Armenians want to know, is Russia a friend or foe?

I have the distinct pleasure of writing this commentary from Yerevan, Armenia. But before I go on about the main topic of this commentary, I have a little story to share with you:

On my way over to Armenia, I decided to spend a day in Russia and visit the Kremlin. I checked out of Sheremetyeva airport (no, I did not get to see Edward Snowden) and took a taxi ride to the heart of Moscow. After getting dropped off in Red Square, I walked up to the main gate of the world famous medieval fortress complex known around the world today as the Kremlin and requested to have a private meeting with RF President Vladimir Putin.

I was told that due to a very busy work schedule Mr. Putin would not be able to see me. But it wasn't all bad news. They said other, high ranking officials would make time to see what I wanted to say.

Although I wanted to see the legendary president of the Russian Federation, I was nonetheless glad that at least some high ranking Russian officials wanted to hear what I had on my mind. I was eventually led into the Kremlin compound by several Kremlin guards and taken to one of their chamber offices. Once inside, I was surprised to see that there were already several men patiently waiting for me. Thankfully, one of the men present was a translator. 

Right after I greeted them and exchanged some formalities, I began telling them the following:
"Dear komrads, had it not been for a handful of men like Robert Kocharyan, Serj Sargsyan and Seyran Ohanyan, I realize that Armenia would have been turned into a cheep brothel servicing Western powers a very long time ago. Seeing the scary political landscape in Armenia today I am surprised at how well you have been treating my politically immature people for the past twenty years. Dear friends, I beseech you to do wherever is necessary to keep Armenia dependent on Russia and do whatever is necessary to force Armenia into your Eurasian Union. I'm saying this because there are influential Armenians actually seeking closer union with Western powers. Having said that, however, I have to also say that I am worried about your recent gas rate hike and latest arms sales to Baku, not so much for its economic and military ramifications but because such matters have once again activated the many Western-sponsored Russophobes throughout Armenian society."
The officials were intently yet quietly listening to everything I had to say. When I was done talking, one of them said:
"Tavarish, we were very surprised with your unexpected visit to us today. While many Azeris and Turks visit us on a regular basis, we unfortunately do not get that many Armenian visitors and of those that do see us, fewer still try to lobby for Armenian interests. As you may have already observed, when it comes to Russian-Armenian relations, we Russians are almost always the ones initiating agendas and setting the pace. But when it comes to other matters in other nations, your compatriots somehow get very active and excited. Anyway, tavarish, we are glad to have found an Armenian activist from the Armenian Diaspora that is not in the business of harming Russian-Armenian relations..."
To my astonishment, the official seemed to be implying that they couldn't understand how enthusiastically Armenians pursue sociopolitically destructive concepts such as "Democracy" and obsessively lobby in Washington for things such as "genocide recognition" from officials no less who are actually responsible for many genocides around the world, but when it comes to Russia or Russian-Armenian relations, Armenians seem to only fear monger and spew insults at Russians. The official added:
"Please realize that the Azerbaijani military will not be given anything that Armenian troops will not be able to defeat on the battlefield. Please tell your compatriots around the world that we are not doing anything that will upset the existing balance of power in the region, which as you know favors your people. Also tell your people that Armenia's military will be given similar weapons either free or for very low prices in the near future. Despite your leaders' flirtations with Western powers, which as you know we don't like, we are actually doing our best to protect Armenia from the region's many predators. But also please understand that we are trying to keep Azerbaijan as a client state, we also want them in our sphere of influence. If we refuse to sell them modern arms, they will purchase them - directly or indirectly - from US, Turkey, EU or Israel. Remember the billion dollar arms deal Baku had with Israel a couple of years ago? If we refuse to deal with them, they will totally turn their backs on us and that is not good for us and for you. Knowing how Azeris are, you should want us to have leverage over Baku. Do you know how many times we have actually stopped them from invading NKR in the past? Azeris already blame us for NKR remaining under Armenian control, why aggravate them even further? Therefore, please don't expect us to allow a billion dollar arms deal to fall into the laps of our competitors. Besides, don't Western powers do similar arms deals with Turkey and Greece, Israel and Egypt or Israel and Saudi Arabia?"
I quietly nodded my head in agreement with what was being said. Another official entered the conversation and said:
"Politically, we Russians don't trust Armenians and we now realize that you Armenians don't trust us Russians. But don't worry, this is quite normal in political relations, yes, even between allies. Do you think the US actually "trusts" its allies? Far from it. Similarly, do you think we "trust" Belarus or Ukraine? Of course not. But we are Slavic brothers, no? Do you think we trust China or Iran? Of course not. But we are allies, no? It's all a matter of geopolitics, a matter of strategic formulations. In other words, it's all a chess game and those who play the game well survive and prosper and those who don't, well... And speaking of chess and strategic formulations, as long as foreign powers have their sights set upon the Caucasus; as long as Turks and Islamists live in and around the same region, you Armenians will remain a very important regional factor for us. Hasn't the past two hundred years proven this fact? Just hope that your leadership, your people does not do anything that will diminish the value of Armenia on the global chess board."
Before he could continue, I abruptly interjected to ask him about Armenian lands that were given away to Turks and Azeris in the aftermath of the First World War, and before I could continue, they cut he off saying:
"You people always blame Russia for what the Bolsheviks did. Well, actually, we can't blame you for this because the whole world, including many Russians, blames Russia for what the Bolsheviks did. This, however, in our opinion, is like blaming the murder victim for the murder. Bolshevism was a foreign operation that was made to take root inside Russia and it existed only to destroy the Russian Empire. But it's fine, we'll take the blame. After all, it was our collective incompetence at the time that allowed those bloodthirsty savages to topple our Czar and turn Mother Russia into Bolshevik hell. It was only during the Patriotic War that we Russians eventually retook the reigns of power from them and somewhat "Russified" communism. But by that time many millions of Russian Slavs were murdered by Bolsheviks; our empire's massive wealth was completely looted and our beloved motherland had turned into a massive gulag. And Armenia was not the only nation that lost lands as a result of communist rule. Didn't we Russians also lose the territories of the Crimea? However, from what we recall, even under Soviet-Bolshevik rule Armenia continued to live and even prosper. No? Wasn't Yerevan just a dusty, old provincial town in the early 20th century? When and how did Yerevan turn into a modern metropolis? Anyway, it would be wise to look at and treat each and every political time period separately and rationally. What matters is that Russia today is back under Russian rule. Therefore, you Armenians don't have much to worry about."
"But as you pointed out earlier, can anyone blame us now for not totally trusting your people? Please take a good, close look at your political landscape. If it wasn't for a handful of men as you wisely pointed out earlier Armenia would have been sold to Western interests a very long time ago. Need we also remind you of Raffi Hovannisian, Levon Petrosian's rule or the suicidal "Paul Goble Plan" that was almost accepted by your leaders in the late 1990s? The fact is that there remains a very strong Western presence within Armenian society today. Therefore, what guarantees do we have from your people that once Armenia becomes self-sufficient and or powerful it will not seek to break away from us? Don't forget that we are talking about serious geopolitics here. Therefore, we will do whatever is necessary to have strong leverage over Armenia because Armenia's alliance to us is 'extremely' important. We also realize that the threat of Turks and Azeris in the south Caucasus will keep Armenia close to Russia. Therefore, by providing arms to Baku, we make good money, we win Baku's favor and we remind your Western-leaning leaders that at the end of the day we are the masters of this region. Do I make sense?"
"By the way, energy dependence is also one of the ways with which we will keep Armenia tied to us. Armenia always got very low gas rates from us. You want us Russians to continue giving you handouts yet you want to continue looking Westward? Yes, we recently raised Armenia's gas rate to put pressure on your leaders. But don't worry, Armenia still gets one of the lowest rates in the world. But if the few extra Rubles now will hurt the poor in your nation, then ask your corrupt leadership to stop embezzling funds and start subsidizing natural gas supplies to low income families in Armenia. But since your people seem to be falling for Western lies once again and as a result seem to be choosing not to fully embrace us and further develop our strategic alliance, we will do 'whatever necessary' to keep Armenia dependent on the Russian Federation. We will increase pressure to the point where your leadership will have no choice but to join our Eurasian Union instead of foolishly trying to board a sinking ship like the European Union."
"And you people need to 'please' stop complaining about the way we are treating your Armenia. The reality is that we are doing more than enough for your homeland. We allow hundreds-of-thousands of your people to freely work in Russia and send back billions of dollars in remittances every year. We are your largest trading partner. We are your largest investor. We make sure your atomic power plant stays operational. We protect your western borders against Turkey. We provide you arms against Azerbaijan that you would not be able to afford otherwise... What else do you people want from us, all expenses paid for vacations to Antalia for each and every Armenian citizen? What about you start carrying your weight? What about your big talking Diaspora, can they complain a little less about the less-than ideal situation in your country and finally start nation building?"
I was now feeling a bit embarrassed. Everything they said made perfect sense to me. It was as if they were repeating things I have been telling Armenians for many years. I was nevertheless very impressed by their wisdom and professionalism. Finally, I thanked them, we shook hands and hugged. I promised them that I will return. They gently smiled, and promised to make sure Armenia remains Turk-free. Because, after all they said, "Armenia is one of the strategic gates that protects Russia's vulnerable underbelly". But they also said that if Armenia makes the foolish mistake of getting too close to the West, there will be a very heavy price to pay. They also told me a few things about regional politics which they asked me not to disclose. Nevertheless, I left the Kremlin feeling assured that all will be well - as long as our idiots in Yerevan and in the Diaspora don't screw things up...

Although I currently am in Armenia, the story I just recounted above was nonetheless a parable that I made up because I recognized a long time ago that most Armenians today understand parables better than politics. However, if my parable was not enough to help you better understand this topic, please continue reading:

Armenia's professional Russophobes, Captain Americas, EUrotics, Cold War relics, self-destructive peasantry of the political opposition and nationalist chobans are once again crawling out of their holes and making scary noises throughout this small, impoverished and blockaded south Caucasus nation. Some of the individuals in question are demanding that Armenia freezes all relations with Russia; some are demanding that Russia provide proof that the Turk they recently shot and killed on the Armenian-Turkish border had in realty entered Armenia; some are questioning whether Armenia should host a Russian military base; some are wondering whether Russia is a "friend or foe"; and some are claiming that Russia is "preparing the genocide of Armenians". 

The reason why the aforementioned have come out in force in Armenia recently is Baku's recent acquisition of Russian-made arms, the increasing of Russian supplied natural gas rates to Armenia and the treatment of Hrachya Harutunyan in Moscow. And the reason why they all seem emboldened lately are signals from Yerevan that Armenia desires to enter into a closer relationship with the Western world. Interestingly, one of Armenia's primary Captain Americas, Raffi Hovannisian, has not made much noise this time around; perhaps this is because of the little trip he took to Moscow soon after his presidential bid ran out of steam. My previous commentary addressed the dangers and the utter irrationality of Armenia having closer relations with Western bodies if such a thing is going to come at the expense of Yerevan's ties with Moscow. Please read it if you have not yet done so -
For additional background and perspective on this overall topic, please revisit the following older blog commentaries as well -
Is Russophilia hindering Armenia? http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2011/10/is-russophilia-hindering-armenia.html
Russian expert: U.S. ousting Russia from Armenia:  http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2011/10/russian-expert-us-ousting-russia-from.html
New Western-led Opposition Slogan in Armenia: "Russia wants Armenia without Armenians!"  http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2011/10/russia-wants-armenia-without-armenians.html
I am going to devote the main emphasis of this commentary to Russian arms supplies to Azerbaijan because it seems to be the most effectively exploited topic by Armenia's Captain Americas and Western led political opposition. Although I have covered this topic during numerous previous occasions and I would hate to do it again, but seeing first hand the urgency of the matter at hand, I feel compelled to repeat myself for the sake of reason, objectivity and political prudence.

Russian arms sales to Azerbaijan

Every time Baku acquires Russian-made arms, I hear a lot of silly nonsense spoken by a lot of people who have absolutely no working knowledge of the topic they are expressing strong opinions on. Those of you who may be of this sort, please do me this favor: Those of you who do not have military experience; those of you who do not understand military matters; and those of you who do not understand the fluid complexities of regional geopolitics - please shut up! These kinds of topics (things that the average person simply does not understand) are being exploited and utilized as part of an organized information war against Moscow. Their ultimate goal, as you should already know, is to severe Armenia from Russia.

None of the arms that Moscow has sold to Azerbaijan tips the balance-of-power in the region in Baku's favor. In fact, seeing oil rich Baku's exorbitant military expenditures, Moscow is desperately trying to keep the balance-of-power intact in the region by providing an impoverished Yerevan with free or discounted modern weaponry. This military support by Moscow is the only reason why Yerevan has been able to hold its own against a big spending Baku. Moscow has made sure that for every kind of tank Azerbaijan possesses in its armed forces, Armenia has ample anti-tank weapons systems that can effectively counter it. Moscow has made sure that for every type of aircraft Azerbaijan possesses in its armed forces, Armenia has ample anti-aircraft weapons systems that can effectively counter it. And by protecting Armenia's western border with Turkey, Moscow has made sure Yerevan can concentrate its limited military resources on protecting Armenia's eastern border against Azerbaijan.

What's more, Baku's recently acquired Russian-made S-300 (a highly capable and costly surface-to-air missile system which Armenia also operates) is designed to be effective against militaries of developed nations that maintain formidable air forces - not against a nation like Armenia who's air force has less than two dozen antiquated aircraft. If Baku has the hundreds of millions of dollars to waste on weapons systems that will do them no good against Armenia, they can go right ahead and waste their money. The multiple launch rocket system known as Smerch, perhaps one of the deadliest artillery systems in the world, is actually more of a concern for Armenian forces. However, the Azeri military is capable of mustering similar firepower, with perhaps more effort, by utilizing other weapons systems already in their military arsenal.

Military experts around the world agree that Baku's recent arms acquisitions are not game changers for they do not change the balance of power in the region. Therefore, there is not much to worry about from a tactical, military perspective. What should be considered worrying for Yerevan, however, are recent signals from Moscow that it is not pleased with Yerevan's EU fetish. As I stated in my previous blog commentary, I personally believe that the recent gas rate hike and arms shipments to Baku are connected to this matter. Moscow is putting pressure on Yerevan. Nevertheless, to put the matter of international arms sales into a better, more palatable perspective, I'd like to share with the reader a little story from the past:
A Western official (I think French or British) was once asked by journalists (I'm paraphrasing): Why are we selling arms to an entity that is known to be our enemy? The official replied: If we don't sell them arms someone else will. We rather make the money. The official went on to say: We know best what are the capabilities of the arms we are selling them, we can use this knowledge to defeat them in the future if we had to.
This is the point: Russian officials will sell military hardware to Azerbaijan simply because, as noted above, if they do not someone else will. In fact, Turkey, Ukraine, Israel, certain European countries and the US have been training Azeri special forces troops and selling various kinds of weaponry to Baku. Moreover, we should take into consideration some military wisdom: It's always better to face an enemy that is armed with weapons you yourself have because your knowledge of the weapon systems in question will help you defeat them if need be.

Moreover, Moscow does not want to totally alienate Baku especially at a time when Moscow has had a series of political successes in the region. After all, we must take into account that there is no hostility between Moscow and Baku. It would be utterly foolish of Moscow to alienated or antagonized Baku any further than they have already been doing for the past twenty years. It's bad enough that Moscow and Yerevan are in a strategic embrace; it's bad enough that Artsakh is off-limits to Baku; to add insult to injury by not having any dealings with Baku would make no political sense. Moreover, despite what weapons Baku purchases from the Russian Federation, Russian officials and political experts have spared no efforts in sternly warning Baku that Moscow would not tolerate any attempt by Azeri forces to resume military hostilities against Armenia or Artsakh. Moscow has even gone as far as massing troops along Azerbaijan's northern borders in the summer of 2012 to make Baku understand that it is very serious about militarily protecting Armenia. The following are older blog commentaries that addresses Russia's military role in the region -
Russia hints at intervention in Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2012/07/russia-hints-at-intervention-in-armenia.html
What we need to keep in mind is this: Baku is holding back from militarily solving their dispute with Armenia not because of the kind of weapons systems they possess but because of the region's political climate. Moscow's presence in the region is the primary reason why Baku is restraining itself. Therefore, regardless of what arms the Azeri military possesses and who provided it to them, the reason why Baku has not attempted a military solution in Artsakh since their Moscow-brokered defeat in 1994 is their primordial fear of the Russian Bear. Once again,  had Moscow not sold weapons to Baku, Azeris would have turned once again to Western powers, Turkey or Israel for such weapons. Anyone remember news reports two years ago about Israel providing Baku with arms reportedly worth more than one billion dollars? Revisit the following blog entry to refreshen your memories -
US working to strengthen relations with Turks and Azeris: http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2012/11/us-working-to-strengthen-relations-with.html
Incidentally, what have our Captain Americas such as Raffi Hovannisian and Paruyr Hayrikian been doing in Washington to ensure that Baku does not resort to military hostilities? The answer is, nothingRelations between Moscow and Baku is not going to diminish Armenia's strategic value for policymakers in the Kremlin. Moreover, oil or gas purchases from Baku will never be a deciding factor for Moscow simply because Russia is the world's largest energy producer and because Russian officials realize that Armenia/Artsakh is a protective sledgehammer hanging over Turkish-Islamic heads in the region. Had money or oil been a deciding factor for Russian officials, Armenia would have been sold to Turks many-many years ago. Better relations between Moscow and Baku is in fact beneficial for Armenia for it ensures that Baku will not haphazardly resort to hostilities against Moscow's wishes.

Moscow may not be treating Yerevan as its equal but being that it's Armenia's largest trading partner, leading employer of Armenians, leading energy provider, leading investor and steadfast military ally, Moscow has actually been treating Armenia with white gloves for the past twenty years. Despite all it has been doing for Armenia, I'm actually surprised as to how tolerant Moscow has been in allowing Yerevan to deal freely with Western powers. Yet, all we hear about from our EUrotics, Captain Americas, nationalist chobans, Cold War rejects and Russophobes is how tyrannical Moscow is and how tightly it controls Armenia. Had Moscow been controlling Yerevan tightly, I would not be having this discussion and Armenia's not so little army of Captain Americas and EUrotics would not have existed. Of course there are sound, geostrategic reasons as to why Russia's support for Armenia has been so steadfast. 

Historically, Kremlin officials have recognized that Armenians of the south Caucasus are reliable allies (compared to the others in the region) in a very unstable yet crucially strategic region. Russian officials realize that Armenia's existence protects Russia's vulnerable underbelly - the Caucasus - from Turkic, Iranian, Islamic and more recently Western expansion. Therefore, as long such threats exist in the region, Armenia will continue playing a vital strategic role for the Kremlin. Now ask yourselves this question: What role does Armenia play for Western interests? Due it its problems with the region's Turks and Azeris and due to its friendship with Russians and Iranians, the Armenian state will always be looked upon as an obstacle to Western, geopolitical and energy interests in the south Caucasus. Instead of fear mongering, we should be thankful that Armenia today is strategically allied to a vastly wealthy and powerful regional superpower - and we should be doing all in our power to further develop our alliance with the northern Bear. The following news releases are an indicator of the high degree of friendship that currently exists between Moscow and Yerevan -
Experts: Armenia, Russia mutually indispensable as regional allies: http://www.panarmenian.net/eng/news/148419/
Armenian-Russian trade turnover hit $1.2 bln in 2012: Russia’s economy ministry: http://arka.am/en/news/economy/armenian
Within the world of diplomacy nothing is left to chance and every spoken word has serious implications and significance. Thus, when Russian President Vladimir Putin describes Russia's strategic relations with Armenia as "special", it has to be taken very seriously. Although most of our Russophobes are too deaf, dumb and/or blind to see it, Russia is Armenia's only security guarantee in the Caucasus. Having said all of the above, I must also mention that I am, to a certain degree glad Moscow is being made aware of Armenian discontent. I only wish, however, that the noise was being made within the walls of the Kremlin by a delegation of Armenians from around the world and not from places like the US and by those representing Western interests in Armenia.

Putting aside the Qaj Nazar in us

Instead of looking at the big "geopolitical" picture in a clearheaded manner and instead of rationally assessing realities on the ground in the south Caucasus, as noted above, Armenia's Captain Americas, Cold War rejects, EUrotics and nationalist nutjobs are out in force and are once again trying to spread fear, panic and hate. Speaking of the nutjobs and subversive individuals and organizations in our midst, immediately below this commentary I present the reader several news articles concerning American-Armenian community activist Ed Azadian; one of Washington's longest serving activists Paruyr Hayrikian; a Western funded political activist Ara Papyan; and four of Armenia's most venomous opposition propaganda organs Lragir, Asbarez, Radio Liberty and ArmeniaNow. Their rhetoric is a little look at Western sponsored but Armenian style hysteria and political illiteracy.

Let's put aside our Qaj Nazarian impulses and our Fedayi fantasies (i.e. misconceptions of our military prowess and capabilities as a nation) and come to the somber realization that the only factor that has kept Azeri and Turkish forces on their side of the border in recent times is Russia; specifically, Russia's desire to maintain a visible military presence in Armenia. The only reason why we are not lamenting Easter Armenia alongside Western Armenia today is the Russian factor in the region's politics.
 
Regardless of what we as a people managed to do some twenty years ago in Artsakh during the chaotic aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse, today, a tiny, depopulating, impoverished, disillusioned, resourceless, politically unstable, landlocked and blockaded nation in the volatile Caucasus - with a miniscule defense budget nonetheless - would not stand a chance militarily competing against a relatively large, oil producing, revenge seeking, bloodthirsty and a Turkic/Islamic nation that has billions of petrodollars to spend on modern arms. Therefore, in the big picture, it's Russia and not the big talking, under performing, genocide obsessed and West-leaning Armenian Diaspora that has been keeping Armenia afloat in the stormy seas of the south Caucasus.

Baku has the money to spend on arms, and arms sellers are many in this world. Therefore, from a Russian perspective, why give up on a billion dollar arms deal especially when there are international competitors salivating at such an opportunity?

Moreover, I'm glad its Russia and not the US or Israel or Turkey providing weapons to Azerbaijan. Why? By providing weapons to Baku, Moscow secures leverage over Baku. Moscow ensures Azeri dependence because training and replacement parts to such weapon systems can only be provided by Russia. More importantly, Moscow can also, at least to a certain degree, dictate the terms of their use and help Armenia defeat the weaponry in question if need be. And we know that Moscow has for years made it very clear to Baku that it will not tolerate any form of military aggression against Armenia or Artsakh. Moreover, for every weapons system that Baku possesses regardless of their origin, Moscow makes sure to provide Armenia with arms that can defeat it. And while Baku pays full price for the weapons it acquires from Moscow, CSTO member Yerevan often gets them for free.

More importantly, from Moscow's perspective, by providing arms to both sides, it ensures control over both sides. Moscow has been doing its best to maintain its role as the region's sole manager.

Merely days after Moscow announced its arms sale to Baku, high ranking military officials from the Russian Federation visited Armenia to calm fears and to sign far-reaching military cooperation agreements. [I have posted several articles that highlights the continuing evolution of Russo-Armenian military relations.] Moscow is in fact actively helping turn Armenia into an impregnable, mountain fortress. But since we Armenians have tunnel vision, debilitating emotional problems and are generally speaking politically illiterate, we are not noticing it.

Despite what our Western mercenaries want us Armenians to believe, there is absolutely nothing tragic or backstabbing about Moscow selling arms to Baku. What's tragic and dangerous instead is their Russophobic rhetoric - and what's worrying is Yerevan's EUrotic fantasies.

