The fall of Artsakh was the fulfillment of Nikol's lifelong dream - Winter 2024

Artsakh has fallen. I never thought I would have to say these words in my lifetime. The thirty-five years old saga, internationally known as the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute came to a sudden and anticlimactic end on September 19, 2023. As if in an instant, thirty-five years of history was relegated to a fleeting memory, and feelings of anguish and bewilderment. As if overnight, Artsakh went from being one of the bright-spots in Armenia's long and turbulent history to just another one of its bloodstained pages. Artsakh's final defeat at the hands of Turks and Azeris was total. Of all the scenarios that could have played-out, the absolute worst played-out. Not only did Artsakh fall, Artsakh was also ethnically cleansed of its aboriginal population. The resulting shock, surprise, anger, bewilderment, sadness, embarrassment and pain has been overwhelming. For most of my life Artsakh was proudly Armenian. For most of my life Artsakh was victorious. I never thought I would live to see this day. I am still having a difficult time mentally processing what happened last years. Composing this blog commentary was unusually difficult for me, not only because this subject matter is an inherently complex and multilayered political saga spanning over thirty years, but also because as I began composing it, I slowly began to realize that I was writing Artsakh's obituary and performing its autopsy. I never thought I would be writing a blog commentary about Artsakh's demise in my lifetime. I never thought I would live to see a photograph like the one below:
 

The saddest part in all this, for me at least, is that it did not have to end this way. Artsakh could have avoided this fate. There were a number of things things in the realm of geopolitics, international relations, lobbying, diplomacy and general housekeeping in Armenia, that we could have done and should have done to help Artsakh avoid this fate. Artsakh was always our fight, not Russia's. Armenia was responsible for keeping Artsakh Armenian, not Russia. It was us Armenians that failed Artsakh. Although Russia was never in full-agreement with Armenia's claims over Artsakh (Tehran wasn't either for that matter), we knew that Moscow's vision for Artsakh most closely aligned with Armenia's. We knew that Western powers wanted Artsakh to be fully under Azerbaijan's control. We knew that Nikol's regime wanted to adopt the Western plan for Artsakh. We knew that Russia never wanted to give Turks and Azeris an extraterritorial corridor through southern Armenia. We knew that the West wanted Armenia to give Turks and Azeris the said corridor. We knew that Russia was a neighboring superpower with long-term strategic interests in Armenia. We knew that distant Western powers were in the south Caucasus only to turn the region into yet another war zoneWe knew that Western powers were spending large sums of money on anti-Russian propaganda throughout Armenian societyWe knew that Turks were actively spreading anti-Russian hysteria in Armenian society. We knew that a major geopolitical storm was approaching the region and Armenia therefore needed to move closer to Russia. We knew that the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan would have to be settled with major compromises. Knowing all that we knew, or rather should have known, we did everything we could between the years 1994 and 2018 to put-off and delay the inevitable, or simply ignore everything and just hope for the best.

We should have heeded Niccolò Machiavelli's advise from five hundred years ago and understood that "there is no avoiding war, it can only be postponed to your enemy's advantage".

Simply put, official Yerevan should have put an end to Vartan Oskanian's failed and counterproductive "complimentary politics", and cracked-down on the activities of the country's Western-fiannced professional Russophobes. Official Yerevan should have understood that there was an urgent need to take serious steps towards settling the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, regardless of how unpopular it may have been, and Yerevan should have done so exclusively through Moscow's mediation. Finally, we as a people should have understood that when it came to the topic of "independence", the south Caucasus is not that place and we Armenians are not that people. In other words, we needed to understand that Armenia and/or Artsakh needed to go back to Mother Russia. These were some of the things that could have been done to help Artsakh avoid this tragic fate. It therefore did not have to end this way. However, being that we are Armenians, and we love relishing in our arrogance, greed, tribalism, hypocrisy, jealousy, shortsightedness, materialism, political illiteracy and cognitive dissonance, I guess it could not have been any other way. The above is more-or-less what President Putin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and General Leonid Ivashov had in mind when they made the following statements:
President Putin: "For 15 years Russia had been offering Armenia to compromise and return five districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan and keep the other two, but Armenia refused... Russia had long offered Armenia ways to resolve the Karabakh issue, but Yerevan refused, expressing readiness to fight."

