depart meakly north of the border when told to do so. Added to which, if investor confidence is part of the reason for seeking a regional peace deal high-profile assassinations are unlikely to do the trick.


Armenia has always been Russia's closest ally in the Caucasus. There seem to be no internal conflicts over this nor any domestic pressure to remove Russian troops from the country. In the last year the Armenians have also updated their missile defence system, for example. Although Russia allowed NATO to call the shots in Kosovo it is debatable whether she would allow the United States to take control of the Caucasus republics and their valuable trade routes to the West. If the thorny problem of Karabakh's status was solved the need for routes to be taken northwards through Russia would recede and with them valuable revenue. Whether or not these considerations led someone or the other at the behest of some faction or the other in Russia to order these assassinations is an unknown. One thing is certain: woe betide anyone who becomes too closely involved with settling the Karabakh problem . Even though the Americans are still hoping that some kind of deal can be stitched up in Istanbul next month, the parties to such an agreement might well look over their shoulders with some anxiety.


1 comment:

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Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several anonymous visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what.Therefore, if you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or simply attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself. Moreover, please appreciate the fact that I have put an enormous amount of information into this blog. In my opinion, most of my blog commentaries and articles, some going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Articles in this blog can therefore be revisited by longtime readers and new comers alike. I therefore ask the reader to treat this blog as a depository of important information relating to Eurasian geopolitics, Russian-Armenian relations and humanity's historic fight against the evils of Globalism and Westernization.

Thank you as always for reading.