If we,  for instance, follow Paruyr Hayrikjian's most recent Russophobic advise and "freeze all relations with Russia" as a result of Moscow's arms sales to Baku, who will official Yerevan then rely on for its military protection in the wild jungle that is the south Caucasus? Who will official Yerevan then rely on for its energy needs, trade needs, employment needs, financial needs? In other words, who will come to Armenia's aid militarily, economically, financially and/or politically? The US? Europe? Israel? Georgia? Iran? The worthless Diaspora? 

Remember the formula: For Armenia, independence from Russia will only result in dependence on Turkey.

The only major political entity in the world that has a strategic interest in seeing Armenia exist as a nation-state in the south Caucasus is the Russian Federation. Therefore, Armenia is by-default dependent on Russia. Who was naive enough to think Armenia today could have been an independent nation? A nation that is not old enough or mature enough to even wipe its behind cannot dictate terms on the international stage. A tiny, impoverished, blockaded, landlocked and remote nation stuck in one of the most volatile geographic zones in the world cannot be independent in any regard. Having said that, there are only a handful of independent nations on earth today and the Russian Federation is perhaps the most independent (i.e. self-sustaining) of them all.

Speaking of Paruyr Hayrikian (the former "dissident" who thinks the "KGB" and "imperial Russia" are still after him): Please watch the following press conference he gave a couple of years ago: He is claiming, with a straight face nonetheless, that if Armenia does not quickly turn into a democracy, US forces will not intervene to save Armenia when, according to him, a vastly more powerful Azerbaijan attacks Armenia. Paruyr apparently thinks US military will come to Armenia's aid only if Armenia is a democracy. Makes you wonder where was the US when Turkey invaded northern Cyprus? Hayrikyan is shamelessly suggesting that officials in Washington are in the business of protecting democracies against tyrannies, and goes on to suggest that the US is not happy with Armenia because Armenia is turning into a "filthy Russian province".  Please listen to this -
Paruyr Hayrikyan - Pastark Akumb part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlthyY2XrmU
Paruyr Hayrikyan - Pastark Akumb part 2:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwwjRQMN8Jg
Paruyr Hayrikyan - Pastark Akumb part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5BqwxiUXGw
What we need to keep in mind here is that these are the kind of people who want to lead Armenia... to hell.  These are the people setting the pace of the political culture in Armenia today. If we follow the advise of our Western mercenaries and genuinely piss-off Moscow, Artskah will fall into Azeri hands the very next day. And if we follow the advise of our Western mercenaries and partake in the Western agenda to expel Russia from the south Caucasus, Armenia will fall into Turkish hands the day after. If by any misfortune, any of Washington's men are put into positions of power, they will preside over the ashes of what was once known as the Armenian Republic.

Time periods need to be assessed separately

We need to have the collective wisdom to look at the last few decades of the Russian Empire, the rise of Bolshevism in Eurasia, post-war Soviet Union, Russian Federation of the 1990s and the Russian Federation of the Vladimir Putin's era separately because they all represent very different geopolitical dynamics.

For example: The reason why our liberation struggle for Artsakh was getting no where until 1991 was because the Soviet Politburo was trying hard to preserve the territorial integrity of the Soviet Union. The reason why Armenians began getting successful in 1992 was because the Soviet Union had dissolved by then, the Russian Federation had come into existence and Moscow's new geostrategic interests automatically began coinciding with that of Armenia's. Whereas Armenia was a problem for Soviet officials during the late Soviet period, with the subsequent independence of the three Soviet republics in the south Caucasus, Armenia all of a sudden became a very strategic foothold for Moscow.

For the foreseeable future, as long as Islamists, pan-Turkists and Anglo-American-Zionist interests continue to pose a threat in the region, Armenia will continue playing a very important role for Kremlin officials. Once more, let's act like rational adults and realize that the Russian Empire represented one geopolitical calculus, the Bolsheviks represents another geopolitical calculus, the Soviet Union represented another geopolitical calculus and the Russian Federation represents yet another geopolitical calculus.

Moscow has been arming Armenia against regional threats due to the following geostrategic calculation: A militarily powerful Armenia, one that is totally dependent on Moscow is a crucially important fortress guarding Russia's vulnerable southern gate. For Russian officials, this
geostrategic calculation will remain firmly in place for the foreseeable future. For us Armenians, this is a historic opportunity.

There are no free meals in politics

It's important to emphasize here that Moscow needs an Armenia that is very 'dependent' on Russia. Therefore, let's recognize that there are no soup kitchens or free meals in politics.

Why should Russians blindly trust Armenians to begin with? Do Armenians blindly trust Russia? Has anyone taken a good look at Armenia's Russophobic political opposition in Armenia? Has anyone taken a good look at Armenia's money hungry officials? Has anyone noticed how American/Western agendas are gradually gaining momentum inside Armenia in recent years? Has anyone noticed how the influential American-Armenian community is promoting Westernization in Armenia? While Moscow may be controlling Armenia's head, Western interests are gradually beginning to exert control over the rest of the body. In other words, Moscow is working on the top, while the West is working from the bottom up. If this continues, pretty soon the head and the body will be going very separate ways. If we continue pissing-off our only ally in the world, we may eventually lose Artsakh, or worst.

The reality of the matter is that Armenia's alliance to Russia is hinging on a very few individuals in Armenia. Armenia's political landscape today is saturated with Western mercenaries and idiots fooled once again by Western promises. There are even West-leaning and Western-trained officials right within President Serj Sargsyan's so-called "pro-Russian" government today. Had it not been for the Karabakh clan, Armenia would have been turned into a Western brothel servicing regional Turks and Islamists a very long time ago. As troubling as it may be, Armenia's political landscape today is saturated by Western mercenaries and money hungry chobans. Therefore, I don't blame Moscow for not trusting Armenians - because I myself do not trust Armenians when it comes to political matters.

Like I said, there aren't any soup kitchens or free meals in politics. By controlling Armenia's energy needs, Moscow secures Yerevan's dependence. By becoming Armenia's largest trade partner, Moscow secures Yerevan's favor. By arming Armenia, Moscow secures Yerevan's allegiance. The reverse also works for Moscow. By arming Azerbaijan, Moscow also secures Yerevan's allegiance. How? With a militarized Azerbaijan, Yerevan will have no real choice but to move closer to Russia for protection by allowing Moscow to expand its military presence in Armenia. Therefore, it's a win-win situation for Moscow.

Those standing in the middle get run over

It must be stated that Moscow's large arms provisions to Baku was also a clear signal to Yerevan that it is not happy with Yerevan's desire to move closer to the West. Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision not to pay Armenia an official visit after it was announced a couple of times that he was on the verge of doing so, Gazprom's rate hike and its desire for gaining full ownership of Armenia's gas distribution network, and the large Russian arms sale to Baku recently should have all been looked upon by Armenians as signals that Moscow is not happy with the political climate taking shape in Yerevan.

One of the strongest criticisms I have had about President Serj Sargsyan has been his attempts to make all sides happy. 'Appeasement for all' has unfortunately been his modus operandi - domestically and internationally - since 2008. What the president fails to realize, however, is that when you try to make everyone happy, no one is happy, including yourself. Although I believe President Serj Sargsyan is of the pro-Russian camp in Armenia, he is nonetheless politically weak. President Serj Sargsyan's administration also has Western operatives like the World Bank/IMF trained Tigran Sargsyan embedded deep within it. Moreover, the low quality of Armenians today is also at play here. The desire for personal financial benefits is the primary reason why high-ranking Armenian officials are working closely with Western powers today - because Western financial aid is most susceptible to embezzlement.

Nevertheless, I think Armenian officials have wasted too much time bending-over to Western powers during the past twenty years. Armenia is stagnating due to official Yerevan's indecision we have come to know as "complimentary politics". I think it was Britain's Margaret Thatcher that once said: Those who stand in the middle get run over. I understand the political reasoning behind why Yerevan had to take the middle of the road during much of the past twenty years, but a lot has changed since the 1990s. A multipolar world is coming into existence. Russia has reemerged as the region's sole power broker. The political West, which was never really a friend for Armenia, is clearly in decline. If due to our political illiteracy we are unable to read these signals we will again lose our statehood.

Russia is a historic opportunity 

Russians are well known for their political acumen. Recent developments in the Russian Federation have proven beyond any doubt that they are master strategists and political manipulators. Moscow has managed to secured its role as the alpha and the omega of the Caucasus against all odds. Moscow has managed to stop or roll back most advances made by Western interests in Eurasia. We Armenians need to accept the reality that Moscow will do everything in its power to keep Armenia dependent on Russia (including assassinations, economic blackmail and of course support). But this is no reason to panic or spread fear because this is a historic opportunity for Armenia.

The Russian Federation is providing Armenians with an opportunity Armenia has not had in over one thousands years. I strongly suggests we put aside our collective political illiteracy for once and begin taking advantage of this situation. Instead of fear mongering about Moscow, we need to embrace their political hegemony in the region and in doing so try to extract as much as we can from it for Armenia's benefit.

Some advise in this regard: By cursing Moscow, by calling them backstabbers, by saying they are no better than Turks and by disseminating Russophobia throughout Armenian society WE ARE NOT taking advantage of the above mentioned situation, we are just turning-off an important friend and making our enemies hopeful of a Russian-Armenian divorce. When it comes to Armenia, nothing would please Western powers, Turks and Azeris more than a rift between Yerevan and Moscow. Let's also remember that there is an army of  Western operatives seeking ways to drive a wedge between Yerevan and Moscow.

For instance, every time Moscow does something Armenians don't like, a one hundred year old folklore is resurrected. Therefore, it was only inevitable that an intellectual midget like Ed Azadian would bring up a one hundred year old Socialist/Marxist rumor that Russia wanted Armenia without Armenians and have the audacity to associate it to modern Russian-Armenian relations.

Does Russia want Armenia without Armenians?

Other than what some anti-imperialist/socialist Armenian revolutionaries were claiming over one hundred years ago, there is no historical evidence behind the claim that Russian officials actually called for an "Armenia without Armenians". Having said that, however, I personally would not be surprised if it was revealed that a Russian official around the turn of the 20th century 'did' make a similar comment out of anger or frustration. 

From an imperial Russian perspective, the region that would later became known as the Armenian Republic was a land that the Russian Empire repopulated with Armenians beginning in the 18th century. It was an imperial Russian agenda to encourage Christian Armenians of the Ottoman Empire and Persia to move to territories acquired in the south Caucasus (i.e. Russian Armenia). The intent was obviously to replace the region's Muslim majority with a friendly Christian population. A great majority of Armenians living in Armenia today moved to the territories of the current Armenian state starting during this period of the region's political Russification. By the turn of the 20th century, however, Armenians were attempting to free Armenia not only from Turkish rule but also from Russian rule.
 

In other words, "brilliant" minds within revolutionary organizations such as the Dashnaks and Hnchaks, both of which were and continue being Socialist and Marxist organizations respectively, were not only trying to liberate Armenia from Ottoman rule, they were also trying to liberate Armenia from Russian rule - at the same time nonetheless!

Real smart politics, no? 

Is there any depth to our political illiteracy or self-destructive behavior? Are we replicating the idiotic deeds of our "nationalists" one hundred years ago by being at a state of war with Turks and also now doing our best to piss-off Russians at the same time today as well? 

A little reminder to our nationalist chobans: When Western interests and international Jewry finally succeeded in overthrowing the Russian Czar towards the end of the First World War and the Russian Empire thereafter fell under Socialist/Marxist rule, Armenia suffered a near death experience. When imperial Russian troops abruptly pulled-out of Western Armenia in 1917 as a result of the Bolshevik revolution, Dashnaks and Hnchaks suddenly realized that they were in no position to defend the territory against genocidal Turks. What followed was the near total eradication of Western Armenia's aboriginal Armenian population. 

What some of our politically illiterate community activists and some pseudo-historians fail to tell us is that our political parties at the time had joined Socialist/Marxist movements which imperial Russia viewed as a grave threat. Therefore, it was only natural that Russian officials would be angered when their Armenian subjects began joining Socialist/Marxist movements. Nevertheless, regardless of their anger and much to their credit, Russians never physically harmed the Armenian population anywhere within the Russian Empire. 

Although nothing about Armenian politics makes me surprised anymore, I find still however find it hard to believe that there are relatively large numbers of people in Armenian society that are stupid enough to claim that Russians are not much better than Turks. And then there are also those, like Paruyr Hayrikian's followers, who are delusional enough to claim that Russians are worst than Turks.

People who bring up the century old rumors about Russians wanting "Armenia without Armenians", political hearsay that need verification or are subject to interpretation, are either intellectual midgets or Western agents - or both. And people who try to drive a wedge between Yerevan and Moscow are essentially traitors to Armenia.

American-Armenian organizations such as Asbarez and individuals such as Ed Azadian should be barred from covering anything other than church picnics and walkathons to raise genocide awareness in the US. Armenian politicians such as Paruyr Hayrikian and Raffi Hovanissian need to be forced into retirement in the US or in Israel. And venomous propaganda outlets in Armenia such as Lragir, ArmeniaNow and Radio Liberty need to get shut down and their staff tried in court as foreign operatives.

In the big picture I always talk about, had it not been for the Ivan coming down to the south Caucasus a couple of hundreds of years ago, men like Ed Azadian, Paruyr Hayrikian, Raffi Hovannisian and the rest of Armenia's Captain Americas, EUrotics and nationalist chobans would still be herding goats or making donkey saddles somewhere in Turkey or Iran.

As I have been saying, one has to search the remotest villages in the deserts of Arabia or the deepest jungle in Africa to find a tribe as politically illiterate as us Armenians.

Thank God for Russian racism

A "westernized" or "liberal" Russia (where the country's Turkic peoples and Muslims run wild like they are beginning to do in western Europe) poses more of a long-term threat to Armenia than a supposedly "racist" Russia where Slavic Christians reign supreme. The following is a little, healthy example of Russian style ethnocentrism, the kind of which has historically been beneficial to Armenia - 
Russian Actor In Trouble Over Crimean Tatars Remarks: http://www.rferl.org/content/russian-actor-offends-crimean-tatars/25084413.html
At the end of the day, we Armenians must be wise enough and farsighted enough to come to the realization that "racist" or "chauvinist" Russians (specifically Christian Slavs) are Armenia's only hope in the south Caucasus. In the big picture, historically speaking, had Slavic Russians not been aggressive and ethnocentric by nature, Russia would have been turned into a Turkic-Islamic Caliphate many-many generations ago and chances are Armenia today would not exist. In the big picture, the Caucasus is one bad event from turning into a Turkic-Islamic cesspool. In the big picture, independence from Russia for Armenia ultimately means dependence on Turkey. In the big picture, had Ivan not come down to the south Caucasus some two centuries ago, Armenians, even our Russophobes, would be living life not much unlike Yezdis or Kurds somewhere in Turkey or Iran. Imagine the region of the world where Armenia is located, then imagine the same region with a Russia that is Turkic and Islamic.

Therefore, yes
, thank God for Russian racism!


In my opinion, it's not far fetched to claim that Armenia exists due to Russian aggression. And being that the modern Russian Federation continues to host large numbers of Turkic peoples and Muslims, I pray to God that Russians remain as racist and as aggressive as ever. 


The key here for us Armenians, however, is to recognize Russian nature and wisely tap into it for Armenia's long-term benefit. In other words, the key to Armenia's long-term success as a nation-state in the volatile Caucasus will only come by effectively exploiting Armenia's alliance with one of the world's greatest superpowers.
 


Therefore, I am willing to accept negative attitudes towards Armenians in Russian society today (including Armenian men wearing women's robes in court) as long as Russia continues to remain a nation where Orthodox Slavs remain firmly in control. I'll tolerate Russian racism, as long as Turks remain on their side of the border due to their primordial fear of the Russian Bear. 

Wouldn't it be so much better, however, if our silly compatriots for once respected the lands they enthusiastically flee to in search of a better life and in the process seek to better relations between their adopted lands and their homeland? Wouldn't it be better is we actively, collectively and persistently lobbied for better Russian-Armenian relations? 

It must also be said that despite Russia's supposed racism, the Russian-Armenian community is by far the wealthiest, most affluent and most deeply integrated Armenian Diaspora in the world. Whereas in the Western world where certain, sensitive sectors such defense and finance are closed circuits to none Westerners (with the exception of Jews of course), Armenians are found in virtually all layers of Russia's supposedly "racist" society. 

Nevertheless, there is yet another, sociological aspect to all this: If Armenians in Russia behave anything like Armenians of southern California, I not only understand Russian biases towards Armenians, I in fact encourage it. We Armenians need to stop and look in the mirror once in a while. Armenians that persistently break laws, engage in criminal activities and disrespect the societies they live in bring shame to Armenia and they deserve harsh treatment. Is it not without reason that tens-of-thousands of Armenians have been imprisoned in the US. It is also not without reason that the common Russian has had enough of Armenian behavior in areas of Russia where there exists a large Armenian community. 

Now, a few words about the tragic bus accident in Russia that has had Armenia's Russophobes, Captain America's and nationalist chobans foaming at the mouth: 

I am currently in Armenia. One immediately notices that many here are still exploiting the opportunity to disseminate anti-Russian hysteria over the way Hrachya Harutunyan was treated in Russia during the aftermath of a vehicular accident in which he killed eighteen people on the outskirts of Moscow. There is actually a frenzy of anti-Russian activity in Armenia in recent times. Needless to say, this is spearheaded by American-Armenian activists, Western funded political pundits and the nation's utterly worthless political opposition. 

Eighteen people, including a child, died as a result of this tragedy, but all our idiots can only talk about is the woman's bath robe Hrachya was made to wear during his court appearance and some disparaging comments supposedly made about Armenians by some Russian news journalist. 

I really don't care if Hrachya was intentionally made to wear women's clothing or if he was treated as such because he was an Armenian national. What about we act a little civilized and first mourn the eighteen innocent lives he took instead. Besides which, I wonder how Hrachya's supporters would have reacted if, say, an Iranian national did the same in Armenia and Iranians arrogantly rushed to his aid...

If Hrachya is in any way like a typical Armenian motorist in Armenia, then he is guilty of vehicular man slaughter in my opinion. 
 
One of the many problems Armenia faces today are reckless and aggressive Armenian motorists. Large numbers of Armenians are dying on the streets of Armenia today due to large numbers of motor-vehicle operators who have absolutely no regard for law and public safety. Freedom fighter or no freedom fighter, if Hrachya is found guilty of breaking any traffic laws in Russia, Russian authorities should lock him up for however long Russian law allows.

More importantly, let's stop acting like a bunch of whining gypsies and for once understand that Armenia's exported garbage will be rejected in foreign lands.
Allow me to explain what I mean:

As mentioned above, the Russian Federation hosts by-far the most successful Armenian Diaspora in the world, where unlike in the West, large numbers of prominent Armenians are found in every layer of Russian society. However, there are also very large numbers of Armenians in the Russian Federation (mostly post-Soviet immigrants) who live no better than semi-nomadic gypsies or Asiatic brigands. We of course know of the aforementioned criminally inclined filth from first-hand experiences in Armenia. It is essentially due to these types of lowlifes that Armenia is in the pathetic shape it is in today.
It is essentially due to these lowlifes that Armenians today have a bad name around the world.

 
Being that Russians are by nature chauvinistic, it is utterly stupid of us to expect them to see large numbers of our nation's lawless, reckless, disrespectful and culturally Asiatic people amongst them as a good thing. And it's even more stupid of us to arrogantly and blindly rush to Hrachya's legal aid because doing so (especially in the aggressive manner that it was done in) shows Russians just how disrespectful many Armenians remain towards Russian society. 
 
Those who do not understand what I am talking about should do an objective and in-depth research on the large Armenian immigrant communities of Moscow and Krasnodar.
 

Unfortunately, we Armenians have a nasty, gypsy-like habit of feeling right at home in 'other' people's homes. Didn't even American-Armenian writer William Saroyan recognize this gypsy-like trait in us, although he, as a typical Armenian, saw it as a positive thing?

[Note: I say gypsy-like and not Jew-like
because in the human ecosystem, Jews act like parasites that live for the benefit of their genetic kind and their homeland. Whereas gypsies, similar to us Armenians, strive to live for themselves and their clans.
]


Let's put aside for the moment our pleasant memories of the Mikoyans, Bagramyans, Khachaturyans and Hambartsumyans of yesteryear and recognize that large numbers of Armenian immigrants in Russia today look at Russia as merely an open air bazaar where they seek to make money whichever way possible. Let us also put aside the notion for the moment that Christian Armenians and Christian Slavs are supposedly brothers, and realize that many Armenians in Russia actually feel a closer cultural affinity towards Turkic and Islamic peoples of the Caucasus and Central Asia than to ethnic Russians.

While we complain about the way Russians see us Armenians, do we ever stop and think about how we Armenians have traditionally viewed Russians? As a child growing up in the Armenian Diaspora, I constantly heard talk about Russian men being filthy drunkards, Russian women being cheep whores and Russia being an enemy country. And I would also at times be subjected to talk about Russians being almost as bad, just as bad or worst than Turks... Of course this kind of talk almost always came from "nationalistic" circles. Therefore, let us not be surprised if some Russians reciprocate by looking down at us as well. 

While older, well educated Russians continue to maintain high regard towards Armenians and genuinely appreciate the positive things Armenians have done for the Russian nation throughout the years, the younger generation of Russians (i.e. the post-Soviet generation in the Russian Federation) and the less educated members of modern Russian society could careless about Armenian immigrants and would love to see them go back to where we came from. Resentment towards large numbers of culturally and racially different new comers is something we are also beginning to see take place in western Europe.
 
In short, yes, no one can deny that there are serious sociological problems in Russia today. In a large, multi-ethnic society that has been to hell and back three times in one century, it's expected. But no rational person can deny that the less-than ideal behavior of Russia's very large immigrant groups and minority populations are at the root cause of these societal tensions. At the end of the day, Russia belong to Russians (i.e. anyone that identifies with being a Russian) and Russia's large immigrant community, including us Armenians, need to be mindful of this. 

This may upset many, but the closest comparison I see to the relationship that exists between Russians and Armenians in the Russian Federation is the sociological problems that exists between Mexicans and white/European Americans in California. Yes, there are many Mexican-Americans who have contributed greatly to American society and these are well respected in the US and the two nations are firmly interlocked politically and economically... but how the average Mexican behaves on the streets of LA and how the average white American views Mexicans are altogether another matter. The same can be said of Armenians in Russia.

It's important to remind the reader again that tens-of-thousands of Armenians have served time in US jails in recent decades, and many white Americans that have come into contact with Armenian immigrants (even going back to the beginning of the 20th century) look down at them just as much as they look down on other, none-European third world immigrants. Had the US been as underdeveloped as Russia is today and had Americans in general been as aggressive or as ethnocentric as Russians are, there would have been very severe racial problems between Armenians and white Americans throughout southern California. 

Like I have said in the past, I don't write these commentaries to make friends: I do what I do to awaken within us the self-critical gene in order for us to take a good, hard look at ourselves in the mirror - because not doing so is ruining our homeland in many ways. Ever since our near-death experience in 1915, we have been trying very hard to convince ourselves into believing that we as a nation are flawless. Well, the reality of the matter is that we Armenians are very far from being flawless. We have a lot of national flaws and these flaws - coupled with the geopolitical climate in the south Caucasus - are behind some of the most fundamental problems we have in Armenia today. A nation that has been through one thousand years of Islamic and Turkic subjugation cannot be healthy. We today are a nation with genetic, cultural and psychological damage and this one thousand year old damage will not be fixed in a few short years. Moreover, Armenian conservatism (strict adherence to traditional ways) may actually be preserving this damage. 