President Putin: "As far as I understand, the so-called Washington variant envisages recognition of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh as a whole... If Armenia thinks so, well, no problem. We will support any choice of the Armenian people... If the Armenian people and leadership believe that Karabakh has its own specificities and these specificities must be taken into account, defined in a future peace treaty, this is also possible."

Foreign Minister Lavrov: "Our Western colleagues decided that it was somehow wrong that Russia was managing to achieve progress in this area. They began to lure Armenians and Azerbaijanis to Brussels, then to Paris, then to Washington, then to Prague... By the way, in the Czech Republic in 2022, the Prime Minister of Armenia signed a document stating that he recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within the 1991 borders... This means that the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (as Karabakh was then called) is an integral part of Azerbaijan. This came as a surprise to us."

Simply put, we Armenians failed Artsakh on all accounts. Let's put aside for now the political semantics, or even the verbal gymnastics we can all engage in regarding all those inside Armenia's political landscape responsible for the historic disaster that befell our nation recent years, and unmistakably recognize that the ultimate blame for what happened to Artsakh rests upon the shoulders of one man. Although all previous ruling administrations in Armenia beginning in 1991, as well as the odious biomass known as the "Armenian Street", did indeed partake in making this tragedy possible, the lion's share of the blame for Artsakh's fall however goes to Nikol Pashinyan and his Western-financed team of professional Russophobes and Turkophiles. Artsakh fell under Nikol's watch. Period. And that, in my opinion, is not even the worst part. The worst part is that Artsakh's fall was brought about intentionally and deliberately by Nikol's regime. In other words, Artsakh's fall was exactly what Nikol and his team of Western-financed professional Russophobes and Turkophiles were put into power in 2018 to accomplish. What I am claiming is not speculation, it is not rhetorical hyperbole, it is not political spin, and it has nothing to do with my personal aversion and bias towards a degenerate like Nikol and his odious team. My accusation against Nikol and his regime in Armenia is based on verifiable fact. 
 
The fall of Artsakh was the fulfillment of Nikol's lifelong dream
 
For most of his adult life, Nikol dreamed of ridding Armenia of its problem called Artsakh, cancelling Armenian Genocide recognition efforts, and unconditionally opening Armenia's borders to Turkey and Azerbaijan. He was also a persistent Russophobe during most of his professional career. Nikol never hid his sentiments. He wrote about his political vision in a 2001 article titled "we and our interests" and in a series of self-aggrandizing and perverted writings in 2008, that were compiled and published in 2018 as a memoir under the title of "the other side of earth". Moreover, let's never forget the time in 2008 when Nikol, hand-in-hand with Levon Ter Petrosyan, rebelled against Robert Kocharyan and Serj Sargsyan. It was a Color Revolution. That was the time when the slur "Karabakh Clan" was coined. That was when the notion that Artsakh was a major burden for Armenia began to spread. Artsakh's fall may have come about back then, had President Korchayan not resorted to drastic measures to stop it. Long story short, Nikol was one of the ardent proponents of surrendering Artsakh regardless of the cost. Nikol was also known to be closely associated with the network of Western-financed political activists in Armenia. We therefore knew who and what Nikol was before 2018. Regardless, we heaped praise upon him after his rise to power. We made movies about him. We wrote songs of about him. Little did we know that Nikol was gifted to Armenian society by the lords of this world for the sole purpose of surrendering Artsakh to Azerbaijan and driving Russia out of Armenia. It was done ahead of the geopolitical crisis that was expected to come to the region. To give credit where credit is due, while Nikol may be a traitor and an incompetent, he has nevertheless been very honest with his political intentions throughout his life. He has after-all done and is continuing to do everything he said he would do as early as 2001. The fundamental problem therefore was - and continues to be - are the masses of Armenians that supported him and in many cases still support him. In any case, as painful as it was to watch the 2020 defeat Nikol's so-called New Armenia suffered in Artsakh, it was not a surprise to me.