Nevertheless, thank God this topic has very little to do with international relations for Russian officials continue seeing Armenia as a crucially important ally and they will do everything in their power to keep Yerevan within Moscow's orbit. Therefore, despite how hard our Russophobes, Captain Americas and nationalist chobans try, Armenia will remain within Russia's political orbit. 

Armenia stuck between Rome and Persia

Growing up, I was always interested in international relations and history. The more I studied politics and Armenian history, the more I found myself angrily cursing at my ancestors for not having the political fortitude and the collective strength to preserve a powerful Armenian state during the past two thousand years. Growing up, I thought: we Armenians had learned our lessons well, if we only had the opportunity now, Armenia would once again be from "sea to sea"!

Well, now that I have grown up and seen all that needs to be seen, I find myself angrily cursing Armenians of today. Deep seated emotional issues, arrogance, jealousy, materialism, disunity and political illiteracy may very well be genetic traits in us. Due to its very difficult geographic location, Armenia is a nation that demands the most of its sons and daughters. I'm afraid Armenia's sons and daughters are not yet up to the task.

From an esoteric perspective, what is happening in Armenia today may in fact be a replaying of the geopolitical tug-of-war that existed between ancient Persia (modern Russia) and Rome (modern West) during the first few centuries of the Christian era. The pagan temple of Garni, Armenia, a Roman funded and styled building where Armenians prayed to Persian deities, is a vivid reminder of the "complimentary politics" executed by Armenian leaders at the time. Very similar to the political climate in Armenia today, Armenian leaders wearily walked a tightrope between Rome and Persia. Eventually, however, there came a time when Armenian nobles, having had enough of the constant back-and-forth and political instability, deposed their king and asked Persia to come in once again and take control of Armenia. I hope it does not come to that this time around, but if it does, then so be it... 

Russia is for Armenia today what Persia was back in antiquity. As it was also back then with ancient Rome, we must recognize that the West is in Armenia's geographic region only temporarily. In fact, the modern West has even less interests in the region in question than Rome did. The Caucasus region is not crucially vital for the West. Therefore, when being there proves costly, it will easily abandon the region. For Russia, however, the region in question is an extension of its borders. It would therefore be in Armenia's long term benefit to place all its limited efforts and collective emphasis in fostering better relations with friendly political entities that we know will remain in our region for the long term.

Anyway, knowing Armenians well, I can only pray for the best. I can only hope that the pieces will eventually fall into their right places. In reality, however, as it has been for the past two thousand years, I can not hope for much more than Armenia's mere survival. Ironically enough, Armenia's survival as a nation-state in a volatile region like the south Caucasus will come as a result of Armenia's close proximity to Russia and not because of its problematic sons and daughters. Some Armenians today are asking if Russia is a "friend" or "foe" without realizing that if Russia was indeed a foe, Armenia would most probably not exist today. A better question, therefore, would be to ask if those who question Russian-Armenian relations are in fact friends or foes of Armenia...

Arevordi
August, 2013
(articles amended in 2016)

***

Ed Azadian: Is Russia a friend or foe?

http://media.washtimes.com.s3.amazonaws.com/media/image/2016/03/02/3_2_2016_russia-armenia8201.jpg

When the Turkmenchay Treaty was signed in 1828 between the Russian and Persian Qajar Empires, the Khanate of Yerevan, effectively Eastern Armenia, was ceded to Russia. Armenians celebrated the event as a liberation from Moslem rule. In reality, it was only a change of overlords. However, it was hailed by Khachatur Abovian in his epic novel, Wounds of Armenia, as a historic blessing.

The rulers of Christian Russia were relatively more tolerant than, let’s say, their Ottoman counterparts. But the word “relative” needs to be understood in its full implication here, as Armenians subsequently heard warnings by Russian officials that Russia needs Armenia without Armenians. Just one example of Russian tyranny was that Armenian church property was confiscated by a decree of the czar.

The attitude of the Russians towards the Armenians did not differ much from other colonial powers such as Britain looking down on indigenous peoples over whom they had control. That attitude is typically reflected by the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin in his memoirs from Erzurum, denigrating Armenian common folk in the area, a disdain to be matched by the US Admiral Marc Bristol in his 1916 reports to Washington.

Even today, Armenians are bundled in with the rest of the Caucasus peoples and are treated as second-class citizens by Russia, accordingly.

Overall, Russian rule has proven historically more survivable than the Ottoman rule. That is why Armenian leaders have favored a Russian orientation since the days of the Israel Ori in the 17th century. However, the Russians have sold their Armenian brothers at any given juncture of history. One such major deal was struck in 1923 between Lenin and Ataturk, which sealed Armenia’s destiny and borders up to now.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Empire, Armenia has served as the vanguard of Russian political and military influence in the Caucasus and it is considered Moscow’s strategic ally. Yet Russia’s treatment of Armenia has been more cavalier. During the first years of independence, as realignments were taking place in the Caucasus region, war broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

At that time there were some political voices in Armenia that suggested we have a “third alternative,” meaning Turkey. Especially patriotic scholar Rafael Ishkhanian advocated a rapprochement with Turkey, clearly forgetting Yerevan’s futile call for help to Turkey during a February 1921 uprising against the Soviet rule. The Turks let Armenia be drowned in blood without lifting a finger. This was a policy which was as naïve as it was loud. President Boris Yeltsin, at that time a personal friend of President Levon Ter-Petrosian, did not hesitate to help Azerbaijanis thrash Armenian forces and occupy almost half of Karabagh, until Yerevan called “uncle” and the fortunes of the war were reversed and Karabagh was liberated, courtesy of Moscow.

Recently Armenia has been seeking a middle role between major contenders for influence in the region. Despite Yerevan’s strategic alliance with Moscow and the treaty to keep a military base on Armenian soil through the year 2044, Armenia has been cooperating with NATO, supplying peacekeeping forces in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Armenia has been seeking partnership in the Eurasia Customs Union while trying to sign a Deep and Comprehensive free-trade agreement with the European Union (DCFTA) — a mutually-exclusive possibility.

Thus far, Moscow was weighing Armenia’s political positioning with tolerant, yet watchful, eyes. It looks like what broke the camel’s back was Armenia’s absence from the military component of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), an alliance which President Putin is trying to put together to counter NATO tacitly. Although a military delegation was sent from Yerevan, headed by Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian, the president opted out of its convention, citing other obligations. This was interpreted as defiance in Moscow, while it was hailed as a courageous act in the West.

The response and the signal were not delayed much, as it was announced that Moscow was providing more than $1 billion in military hardware to Azerbaijan. This looks like a repeat performance of the 1990s. There are pro and con discussions, but nevertheless, the move is more than a discomforting development for Armenia’s military planners. Every time we have rested our destiny in the hands of foreign military powers we have been betrayed. Armenia is at a crossroad. How do we proceed from this point on?

Russian arms sales to Azerbaijan will introduce an element of uncertainly in a flammable region. The Russian defense industry sources recently reported that the Azerbaijani military will soon be receiving 90 T-90C tanks, around 100 armored personnel carriers and dozens of multiple rocket systems and artillery cannon in accordance with defense contracts signed in 2011 and 2012, a total of $1 billion worth of military hardware.

How interesting that the Russian leaders remember today military contracts from a year or two back, when they are ready to exert pressure on Armenia. For Azerbaijan, it is the psychological boost as President Aliyev is preparing for his third term, to preserve the office inherited from his late father, Heydar Aliyev. There is also talk that he may transfer that dynastic office to his wife, Mehriban Aliyeva, perhaps waiting for their children to grow up and inherit, in turn, the dynastic rule.

Yet, Aliyev received accolades during a recent trip to Europe, from the British Prime Minister David Cameron and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who apologetically justified Aliyev’s despotic rule, explaining away that “we are not perfect in Europe.”

Armenian officials are at a loss to justify the Russian arms deal with Azerbaijan. They are still in denial mode. Armenians should not criticize Russia for selling weapons to Azerbaijan despite its military alliance with Armenia, the secretary of President Serge Sargisian’s National Security Council, Arthur Baghdasarian, said, adding Russia has legitimate right to make arms deals with third countries, including Armenia’s archenemy. He also added that Moscow and Yerevan are posed to sign a new agreement on defense and security.

Analysts such as Hrant Melik Shahnazaryan and military expert Arkadi Grigoryan further supported the case by adding that Russia needs the money, that arms sales to Azerbaijan will not tilt the balance of power in the region, that Russia sells to Azerbaijan at international market prices, while Armenia receives its arms at domestic market prices.

Reassuring voices were also heard on the Russian side. “I think that the presence of Russian servicemen is a guarantee that there will be no negative development in Armenia,” Nikolay Patrushev, the secretary of the Russian Security Council said, while visiting the Russian base in Gumri. Five thousand Russian personnel based there will fight along with the Armenian forces, should Armenia be attacked. Azerbaijan also bought arms from Israel. A balance of power does not guarantee Armenia’s security. Only a strategic edge can serve as a deterrent against Azeri belligerence.

All these rationales do not pacify the minds of citizens of Armenia. They further encourage them to seek more peaceful havens, away from a potential war zone. The director of the Modus Vivendi Center, scientist Ara Papyan, condemns Russia’s sale of arms to Azerbaijan, saying that Russia should not have done so, because it is Armenia’s ally. “Our ally arms our enemy. Armenia should condemn it officially,” he added, addressing reporters.

As the atmosphere was about to improve in the Caucasus through more friendly relations with Georgia’s new rulers and the election of a moderate president in Iran, Russia’s actions come to render the region more explosive and lead the citizens of Armenia to wonder whether Moscow is a friend or foe.

Source: http://www.mirrorspectator.com/2013/06/25/friend-or-foe/#sthash.2kjO7B8l.dpu

Lragir: Armenia Is Becoming Sovereign

http://www.eurasianet.org/sites/default/files/20120306_120306a-001.jpg

Armenia is becoming an important pillar of reformatting in the region of the great Near East. Real and historical events are taking place. 300 years of existence of Armenia and an entire geopolitical stratum in the Russian-Eurasian space are coming to an end, and Yerevan is becoming an independent international subject.

So far our country has not conducted an independent foreign policy and has been following the Russian politics. On the international arena we supported the decisions that favored Moscow and often were not in line with our interests, we were friendly to those countries with which Moscow maintained its relations. Only thanks to the Diaspora was Armenia able to maintain minimum independence in its foreign policy but it was equally “neutralized” by Moscow.

Now these relations are being reviewed. Evidence to this is Armenia’s disputed intention to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, NATO-Armenia cooperation, rejection of Moscow’s initiatives relating to the Karabakh “settlement” which envisage deployment of Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh.

The latest event was the killing of the Turkish shepherd by Russian border guards on the Armenian border. This incident brought up one of the key issues of sovereignty of Armenia – why the borders of sovereign Armenia are guarded by the border guards of another country. Why are the borders of Armenia referred to as “CIS external border” and guarded by Russia?

There are two answers to this question. Either Russia announces officially that it does not recognize the independence of Armenia and considers it its “exclave” or withdraws its border guards from Armenia.

The Russian-Eurasian area has been retained by force for over 20 years as the “successor” of the Soviet empire. However, there is nothing that would connect the post-Soviet states except the uncurbed desire of the Russian government to “assemble the empire”. This desire is already spilling beyond the edge – the Ukrainian fisherman who survived a clash with the Russian coast guard motorboat tells that the motorboat rammed the fisherman’s boat three times.

The process has started, it is irreversible because it is part of a bigger process of reformatting of the Great Near East. Unlike Armenia, Armenia’s neighbors Iran, Turkey and Azerbaijan understand this. In addition, some forces are actually acting against the sovereignty of their own country, insisting on prolongation of Russian protectorate.

These forces are ready to support the Russian-Turkish alliance and sale of Russian missiles to Azerbaijan but not to become an independent subject because they are not used to independence. The U.S. Ambassador Heffern said that Armenians are incredibly smart, kind and diligent but they get disappointed too early. We do not like to risk and prefer to drift behind others. Those who guide us, both in and outside Armenia, know about our character and use it successfully.

Even now when, according to Igor Muradyan, Armenia has a real chance, we are about to miss it, preferring dependence. Although, there are gleams of hope. The talks of the Armenian minister with the Kurdish government of Iraq are one of the first sovereign steps. Armenia is growing sovereign despite Armenia’s resistance.

Source: http://www.lragir.am/index/eng/0/comments/view/30646


 Igor Muradyan: How Russian Soul "Hurts" for Karabakh?

http://verelq.am/sites/default/files/styles/article_image_full_node/public/images/article/2015/09/3648/3648_2141.jpg?itok=jVH9Mo0e

In its urge not to allow Armenia to integrate with the European Union the Russian propagandists have resorted to the last “argument” – association with the EU will end up in “betrayal” and “return” of Karabakh. The heads of this mass media project in Russia are the head of the REX information agency Modest Kolerov who is well-known in Armenia and has been awarded by the Armenian government, as well as the deputy head of the information and analytical agency Vigen Hakobyan.

The Russian propaganda uses all kinds of Russian and Western experts picked up on the Azerbaijani church porch to substantiate the policy of cooperation with the West as “disastrous” for Armenia. Now the idea is instilled in the brains of the more or less educated Armenian observers that the EU will not allow a single cent to crawl over to Karabakh. Complete nonsense, invented arguments sucked from the Russian thumb, about nothing and nobody.

What assistance has Russia provided to NKR except military trophy when Russian weapon supplied to Azerbaijan appeared in the hands of Armenians? Furthermore, Azerbaijan put forth similar claims during the recent summit of the EaP foreign ministers in Brussels.

In other words, Russians and Azerbaijanis have joined their efforts to hinder opportunities for Armenia to receive support from the West, the Russian propaganda is using actively publications and messages of experts of Europe and the United States engaged by Azerbaijanis. The most anecdotal is claims of these frank provocateurs about recognition of independence of NKR by Armenia, forgetting that similar claims could be put forth to Russia. It’s the “Karabakh lobby” in Moscow as you see.

By the way, institutionalization of this scum is underway. In Moscow, for example, the Public Institute of Political and Social Studies, a regional research organization, has been set up on the money of Vardges Artsruni, a certain Armenian rich man. The only goal of this institution is to subject Armenia to the interests of Russia. In Armenia, Noravank, a so-called Research Foundation, is engaged in analogical activities, which is said to be supervised by Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan.

There is a big bunch of supporters of subjection of Armenia to Russia: Gagik Harutiunyan, Alexander Iskandaryan, Andranik Tevanyan, Artashes Geghamyan, Aram Safaryan, Sergey Minasyan, Ashot Yeganyan, Artak Hakobyan, Emil Babayan, Sevak Sarukhanyan, Anush Levonyan … This list can be continued.

Hence, Russian experts have not only joined those of their kind in Armenia but also enjoy Azerbaijan’s support. From time to time someone of Russia says that Russia does not care about these events. They do worry. The Russian soul is “hurting” for Karabakh.

Such imprudent treatment of Armenia was made possible by the prostitute behavior of Armenian politicians and those who supposedly express the conscience and opinion of the Armenian people, and in reality they are doing business (sole proprietors) on annihilation and humiliation, blackmail and provocations towards the Armenian people. Will they get away with it?


Source: http://www.lragir.am/index/eng/0/com....9kHlqyeU.dpuf


London School of Economic: Russia Tightens Grip as Armenia Moves Closer to Europe

http://asbarez.com/App/Asbarez/eng/2013/08/Armenian_Russian_flags.jpg

By Hayk Hovhannisyan, From the London School of Economics’ EUROPP Blog
 
Like many former Soviet-states, Armenia has recently pursued closer relations with the EU, much to Russia’s displeasure. Hayk Hovhannisyan looks at Russia’s increasingly punitive stance towards Armenia, such as increasing gas prices and greater arms sales to Armenia’s rival, Azerbaijan. Armenia has been trying to walk a fine line not to infuriate the ‘bear’ to the north, but now, without further support from the West, its European integration is likely to become more complicated.

Comments of despair and outrage flooded Armenian social media sites after images of a shattered man humiliatingly dressed in a woman’s bathrobe appeared on Russian television two weeks ago. It was Khachik Harutyunyan, a 46-year-old Armenian migrant worker, whose truck had accidentally collided with a bus on a dangerous intersection near Moscow, killing 18 and injuring dozens more, including himself. On police orders, just hours after the accident, the hospitalized suspect was forcefully awakened from painkiller-induced sleep, dressed into the embarrassing outfit and taken to the courtroom for a detention ruling.

 
The coverage of Harutyunyan’s courtroom appearance by Russia’s second largest state-owned television network, Rossiya-1, frequently and expressively emphasized the nationality of the unfortunate driver, in the best traditions of Soviet rhetoric. Stepping up for their citizen, the Human Rights Defender of Armenia, Karen Andreasyan had to remind his Russian counterpart that according to Russia’s Constitution, everyone has the right to be treated with dignity, regardless of circumstances, nationality or race. Drawing attention to the inhuman behavior of Russian officials, social activists in Armenia circulated pictures contrasting the self-confident and elegant courtroom image of Anders Breivik, a terrorist who deliberately killed 77 and injured 319 in 2011 Norway attacks, with the miserable condition of their unlucky countryman. In Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, a group of young protesters tried to pass a worn-out bathrobe to Russia’s ambassador.

This incident comes at a tense moment in Armenia’s relations with its CSTO partner (the Collective Security Treaty Organization was created between Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Russia in 2002). Since 2009, Armenia has been actively developing its ties with the European Union in the Eastern Partnership framework. On July 24, it completed negotiations with the EU around the establishment of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area and an Association Agreement, which will be signed in November. The High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, and the Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Fule, qualified this as a very positive development for Armenia, which will bring the country and its citizens closer to the EU. This is apparently frustrating for Russia, which pushes its own agenda of the Eurasian Customs Union and had significant hopes of Armenia adding its name to the short list of signatories. Many Armenians regard the disrespectful treatment of their countryman as yet another link in the chain of Russia’s punitive actions aimed at the European aspirations of its last stronghold in South Caucasus. Taking advantage of Armenia’s vulnerable geopolitical and economic situation, Russia has activated three major vindictive strategies, aimed at putting its ‘strategic ally’ into total political, economic and military dependence, and hence, retaining it in its usual orbit. The arsenal of policies includes demographic drain, energy and economic blackmail, and direct intimidation by exacerbating conflict risks in the turbulent region

Russia’s 1999 Federal Law On State Policy toward Compatriots Living Abroad considers anyone who has ever held a Soviet citizenship or is a descendant of such a person as a compatriot. This formulation clearly embraces almost everyone living in the ex-Soviet republics. The program, launched in 2006 and upgraded in 2012 by President Vladimir Putin, creates generous incentives for resettlement of the compatriots in a number of sparsely populated Russian regions, through granting citizenship, jobs and other benefits. The implementation of this program in Armenia, with its tiny population of around 3 million, would barely have an impact on Russia’s demographic situation, but could seriously harm Armenia’s resilience in the face of its 9-million-strong arch-rival, Azerbaijan.

In 1988-1994 Armenians fought and won a war with Azerbaijan over Mountainous Karabagh, an Armenian-populated region, which was placed under Azerbaijan’s control in 1920s, as a punishment for Armenia’s fierce resistance to Bolshevik forces. No peace resolution has been reached so far. Azerbaijan and Turkey have been blockading landlocked Armenia’s vital communication lines for already two decades. With 2,600 people already resettled and another 26,000 waiting for their turn, the Compatriots program has left Armenia with less manpower, intellectual potential, and more people dependent on remittances from Russia, with all the logically ensuing consequences. Considerable public discontent forced the Armenian government to take steps to halt the program in the spring of 2013.

From the beginning of July, Russia has increased the price of gas supplied to Armenia by more than 50 percent. The economic consequences of the new price for Armenia’s population, with one in three living near the poverty line, are going to be quite grave. The third part of the entrapping strategy was Russia’s sale of armaments worth $1bn to Azerbaijan in the spring of this year. Azerbaijan has been openly declaring its intentions to restart the war over the disputed territory and is actively arming itself. In this light, Russia’s actions put into doubt if Moscow’s current administration fully understands or appreciates the notion of strategic alliance, presumed by the Collective Security Treaty.

Shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the existential threat emanating from its Turkey-backed neighbor, Azerbaijan, dragged Armenia back into the sphere of Russian influence. But experience shows that even the most picturesque treaties, and assurances of eternal brotherhood cannot conceal Moscow’s true vision of Armenia: poor and intimidated, with a population just enough to cater for the Russian military bases stationed on the Turkish border.

This is hardly what Armenians want for their country. Cooperation with the EU is widely perceived as a real chance for the turbulent region to enter a new stage of economic and political stability, and to adopt European sociopolitical institutions. This integration is not only in the interests of Armenia. The country is located in the middle of an alternative energy supply corridor for Europe from the Caspian/Central Asian regions, and potentially Iran in the future. Azerbaijan and Iran due to their political regimes, and the Central Asian countries due to their geopolitical remoteness, cannot become EU confidants in the foreseeable future. Thus, Armenia can serve as an important balancing factor and a point of influence for the European powers.

Accommodating its harsh realities, Yerevan has been so far trying to balance between Russian and Western influences. Russia’s unforgiving approaches indicate that this will not be possible anymore. Thus, there are two ways for Armenia to proceed with its European integration: either the pressure from Turkey’s side is alleviated, or the landlocked and blockaded country is provided with an alternative guarantee of security. Both solutions depend on further actions from the West, as Yerevan has given all the necessary signals.

Lragir: May Russian Border Guards Be Asked To Leave Armenia?


Apparently one of the conditions of the Association Agreement between Armenia and the EU is to cancel the border guard services of Russia. Currently the Russian service guards the border of Armenia with Turkey and Iran. Association of Armenia with the EU is hardly possible when the Russian border guards are standing at the border.

As the Russian political scientists put it quite frankly, Russia guards not the border of Armenia but the external borders of the CIS. In other words, Armenia is not a sovereign state with sovereign border relations with neighbors but part of the political union of CIS. By the way, Azerbaijan is also a CIS member. And it means that if the EU goes for association with Armenia, it must demand that Armenian or European forces guard the borders of Armenia, not Russia.

Otherwise, it is impossible. Apparently, Russia has been let know. Apparently, this is the reason why the Armenian authorities are reluctant to publish the text of the Association Agreement. Perhaps the incident at the border when the Russian border guards shot dead the Turkish shepherd is determined by this. It is possible that this is a Russian-Turkish plot against passing the Armenian-Turkish border under the protection of Europe.

Guarding of the state border is one of the key conditions of a country’s sovereignty, and a country which makes a sovereign decision on association with a union cannot afford having another country guard its borders. It would be nonsense for Armenia, and this is what Russia fears most of all as it understands that its border guards will have to withdraw from the CIS borders.

Armenia may afford to remain in CSTO, may not nationalize strategic infrastructures handed over to Russia but Armenia and the EU may not enter into association as long as Russia guards the border of Armenia with Turkey which is a member of the EU Customs Union.

Russian border guards on the Armenian border with Turkey will not guarantee security of Armenia in case Turkey launches a war against Armenia. There is no reason to assume that in case Turkey attacks Armenia Russia will perceive it as an attack on the CIS and will fight against Turkey. And there is no reason to think that Turkey will not attack Armenia only because Russia guards the Armenian border.