 
Artsakh may have actually been slated for total capitulation in 2020. Moscow's last minute military intervention seemed to have prevented Artsakh's total collapse at the time. This did not sit well with Nikol and his handlersMoscow had finally established a military presence in Artsakh and done so against the wishes of Anglo-American-Jews, Brussels, Ankara, Baku and, as we would eventually come to learn, Yerevan and Stepanakert as well. Nikol and his team therefore had more work to do. Soon after Russia began its Special Military Operation in Ukraine in early 2022, and it quickly became apparent that Kiev would not be surrendering to Moscow's demands, another opportunity to topple Artsakh presented itself. The war in Ukraine revealed some of Russia's shortcomings and limitations. By spring 2022, Nikol began signaling his desire to surrender Artsakh and scale-down Yerevan's support for Stepanakert. No longer able to impose its political will in the region due to the war in Ukraine, President Putin stated during a press conference that the ball is in Armenia's court and asked the Armenian people to decide what direction they want to goBy summer of 2022, the writing was clearly on the wall. On August 25, 2022 Nikol unexpectedly ordered the evacuation of Artsakh's only lifeline, the strategic Berdzor/Lachin Corridor. Concurrently, Nikol was claiming that he was fighting for Armenia's independence from Russia. Artsakh was now completely surrounded Azeri forces. By autumn 2022, Russia seemed on the verge of defeat in Ukraine. On September 06, 2022, Kiev carried-out a very successful counterattack against Russian forces. This sent shock-waves inside Russia. Fearing that Russia could lose the war, Moscow announced a partial mobilization of troopsThis was yet another opportunity for Nikol and his handlers to advance their agenda in connection with Artsakh. On September 12, 2022, six days after the aforementioned Russian setback in Ukraine, Azerbaijan carried-out a major military assault against Armenia. Baku had clearly taken advantage of Russia's misfortune in Ukraine. Nikol's government chose not to retaliate against Baku's unprovoked aggression. Instead, Russia was blamed, Moreover, despite the fact that Armenia had been attacked by Azerbaijan, Nikol announced that Yerevan was ready to sign a peace treaty with Baku under all circumstancesThis was also around the time when Nancy Pelosi mysteriously appeared in Yerevan.
 
Less than a month later, on October 06, 2022 - as Russian officials were frantically scrambling to come-up with a new strategy to salvage their war effort in Ukraine and as the Armenian World slept comfortably - Nikol quietly surrendered Artsakh during an official trip to EU/NATO member Prague.
 
Not only did Nikol surrender Artsakh during his trip to Prague, he also announced the deployment of an EU observer mission in Armenia. Not a peep was heard from the Armenian World. Nikol had effectively nullified the Moscow-brokered momentous ceasefire agreement that had been reached two years prior on November 09, 2020As a result, the Russian troop presence in now Azerbaijan's uncontested territory of Qarabağ automatically became unnecessary, if not outright illegal. These developments would naturally upset Moscow, as well as TehranNikol's treasonous and duplicitous act in Prague came exactly one month after Russia had just suffered a major military setback in Ukraine, and three weeks after Baku had taken advantage of Moscow's difficult situation in Ukraine by invading Armenia. Nikol's treasonous and duplicitous act in Prague was done unexpectedly, in collaboration with Western powers, with Baku's approval and, according to President Putin, without Moscow's prior-knowledge. For Moscow, the writing was therefore clearly on the wall by late 2022The war in Ukraine had revealed Russia's shortcomings and limitations. Nikol's regime officials were openly stating at the time that the agreement Yerevan had reached in Prague was indeed anti-Russian in nature. A few voices in Armenian society raised the alarm. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov tried to explain to Armenians that Moscow's plan would be better for Artsakh. Russia's Foreign Minister also lamented that Russia's efforts to end the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan were being obstructed. President Putin warned Armenian society that the West favored Azeri control over Artsakh. Even an offer by Moscow to send a CSTO military mission to Armenia's border regions with Azerbaijan was outright rejected by Nikol's regime. Nikol's regime had clearly taken the opportunity presented by Russia's military and political setbacks in Ukraine in 2022 to place Armenia on a Westerly course.
 