Source: http://www.lragir.am/index/eng/0/comments/view/30618

Paruyr Hayrikian: Necessary to freeze relations with Russia



Armenia should freeze its diplomatic relations and all the agreements with Russia, the chairman of Union for National Self-Determination (AIM) Party Paryur Hayrikian told a press conference today. According to him, Russia sells arms to Azerbaijani that constantly threatens to start a war against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. “The state does not take any steps in that direction so the opposition and citizens must unite, hold rallies and demand a change of power. If an attempted murder had not been committed against me and if I had become president of Armenia, I would have taken measures in that direction,” Hayrikian declared. Hayrikian was shot and wounded in January 2013 during his bid for the presidency.

Source: http://www.aysor.am/en/news/2013/06/28/paruyr-hayrikyan/

Ara Papyan: Russian frontier guards must prove Turkish shepherd was armed


Head of the Modus Vivendi center Ara Papyan believes Armenia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs must demand that Russian frontier guards produce proofs that the Turkish shepherd crossed the Armenian-Turkish border armed and was the first to shoot. The proofs must be provided to Turkey. Otherwise, the incident gives rise to speculations.

The 35-year-old shepherd Mustafa Ulker crossed the Armenian border on the evening of July 31. Armenian and Turkish sources offered contradictory versions of the incident. According to the Turkish sources, "Armenian guards" opened fire on him when he was searching for his lost cow that had wandered across the border. According to the Russian frontier guards, two young Turks crossed over into Armenia to steal sheep.

After being warned by the Russian frontier guards, the young men laughed at them. The frontier guards fired two shots into the air, but one of the Turks allegedly opened fire on them. The Armenia Border Department of the Russian Federal Security Service reported that one of the Turks was shot dead.

"I think that the Russian frontier guards took much more radical steps that they normally take. If the shepherd turns to have not been armed, it gives rise to speculations," Papayan told Tert.am. "If it is proved that the Russian frontier guards were the first to open fire, I suppose that it was done to build up tension between Armenia and Turkey. But if it was an armed attack, the Russian frontier guards had no alternative," he said.

Armenia's foreign office must demand clear proofs from the Russian side that the Turkish shepherd was armed and was the first to open fire. "A gun is the best proof and the Russian frontier guards must produce it to the Turkish side. So we must, first of all, cooperate with the Russian side," Papyan said.

"Turkey has not missed its chance to shape negative sentiments against Armenia. Of course, it was a Russian frontier guard that shot the Turkish shepherd dead. However, Turkey is justly stating that this is Armenia's territory and is taking advantage of the incident to tarnish our reputation throughout the world," he said. According to him, the incident may prove a decisive factor in the Armenia-EU association agreement.

Spurce: http://www.tert.am/en/news/2013/08/09/ara-papyan/

Russian arms supplies to Azerbaijan trigger Armenian backlash



The sale by Russia of offensive weapons to Azerbaijan caused a wave of discontent in Armenia. What particularly angered many local politicians and experts was the sale of Smerch rocket launchers, which are considered to be one of the deadliest weapons First Armenian political analysts and experts loyal to Russia had to prove that nothing bad had happened and that Russia did have the right to sell arms to Azerbaijan, as it gives Armenia weapons almost for free. Then Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Nikolai Bordyuzha had to come to Armenia to assure partners in Yerevan that the sale of arms to Azerbaijan was pure business and that in order to “maintain the balance” Russia was also arming Armenia.

Not all in Armenia, however, were convinced and some experts and politicians began to even express opinions through media that Armenia should undertake symmetrical measures by refusing to continue to host the Russian military base, declaring about its withdrawal from the CSTO and moving to terminate its agreement on strategic alliance with Russia.

But the most remarkable thing is that this time around discontent was also raised in Karabakh. Independent Karabakh MP Vahan Badasyan made a tough statement, accusing the Armenian authorities of allowing themselves to become too much dependent on Russia to the degree that Moscow now determines the policy of Armenia in the Karabakh issue.

Then, in an interview with karabakh-open.info first commander of the Karabakh Self-Defense Forces (1990-91) Arkady Karapetyan accused Russia of preparing a ‘new genocide’ of Armenians in Karabakh. Describing the combat characteristics of Smerch systems, Karapetyan said he did not want to sit and wait until Azerbaijan uses this lethal weapon against his family. He said that Russia must choose – either business or brotherhood. And if it chooses business over brotherhood, let the Russians pay for the military base in Armenia, he emphasized.

On July 2, in Yerevan, during the presentation of the revised version of the book ‘Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Between Peace and War’ an interesting polemic took place between its author, senior associate at the Washington Carnegie Endowment specializing in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict Thomas de Waal and Director of the Yerevan-based Caucasus Institute Alexander Iskandaryan.

“After the accumulation of a certain quantity and quality of weapons on both sides of the conflict the resumption of hostilities becomes unlikely. Accumulation of arms triggers the mechanism of deterrence based on threat. In this respect, I do not agree with Thomas de Waal that the likelihood of renewed hostilities has increased, on the contrary, it is decreasing,” said Iskandaryan.

De Waal, in his turn, stressed that along with the process of accumulation of arms tensions are rising in the region, which at one point will get out of control, as it happened during the First World War. Meanwhile, active citizens in Armenia are now discussing questions like: will the asymmetrical armament of Azerbaijan and Armenia by Russia lead to renewed hostilities and why the Armenian leadership does not express a tough stance on the matter?

Source: http://armenianow.com/karabakh/47411

Lragir: “Russia Is Preparing The Armenian Genocide”


According to the Russian Vedomosti, Russia supplied to Azerbaijan armaments costing 1 billion USD, including three battalions of Т-90С tanks, three battalions of armored vehicles, one division of Msta-S self-propelled howitzer, one division of Smerch BM -30 rocket systems, one division of Vena self-propelled howitzer and one unit Solntsepyok heavy flame thrower system. Interview with first commander of NKR self-defense Arkady Karapetyan.

Mr. Karapetyan what is Russia’s goal?
I don’t believe that by selling weapons Russia is trying to maintain the balance in Transcaucasia, on the contrary, it is boosting tension. It rather balances the Russian military base which does not belong to Armenia. I’m mostly worried about the sale of Smerch rocket systems. If 1600 people died as a result of a Grad volley in Tskhinvali, can you imagine what will happen if Smerch is used against Stepanakert? Thousands of people will die, if not the whole population.

Russia is selling weapons to Armenia at internal Russian prices, while to Azerbaijan at international prices. The weapons sold to Armenia at internal prices are the old generation weapons, such a T-72 tanks. Why aren’t they selling Smerch rockets, airplanes and other types of weapons to us in order to keep the balance? Recently Iskander ballistic missiles have been imported to Armenia. This is said to be the proof of commitment to parity.

These missiles have been provided to the Russian base. If they gave them to us and trained local staff, that would be different. Second, for example, Iskanders will be launched at headquarters which may have been already dislocated during the war, while Smerch is a direct threat to the population. One volley of this missile will destroy 67 hectares. One division is composed of 18 stations, Azerbaijan has two divisions today.

If Azerbaijan does not buy weapons from Russia, it will buy from other countries, such as Israel. Let it buy but we would at least know that it is not buying from our friendly country. Plus, only Russia produces Smerch in the world, which is a weapon of mass destruction. According to a Russian political scientist, Russia is acting in the same way as NATO and the U.S. which sell weapons to Egypt and Israel, Greece and Turkey in order to maintain the balance.

Israel has nuclear weapon. Do NATO and the U.S. sell nuclear weapons to any other country in the region? Smerch is equal to a nuclear weapon in our region. The CTSO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha said about Russia supply to Azerbaijan that it is business, market relations and Russia’s economy.

Ok, it is business. Then stop saying that we are brothers. If you are a businessman, why don’t you pay for your base in Armenia? Why don’t we request money from you? A state that is guided by business interests may sell the military base and leave the country at any moment. It may even sell the base to a third country. A brotherly country should act otherwise. Brotherhood is not business.

So what can Armenia do?
I think brotherly Russia is preparing the Armenian genocide. I’m saying it as a person who lives in Artsakh waiting when Smerch will be used against his family. I think when they say that it is necessary to ensure the security of Armenia they mean the territories, not people. State is not business, it is a higher value. Russia should finally decide if it is a businessman or a serious state. Armenia should rely on itself. We have been shouting for twenty years to pay attention at military industry, but in vain …

Source: http://www.lragir.am/index/eng/0/interview/view/30333

Baku Says Russian Arms Trade at $4 Billion


Azerbaijan has increased military spending by almost 30 times to $3.7 billion in the past decade and repeatedly threatened to use force to regain control of Karabakh if peace talks fail. At a press conference following their meeting, Putin said only a diplomatic solution would be acceptable for the Karabakh conflict.

“There is only a political solution to Karabakh conflict,” the RIA Novosti agency quoted Putin as saying. “During the negotiations we touched upon international issues, including the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Russia is providing active assistance to the settlement, which is possible only by political means,” added Putin.

He also stressed the need for a resolution of the existing problems in the Caspian region related to delimitation, ecological issues, for the benefit of all countries of the region. But, Putin failed to clinch a concrete energy deal on his rare trip to Azerbaijan on Tuesday, dashing Moscow’s hopes to challenge the dominance of major Western energy companies in the former Soviet republic, reported Reuters. Putin’s trips abroad usually yield a flurry of deals and one of his closest allies, state oil champion Rosneft’s head Igor Sechin, went to Baku last month to prepare the ground.

Russia has long tried to increase its presence in Azerbaijan, a country Europe is hoping will help it lessen its dependence on Russian gas after Moscow’s “gas wars” with Ukraine disrupted deliveries in 2006 and 2009. But on Tuesday, Sechin signed only a vague cooperation agreement with Azeri state energy firm Socar as Putin landed in Baku for the first time in seven years.

“Under this agreement, we plan to cooperate on a number of issues including crude swap operations, a joint use of infrastructure,” Sechin told reporters without giving details. Sources on both sides said a lot of differences needed to be removed for the companies to agree on teaming up on field development or swapping energy supplies. “Azerbaijan is asking such a high price for its assets that Rosneft is not willing to offer,” a Russian energy source said, asking not to be named. A Socar source also said a lot of work needed to be done to iron out the differences.

Western oil companies such as BP, Statoil and Exxon Mobil have dominated the Azeri oil industry since the collapse of the Soviet Union while relations between Moscow and Baku have been mostly cool.

Ties between Moscow and Baku were strained late last year after protracted talks between the two countries failed to reach a deal over Moscow’s use of a radar station on Azeri territory. The only Russian company with a significant presence in Azerbaijan is the privately-held Lukoil. Russian state gas monopoly Gazprom agreed in the last decade to buy almost the entire gas output from Azerbaijan, in what was seen as a successful attempt by Russia to defend its leading position in Europe’s gas markets.

But the deal never materialized in full, and Azerbaijan and major oil companies have instead agreed to supply most of their gas through a new pipeline to Europe from 2019. The project does not represent a major challenge to Russia’s gas dominance in Europe, although Moscow has always been keen to make sure Azerbaijan does not become a major transit route for gas from other Caspian Sea producers.

The threat has somewhat diminished since major producer Turkmenistan rerouted most of its gas to China away from Russia and the European markets. Azerbaijan has almost a trillion cubic meters in gas reserves, according to BP data, relatively small compared to Russia’s 33 trillion cubic meters. Last month, industry sources told Reuters Rosneft was seeking a stake in Azerbaijan’s Absheron gas project but this was not mentioned in the cooperation agreement.

Azerbaijan said its arms trade with Russia is worth $4 billion as it boosted military spending in connection with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, reported Bloomberg. “As of today, military and technical cooperation with Russia is measured at $4 billion and it tends to grow further,” Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said Tuesday after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Baku. It was the first time Azerbaijan disclosed the price of its arms deals.SOCAR and French oil company Total each hold 40 percent in Absheron with the remainder being held by GDF Suez. Azeri officials have said Absheron will help increase Azeri gas exports in coming years.

Sources have also said Rosneft and Socar were also considering swapping Azeri oil in Europe against Russian supplies to Asia which would allow Rosneft to service its plants in Italy and Germany while Socar would supply its Asian buyers.

Source: http://asbarez.com/112796/baku-says-russian-arms-trade-at-4-billion/

Armenian Weapons Production Discussed with Russian Defense Official


The head of a Russian government agency overseeing arms deals with foreign states visited Yerevan on Wednesday, less than two months after signing a Russian-Armenian agreement on joint weapons production and repair. Aleksandr Fomin, who runs Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, held separate meetings with President Serzh Sarkisian and Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian.

Sarkisian’s press office said the Armenian leader discussed with Fomin “a wide range of issues pertaining to the further development of defense cooperation” between Armenia and Russia. It said they looked into relevant programs planned by the two “strategic allies.” No further details were reported.

A separate statement by the Armenian Defense Ministry said Ohanian and Fomin reached “understandings” on setting up joint “certified centers for the repair and maintenance of military hardware and weapons” in Armenia. It did not elaborate.

The creation of such centers is envisaged by a Russian-Armenian agreement on “the development of military-technical cooperation” that was signed by Ohanian and Fomin in Yerevan on June 25. Nikolay Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, sought to underline the importance of the agreement with his presence at the signing ceremony.

Ohanian described the document as “very important” later in June. He said it will help Armenia maintain military parity with Azerbaijan in the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The minister spoke just days after it emerged that Russia is to sell $1 billion worth of offensive weapons to Baku.

Russian President Vladimir Putin formally authorized his government to sign the new defense accord with Armenia in January. The Russian government daily “Rossiiskaya Gazeta” reported shortly afterwards that the planned Russian-Armenian military facilities will cater for tanks, armored personnel carriers, air-defense systems and even helicopter gunships. Another Russian paper, “Nezavisimaya Gazeta,” said Moscow will also help Armenia “launch the production of some types of ammunition and armored vehicles.”


Russian arms delivery to Azerbaijan does not violate balance of forces: Expert says


The delivery of $1 billion worth Russian arms to Azerbaijan will not violate the balance of forces in the region, Sergey Minasian, an expert from the Yerevan-based Caucasus Institute said today in interview with Novosti Armenia news agency. According to media reports, the arms package, signed in a series of contracts between 2011 and 2012, includes nearly 100 T-90C tanks, Smerch and TOS-1A multiple rocket launchers and Msta-A and Vena artillery cannons.

Minasian said the latest delivery of Russian arms to Azerbaijan is in tune with Moscow’s traditional military-technical policy in the South Caucasus. “There is nothing new. Russia continues to sell arms and military equipment to Azerbaijan at market prices, but at the same time it supplies weapons to Armenia at discount prices and often even virtually free," Minasian said. In his words, the weapons supplied to Azerbaijan at market prices are more contemporary than those delivered to Armenia, but all kinds of weapons, which Armenia receives, can be upgraded.

"On the other hand, the quality can be offset by quantity. In other words, if Azerbaijan receives 200 T-90 tanks, it means that Armenia will receive at least 300 T-72 tanks, which will be upgraded in view of the terrain and other specifics,’ he said.

"In fact, Azeri president Ilham Aliyev is buying expensive toys to showcase them at military parades on the eve of the next presidential election and part of Azeris will be happy seeing these weapons and continue to believe in fairy tale that Baku will soon begin operation to liberate Nagorno-Karaabkh, a tale which has been said over the last 20 years. Russia is happy too because it has received about a billion, and perhaps more," said Minasyan. He argued that Armenia’s leadership will also be happy because as a result it will be able to upgrade Armenia’s tanks, artilleries and other weapons and military equipment.

"Western partners will also be happy because the deal will spark and intensify anti-Russian sentiment in Armenia. The organizations in Armenia, which pursue anti-Russian policy, will also be happy because they will get quite a favorable field for activities,” Minasian said. "The balance of power is not breached. Long before the sale of arms to Azerbaijan Russian and Armenian sides began the work to preserve the balance of power along with upgrading Russian military base in Armenian Gyumri,” he said.

The delivery of $1 billion worth Russian arms to Azerbaijan will not violate the balance of forces in the region, Sergey Minasian, an expert from the Yerevan-based Caucasus Institute said today in interview with Novosti Armenia news agency. According to media reports, the arms package, signed in a series of contracts between 2011 and 2012, includes nearly 100 T-90C tanks, Smerch and TOS-1A multiple rocket launchers and Msta-A and Vena artillery cannons. Minasian said the latest delivery of Russian arms to Azerbaijan is in tune with Moscow’s traditional military-technical policy in the South Caucasus.

“There is nothing new. Russia continues to sell arms and military equipment to Azerbaijan at market prices, but at the same time it supplies weapons to Armenia at discount prices and often even virtually free," Minasian said. In his words, the weapons supplied to Azerbaijan at market prices are more contemporary than those delivered to Armenia, but all kinds of weapons, which Armenia receives, can be upgraded. "On the other hand, the quality can be offset by quantity. In other words, if Azerbaijan receives 200 T-90 tanks, it means that Armenia will receive at least 300 T-72 tanks, which will be upgraded in view of the terrain and other specifics,’ he said.

"In fact, Azeri president Ilham Aliyev is buying expensive toys to showcase them at military parades on the eve of the next presidential election and part of Azeris will be happy seeing these weapons and continue to believe in fairy tale that Baku will soon begin operation to liberate Nagorno-Karaabkh, a tale which has been said over the last 20 years. Russia is happy too because it has received about a billion, and perhaps more," said Minasyan. He argued that Armenia’s leadership will also be happy because as a result it will be able to upgrade Armenia’s tanks, artilleries and other weapons and military equipment.

"Western partners will also be happy because the deal will spark and intensify anti-Russian sentiment in Armenia. The organizations in Armenia, which pursue anti-Russian policy, will also be happy because they will get quite a favorable field for activities,” Minasian said. "The balance of power is not breached. Long before the sale of arms to Azerbaijan Russian and Armenian sides began the work to preserve the balance of power along with upgrading Russian military base in Armenian Gyumri,” he said.

Source: http://arka.am/en/news/politics

Armenia ‘Unfazed’ By Reported Russian Arms Supplies To Azerbaijan


Armenia played down on Wednesday media reports that Russia has begun delivering $1 billion worth of tanks and other military hardware to Azerbaijan, saying that Baku will not gain a decisive military advantage in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Citing Russian defense industry sources, the Moscow daily “Vedomosti” reported on Tuesday that the Azerbaijani military is to receive over 90 T-90C tanks, around 100 armored personnel carriers and dozens of multiple-rocket systems and artillery cannons in accordance with defense contracts signed in 2011 and 2012.

Reuters quoted a source at the Russian Defense Ministry as effectively confirming the information. However Russia's state arms exporter Rosoboronexport has not yet commented on it. The Armenian Defense Ministry said it will not comment on the reports because it believes they contain “some elements of disinformation.” Its spokesman, Artsrun Hovannisian, did not elaborate.

Hovannisian said only that Yerevan is aware of all Azerbaijani arms acquisitions. “The types and quantity of equipment that is being sold [to Azerbaijan] does not breach the military balance and does not create prerequisites for the Azerbaijani leadership to carry out a military aggression against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

The reported Russian arms deliveries raised eyebrows in Armenian media and opposition circles, however, with some critics accusing Russia of betraying its main ally in the region. Russia already faced similar criticism when it sold sophisticated S-300 air-defense systems to Azerbaijan in 2010.

Moscow is believed to have at the same time delivered substantial quantities of heavy weaponry to the Armenian army at knockdown prices or even for free since then. Artashes Geghamian, an Armenian pro-government parliamentarian, said late last month that as many as 120 planeloads of Russian weapons have been transported to Armenia over the past year alone.

Russia also appears to have bolstered its military base headquartered in Gyumri with contract soldiers and modern weapons. A military source in Yerevan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) earlier this month that those included Iskander-M ballistic missiles, one of the most advanced in the world.

Source: http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/25022255.html

No alarm over Russia-supplied armament to Azeris, say experts


Russia has started supplying $1billion worth of heavy weaponry to Azerbaijan, which, experts say, has different sides to it. On the one hand Russia is keeping Azerbaijan under its influence decreasing Baku’s procurement in the international market; one the other, Azerbaijan is strengthening its land positions to resolve the Karabakh issue in case of flare-ups of tension and aggravation in the conflict zone.

Russian media report that as part of the deal signed between Russia and Azerbaijan in 2011-2012 Russia has started large-scale supply of military equipment to Azerbaijan. Gazeta.ru reports that it includes battle tanks, fighting vehicles, rocket launchers, etc. Political analyst Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan believes that the high-level military cooperation between the two countries has resumed, and respective conclusions should be drawn to keep the balance of forces in the region.

“I believe that the types of military equipment Azerbaijan has purchased cannot shift the situation [with the Nagorno Karabakh conflict]; however our foreign diplomacy has to make respective conclusions. With such an arms deal Russia is first of all advancing its own interests, and when it comes to its own interests, Russia forgets all about commitments to its strategic partners. It is obvious that in the event if the war resumes the weapon sold to Azerbaijan would be used against the same Russian army, should things get to a point when CSTO’s involvement is required upon Armenia’s request,” he told ArmeniaNow.

Russian expert Alexander Krilov stated that supplying any kind of Russian weapon to Azerbaijan, even for the sake of commerce, evokes negative response among the Armenian society, but that response is oblivious of the fact that Armenia purchases arms from Russia at domestic Russian prices, which balances the supply of weaponry to Azerbaijan… He believes that by doing so Russia is keeping Azerbaijan under its influence decreasing Baku’s weaponry procurement in the international market.

“Zavtra” (Tomorrow) newspaper’s editor-in-chief, military expert Vladislav Shurigin wrote that Russia is not interested in destabilizing the situation, and the best guarantee for it is the presence of Russian military contingent in the territory of Armenia. “The motive is clear – the Russian side needs money. At the same time Moscow expects that Azerbaijan would not attack Armenia, the territory of which holds the troops of the country supplying weaponry to them,” wrote the expert.

Armenian defense ministry spokesman Artstrun Hovhanisyan made a Facebook post saying that Azerbaijan’s acquisition of arms and armament is not viewed as controversial or problematic, because the respective services of Armenia have known all about it starting from the moment the deals were signed.

“The types and quantity of weaponry sold does not break the balance of forces and does not create prerequisites for the Azeri leadership, of course given a reasonable approach, to launch hostilities against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. The defense ministry of Armenia will refrain from making any statements or taking positions, considering certain elements of misinformation found in the press,” he wrote.

Military expert Arkadi Grigoryan told aysor.am that Azerbaijan is very consistent in its preparations for the war and has been planning in two separate directions, however the Armenian side has a rather effective counterattack capacity in any scenario.

“In one scenario it is the day-by-day growing quantity of means to strike at the same military facilities of Azerbaijan. I want to stress - not at the peaceful population, as Azerbaijan does, but directly its military facilities. In the second case, we have more than enough means to stop them at any defensive line, even if through bloodshed. Today’s Armenian army, at its combined units, has a record-breaking quantity of antitank and other types of arms and armament,” said the expert.



PDRC: Of strategic missiles and easy money - Russia’s positioning in the South Caucasus


In recent weeks, important information regarding the military balance of power in the South Caucasus has come to light. On June 3rd it was revealed that Russia has stationed an undisclosed number of Iskander-M ballistic missiles in Armenia. While on June 18th media outlets reported that Russia has begun the delivery of nearly $1 billion worth of weaponry, which include tanks, multiple rocket launchers and artillery cannons, to Azerbaijan.

Although each development was a result of differing political and military considerations, only one of the arms deals is of a strategic nature, and that is the placement of Iskander-M systems in Armenia. Moscow is showing that it is increasing the utilization of its military presence in Armenia for greater strategic purpose and depth, while at the same time further consolidating its overarching sway over the Caucasus region. This is part of Moscow’s geostrategic plan to increase its influence in the Middle East, a region bordering the Caucasus and one that has in recent years become more important to Russia’s global geopolitical calculations. It should be noted that the Iskander ballistic missile system in Armenia is the domestic version produced for the Russian military and not the export version which has a lower payload capacity as well as shorter range. Furthermore, the stationing of the nuclear warhead capable Iskander systems in Armenian territory is another tacit nod to Armenia’s placement under the Russian nuclear umbrella, which was first declared in 1993 when Turkey was reported to have been seriously considering invading Armenia until a Russian threat of intervention on the side of Armenia kept Ankara at bay.

While Russia’s delivery of military hardware to Azerbaijan is unfortunate and should be closely monitored by Armenian national security and military officials, it is not a military game-changer as far as Armenia is concerned. The weapons systems that Azerbaijan has purchased from Russia can all be neutralized by Armenia’s own arsenal of anti-tank, surface to air and precision guided missiles. And unlike Baku, Yerevan does not and will not be asked to pay the full retail price for the arms it purchases from Russia. As a CSTO member, Armenia is also often provided with free weapons and training. As one of Moscow’s top strategic partners, Armenia is not likely to be put in a position where the military balance would be titled toward Azerbaijan. Russian officials realize that the loss of Armenia as an ally would quickly lead to Russia’s loss of influence in the rest of the strategic Caucasus and in a worst case scenario the loss of territory in the North Caucasus.

Historically, Russia has controlled the South Caucasus in order to ensure control and stability in the North Caucasus. The Kremlin can not afford to lose the Caucasus, and, geopolitically speaking, Armenia is the focal point of the region. It is noteworthy that a source in the Russian Ministry of Defense said Baku’s military purchases had been ‘on hold for some time to avoid upsetting the military balance in the South Caucasus.’ This statement implies that official Moscow decided to go through with the transaction only after it was assured that the balance of military power would not shift in favor of Baku. This statement is corroborated by Armenian defense ministry spokesman, Artstrun Hovhanisyan, who said that Azerbaijan’s acquisition of arms is not seen as being precarious, because Armenian authorities have known about it since the moment the deals were signed.

Looked at from a level headed position, if Russia had not sold these weapons to Azerbaijan, the latter would have turned to Israel or Western states to meet its purported needs. Moreover, Azerbaijani officials see Russians as pro-Armenian. Therefore, Moscow wants to keep some semblance of normalcy and leverage in its relations with Baku. Seen in this light, it is irrational and counter-productive to engage in Russophobic statements, particularly when there are foreign and domestic forces operating in Armenia which would like to see a rift between Moscow and Yerevan. Furthermore, the arms transfer comes only a few months after Russia vacated the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan following tense negotiations that did not produce a mutually beneficial result. And only one month after Russia unilaterally terminated oil shipments from Azerbaijan via the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline. Therefore, the weapons sales to Azerbaijan should be viewed as being purely a commercial deal with no strategic overtones. In other words, it is a business deal first, and a small token to keep Russo-Azerbaijani relations mostly cordial second. One should also keep in mind that in case of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Russian made arms that Azerbaijan will use are going to be easier to counteract than similar armaments produced in the West for example. Given that the Armenian military is well acquainted with Russian and Soviet military arms, whereas the same can not be said of Western made armaments.

Nevertheless, one key lesson to be taken away for Armenian officials from the Russia-Azerbaijan arms transfer is to step up lobbying efforts in the Kremlin. While Russian officials have their own incentives for supporting Armenia, the Armenian government can not rely on this fact alone. Official Yerevan, as well as the Armenian diaspora in Russia must be more proactive in communicating its needs, desires, and expectations. The large and affluent Armenian diaspora in Russia can and must play a crucial role in ensuring that Armenia’s well being is at the top of the agenda for Russian policymakers for years to come.

Source: http://times.am/?p=27042&l=en

Nikolay Patrushev: Armenia need not worry about ensuring its security


Strategic relations between Armenia and Russia are on the highest level, Nikolay Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, told reporters in Yerevan. Nikolai Patrushev and his Armenian counterpart, Arthur Baghdasaryan, signed today a number of agreements relating to defense and security. “A respective legal base is necessary for active and efficient cooperation,” said the Russian official. Speaking of Russian arms sales to Azerbaijan, Patrushev said that Russia, selling weapons, observes its international commitments and requirements as well as Russian laws. “Besides, we have strategic relations with Armenia. During this visit, we toured the Russian military base and made sure that our servicemen, our army and border guard firmly defend the security of Armenia, and you need not worry about ensuring the security of the country. There are sufficient resources and might there, and we have checked it together,” Patrushev concluded.

Source: http://www.panorama.am/en/politics/2013/06/25/patrushev/

Walter Russell Mead: No, Russia Isn’t About to “Lose” Armenia


Walter Russell Mead wonders if Armenia will alter its security relationship with Russia: This festering tension has important geopolitical implications not just for Armenia and Russia but also for Iran. Tehran has been making overtures toward Yerevan recently, offering to expand economic and security ties. But if Armenia chooses to turn instead toward the EU and the West, and away from Iran and Russia, Iran might find itself more isolated than it already is.

This isn’t going to happen, but it’s still worth considering why it won’t. First, the Armenian government has no desire to rupture its relationship with Moscow, and Armenia needs Russia as a patron far more than Russia needs Armenia. Supposing that the Armenian government wanted to end its post-Cold War security relationship with Russia, how would it “turn” to the West? One of many reasons that Armenia remained in Russia’s orbit for the last two decades is that the U.S. mostly ignored Armenia and aligned itself with Armenia’s Turkish and Azeri neighbors after the Karabakh war. Russia and Iran have maintained good relations with Armenia for decades, and have prevented the country from being economically isolated, so what incentive would Armenia have to downgrade those relationships and seek closer ties with states that pay much more attention to Turkey and Azerbaijan?

Even if Armenia successfully joins the EU, which will presumably be a very long process in any case, it certainly isn’t going to become part of NATO. Armenia wouldn’t be able to join the alliance while the dispute over Karabakh remains unresolved, and there’s no evidence that Armenians in or out of government want to do this. Joshua Kucera summed things up last year in a report on Armenia’s relations with NATO and Russia:

It’s just understood that Armenia’s ties with Russia are so strong [bold mine-DL] that a few U.S./NATO cooperation programs here and there aren’t going to make any difference.

As angry as the Armenian public may be at the moment, most Armenians want to maintain good relations with Russia, a majority favors joining Russia’s customs union, and as of 2011 75% of Armenians approved of the performance of Russia’s leadership. This is not a country that Russia is likely to “lose” anytime in the near future.


Radio Liberty: European Integration Unlikely To End Armenia's Alliance With Russia


Armenia's traditionally strong relationship with Russia is facing arguably its biggest-ever test as Yerevan is inching closer to a historic Association Agreement with the European Union. In what looks like a last-ditch attempt to scuttle the deal, Moscow is increasingly signaling displeasure with the Armenian leadership's desire to diversify its geopolitical options through European integration and stay away from the planned new Russian-led union of former Soviet republics. Some Kremlin-linked pundits have openly warned of fatal damage to the Russian-Armenian alliance.

The official Russian stance on the issue has been more cautious so far, however. It is likely to remain so even if the Armenia-EU Association Agreement is finalized, as planned, at an EU summit in Vilnius scheduled for November. Russian President Vladimir Putin should be safe in the knowledge that as much as it precludes Armenia's accession to a Eurasian Union of former Soviet republics, the accord poses no direct threat to Russia's strong military and economic presence in Armenia.
Speculation about Russian pressure on Armenia intensified after the speakers of both houses of Russia's parliament, Sergey Naryshkin and Valentina Matviyenko, promoted Putin's "Eurasian project" during separate visits to Yerevan in July 2012. Putin and his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sarkisian, discussed the issue when they met in Moscow in August 2012. They agreed to set up an intergovernmental working group to explore ways of Armenia's possible involvement in the customs union of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, which Putin regards as the starting point of the future Eurasian Union.

While voicing support for "Eurasian integration processes" in public statements, the Armenian side remained essentially noncommittal on the customs union in the following months. Some Armenian leaders, notably Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian, continued to argue that Armenia cannot join the Russian-dominated trade bloc because it has no common border with any of its member states.

Fresh talks held by Putin and Serzh Sarkisian in December and March were not followed by any concrete announcements on the issue. The Armenian president insisted later in March that his administration is not facing any Russian pressure to join the customs union. Yerevan further underscored its desire to avoid such membership with an essentially nonbinding memorandum of understanding that was signed in April by Tigran Sarkisian and Viktor Khristenko, the Russian head of the union's executive body. In the meantime, Armenia's talks with the EU on the Association Agreement -- including its key component, the creation of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) -- were nearing completion.

"We are a nation bearing European values," Serzh Sarkisian declared during a June 25 visit to Warsaw.

Two weeks later, Moscow gave the clearest indication yet of its discontent with Yerevan's European integration drive. Vyacheslav Kovalenko, who was Russia's ambassador to Armenia until March 2013, warned that the Sarkisian government will risk alienating Moscow if it prefers closer ties with the EU to membership in the Eurasian Union.

"By embracing European values, Armenia, it appears, could step onto a slippery path. As they said in ancient times, 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions,'" Kovalenko told EvrazesNews.ru, the website of a Moscow-based youth organization promoting the Eurasian Union.

In an apparent bid to allay Russian fears, President Sarkisian insisted on July 12 that the EU's Eastern Partnership program, which makes six ex-Soviet republics eligible for association deals, is "not directed against any state or grouping of states." The European Commission announced the "substantive completion" of the three-year association talks with Armenia later in July, making the initialing of the Association Agreement at the Vilnius summit all but a forgone conclusion.

Meanwhile, a host of Russian pundits and Kremlin-linked online publications have been issuing stark warnings to the Armenian government. Konstantin Zatulin, a former senior Russian lawmaker who heads the CIS Institute in Moscow, blasted "the disdainful attitude to the Eurasian integration project in Armenia" in a July 11 interview with the Regnum news agency.

"The West is competing with Russia, trying to impede any integration processes in the Eurasian space. He who sides with our competitor will face the consequences of that choice," Zatulin said.

Andrey Yepifantsev, another Russian analyst, was quoted by Regnum as warning on August 5 that the forthcoming association deal could lead Moscow to withdraw its security guarantees to Armenia and become more supportive of Azerbaijan in the Karabakh conflict.

Yet the fact is that the Kremlin has actually bolstered the Russian-Armenian military alliance over the past year, despite being presumably well aware of Yerevan's intentions with regard to the EU. Substantial Russian weapons deliveries to the Armenian military appear to have continued unabated, as have frequent mutual visits by top military officials from the two states (The Russian and Armenian defense ministers met twice early this year.) As recently as June 25, the two sides signed a new defense agreement paving the way for joint arms manufacturing and repair.

In a further sign of its enduring confidence in its main regional ally, Russia reportedly deployed in Armenia earlier this year Iskander-M advanced ballistic missiles capable of striking targets more than 400 kilometers away. The missile systems were apparently delivered to the Russian military base headquartered in the northern Armenian city of Gyumri. Visiting Gyumri on June 24, Nikolay Patrushev, the secretary of Russia's Security Council, said Moscow will continue to "modernize" the base with new weaponry.

Nor has the Russian government publicly criticized Sarkisian's foreign policy or tried to undercut him ahead of the February 2013 presidential election. Sarkisian's potentially most formidable election challenger, Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian, apparently failed to secure Russian support and announced unexpectedly in December he would not participate in the ballot. Tsarukian is widely regarded as a protege of Robert Kocharian, Sarkisian's more pro-Russian predecessor as president.

President Sarkisian also managed to convince Russia's Gazprom monopoly to delay a long-awaited rise in the price of its natural gas for Armenia until after the presidential ballot. The new gas price, which took effect in April, is still considerably below the cost of Russian gas supplied to Ukraine and Central and Western Europe. The Armenian government hopes that the Russians will help it subsidize the gas tariff for domestic consumers. It may have to hand over more energy assets to Gazprom in return.

Gazprom and another Russian energy giant, Unified Energy Systems, already own Armenia's electricity and gas distribution networks and two large thermal power plants, as well as a cascade of hydroelectric stations. Other Russian firms have extensive interests in the Armenian telecommunication and mining sectors. Even assuming that the EU is keen to bring Armenia closer to the West, the Association Agreement clearly does not jeopardize or challenge Russia's economic and military footholds in Armenia. The agreement does not promise Armenia eventual membership of the EU, or require a radical reorientation of its foreign and security policies. Its key requirement to Yerevan is to bring Armenian economic legislation into conformity with EU standards in return for permanent tariff-free access to the world’s largest and most affluent single market.

Armenia, for its part, is seeking to complement, rather than discontinue or downgrade, its alliance with Russia in the hope of boosting exports, securing greater economic assistance from the EU, and making its struggling economy more attractive to foreign investors. Yerevan is also not averse to hedging its bets in regional geopolitics.

At the same time, the current impasse in the Karabakh peace process and oil-rich Azerbaijan's continuing military buildup gives it no choice but to remain heavily reliant on close defense cooperation with Russia. This explains why the Sarkisian administration avoided publicly criticizing the Russians after it emerged in June that they have begun delivering $1 billion worth of tanks and other offensive weapons to Azerbaijan.

The Association Agreement’s biggest practical disadvantage for the Kremlin is that it would preclude Armenia's possible accession to the Customs or Eurasian unions, which EU officials say is "not compatible" with the DCFTA. But Armenia is too small to make or break Putin's Eurasian project, and the problem with its nonparticipation is a largely psychological one for Russian policymakers. They have taken Armenia's loyalty for granted for too long to easily start treating it as more of an ally than a client state. But they still seem prudent enough to avoid an open confrontation with the government of what is still one of the few pro-Russian countries in the world.


Russia Plans Further ‘Modernization’ Of Armenia Base


Russia considers its military base in Armenia to be vital for the South Caucasus country’s national security and will continue to strengthen it with modern weaponry, a visiting top Kremlin official said on Monday. “I think the presence of Russian servicemen is a guarantee that there will be no negative developments in Armenia,” Nikolay Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said at the headquarters of the base in the northwestern Armenian city of Gyumri.

“It’s a very modern, good military base that will continue to be modernized,” he told journalists there.

Asked what concrete forms that modernization will take, Patrushev said, “The [Russian and Armenian] ministers of defense are dealing with that. They have a plan. The military base will evolve and be modernized. I must point out, though, that it is already combat-ready and able to accomplish any task.”

Moscow has already bolstered the Soviet-era facility with new military hardware since the signing in 2010 of an agreement with Yerevan that extended the Russian military presence in Armenia until 2044. The agreement also upgraded the base’s security mission, leading Armenian officials to imply that 5,000 or so Russian soldiers serving there would intervene in case of another war with Azerbaijan.

As well as helping the Armenian military and strengthening its military base, Russia has been selling weapons to Azerbaijan, however. Patrushev effectively confirmed the sale of $1 billion worth of Russian tanks, artillery systems and other weapons to Azerbaijan, which was reported by Russian media last week. “Russia engages in trade with all countries and any country can legally buy weapons from Russia,” he said when asked about those reports.

The Russian arms supplies to Azerbaijan have prompted serious concern from Armenian analysts and opposition figures. Some of them have accused Moscow of betraying Armenia, its main ally in the region. The Armenian government has dismissed such concerns, saying that the reported deliveries will not change the balance of forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Patrushev traveled to Gyumri on the second day of his visit to Armenia that began with a meeting with President Serzh Sarkisian. A statement by Sarkisian’s press office said the two men discussed “regional developments challenges” and the Karabakh peace process. Patrushev’s Armenian opposite number, Artur Baghdasarian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service on Friday that the Russian official’s visit will result in a new Russian-Armenian agreement relating to defense and security. He declined to elaborate.


Russia, Armenia Sign New Defense Deal


Russia and Armenia gave a further boost to their defense cooperation on Tuesday with a new agreement that appears to facilitate continued Russian arms supplies to the Armenian army. The agreement on “developing military-technical cooperation” between the two countries was signed in Yerevan by Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and Aleksandr Fomin, head of a Russian government agency overseeing arms deals with foreign states. Fomin was part of a visiting Russian delegation headed by Nikolay Patrushev, the secretary of President Vladimir Putin’s Security Council.

Both Patrushev and his Armenian opposite number, Artur Baghdasarian, were present at the signing ceremony. Neither man gave details the agreement that was not immediately made public. Baghdasarian stressed the importance of the document, saying that the two sides have spent five years drafting it. “It gives us qualitatively different opportunities for doing business with Russia,” he told journalists.

The new Russian-Armenia deal came just one week after Russian media reported that Moscow has begun delivering $1 billion worth of military hardware, including about 100 tanks, to Azerbaijan in accordance with defense contracts signed two years ago. Patrushev, who is a close associate of Putin, on Tuesday again sought to allay concerns about these arms supplies voiced in Yerevan. He said they pose no security threat to Armenia not least because of the Russian military presence in the country.

“We have strategic relations with Armenia,” Patrushev said. “During this trip we visited the [Russian] military base No. 102 and could see that our army and border guards and others will reliably ensure Armenia’s security. In this regard, you should not have any worries.”

“There are sufficient means and forces here for ensuring security. We checked that together,” added the Russian security chief. He did not say whether that means Moscow would openly side with Armenia in case of another war in Nagorno-Karabakh regularly threatened by Azerbaijan.

Baghdasarian, for his part, repeated the official Armenian line that the Russian-Azerbaijani arms deal will not change the balance of forces in the Karabakh conflict. “It is also important that Russian-Armenian military cooperation is developing, including through the modernization of military infrastructures,” he said. Patrushev likewise spoke on Monday of a further “modernization” of the Russian base in Armenia planned by Moscow.

The base has already been beefed up with new weapons in recent years. They reportedly include advanced ballistic missile capable of hitting targets up to 400 kilometers (250 miles) away. Armenia extended in 2010 the Russian military presence on its territory until 2044. A Russian-Armenian agreement signed at the time also commits Moscow to helping the Armenian military obtain “modern weaponry and special military hardware.”

Source: http://asbarez.com/110839/russia-armenia-sign-new-defense-deal/

Russia to Help Armenia Expand its Air Force


Russia will help Armenia expand and modernize its relatively small air force within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), top security officials from the two countries said on Thursday. CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha and Artur Baghdasarian, the secretary of Armenia’s National Security Council, made the announcement after signing a memorandum in Yerevan.

The memorandum deals with the implementation of a recent decision by the presidents of six ex-Soviet states making up the Russian-led military alliance to set up joint army contingents operating under the CSTO aegis. According to Bordyuzha and Baghdasarian, they will comprise not only ground troops but also air force units.

“Collective security forces are being formed in the South Caucasus region where Armenia is the sole CSTO member state. Joint air forces will also be set up here,” explained Baghdasarian. “Armenia’s air force will be expanded,” he told a joint news conference with Bordyuzha. “Not only the air force but also the air-defense system in general will be modernized and re-equipped. The Russian military base [in Armenia] will also re-equipped. In terms of modernization, 2014 will be a very important year.”

Baghdasarian gave few details of the planned modernization. He said only that an Armenian air force base in Gyumri is likely to be upgraded with the help of the Russian company Vertolety Rossii that manufactures military helicopters. The Armenian air force mainly consists of several dozen Russian-made Su-25 warplanes and Mi-9 and Mi-25 helicopter gunships operating as part of the country’s air-defense system. Armenia’s airspace is also protected by two dozen MiG-29 fighter jets belonging to the Russian military base.

In recent years, Armenia’s arch-foe Azerbaijan has purchased dozens MiG-29s as well as advanced Russian helicopters as part of a massive military build-up fuelled by its oil revenues. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev again declared on Wednesday that the buildup will eventually enable his country to win back Nagorno-Karabakh. Commenting on Aliyev’s statements, Bordyuzha warned against attempts to end the Karabakh conflict by force. “There can be no military solution to the Karabakh problem,” he said.

The CSTO secretary general also praised Armenia’s defense capability. “Intensive military-technical cooperation [with Russia] and deliveries of military products as an assistance … allows one to speak of a fairly high degree of security in the Republic of Armenia,” he said.

Source: http://asbarez.com/110896/russia-to-help-armenia-expand-its-air-force/comment-page-1/#comment-6192972

Russia Announces Upgrades To CSTO Military Presence In Armenia


Russia has promised to upgrade its military base in Armenia, while also helping to bolster Armenia's own air forces, as controversy continues to brew in Armenia over Moscow's huge weapons delivery to foe Azerbaijan. It's not clear to what extent the former is tied to the latter, but Armenian analysts say that Russia does appear to be trying to assuage public opinion among Armenians stung by Russia's apparent betrayal. Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization Nikolay Bordyuzha was in Armenia last week, and though details were scarce, he appeared to endorse a CSTO base in that country, as well as creating a Caucasus-based CSTO air force. Reported RIA Novosti:
Modernization of Russia’s 102nd Military Base at Gyumri, in northern Armenia near its border with Turkey, and the airbase at Yerevan’s Erebuni Airport will begin this year and continue for several years, Artur Bagdasaryan, head of the National Security Council, said after a meeting with Nikolai Bordyuzha.
And from RFE/RL:
“Collective security forces are being formed in the South Caucasus region where Armenia is the sole CSTO member state. Joint air forces will also be set up here,” explained Baghdasarian. “Armenia’s air force will be expanded,” he told a joint news conference with Bordyuzha. “Not only the air force but also the air-defense system in general will be modernized and re-equipped. The Russian military base [in Armenia] will also re-equipped. In terms of modernization, 2014 will be a very important year.”
The Bug Pit spoke with Sergey Minasyan, a Yerevan-based analyst who took part in last week's meetings, and asked him about what this all meant. He said the plans for the joint air force weren't clear, in particular where it would be based -- in the North Caucasus or in Armenia. He speculated that CSTO military transport aircraft might be based in the Russian Caucasus, while air defense units, as well as possibly MiG-29 interceptors and surface-to-air missile units, would be based in Armenia. He also guessed that the modernization of Armenia's air force was likely related to this CSTO air unit, for example helping to integrate Armenia's command-and-control system with the CSTO one.

Those moves, in addition to the deployment of advanced missiles to Russia's base at Gyumri, are at least in part an attempt to dissuade Azerbaijan from attacking, Minasyan said. The political elite of Armenia is not worried about the large Russian arms sales to Azerbaijan, noting that it happens regularly and that Armenians have never had illusions about Russian loyalty. (For more detailed analysis of Armenian policy regarding Russian arms sales to Azerbaijan, see this very smart interview with Emil Sanamyan on Voice of America.) Nevertheless, the visit of Bordyuzha and other top Russian military officials to Yerevan last week was a sign that "Russia knows it needed to do something visible" to reassure Armenians of the Kremlin's support, Minasyan said. It appears that this could be a roughly analogous development to the basing of joint CSTO air forces in Kyrgyzstan. But we'll have to wait for more details.