 
Concurrently, Nikol's regime had also embarked on a full-scale anti-Russian propaganda campaign that seemed designed to alienate Moscow and embolden Western powers, Turks and Azeris. Nikol's Russophobic temper-tantrums were also designed to serve as a smokescreen and a distraction from his treasonous actions. Armenians in general fell for his games. Anti-Russian sentiments consequently soared throughout the Armenian World. Armenian society was being manipulated by external and internal forces. This did not bode well for Artsakh as Moscow's physical presence in the disputed territory after Armenia's defeat in 2020 was practically the only political factor standing in between Azerbaijan's armed forces and Artsakh's now defenseless population. What's more, as I already mentioned, relatively speaking, Moscow's plan for Artsakh was indeed the best option Armenians had on the table. As I had noted above, President Putin had even warned Armenians about this. Regardless, Moscow's efforts to bring about a lasting peace settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, however undesirable from a narrow and ethnocentric Armenian perspective, was being actively undermined by Western powers, Ankara, Baku, Yerevan and, as we shall later see, Stepanakert as well. From a political standpoint, what Nikol's regime was doing vis-a-vis Artsakh made absolutely no sense, unless that is, if their actions were specifically designed by Nikol's handlers to bring about Artsakh's demise and Russia's ouster from the region.

In hindsight, Nikol and his handlers were laying the ground work for the final blow Artsakh would suffer on September 19, 2023. Said otherwise, Nikol was gradually fulfilling his lifelong dream.

Snapshot of events that transpired in 2022: On February 24, 2022, Russia started its historic Special Military Operation in Ukraine. By April 2022, it became obvious that Russia was stuck in a major war and Nikol signaled his regime's willingness to cede control over KarabakhThe war in Ukraine revealed some of Russia's shortcomings and limitations. Russia's enemies would therefore not waste any time to exploit the opportunity. Nikol unexpectedly evacuated the strategic Berdzor/Lachin corridor in August, 2022. Concurrently, Nikol claimed that he was fighting for Armenia's independence from RussiaIn September, 2022, Ukraine carried-out a successful counterattack against Russians forces and taking advantage of the situation Baku conducted a successful assault against Armenia. In response to Russia's setback in Ukraine and Azerbaijan's military assault on Armenia, Nikol quickly flew to Prague to officially abandon Artsakh and elevate the Western presence in Armenia. Nikol's officials proudly claimed they were adopting the Western planNo longer in a position to impose its political will, President Putin stated during a press conference that the ball is in Armenia's court and asked the Armenian people to decide what direction they want to go. A few voices in Armenian society tried unsuccessfully to raise the alarm. Foreign Minister Lavrov lamented that Armenia was choosing the Western plan. He also suggested that Moscow's plan would be better for Artsakh. President Putin seconded Lavrov's statements by warning that the Western plan meant full Azeri control over Artsakh. Nikol responded by publicly claiming that Russia's military presence in Armenia was threatening Armenia's security. Throughout all this, not a peep was heard from the Armenian World. By mid-2023, the writing was clearly on the wall. And on September 19, 2023, the Artsakh saga reached its logical conclusion. Artsakh's fall was, in a nutshell, what Armenian independence from Russia looks like.