Source: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/67216

Russian expert: Armenia should not be concerned about Russian-Azeri arms deals


Russia's only goal is to avoid a new war in Nagorno-Karabakh, Head of the Caucasus Department of the CIS Institute Sergey Mikheyev said during a Yerevan-Moscow TV link-up on Monday. He said that both Armenia and Azerbaijan urge Russia to sever contacts with the opposite side and to develop ties with them only. "We cannot do this as this may cause instability in the region. The point here is that in order to guarantee peace in the region, Russia has to keep balance between the parties," Mikheyev said. Director of the Public Political Studies Center Vladimir Yevseyev said that if Russia stops selling arms to Azerbaijan, Israel, the US or somebody else will start doing it. "So, Armenia should be interested in Azerbaijan's buying arms from Russia as the Russians know their arms and will be able to help the Armenians with 'antidotes' if need be. There is no evil design in these supplies. Russia is not going to abandon Armenia. All it wants is just peace in the region," Yevseyev said.

Source: http://www.arminfo.am

Russia to ink joint air defense network formation deal with Armenia



Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the government’s proposal to sign an agreement on formation of common regional air defense network with Kazakhstan. The project is expected to be ready by the end of 2012. Russia hopes to complete talks soon with Kazakhstan on establishing a common air defense network by yearend, Russian Deputy Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Pavel Kurachenko said in early July. An agreement with Kazakhstan would be followed by a similar pact with Armenia, with the network to bear a status of a joint system due to the lack of Russian-Armenian common border. Joint air defense network creation agreements are planned to be reached with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.


Armenia, Russia Plan Joint Arms Production


In what will be a further boost to their close defense ties, Armenia and Russia are to start jointly manufacturing weapons and other military equipment under an agreement that was approved by the Armenian government on Thursday. The government said the draft agreement regulates “manufacturing and research cooperation” between Armenian and Russian defense companies. It commits them to supplying each other with equipment, assembly parts and other materials needed for the production, modernization and repair of various arms.

The agreement, which was drawn up shortly after Russia Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov’s September visit to Armenia, also stipulates that the jointly manufactured weaponry cannot be re-exported or transferred to third countries without the supplier’s permission.

Yerevan and Moscow had already agreed to step up cooperation between their defense industries within the framework of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Nikolay Bordyuzha, the CSTO secretary general, said in November last year that they are setting up joint ventures in Armenia for the “maintenance, repair and modernization of some types of weaponry.” He did not elaborate.

Also, Russia is supposed to provide “special military hardware” to the Armenian military in accordance with a Russian-Armenian defense accord signed more than two years ago. The deal extended the presence of a Russian military base in Armenia by 24 years, until 2044.

​​“Moscow signs such agreements only in cases where it is interested in concrete [mutually beneficial] cooperation,” Aleksandr Golts, a leading Russian defense analyst, said of the new agreement announced by Yerevan. “So one can assume that with this agreement Armenia has not only expectations from Russia but probably also something to offer,” Golts told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian praised the domestic defense industry in January, saying that it can now cater for Armenia’s practically entire military arsenal. Some of its output was demonstrated during a military parade in Yerevan in September 2011. That included unmanned military aircraft, flamethrowers and multiple grenade launchers. Armenia is also believed to manufacture bullets and other ammunition.

Source: http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/24765201.html

Experts: Armenia, Russia mutually indispensable as regional allies



Relations with Moscow are very important for Armenia, with the latter’s foreign policy being mostly determined by its geopolitical situation, experts believe. “Whichever candidate became elected president at the February 18 polls, he would have to consider ties with Russia,” CIS States Institute director Konstantin Zatulin stated at a Yerevan-Moscow TV spacebridge. Political analyst Alexander Iskandaryan agreed with Zatulin, noting that Russia and Armenia are indispensable to each other as regional allies. “Every Armenian president will be sure to pursue a policy of partnership with Russia,” the expert said. Zatulin, in turn, stressed that Armenia might benefit from Russia’s having positive ties with Azerbaijan, as a guarantee of restraint in current situation. Commenting on Armenia’s domestic policy, Zatulin noted that Russia supports a rapid solution to the situation following the presidential polls. “Raffi Hovannisian wouldn’t have received so many votes, had the voters been given a different choice of presidential candidates. It’s now up to Serzh Sargzyan to control the development of events,” the expert said. “Regardless of elections results, Armenia’s future prospects seem clear: in the next 5 years, the country will seek to develop ties with Russia, Europe and Iran,” Iskandaryan said.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/eng/news/148419/

Jamestown Foundation: The Shift in Geopolitical Balance of Power in South Caucasus is Underway


On January 17, during his visit to Armenia, Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili stated that “Armenia provides a good example for Georgia, and it can be a source of envy in a positive sense,” for managing to have good relations with Russia and at the same time with the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states (www.civil.ge, January 18). Setting Armenia—a country which does not aspire to NATO membership and is widely considered to be Russia’s satellite state in the South Caucasus—as an example was quite an alarming statement for Georgia, which already for more than a decade seeks to join the North Atlantic Alliance and distance itself from Moscow.

Ivanishvili, in a somewhat Machiavellian style, never misses an opportunity to pay verbal tribute to Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, while everything that he has done since becoming Prime Minister in October 2012, clearly shows that he is shifting the country’s foreign policy orientation toward Georgia’s former master, Russia. But this is not merely change in one country’s foreign policy. As a result of Georgia’s shift, there is greater change underway in the geopolitical balance of power in the entire South Caucasus region.

Georgia, because of its sheer geographic location, is a pivotal state in the entire Caucasus—it is the only country that borders all the states and political entities in the region (with the exception of Adygea). Against the background of the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and subsequent blockade of Armenia by Azerbaijan and Turkey, Georgia provides the shortest land connection for Azerbaijan to its ally Turkey and for Armenia to its ally Russia. Consequently, it does matter a great deal for the Caucasian states where Georgia stands. Georgia’s foreign policy orientation largely determines which state becomes isolated in the conflict-ridden and divided South Caucasus.

As Georgia intensely moved toward the West since the 2003 Rose Revolution, Tbilisi actively cooperated with NATO-member Turkey and its Caucasian ally, Azerbaijan, in the economic, political as well as military spheres. Armenia has been left out of all major joint projects, becoming increasingly isolated in the region. Things are changing now for the benefit of Armenia, which may, this time, leave Azerbaijan isolated, indicating a shift in the geopolitical balance of power in the South Caucasus.

While Ivanishvili gradually reorients Georgia toward Russia, he simultaneously courts Moscow’s closest regional ally, Armenia, addressing Yerevan’s urgent needs and demands. Ivanishvili’s statement in Armenia was not a mere diplomatic quip to please Armenians. He went further. Ivanishvili agreed to allow teaching Armenian history in Armenian schools in Georgia (www.iveroni.com.ge, January 20). Additionally, at the request of the Head of Armenia’s Gregorian Church Karekin II, Ivanishvili’s government released from prison Vahagn Chakhalian, a political activist associated with Armenian extremist groups in Georgia. He was serving a prison term for the illegal possession of weapons, armed hooliganism and public disorder in Georgia’s predominantly Armenian-populated Javakheti region (www.civil.ge, January 25). Most importantly, Ivanishvili stated that the reopening of the Russia-Armenia railway—which passes through Georgia, including breakaway Abkhazia—would be possible (www.radiotavisupleba.ge, January 29). Currently, work is underway to address some technical problems for reopening the railway (www.armenpress.am, January 31; www.kvirispalitra.ge, January 31).

This railway has huge significance for isolated Armenia. As Armenia’s jubilant President Serzh Sargsyan correctly noted, it would end the blockade of Armenia and have crucial importance for the country’s economy and its exports (www.tert.am, February 4). However, the railway has even greater military and political significance, and not only for Armenia but also for Russia. If Moscow regains a direct rail link to its ally, Russia will be able to transport, without any obstacles, large amounts of military hardware to the Russian 102nd Military Base in Gyumri and to Armenia, in general. This will certainly further shift the military balance in the South Caucasus in Russia and Armenia’s favor. In a related development, the Russian government already announced its intention to double the number of contract servicemen at the base (www.en.rian.ru, June 19, 2012).


However, the reopening of the Russia-Armenia (North-South) railway via Georgia seems to be just a piece in much larger scheme. On January 18, Armenia announced the launch of the Southern Armenian Railway (SAR) project, with the participation of Russia, Iran, China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The SAR will link Armenia with Iran and further with the Persian Gulf. Most importantly, it will connect regional Black Sea ports to the Gulf (www.regnum.ru, January 18). Considering that the Russia-Armenia railway can (and will) connect with the Armenia-Iran railway, it will create a long, north-south transport corridor, stretching from Russia to the Persian Gulf. This transport corridor will have tremendous economic and geopolitical importance first and foremost for Russia, expanding Moscow’s reach all the way to the southern Middle East.


Georgia’s steps to move toward Moscow and court Armenia are also isolating Azerbaijan on various issues. Georgia’s proposal back in November 2012 to reopen the Russia-Armenia railway (see EDM, November 12, 2012) caused indignation in Baku (www.regnum.ru, November 12, 2012), which opposes any idea to break the blockade of Armenia. Nevertheless, the railway issue is already at the working stage. Moreover, in December 2012, the Georgian prime minister questioned the economic efficiency and profitability of the highly important Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway project, connecting Azerbaijan to Turkey via Georgia (www.geopalitratv.ge, December 22, 2012; see EDM, January 31). Although, he later recanted his statement (www.georgiatoday.ge, December 27, 2012), it showed that Georgia may no longer walk side by side with Azerbaijan. Such disagreements may grow, increasing Azerbaijan’s isolation in the region. Some in Azerbaijan now even talk about a possible regime change in Baku by Russia (www.regnum.ru, February 1).

As Georgia shifts toward Russia, the geopolitical balance of power in the Caucasus is undoubtedly changing. This process will become even more visible in the months to come. The window is closing for the United States and the European Union to show political will and strength and to activate their policies in the region. Resolute action by the West will be necessary to salvage Georgia from sliding toward Moscow and hence avert further expansion of Russia’s influence in the South Caucasus. Failure to act may result in a geopolitical picture of the region that will look quite different in couple of years.

Source: http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&


Is Russia a Friend or a Foe?


Over the past few years Armenia has, both on the political and economic level followed an increasingly pro-European path. The EU finances dozens of NGO’s in Armenia that promote the European way of life. The Armenian government itself has on multiple occasions declared that Armenia is an integral part of the European family.While Western countries have mainly been helping Armenia reform and modernize its state structures, Russian-Armenian relations have equally developed over the years, especially in military and energy affairs.

Up until today, the relationship between Russia and the EU has remained rather tense; declaring itself a Eurasian country, Russia is trying to maintain and regain lost influence in the Post-Soviet space. Having already launched a Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, it is now trying to develop a European type of economic and political union, called the Eurasian Union. The EU has also become an active player in the Post-Soviet space, having launched the Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative governing its relationship with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The EaP also provides the platform for the negotiation of the Association Agreements with the aforementioned countries that are also members of the WTO.

EU Association Agreement or Eurasian Union?

Today, Armenia has become one of the battle grounds where the geo-strategic rivals, Russia and the EU, are fighting for influence. Since 2010, Armenia has been negotiating a new Association Agreement with the European Union, which was intended to replace the EU-Armenia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) signed in 1999. The PCA allowed for wide-ranging cooperation in the areas of political dialogue, trade, investment, economy, lawmaking and culture. The new Association Agreement is intended to deepen Armenia's political association and economic integration with the EU; including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) that should reinforce regulatory approximation leading to convergence with EU laws and standards. Thus, the Association Agreement can be seen as one treaty with two parts; the (i) political and (ii) the trade related and regulatory framework.

At first sight, it seemed the Armenian government was making haste to sign the Association Agreement in Vilnius this November. However, President Serzh Sargsyan’s announcement on a visit to the Kremlin that Armenia intends to join the Customs Union and subsequently the Eurasian Economic Union (the continuation of the Customs Union) came as a surprise. Some Armenian officials stated that the Association Agreement could be signed without the economic (DCFTA) component, however Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Štefan Füle made it clear that this is not possible, as the two parts of the Association Agreement are an integral part of one treaty and cannot be separated.

Lessons from the Past

During the Fourth General Congress of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, which took place in 1907, one of the main items on the agenda was the “Caucasian Plan,” which called for Armenians to struggle against Tsarist tyranny and buildup socialism in the Caucasus. Armenian military commander, Andranik Ozanyan, opposed this plan arguing that it would weaken the struggle of Armenians trying to liberate their motherland, since Armenia would have too many enemies at the same time; Armenia shouldn’t try to alienate Russia as well. After the adoption of the plan, hestated that, “by adopting this (plan), we have already half-buried the Armenian Cause.” Unfortunately, time proved him right.

The Armenian leadership at that time did not have the political foresight and chose to fight two sides. The Armenian leadership today seems to have no political foresight by trying to constantly please all sides. The similarity between the above-mentioned examples is clear; one remains stuck in the middle. Margaret Thatcher wisely said, “standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous, since you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.”

Armenia, geographically located in one of the most politically unstable and dangerous regions in the world, is not able to survive on its own. Turkey is continuing its cultural genocide and is tryingto suffocate Armenia by all means. Azerbaijan is spending billions acquiring military armament and is preparing its population for war. It is of utmost importance that Armenia’s foreign policy orientation should be in line with the core issue it faces today, namely its security aspect. Russia is and will remain the only country that is able and willing to provide Armenia with significant security guarantees. As the following proverb aptly says, “better a neighbor who is near than a brother far away.”

The only reason why Turkey refrained from attacking Armenia in 1993 was their concern as to Russia’s response. The only reason why Azerbaijan did not attack Armenia during the Russian-Georgian war of 2008 was because of their concern as to Russia’s response. Accordingly, one of the main reasons Armenia exists today and is not overrun by its hostile neighbors is not because Armenia’s adversaries are afraid of “Christian” Europe’s response – we all know how they responded when TurkeyattackedCyprus – but because they are afraid of Russia’s response.

In 1918 Diana Agabeg Apcar, Armenia’s first female diplomat, wrote the following “…the Armenians on their part have also been guilty since 1878 onwards of two gigantic errors. They have trusted and hoped in “Christian Governments.” The denseness of the Armenian mind in this connection has been amazing. Armenians have been accredited with native shrewdness but certainly no people could have proved more astonishingly stupid than they have proved themselves on this particular point. The other gigantic error of which the Armenians have been guilty of is that the nation as a whole did not support the Armenian revolutionaries.”

Recklessly choosing to follow EU’s course and sorisk losing Russia’s security guarantees, would be like promising the Netherlands prospective economic gains on the condition that they remove the dams that protect their country from flooding.

Coinciding Interests

Why should Armenia try to develop a Western model of “democracy” – meaning being obligated to follow economic and political policies dictated by the EU – if Armenia’s economy, according to a research conducted by the EU, will grow only an extra 2.3% in the long-run. Is it really worth antagonizing Russia and losing its much needed security guarantees, all so Armenia could possibly gain an extra €146 million per annum? The Armenians in Russia send more than €1 billion in remittances to Armeniaeach year;Russia could easily decide in the short-run notto turn a blind eye to the illegal Armenian immigrants working in the Russian Federation. Armenia could lose much more than the sorry amount of economic gainthat is predictedifArmenia would sign the DCFTA.

With whom does Armenia share more coinciding interests? Over the past century up untilthe present day, the interests of the West have largely been directly opposed to that of the Armenians. For the West (and Turkey), a weak Syria is in their best interests; for Armenia it would be disastrous. For the West, a weak and destroyed Iran would be in their interests; for Armenia it would be terrible. For Armenia, the opening of the Russian-Armenian railway and the construction of an Armenian-Iranian railway section would be heaven sent, as products from Russia would reach the Persian Gulf; for the West, this development is seen as highly undesirable.For the West (and Turkey), a Caucasus with a weak or no Russian presence is their main strategic goal, for the Armenians it would mean their extinction.

It’s like catching fish; the West tries to lure Armenia away from its safe environment (strong Russian-Armenian relations) by promising all sorts of aid, and when Armenia is lured away far enough, let it be swallowed by ashark waiting close by(Turkey, Azerbaijan). One has to be really naïve to believe that the Westtook into consideration Georgia’s national interests when they were luring them away from Russia; they merely wanted to weaken Russia’s presence in the region.Because of the selfish agenda of the Westand Tbilisi’s shortsighted politicians, Georgia now haspermanently lost control of 20% of its territory.

Thinking in terms of interests, the calculus is simple; Armenia shares significantly more interests in the region with Russia than with the EU or the U.S. Armenia plays an essential part in providing security to Russia’s vulnerable North Caucasus region, curbing Turkish, Western, and Iranian influence in the Caucasus. These coinciding interests need to be fully exploited, which will be difficult to do ifArmenia alienates itself from Russia by trying to join a different economic and political union.

If Israel manages to obtain tremendous amounts of economic and military support from America by “convincing” themthatwhat is in Israel’s best interests is also in the U.S’s best interests – even when it is not – one would think Armenians would have an easier time receivingsimilar support from Russia,profitingfrom the fact that most of Russia’s interests in the region coincide with that of Armenia’s. Sadly, this potential is not fully used; both the Armenian government and the Armenian Diaspora are to blame for not making closer Russo-Armeno ties a pan-national priority.

Anti-Russian Sentiments

Imagine for a moment Russia givingeconomicand military aid worth billions of dollarstoTurkey. Imagine Russia stationingatomic bombs in Turkey. Imagine Russia supporting Islamic fundamentalists in Syria, leading to dozens of Armenians being massacred. Imagine Russia not recognizing the Armenian genocide. Imagine Russian presidential candidatespromising to recognize the Armenian genocide, but never following throughwith their promises.Imagine Russia actively sponsoring and supporting a violent group of activists in Armenia who are grabbing every opportunity to clash with the police and spread social unrest, leading to a divided society and an unstable political environment. Wouldn’t all hell break loose in Armenia? Thousands of Russophobes would surface and speak up against Russia and demonstrate in front of the Russian Embassy.

If in the above story, you replace Russia with the United States, you obtain a true story. Why isn’t anyone in Armenia protesting against the anti-Armenian actions taken by the U.S./EU? You see Russophobes demonstrating in front of the Russian Embassy for things of much less importance.Didn’t several so-called analysts criticize Russia, when Russian border guardsprotecting Armenia’s border with Turkey, shot a Turkish shepherd? The “bad” Russians were lying about the incident; they were trying to further provoke Armenian-Turkish “relations,” some political analysts like AraPapian even saw a Russian conspiracy in this. However, whenthe Turks admitted that the shepherd used a weapon and shot at the border guards first, the Russophobes suddenly turned silent, as they couldn’t criticize Russia anylonger.

When a Western-supported feminist group ridiculed the Russian Orthodox Church and insulted millions of itsworshippers,a group of Armenians – mostly those linked to Western organizations – went todemonstrate in front of the Russian Embassy in Yerevanto demand their release. However, when in the United Stateshundreds of innocent protesterswere severely beaten and put in jail during the Occupy Wall Street protests, not a single Armenian was seendemonstrating in front of the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan.While the U.S. continues to support Islamic fundamentalists, continues to support Turkey, continues its policy of genocide denial,nobody in Armenia is seen demonstrating in front of the U.S. Embassy(the new spokesperson of the US State Department, Doug Frantz, is a notorious Genocide denier). Perhaps it’s just easy to make Armenians forget the anti-Armenian policy of the Americansby letting U.S. Ambassador to Armenia – John A. Heffern – occasionallyclean a fewparks in Yerevan.

It seems that this phenomenon of blaming those who protect you, whileremaining silent about those who harm you, is quite an Armenian trait. General Andranik was often blamed for all the troubles that befell the Armenians in Western Armenia, all because he took up arms to protect the Armenian peasants from total annihilation. Yet again, Armenians arebiting the hand that is feeding them.

The Way Forward

The support given by the EU to dozens of its agents and Western-leaning NGO’sin Armenia, spreading pro-Western and anti-Russian propaganda, is leading to a dangerous phenomenon; while Moscow may be controlling Armenia's head, the West, by using their ample experience in information warfare, is gradually beginning to exert control over Armenia’s body. If it continues this way, pretty soon the head and the body will be going separate ways, harming Armenia’s statehood and hampering its development.

Armeniansshouldn’tgive free-play to all the Western operatives seeking to undermine Yerevan's ties with Moscow. For Armenia’s own interests, the spread of blatant anti-Russian sentiments should be countered and the hypocrisy of what the West promises and how it actually acts (most of its actions running against Armenia’s interests) should be made clear to the Armenian public.

Azerbaijan’s oil production levelshave reached a peak, its economic growth hassignificantly declined and the socio-economic conditions are worsening day by day. As a result, Azerbaijan’s significance in international politics is decreasing. IlhamAliyev may find himself forced to resort to drastic measures, including unleashinga full-scale war againstArtsakhto maintain his authoritarian rule over Azerbaijan. Taking this intoaccount, would it be wiseto antagonize the Kremlin so that Azerbaijan could then take over Armenia’s role as Russia’s sole “ally” in the Caucasus? The Turks obtained control of Western Armenia, fooling the Bolsheviks by promising them to become their allies in the region; it would be naïve to believe that such a thing could not happen again.

In the critical times ahead,it is of crucial importance to have the fullpolitical and military support of a foreign power, and the only foreign power that can provide this kind of support is the Russian Federation. Both the government of Armenia and the Armenian Diasporahave wasted too much precious time pursuing Western fairytales. Armenians need to concentrate all their time and effortsinto developingthe North-South axis, into the successful creation of the Eurasian Union that can thenbe used to negotiate even more lucrative deals with the EU and better reflect Armenia’s interests in the region, into increasing Russian-Armenian military ties, into raising the effectiveness of the CSTO, into the development of Artsakh by providing for all its needs, into reaching out to emerging markets to the East and into thedevelopment ofa genuine civil society that works for the benefit of the Armenian people, promoting an Armenian agenda instead of anAmerican or European one.

Listening and adhering tothe West’s complaints on how to increase LGBT rights, decrease the power of the Armenian Church, destroy traditional family-ties, support the propaganda spread by Mormons, Jehovah’sWitnesses and other foreign-funded religious groups, promote individualism, feminism and consumerism, shouldn’t be the most important issueson Armenia’s plate.This is not the time to play a dangerous game and risk alienatingRussia, after which Armenia will again find itselfbeing stuck in the middle; that is, in the middle of nowhere.Since the Caucasus is, and in the foreseeable future, will remainRussia’s zone of influence, Armenians should be wondering only one thing; dothe Russiansconsider Armeniansa friend or a foe?


Source: http://times.am/?p=32715&l=en

Advanced Russian Missiles ‘Deployed In Armenia’



Russia has deployed in Armenia state-of-the-art ballistic missiles capable of striking targets more than 400 kilometers away, according to a source in the Armenian Defense Ministry. Speaking on the condition anonymity, the source told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) over the weekend that several Iskander-M systems are currently stationed at undisclosed locations in the country. The source declined to clarify whether they were delivered to the Armenian armed forces or the Russian military base headquartered in Gyumri.

The Defense Ministry in Yerevan did not officially confirm or refute the information as of Monday. Citing an unnamed Russian military source, the Russian news agency Regnum reported on May 15 that Moscow is likely to deploy the advanced surface-to-surface missiles as part of the ongoing modernization of its base in Armenia.
 

Designated by NATO as SS-26 Stone, Iskander-M is regarded by military analysts as one of the most advanced missile systems of its kind in the world. The system known for its precision was developed in the 1990s and adopted by the Russian army in 2006. With an operational range of at least 400 kilometers, its 7.3-meter-long missiles can overcome existing missile-defense systems, according to Russian military officials and experts.

Armenia - Defense Ministers Seyran Ohanian (L) of Armenia and Sergey Shoygu of Russia inspect an Armenian honor guard before talks in Yerevan, 29Jan2013. Russian-Armenian military ties appear to have deepened further in the last few months, with Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and chief of the General Staff, Colonel-General Valery Gerasimov, visiting Armenia early this year. Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian held follow-up talks with Shoygu a mid-April trip to Moscow.