A deeper look into the geopolitical processes that led to Artsakh's fall

Although Nikol had made a living preaching about the need to surrender Artsakh for peace with Azerbaijan  and had partaken in Levon Ter Petrosyan's failed effort to topple the "Karabakh Clan" in 2008, soon after Nikol rose to power in 2018, he publicly claimed that Artsakh was part of Armenia. Armenian society, generally out-of-touch with reality and politically illiterate, believed Nikol was being sincere. A few, like myself, did not believe any of Nikol's words, ultimately because we knew who Nikol was and what his political team represented. In hindsight, by claiming Artsakh was Armenia, Nikol was simply trying to give Baku the pretext or the legal excuse to prepare for an attack. In fact, as Armenians were celebrating Nikol's rise to power, Baku had already prepared for an attack soon after Nikol came to power. The attack came on September 27, 2020. On November 09, 2020, when after forty-four days of war that saw Armenian forces in Artsakh get ruthlessly crushed by Azerbaijan, and Stepanakert was on the verge of falling, Russia intervened militarily to stop the fighting. This last minute military intervention by Moscow prevented Artsakh from disappearing from the world map altogether after forty-four days of none-stop, bitter fighting, during which Nikol's regime seemed to be doing everything possible to lose the war. Nevertheless, Moscow's momentous entrance into Artsakh was seen around the world as a major Russian success. Moscow seemed to be reestablishing its political levers over Yerevan and Baku. Moscow seemed happy that the worst had already come to pass and the thirty year old dispute between Yerevan and Baku could now finally be settled under its supervision. Alas, it was not to be.

In early 2022, Nikol's regime had suggested that Yerevan could recognize Artsakh as part Azerbaijan if Russia retained de-facto or de-jure control over it. After all, all that Nikol cared about was getting rid of Artsakh. It didn't matter to Nikol who would control it. If Russians wanted it, then so be it. This proposal by Nikol would have at the very least kept the territory under Russo-Armenian control, thereby ensuring the safety of the Armenian population of the territory as well as Artsakh's political existenceAccording to Paul Goble, however, Nikol's proposal was unacceptable for Western powersFrom a Western and Turkish perspective, turning Artsakh officially over to Russia was not what Nikol was place in power for. Therefore, work had to be done behind-the-scenes to rectify the matter. On February 24, 2022, Russia's Special Military Operation started in Ukraine, and the world changed foreverMoscow's historic entanglement in Ukraine starting in early 2022 was the perfect opportunity to begin the process of undermining Russia's presence in Artsakh.

February 24, 2022 was a watershed moment in world history. In the spring of 2022, when Western powers encouraged Kiev to continue the fight, it became increasingly obviously that Russia was caught in an existential war against the collective West in Ukraine. Moreover, the war in Ukraine revealed some of Russia's shortcomings and limitations. Consequently, Moscow's influence in the south  Caucasus would begin to wane.

Nikol's handlers understood this all too well. By mid 2022, Nikol seemed to have changed his mind about Russian control over Artsakh, most likely as a result of pressure from his handlers. Suddenly, Russian control over Artsakh was no longer a political condition for Nikol's regimeThis is when Nikol announced his desire to surrender Artsakh and scale-down Yerevan's support for StepanakertBy mid 2022, it was beginning to look as if the war between Russia and the collective West in Ukraine will be a very long and bloody one indeed. This was yet another opportunity. By August 25, 2022, Nikol had Berdzor, the strategic corridor linking Armenia to Artsakh evacuated. Nikol said he was fighting for Armenia's independenceAnd then on October 06, 2022, two years after Moscow's entrance into Artsakh, Nikol officially withdrew Armenia altogether from the thirty-five year old conflict. By doing so, Nikol effectively nullified the Moscow-brokered ceasefire agreement that had been reached two years prior. This put Russia's already tenuous presence in Artsakh in an awkward position. The question would now be, why are Russian troops in Azerbaijan? On October 06, 2022, Nikol also invited an EU observer mission into Armenia.