President Vladimir Putin and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian also discussed defense cooperation when they met near Moscow on March 12. Sarkisian reportedly thanked Putin for “good progress” in bilateral military ties made since their previous meeting in December.

A Russian-Armenian defense agreement signed in August 2010 commits Moscow to helping Yerevan obtain “modern and compatible weaponry and special military hardware.” Russian assistance is vital for the implementation of a five-year plan to modernize the Armenian army that was adopted by the Sarkisian administration later in 2010. The plan puts the emphasis on the acquisition of long-range precision-guided weapons.

The Armenian military has been equipped until now with only Scud-B and Tochka-U ballistic missiles that have firing ranges of 300 kilometers and 120 kilometers respectively. The Soviet-era systems are less advanced than Iskander-M. The military makes no secret of its readiness to use them against Azerbaijan’s oil and gas installations in case of a renewed war for Nagorno-Karabakh.


Source: http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/25005647.html

Armenia's New Ballistic Missiles Will Shake Up the Neighborhood



The military parade dedicated to the twenty-fifth anniversary of Armenia’s independence has put an end to three years of speculation about whether Armenia is in possession of the Russian-made advanced 9K720 Iskander Short-Range Ballistic Missile System (SRBMS). Starting with the public rehearsal on September 16, 2016, with newly procured equipment, Armenia showcased elements of the system: two transporter-erector-launchers and their transporter-loader vehicles. Subsequently, several Russian media outlets reported that Armenia had purchased at least one division, including a minimum of four launchers of the Iskander system, adding that this acquisition was outside the terms of 2015’s Armenian-Russian arms deal, which was worth $200 million. Moreover, it was officially underscored that these systems are not the same as the Iskander-M systems dispatched to Armenia in 2013 as reinforcement for Russia’s 102nd Military Base in Gyumri.

The Iskander is a mobile operative-tactical missile platform codenamed SS-26 Stone by NATO, which came to replace Soviet Scud missile prototypes. In particular, Iskander’s missiles are designed to be capable of carrying conventional or nuclear warheads, and claim to be accurate within seven meters. Such formidable ballistic equipment has long been the focus of disputes between Western and Russian political actors and experts, especially in light of the mounting standoff between NATO and Russia.
 

It is believed that such a missile system enables missiles to reach their target without being detected by air-defense radar systems or missile-intercepting assets. Iskander missiles had first been deployed, temporarily, in the Kaliningrad region, to participate in military drills in relative proximity to NATO states’ borders, which reasonably triggered firm objections from the alliance. Such equipment often serves as a political instrument in Moscow’s hands, putting pressure on NATO in pursuit of derailing the alliance’s deterrent posture vis-à-vis Russia’s consistent defiance. As such, in response to NATO’s intention to boost its missile-defense capabilities by stationing the “Aegis Ashore” ballistic-missile defense shield in Romania and Poland, the Kremlin promised to deploy its Iskander-M assets in Crimea and Kaliningrad on a permanent basis by 2019.

This advanced equipment has now passed into the possession of the Armenian Armed Forces. The move is likely to invigorate a new wave of the military arms race between Yerevan and Baku, where the critical beneficiary could well be Russia. It could be argued that by dispatching Iskander missiles to Armenia, Moscow sought to achieve two central objectives. Firstly, amid growing anti-Russian sentiment in Armenian society, triggered by Moscow’s $4.5 billion military deal with Azerbaijan, Moscow has appeared to allegedly restore the power balance between the contenders. Second, while the procurement of Iskander SRBMs is set to reverse Moscow’s fading political credibility in Armenia, from Moscow’s perspective, it also paves the way for Azerbaijan and even Iran to purchase the Iskander-E missile system.

Overall, intrigue with this equipment may further complicate the politico-military image of the region as whole. Incidentally, as the parade was officially reviewed by the recently established joint Armenian-Russian land force commander, Maj. Gen. Andranik Markaryan, it conveyed the notion that the received ballistic-missile system is somehow under Russian control. It is particularly rumored that the Iskander with several S-300 surface-to-air air defense systems, combined with Russian 102nd Military Base and Armenian Fourth Army Corps, will shape the core of the joint Armenian-Russian regional army group. However, it is unlikely that the Russians would be able to keep Yerevan from utilizing its ballistic arsenal in full if its escalation with Azerbaijan reached the point of full-scale warfare.

It has been revealed that the supplied ballistic equipment belongs to an export variant of Iskander—namely Iskander-E, with a maximum engagement range of 280 kilometers instead of the classic five-hundred-kilometer Iskander-M. It definitely might have a game-changing effect in the case of a new phase of escalation.

Apart from this substantial ballistic reinforcement, the Armenian Armed Forces have already had possession of comparatively modest but operational ballistic missiles. The Armenian ballistic missile arsenal includes the short-range Soviet Tochka-U tactical operational missile complex (SS-21 Scarab B), with an operational range of 120 kilometers. Armenia owns at least eight launchers that, presumably, were supplied by Russia from 2010–12. Prior to the purchase of Iskander-E SRBMs, a major part of Armenia’s ballistic portfolio comprised the Soviet-era Elbrus tactical surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, largely known in the West as Scud-B.

Specifically, Armenia acquired eight Scud-B launchers, along with at least thirty-two missiles armed with conventional warheads from a regiment based in Armenia during the last decade of the Soviet era, which was disbanded in 1992. The missiles were completely handed over to the Armenian side in 1996; the missiles subsequently underwent a radical modernization that augmented the operational range to up to three hundred kilometers. The ballistic missile systems shape the core of the Rocket Artillery Brigade, which will be tasked with destroying the critical infrastructure of Azerbaijan in case there is an attempt to unleash wide-scale warfare. Meanwhile, Baku holds a much more humble ballistic portfolio, which features up to four 9K79 Tochka-U SRBM systems, with a range of 150 kilometers, purchased from Ukraine in 2008. Perceiving the boost of air and ballistic defense as a key state imperative, Baku managed to enhance its capacities through cooperation with and procurements from Russia and Israel. That said, the Armenian Iskander-E constitutes a substantial source of worry to Azerbaijan.

The missile demonstration shifted Armenia into a wide expert-led and political discussion concerning what kind of political and military role the new Iskander-E systems could play in the protracted standoff with Azerbaijan. Pro-government circles specifically asserted that although the Iskander serves a tactical purpose at its core, in Armenia’s hands it nevertheless has strategic implications in preventing a new phase of conflict. Likewise, being in Armenia’s service, the Iskander missiles are relevant and at some point constitute a crucial component of deterring Azerbaijan from targeting Armenian population centers in Nagorno-Karabakh, a strategy that the Azeri defense minister unambiguously announced during the fighting that broke out in April. However, this approach seems to be hardly worthwhile in the long term, as Azerbaijan, facing Armenia’s growing ballistic capabilities, is not likely to revise its strategy of brinkmanship. More recently, in a meeting with high-ranked officers, Azerbaijan’s Defense Minister Zakir Gasanov ordered them to be prepared to destroy “Armenia’s strategic military assets.” Instead, the acquisition of ballistic equipment can be easily interpreted in the context of the new strategic approach that Armenia seeks to maintain.

While Armenia’s territorial defense doctrine emphasizes defense in depth, amid the escalation of tensions with Azerbaijan in recent years, the defense ministry has reportedly amended its doctrine, adopting a so-called “Deterrence System” in February 2015. It implies a de facto preemptive deterrence approach. The new posture, despite defensive measures, suggests the strategic task of transferring the combat operations onto the adversary’s territory. Furthermore, the president, defense minister and deputy defense minister unequivocally stated in 2015–16 that Armenia henceforth asserts the preemptive right to target suspicious or worrying concentrations of Azerbaijani military units near the Line of Contact. Such a strategy requires an effective improvement of the armed forces’ mobility, as this allows the forces to redeploy quickly as the enemy advances or in the “night before” its plotted advance. In short, there are relevant prerequisites that might spur Armenia to employ the ballistic missile advantages within the framework of “preemptive deterrence.”

Azerbaijan’s bid to regulate the degree of tensions with Armenia came at the same time as the amplifying military rhetoric, the culmination of which was the violent disruption of the status quo, which had lasted twenty-three years. But above all, during the four-day hostilities, Azerbaijan widely used Israeli-made IAI Harpy 2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs). In light of the effective use of combat drones, the military command in Baku seems predisposed to exploit such equipment. Thus, it comes as no surprise that, on the same exact day as Armenia unveiled its new ballistic-missile capabilities, production of the Israeli-licensed UCAV Orbiter 1K was reported to be up and running in Azerbaijan.

Therefore, taking into account that the April eruption in hostilities irrevocably changed the political and military dynamics around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the new era of confrontation has prompted both Armenia and Azerbaijan to revise their defense doctrines. Relying on the concept of preemptive deterrence, at some point Yerevan may realize that its ballistic-missile portfolio does not keep Azerbaijan from the temptation to use force. This standpoint is underpinned by Azerbaijan’s explicit intention to make its conflict with Armenia manageable, and hence a feasible political tool in its relations with Russia and the West. In response, in reinforcing its ballistic capabilities with Iskander missiles, Armenia may perceive the situation as its turn to dictate the political and military agenda to Azerbaijan—if, indeed, Russia will allow Yerevan to do so.

As is broadly accepted by military experts and officials, the combat drones that Azerbaijan recently embarked on manufacturing pose a tangible threat to Armenian military-strategic assets, including ballistic missiles; hence the plants producing UCAVs are seen as a source of potential menace. This is in accordance with the concept of preemptive deterrence, which in turn enables Armenia to justify defensive preemptive strikes, similar to those undertaken multiple times by Israel in the twentieth century. Therefore, against the backdrop of measures applied by Baku to embolden its military advantages with regard to its opponent, the ballistic missiles in Yerevan’s hand may easily go from being deterrence tool to being preemptive strike equipment, ultimately becoming an indispensable instrument for preventive actions. A case in point: Azerbaijan’s growing military-technical potential, seeking to challenge Armenia politically and militarily. From Armenia’s perspective, the deterrence posture by no means implies the denial of using ballistic missiles in the face of an imminent (preemptive) or potential (preventive) threat. In other words, having adopted a new defense doctrine and fostered ballistic-missile capacities, it is unlikely that Armenia should stand aside as Azerbaijan launches the production of hundreds of combat UAVs, which certainly will be used during a new round of escalation if the status quo holds over Nagorno-Karabakh.

To sum up, by supplying both Armenia and Azerbaijan with advanced equipment, Moscow has sparked an arms race between the two rivals, which in turn will inevitably lead to new rounds of violence. This approach apparently allows Russia to strengthen its grip on Armenia and Azerbaijan, making them increasingly dependent in terms of arms procurement. Regardless of Russia’s efforts to restore its credibility within Armenian society and the political and military elite by using the arms delivery in its propaganda, following the April fighting and Russia’s neutral stance, Armenia turned more pragmatic in its relations with Moscow.
 

As for Azerbaijan, struggling with economic predicaments, Baku will be more focused on fostering technical advantages. Azerbaijan will apparently avoid large-scale military actions in the medium term, in face of substantial cuts to its military budget. Concerned that such a reality may embolden Yerevan to act more decisively, Baku will likely embrace the opportunity to eliminate Armenia’s ballistic advantages at any convenient moment. Although Baku will likely impose a more defensive, or a parallel “preemptive deterrence,” strategy vis-à-vis its opponent, its posture is likely to be generally less belligerent but at several key points more provocative.

Source:http://nationalinterest.org/feature/armenias-new-ballistic-missiles-will-shake-the-neighborhood-18026?page=show

Russia and Armenia Create Joint Military Force


 

President Vladimir Putin has approved a government proposal on creating joint Russian and Armenian military forces, the Interfax news agency reported. One of the joint forces' main tasks will be to cover Russia and Armenia's land borders and work within the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a regional military alliance of post-Soviet states. According to a presidential decree, Putin has ordered the Russian Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry to hold talks with Armenia on reaching an agreement. The two sides are creating a joint command, whose leader will be appointed by the Supreme Commander of the Armenian Armed Forces in agreement with the Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed Forces. During peacetime, the commander of the joint forces will be subordinate to Armenia's military Chief of Staff. During wartime, he will be subordinate to the commander of Russia's southern military district or the Armenian Chief of Staff, depending on the situation and the decision of both militaries' chief commanders. The military cooperation project was proposed by the Defense Ministry with the agreement of the Foreign Ministry and other interested federal agencies.

Source:https://themoscowtimes.com/news/russia-and-armenia-to-create-joint-military-forces-56121

Между Сирией и Россией: ракетные комплексы "Искандер" уже в Армении - "Свобода"



Армянская служба радиостанции "Свобода" со ссылкой на источники в министерстве обороны Армении подтвердила информацию о размещении на территории республики российских комплексов "Искандер-М". Источник отмечает, что на армянской территории уже находится несколько таких комплексов. "Свобода" напоминает, что дальность действия ракет комплекса "Искандер-М" составляет свыше 300 километров. "Данные комплексы считаются одними из самых современных видов вооружений", - констатирует радиостанция.

Стоит отметить, что впервые о возможности размещения на территории Армении оперативно-тактических ракетных комплексов (ОТРК) Искандер-М и систем залпового огня "Торнадо-Г" корреспонденту ИА REGNUM сообщили источники в военных кругах еще в середине мая этого года. Было отмечено, что поставки будут осуществлены в рамках комплексной программы модернизации и перевооружения 102-ой военной базы России в Гюмри (Армения).

Позднее, 30 мая, в беседе с корреспондентом ИА REGNUM главред журнала "Национальная оборона", директор Центра анализа мировой торговли оружием Игорь Коротченко отметил, что плановая всеобщая модернизация Вооруженных сил Российской Федерации в полной мере затрагивает объекты как на территории самой РФ, так и за ее пределами. "Это в полной мере касается 102-й российской военной базы в Гюмри. В частности, речь идет о модернизации военных объектов и поставках новых видов вооружений, ремонте уже имеющихся, обновлении находящихся на вооружении ВС Армении дальнобойных систем ПВО стратегического, а также нестратегического назначения. Армения, как и, скажем, Белоруссия, - стратегический партнер России, дружеская страна, геополитический союзник в регионе. Москва уделяет исключительное внимание партнерству с Ереваном, в том числе в военно-политической сфере, которое, среди прочего, является фактором стабильности в регионе на Южном Кавказе. Россия заинтересована в стабильности на Южном Кавказе и не желает военных действий по периметру своей государственной границы", - заметил собеседник, добавив, что в рамках военно-политического сотрудничества Россия будет "заботится" о своей базе на территории Армении, способствовать модернизации ВС Армении и создавать для этого условия, а также поставлять партнеру вооружения по льготным ценам.

Военный аналитик центра Hayasa Леонид Нерсисян отметил, что в последние годы происходит постоянное усиление напряжённости у южных границ Российской Федерации, и в регионе Закавказье, где РФ традиционно желает иметь максимальное влияние. "Контролировать этот регион желают сразу несколько крупных сил. Это и Турция, которая пытается вести достаточно агрессивную и, по возможности, независимую внешнюю политику, и США, которые сжимают кольцо НАТО вокруг РФ, также Иран, пытающийся сплотить вокруг себя исламистов Ближнего Востока и, в том числе, желающий распространить своё влияние на Азербайджан. Также важными факторами являются волна дестабилизации на Ближнем Востоке и тяжёлая ситуация в Сирии", - отметил он, добавив, что в этой ситуации единственным реальным союзником РФ в регионе является Армения, на территории которой, в городе Гюмри, расположена 102-ая российская военная база.

"В последнее время у России возникли проблемы во взаимоотношениях и с Азербайджаном, который заметно сдвинул вектор своей внешней политики в сторону Запада. Намеренное и неоправданное завышение цены за аренду Габалинской РЛС, которое, по сути, являлось просто отказом предоставлять её РФ, сильно ухудшило отношения между государствами, несмотря на достаточно сдержанные комментарии сторон. Начавшее было развиваться военное сотрудничество между РФ и Азербайджаном прекратилось - новых контрактов на поставки вооружений не будет. К примеру, недавно, Азербайджану было отказано в покупке истребителей", - сообщил эксперт.

Тем не менее, необходимость усиления военного потенциала России в Армении Леонид Нерсисян связал с другим соседним государством - Турцией, активно втянутой в войну в Сирии и испытывающей внутреннюю дестабилизацию. Эксперт в этой связи отметил необходимость усиления в Армении военно-воздушных сил (ВВС) и средств высокоточного ракетного поражения. "Авиация РФ в Армении представлена лишь одной эскадрильей довольно устаревших истребителей, которые к тому же практически не обладают возможностью наносить удары по наземным целям и прорывать мощную систему противовоздушной обороны. С другой стороны, мы видим активно усиливающиеся ВВС Турции. С очень высокой долей вероятности, они в ближайшие годы начнут получать американские истребители 5-ого поколения F-35, для борьбы с которыми Миг-29 явно не годятся. Да и на данный момент 18 истребителей Миг-29, даже несмотря на отменный лётный состав, могут соперничать, да и то с трудом, лишь с ВВС Азербайджана и Грузии. Естественно, ни о каком соперничестве с более чем 200 турецкими F-16 речи быть не может. Из всего вышеперечисленного, можно сделать вывод - РФ необходимо как качественно, так и количественно усиливать авиационную группировку. Наиболее качественным и мощным вариантом на данный момент представляется размещение истребителей поколения 4+ или 4++, таких как Су-27СМ3/Су-30СМ или Су-35С".

Комментируя информацию о возможном размещении на территории Армении комплексов "Искандер-М", эксперт отметил, что это выведет стратегический потенциал базы на новый региональный уровень. "Россия тем самым заметно поднимет свой вес в регионе, и сможет эффективно противостоять возможным угрозам, связанным с расползанием очага дестабилизации. Особенно актуальным это может оказаться в случае начала военной операции Израиля и США против Ирана, так как баланс в регионе в таком случае может рухнуть, как карточный домик", - считает Нерсисян.


Source: http://regnum.ru/news/fd-abroad/armenia/1666611.html

У Армянской армии есть «Торнадо-Г» и «Искандер-М»?



В первых числах апреля 2013 года в пресс-релизе Южного военного округа (ЮВО) Вооруженных сил России появилось сообщение о том, что в текущем году дислоцированная в Армении 102-ая Российская военная база получила свыше 200 новых современных навигаторов «Перунит», «Грот» и «Бриз». Пресс-служба ЮВО специально подчеркнула, что данные «Приборы совместимы с навигационными системами ГЛОНАСС и GPS, что повышает надежность и точность их применения.

Примерно в те же дни журнал «Оружие России» сообщил, что «на дислоцированную в Армении российскую военную базу поступили новые подвижные пункты управления (ППУ) для зенитных ракетных подразделений. В комплект аппаратуры ППУ входит усовершенствованная автоматическая система передачи данных, средства внутренней и внешней связи, а также приемники системы ГЛОНАСС для ориентирования на местности, приборы ночного видения, радиационной и химической разведки. Возможности новых комплексов позволяют обнаруживать более 100 воздушных целей в радиусе до 100 км и одновременно сопровождать свыше 10 из них».

Сообщение более чем интересное, особенно если учесть приведенные в «Оружии России» технические характеристики данных ППУ. Добавим также, что каждая из систем способна работать до 12 часов в сутки в максимально нагруженном состоянии, при практически любой погоде. То есть, «более 200» подвижных пунктов управления избыточны для одной 102-ой базы, что позволяло предположить передачу части данных систем Вооруженным силам Армении. Отметим также, что указанное количество ППУ поступило на территорию Армении в течение одного лишь первого квартала текущего года, что позволяет предположить их дальнейшую поставку.

Кроме того, информация о насыщении нашей страны совместимыми с ГЛОНАСС и GPS подвижными пунктами управления явно указывала на то, что Россия готовится перебросить в Армению новое тактическое оружие. И не удивительно, что вскоре данный несложный анализ стал подкрепляться слухами о переброске в 102-ую базу оперативно-тактических ракетных комплексов (ОТРК) «Искандер-М» и реактивных систем залпового огня «Торнадо». Добавим, что Искандер способен поражать цели на расстоянии в 500 километров с высочайшей точностью, а особенности траектории полёта его ракеты таковы, что сегодня ее не в состоянии сбить ни одна из существующих и даже разрабатываемых в мире систем противовоздушной обороны. Фактически в течение ближайших 10 – 15 лет ракеты ОТРК Искандер прочно зарезервировали за собой статус грозной «королевы воздуха».

Не менее грозным, хотя и с другими функциональными особенностями, является РСЗО Торнадо, имеющий, как и Искандер, систему спутникового наведения, что на порядок увеличивает точность стрельбы. Сведения об этом оружии противоречивы, однако, судя по полученным из российских военных изданий сведениям, «Торнадо-Г» показывает максимальную дальность стрельбы в 90 километров. При этом «снаряды могут иметь самую разную начинку: кумулятивные, осколочные, самонаводящиеся боевые элементы, противотанковые мины. Это позволяет достигать ещё больше целей, которые могут быть поставлены перед ним». Особо подчеркивается высочайшая мобильность «Торнадо-Г»: от момента пуска последней ракеты в залпе (38 с) до момента ее подрыва у цели установка способна уйти на удаление 4-5 км от прежней огневой позиции. То есть пока противник разберется, откуда по нему ведется стрельба, и попробует ответить, «Торнадо-Г» может нанести второй и даже третий удар, и все с разных точек, отдаленных друг от друга на несколько километров: время перезарядки этой грозной установки занимает менее трех минут.

Почему мы уделили столько внимания этим боевым машинам? 29 мая главный редактор журнала «Национальная оборона» Игорь Коротченко сообщил корреспонденту ИА REGNUM, что в Армению поступят оперативно-тактические ракетные комплексы (ОТРК) «Искандер-М» и системы залпового огня «Торнадо-Г». И.Коротченко – не случайный человек в этой отрасли: он является директором Центра анализа мировой торговли оружием и председателем Общественного совета при Министерстве обороны России. Коротченко также заявил, что «в рамках военно-политического сотрудничества Россия будет заботиться о своей базе на территории Армении, способствовать модернизации ВС Армении и создавать для этого условия, а также поставлять партнеру вооружения по льготным ценам». Как видим, он фактически сообщает, что Армении (а не только 102-ой базе) будут переданы ОТРК «Искандер-М» и РСЗО «Торнадо-Г».

Не может быть двух мнений: заявление И.Коротченко – председателя Общественного совета при Министерстве обороны РФ – является санкционированной «утечкой информации». Однако в этом вопросе есть еще один любопытный нюанс: подобные «утечки», как правило, происходят после того, как факт свершился. Оружие поставляется, затем сообщается о возможности его поставки, а спустя некоторое время, уже без дополнительных заявлений, оно демонстрируется на новом месте. Точно так, кстати, произошло с поставками Сирии российских установок ПВО С-300. То есть у нас есть серьезные основания предполагать, что на вооружении Армянской армии уже находятся ОТРК «Искандер-М» и РСЗО «Торнадо-Г».

Эти же установки, естественно, уже есть и на вооружении 102-ой российской военной базы в Гюмри. Косвенно на это указывает еще и распространенное 3 апреля пресс-службой Южного военного округа России, в который входит и 102-ая база, сообщение, в котором указывалось, что «Подразделения ЮВО получили около 20 новых реактивных систем залпового огня (РСЗО) «Торнадо-Г».

Известно, что армянские государства давно уже придерживаются тактики неопределенности в вопросе своего вооружения. Подобная тактика имела определенный смысл: противник вовсе не обязан знать, какое оружие будет противостоять ему в случае попытки новой агрессии. Однако мощь нового оружия настолько велика, а сами они столь неуязвимы, что актуальность тактики неопределенности до некоторой степени, если не сказать, полностью, утрачивается. Прежде всего, конечно, для России, отнюдь не заинтересованной в возобновлении боевых действий вблизи своих границ. Это и стало причиной того, что «уведомление» о качественно новом оружии у Армянской армии и взрывном – в прямом и переносном стиле – росте ее боевого потенциала взяла на себя Россия. Напомним еще раз слова Коротченко: «Речь идет об… обновлении находящихся на вооружении ВС Армении дальнобойных систем ПВО стратегического, а также нестратегического назначения».

Разумеется, появление в Армении новейшего оружия преследует несколько целей и выходят далеко за рамки противостояния между Азербайджаном и армянскими государствами. Россия решает в регионе стратегические и геополитические задачи, в которых отныне Азербайджан просто не учитывается. Не случайно на вопрос корреспондента ИА РЕГНУМ – «Как могут расценить развитие военно-политического сотрудничества Россия-Армения в соседнем Азербайджане? – Игорь Коротченко ответил с нескрываемым пренебрежением: «Баку может реагировать, как ему заблагорассудится».
 

Source: http://voskanapat.info/?p=2127

"Искандер" vs "Patriot": Россия берет под прицел объекты ПРО США в Турции - эксперт



Возможность размещения на территории Армении оперативно-тактических ракетных комплексов (ОТРК) "Искандер-М" не должна сильно беспокоить Азербайджан. Об этом в беседе с корреспондентом ИА REGNUM заявил эксперт по проблемам Закавказья Виктор Якубян. По его словам, мишенью ракет в данном случае выступает не азербайджанская территория, а элементы американской глобальной системы ПРО в Турции - радар раннего оповещения и ракетные комплексы Patriot.

Отметив, что у него нет точных данных относительно поставок ОТРК "Искандер-М" в Армению, эксперт тем не менее обратил внимание, что информация об этом пока официально не опровергнута. "Такой ход со стороны России был бы весьма логичен. Мы помним о намерении Москвы разместить комплексы "Искандер" в Калининграде, в случае появления противоракет Patriot в Польше. Американцы воздержались от этого шага, а Россия не стала брать под ближний прицел польскую территорию. А вот в Турции элементы системы ПРО США были-таки развернуты, что и стало поводом для контрмер России. Лучшей площадки для "Искандеров", чем Армения - страна-член ОДКБ, сложно себе представить, тем более, что здесь на долгосрочной основе дислоцирована российская военная база", - сказал Виктор Якубян.

При этом эксперт напомнил о разработанной Генштабом ВС России системе нейтрализации американской глобальной системы ПРО. "Дислокация ОТРК "Искандер-М" в Армении может вписаться в комплекс военно-технических мероприятий, направленных на нейтрализацию возможного отрицательного влияния глобальной системы ПРО США на потенциал российских ядерных сил", - считает Якубян. "Ракетные комплексы "Искандер" поднимут функциональность и стратегическое значение российской базы в Армении на новый уровень, возьмут в зону поражения объекты ПРО США на территории Турции. Если я не ошибаюсь, когда два года назад США заявили о возможности размещения на территории Турции элементов системы ПРО, из Москвы прозвучали предупреждения об адекватном ответе через армянскую площадку", - пояснил он.

Обращаясь к беспокойствам Азербайджана на счет размещения комплексов "Искандер" в Армении, Виктор Якубян подчеркнул, что в этом плане в Баку могут быть спокойны. "Военно-политический баланс между Азербайджаном и Арменией не нарушен, следовательно не по причине карабахского конфликта Россия может разместить на территории армянского государства новые вооружения. Они предназначены для более масштабной региональной игры под названием "Большой Ближний Восток", где все больше укрепляется роль Турции. С другой стороны, наличие подобных ракетных комплексов в Армении - дополнительный сдерживающий фактор для Азербайджана. Он сводит к нулю чаяния решить проблему силовым путем, если переговоры зайдут в тупик. Вот почему в Баку волнуются",- заключил он.

Как ранее сообщало ИА REGNUM, армянская служба радиостанции "Свобода" со ссылкой на источники в министерстве обороны Армении подтвердила информацию о размещении на территории республики российских комплексов "Искандер-М". Источник отмечает, что на армянской территории уже находится несколько таких комплексов.

Дальность действия ракет комплекса "Искандер-М" составляет до 500 километров. Он предназначен для поражения боевыми частями в обычном снаряжении малоразмерных и площадных целей в глубине оперативного построения войск противника. Предполагается, что может быть средством доставки тактического ядерного оружия.
 

Source: http://regnum.ru/news/fd-abroad/armenia/1668124.htm

Армения получила от России «Искандер»: Азербайджан может забыть про Карабах



Армения – первая страна в мире после РФ, получившая ОТРК «Искандер». Список контрактов в рамках льготного кредита заметно изменился. ЗРК «Бук» передан Армении в рамках Объединённой системы ПВО с Россией?

16 сентября в Ереване прошла репетиция военного парада, посвященного 25-летию независимости Армении. Сам парад состоится уже скоро — 21 сентября. Репетиция оказалась крайне интересной — благодаря тому, что прохожим удалось увидеть и снять на видео и фотокамеры целый ряд ошеломляющих новинок, поступивших на вооружение армянской армии. Большая часть этой техники была поставлена из России в течение последних нескольких месяцев в рамках льготного кредита размером $200 млн. Посмотрим, что за военную технику получила Армения и как это повлияет на баланс сил в регионе. Главным событием стало то, что в репетиции приняли участие наиболее совершенные российские оперативно-тактические ракетные комплексы (ОТРК) «Искандер». Информацию о том, что «Искандеры» могут оказаться в Армении впервые в 2013 году распространило ИА REGNUM, но тогда речь шла о возможной их поставке на 102-ю базу РФ в Гюмри.

Однако после этого события пошли по другому сценарию — ракеты были приобретены Арменией: контракт, вероятнее всего, был подписан в 2014 году, а поставки начались в 2015 году. То есть сделка не имеет отношения к вышеуказанному льготному кредиту. Армения стала первой страной, которой Россия согласилась продать данный ОТРК — та же Саудовская Аравия уже несколько лет пытается приобрести «Искандеры», однако неоднократно делались заявления, что комплекс на экспорт никому поставляться не будет. В данном случае для ближайшего союзника было сделано исключение. Что касается самого ОТРК «Искандер» — то он, вероятнее всего, поставлен в экспортной конфигурации — максимальная дальность пуска у неё снижена с 500 км до 280−300 км, так как экспорт ракет, летящих более 300 км, запрещен международными договорами. Тем не менее, в случае с Арменией это не очень актуально, так как дальности в 300 км вполне достаточно для поражения практически любой цели на территории главного вероятного противника — Азербайджана. Высочайшая точность (круговое вероятное отклонение составляет 10−30 метров, в зависимости от используемой системы наведения) и полная защищенность от систем противовоздушной и противоракетной обороны позволяет практически гарантировано уничтожить любую цель. Такая возможность в руках армянской стороны будет висеть «дамокловым мечом» над руководством Азербайджана: развязывание полномасштабной войны в Нагорном Карабахе чревато уничтожением ключевых штабов, а, возможно, и важнейших объектов инфраструктуры, в том числе нефтегазовой. Причем в любой точке страны. Высшее командование азербайджанской армии тоже не сможет чувствовать себя в безопасности. В этом смысле поставка ОТРК «Искандер» Армении имеет миротворческую функцию — она сильно снижает вероятность возобновления войны.

Известно, что военные контракты в рамках льготного кредита на $200 млн были подписаны этим летом. По сравнению с изначально распространенным списком, как мы смогли увидеть на репетиции парада, есть изменения. Из соответствующего списку техники были показаны только тяжелые реактивные системы залпового огня «Смерч». Неожиданностью же стали системы радиоэлектронной борьбы (РЭБ) «Инфауна» и Р-325У — их в том списке не было. Некоторую же часть техники либо еще не успели поставить, либо она появится на более поздних репетициях, или же самом параде: два пустых тягача для гусеничной техники вполне могут говорить о том, что на них будут размещены реактивные огнеметные системы ТОС-1А «Солнцепек» на базе танка Т-72. Также можно ожидать появления системы пассивной радиотехнической разведки «Автобаза-М».

Известно, что военные контракты в рамках льготного кредита на $200 млн были подписаны этим летом. По сравнению с изначально распространенным списком, как мы смогли увидеть на репетиции парада, есть изменения. Из соответствующего списку техники были показаны только тяжелые реактивные системы залпового огня «Смерч». Неожиданностью же стали системы радиоэлектронной борьбы (РЭБ) «Инфауна» и Р-325У — их в том списке не было. Некоторую же часть техники либо еще не успели поставить, либо она появится на более поздних репетициях, или же самом параде: два пустых тягача для гусеничной техники вполне могут говорить о том, что на них будут размещены реактивные огнеметные системы ТОС-1А «Солнцепек» на базе танка Т-72. Также можно ожидать появления системы пассивной радиотехнической разведки «Автобаза-М».

Подробности: https://regnum.ru/news/2180732.html Любое использование материалов допускается только при наличии гиперссылки на ИА REGNUM.

Поставка Армении систем «Смерч» важна в смысле восстановления баланса в области тяжелых РСЗО: ранее Азербайджан имел заметный перевес, так как Ереван имел лишь 4−8 единиц китайских РСЗО WM-80, тогда как Баку мог рассчитывать на 30 единиц «Смерчей». Такая ситуация являлась угрозой для гражданской инфраструктуры и населенных пунктов Нагорного Карабаха и Армении. Теперь же разрыв заметно сократился, что является еще одним фактором сдерживания Азербайджана от агрессии.

Что же касается систем РЭБ «Инфауна», то это одна из наиболее современных и совершенных систем данного класса в России. Она была принята на вооружение в 2012 году. Функционал этого комплекса РЭБ, размещенного на базе БТР-80, очень широк, — его возможно использовать для борьбы с беспилотниками, обнаружения и подавления систем связи противника, подавления устройств с радиовзрывателями. Кроме того, «Инфауна» имеет множество чувствительных видеокамер, позволяющих засекать вспышки выстрелов из ручных противотанковых гранатометов (РПГ) и противотанковых ракетных комплексов (ПТРК) и автоматически выстреливать в их направлении дымовую завесу, защищая колонну бронетехники, в составе которой комплекс и движется. Система же Р-325У обеспечивает подавление радиосвязи оперативно-тактического и оперативного звеньев управления. Такое высокотехнологичное вооружение способно заметно нарушить координацию сил противника, оставив передовые соединения без связи.

Подробности: https://regnum.ru/news/2180732.html Любое использование материалов допускается только при наличии гиперссылки на ИА REGNUM.

Поставка Армении систем «Смерч» важна в смысле восстановления баланса в области тяжелых РСЗО: ранее Азербайджан имел заметный перевес, так как Ереван имел лишь 4−8 единиц китайских РСЗО WM-80, тогда как Баку мог рассчитывать на 30 единиц «Смерчей». Такая ситуация являлась угрозой для гражданской инфраструктуры и населенных пунктов Нагорного Карабаха и Армении. Теперь же разрыв заметно сократился, что является еще одним фактором сдерживания Азербайджана от агрессии. Что же касается систем РЭБ «Инфауна», то это одна из наиболее современных и совершенных систем данного класса в России. Она была принята на вооружение в 2012 году. Функционал этого комплекса РЭБ, размещенного на базе БТР-80, очень широк, — его возможно использовать для борьбы с беспилотниками, обнаружения и подавления систем связи противника, подавления устройств с радиовзрывателями. Кроме того, «Инфауна» имеет множество чувствительных видеокамер, позволяющих засекать вспышки выстрелов из ручных противотанковых гранатометов (РПГ) и противотанковых ракетных комплексов (ПТРК) и автоматически выстреливать в их направлении дымовую завесу, защищая колонну бронетехники, в составе которой комплекс и движется. Система же Р-325У обеспечивает подавление радиосвязи оперативно-тактического и оперативного звеньев управления. Такое высокотехнологичное вооружение способно заметно нарушить координацию сил противника, оставив передовые соединения без связи.

Еще одной новинкой в армянской армии стал зенитно-ракетный комплекс (ЗРК) «Бук». Судя по фотографиям, поставлена либо наиболее совершенная серийная модификация — «Бук-М2», либо чуть более старая «Бук-М1−2». Оба комплекса способны бороться с воздушными целями на расстояниях до 45 км и высоте до 25 км, при этом они предназначены для прикрытия войск — гусеничная платформа позволяет использовать их в составе колонн бронетехники. Эта система усилит и без того очень плотную систему ПВО Армении, которая имеет на вооружении минимум 5 дивизионов ЗРК большого радиуса действия С-300ПТ-1 и С-300ПС. Использование авиации в зоне азербайджано-карабахского конфликта и раньше было практически невозможным (что показала и апрельская 4-дневная война), теперь эта ситуация только усугубилась. Если силы ПВО Армении и дальше продолжат пополняться, то даже турецкой авиации придется «очень туго». Вполне вероятно, что некоторое количество ЗРК «Бук» были переданы Армении в рамках Объединённой системы ПВО с Россией, которая недавно вступила в силу. Такой подход и ранее практиковался Россией — бесплатные ЗРК получила также Белоруссия и Казахстан.


Подробности: https://regnum.ru/news/2180732.html


Հայաստանը սպառազինության մրցավազքում



Ամեն անգամ, երբ Ադրբեջանը հայտնում է սպառազինության հերթական գնման մասին, հայ հասարակությունում դժգոհության ալիք է բարձրանում։ Նախ՝ սովորաբար առանց հասկանալու, կրկնվում են ադրբեջանական քարոզչության թեզերը, այնուհետև հնչում է «Իսկ ինչու՞ մենք նույնից չենք գնում» հարցը։ Ինչպես նաև «Ինչո՞վ ենք պատասխանելու» և այդ բնույթի այլ հարցեր։

Նման հարցադրումները թերևս բնական են, սակայն միաժամանակ պարունակում են հոռետեսության (եթե չասենք՝ հուսալքության) տարրեր, ինչն անտեղյակության հետևանք է։ Խնդիրն այն է, որ ի տարբերություն Ադրբեջանի, Հայաստանը սպառազինության գնումների մասին տվյալներ դժկամորեն է հրապարակում, և մենք այդ մասին իմանում ենք կամ ուշացումով, կամ կողմնակի աղբյուրներից ու, որպես կանոն, ոչ ամբողջական։

Բազմաթիվ օրինակներ կարելի է հիշել, նշենք մի քանի առավել հայտնի դեպքերը.
 

Հայաստանը պաշտոնապես ընդունեց Ս-300-ների գնման փաստը դրանց արբանյակային լուսանկարների համացանցում հայտնվելուց և տարածվելուց գրեթե երկու տարի հետո։ 

Պաշտպանության նախարարությունը շատ կցկտուր ձևով մեկնաբանեց «մոլդովական սկանդալը»` բավարարվելով միայն գնված սպառազինության որակի մասին մեկնաբանությամբ։ Եվ չնայած այն բանին, որ այդ պատմությունը հնչողություն ստացավ, մինչև այժմ դեռ հստակ պարզ չէ գնված զենք-զինամթերքի ամբողջ ցանկը։
 

Երբ 2011 թվականի դեկտեմբեր ” 2012 թվականի հունվար ամիսներին Հայաստանի ռազմաօդային ուժերի երկու բեռնատար Իլ-76 ինքնաթիռներ գրեթե ամենօրյա չվերթներ էին իրականացնում Դոնի Ռոստով, Պաշտպանության նախարարությունն ընդհանարպես որևէ մեկնաբանությամբ հանդես չեկավ (որոշ հետաքրքիր մանրամասներ տես նաև այստեղ)։ Նույնը կրկնվեց այս տարի, երբ փետրվար-ապրիլ ամիսներին մեր ռազմաօդային ուժերի արդեն բոլոր երեք Իլ-76-երը կրկին հաճախակի հյուր դարձան Դոնի Ռոստովում։
 

Բոլորովին վերջերս «Զինուժ» հեռուստածրագրի ռեպորտաժներից մեկում առաջին անգամ ցուցադրվեց «Կուբ» զենիթահրթիռային համակարգը, որի ձեռք բերման մասին նույնպես տևական ժամանակ որևէ պաշտոնական հաստատում չկար։

Թերևս միակ բացառությունը, երբ ՊՆ սեփական նախաձեռնությամբ է ընդունվել նոր սպառազինության ձեռքբերումը, «Տոչկա-ՈՒ» հրթիռային համակարգերն էին, որոնք ցուցադրվեցին 2011թ. սեպտեմբերի 21-ի երևանյան զորահանդեսի ժամանակ։ Թեև այս դեպքում էլ հայտնի չէ, թե արդյոք այդ համակարգերը նոր էին գնվել, թե տարիներ առաջ։ Համենայն դեպս դրանց ձեռք բերման մասին ասեկոսեներ կային զորահանդեսից շատ ավելի վաղ։

Սակայն լինում են նաև դեպքեր, երբ հանրությանը համապատասխան տեղեկություններ փաստացի տրամադրվում են, բայց այնպիսի ձևաչափով, որ շարքային քաղաքացու համար հնարավոր չէ համապատասխան եզրակացություններ անել։

Այսպես, օրինակ՝ 2012թ. սեպտեմբերին Պաշտպանության բանակի հրամանատար Մովսես Հակոբյանը հարցազրույցներից մեկում հայտարարեց, որ Արցախի պաշտպանական շրջաններն արդեն լիովին զինված են հրետանով և այլևս կարող են կատարել իրենց մարտական խնդիրներն առանց ավելի բարձր մակարդակի ստորաբաժանումների աջակցության կամ բանակի հրամանատարի ռեզերվի ներգրավման։

Գործնականում այս հայտարարությունը նշանակում է, որ պաշտպանության բանակի զորամիավորումներն ամբողջովին ապահովված են հաստիքով նախատեսված հրետանային միջոցներով։ ՊԲ ճշտգրիտ կառուցվածքը հրապարակված չէ, սակայն ելնելով պաշտպանական շրջանների և բանակի թվաքանակի մասին ընդհանուր տվյալներից՝ կարելի է մոտավոր և շատ կոպիտ գնահատական տալ, թե ինչ քանակով հրետանու մասին է խոսքը` ելնելով խորհրդային ժամանակվա չափանիշներից (ինչն արդարացված մոտեցում է, քանի որ պաշտպանության բանակը հիմնականում պահպանել է խորհրդային չափանիշները)։

Համաձայն խորհրդային չափանիշների պաշտպանության բանակի սպառազինությունում գտնվող հրետանու քանակը կարող է գնահատվել մոտ 350-400 միավոր, ներառյալ քարշակով և ինքնագնաց փողային ու համազարկային կրակի համակարգերը։ Մեկ անգամ ևս ընգծենք, որ սա շատ մոտավոր գնահատական է, այլ ոչ թե ճշտգրիտ հաշվարկ։

Հասկանալի է, որ «մենք մեր հրետանու քանակը հասցրել ենք մոտ 350-400-ի» և «մեր պաշտպանական շրջանների հրետանին արդեն կարող է իր խնդիրները կատարել առանց ավելի բարձր մակարդակի ստորաբաժանումների աջակցության կամ բանակի հրամանատարի ռեզերվի ներգրավման» արտահայտությունները լրագրողների և հասարակության կողմից բոլորովին տարբեր կերպ են ընկալվում, մինչդեռ խոսքը նույն բանի մասին է։ Արդյունքում, հրետանու լայնամասշտաբ գնումների մասին տեղեկությունը հանրության համար աննկատ է անցնում։ Ընդ որում` նշենք, որ գնումների նոմենկլատուրայի մասին տեղեկություններ ամեն դեպքում չկան։ Ի դեպ, նույն հարցազրույցում Հակոբյանը խոսում է նաև զրահատեխնիկայի, հակատանկային միջոցների և ՀՕՊ համակարգերի գնումների մասին։

Մեկ այլ օրինակ։ 2012-ին Արցախում ավարտվեց ևս մեկ առանձին տանկային բրիգադի կազմավորումը։ Հոկտեմբերին այն հաջողությամբ մասնակցեց լայնածավալ զորավարժության, որի ավարտից հետո Արցախի պաշտպանության բանակի նորակազմ տանկային բրիգադին Հայաստանի նախագահ, զինված ուժերի գերագույն գլխավոր հրամանատար Սերժ Սարգսյանը հանձնեց մարտական դրոշ։ Ինչպես և նախորդ դեպքում, տանկերի խոշոր խմբաքանակի (ենթադրաբար` 124 կամ ավել տանկ) գնման փաստը նույնպես աննկատ մնաց մեր հանրության համար։ Ավելին, աննկատ մնաց նաև այն, որ նոր ձևավորված խոշոր զորամիավորումը հաջողությամբ մասնակցում է լուրջ զորավարժության, ինչն, առանց չափազանցության, խոսում է բրիգադի հրամանտարական կազմի կազմակերպչական և մասնագիտական բարձր որակների մասին։

Վերոհիշյալը ոչ մի դեպքում չի նշանակում, որ մեր հասարակությունն իրավունք ունի թեթևամտորեն վերաբերվել և անտեսել Ադրբեջանի կողմից սպառազինության գնումները։ Թշնամուն թերագնահատել և որպես հետևանք նրա հետ բախմանն անպատրաստ լինելը ծանր հետևանքներ կարող է ունենալ, բայց միաժամանակ մեր բանակի հնարավորությունները թերագնահատելու իրական պատճառներ ևս չկան։ Միակ պատճառը, ինչպես նշեցինք սկզբում, անբավարար տեղեկացվածությունն է։

Այս թեմայով.
Սպառազինության «շոփինգի»…
Տիգրան Սարգսյանը նշել է, թե $360…
SIPRI-ն հրապարակել է…
Միջուկային սպառազինության…
Ռուսաստանը թարմացնում է…


Source: http://razm.info/13023


Russian Expert Thinks Public Opinion in Russia Will be For Armenia in Case of War


http://armenpress.am/static/news/b/2013/07/725144.jpg

Russia has obligations towards Armenia which must be done. About this said Russian expert Constantine Kalachev to vesti.az. In his opinion Russian public opinion in case of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict escalation will be for Armenia. “Despite all efforts of OSCE Minsk Group it was not possible to settle the conflict yet,” mentioned the expert, reports “Armenpress”. In his opinion Russia is not ready to have position of protecting one of the sides. “Russia has close relations with Armenia. There is great Armenian community in Russia. At the same time Russia wants to develop friendship relations also with Azerbaijan,” he mentioned. He does not expect progress in Nagorno-Karabakh issue in coming future. Reminding international precedents Russian expert mentions that one or two generations must be changed for it. It is not excluded that earlier or later Azerbaijan tries settling the conflict wit using force. “Moscow is not interested in the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Moscow can not protect unambiguously one of the sides. Its role has been and will be preventive,” the expert said.  

Source:http://armenpress.am/eng/news/725144/russian-expert-thinks-public-opinion-in-russia-will-be-for-armenia-in-case-of-nagorno-karabakh-conflict.html

No comments:

Post a Comment

Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will therefore be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis. To limit clutter in the comments section, I 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 confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what. If you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or just attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself... or else, I will not post your comments, especially if they are, in my opinion, nonsense. Thank you for your cooperation.