Nikol's decision to surrender Artsakh and increase the Western presence in Armenia in early October 2022, was quite revealing.

A major counterattack by Kiev on September 06, 2022 had succeeded in pushing back Russian forces and recovering large swaths of territory that was previously under Russian control. As a result of a number of miscalculations and errors I covered in my previous blog commentary, Moscow had suddenly found itself in an existential fight against the collective West. Moscow was therefore in no position to impose its political will in the south Caucasus, especially since it needed to stay on good terms with Ankara and BakuOn September 12, 2022, merely a week after Ukraine's successful counteroffensive, Baku launched a major surprise attack on Armenia. Over two hundred square kilometers of land inside Armenia fell under Baku's control. Hundreds of Armenian soldiers died in the assault. Nikol's regime did not respond to Baku's unprovoked attack in any meaningful way. It was clear that Azerbaijan had taken advantage of Russia's difficult situation in Ukraine. It was also clear that Baku carried-out this hostile act on Armenian soil because it knew it would not face much resistance from Yerevan. Baku's assessment proved correct. Armenia's armed forces was fully capable of engaging in combat. The bulk of Armenia's military was intact because it had not fully committed to the forty-four day war in Artsakh in 2020. In response to the unprovoked and unprecedented military assault by Baku that resulted in the loss of many Armenian lives and large amounts of territory inside Armenia proper, commander-in-chief of Armenia's armed forces did not mobilize Armenian society for a patriotic war of defense, nor did he order the Armenian military to counterattack in to reclaim at least some of the lost territory.
 
Instead, knowing that Moscow was fully focused on its existential conflict with NATO in Ukraine and therefore needed to remain on good terms with Baku and Ankara, Nikol blamed Russia and the CSTO for not protecting Armenia. Knowing that Russia itself was having serious issues with weapons procurement because of the massive scale of its war effort in Ukraine, members of Nikol's regime also used the opportunity to further smear Russia by blaming Moscow for not providing weapons that Armenia had ordered on time. It was typical, Nikol-style deflection. This is also when Nancy Pelosi mysteriously turned-up in ArmeniaAnd that wasn't all. Nikol also announced that he was ready to sign an unconditional peace deal with Azerbaijan. And on October 06, 2022, merely a month after Azerbaijan's unprovoked aggression against Armenia, he did exactly that.

Nikol officially abandoned Artsakh suddenly, unconditionally and according to Russian President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov, without even consulting with Moscow.

We therefore had a situation where Azerbaijan had just attacked Armenia without any provocation on Armenia's part and occupied a large amount of Armenian territory, but Nikol's regime was blaming Russia for the Azerbaijan's attack on Armenia and announcing that it was ready to sign an unconditional peace deal with Baku. Wrap your minds around that for a moment, as that ultimately is Armenian-style politics. As we had seen back in 2020 during the forty-four day war, Nikol's ultimate intention was not to fight Azerbaijan but to simply surrender Artsakh and try to distance Armenia from Russia. This was after-all what Nikol was placed in power for. After the commencement of Russia's Special Military Operation in Ukraine in early 2022 and the bloody war of attrition that Moscow subsequently got bogged-down in, Nikol and his team of Western-financed Russophobes and Turkophiles began systematically moving towards their ultimate goal of getting rid of Artsakh and breaking Russia's grip over Armenia. Every single opportunity or excuse would therefore be exploited in order to smear or slander Russia. To make their Russophobic intentions unmistakably clear, an anti-Putin protest was organized in Yerevan on November 23, 2022 during the CSTO Summit held there. The summit itself, which was scheduled to discuss Azerbaijan's attack on Armenia and suggest solutions, went nowhere. Nikol's regime used the platform to basically further distance itself from Moscow. Despite Nikol's Russophobic antics, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov announced that CSTO was ready to send a military mission to the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, but the offer was rejected by Nikol's regime.


From an international perspective, Yerevan's official recognition of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity meant that there no longer existed any basis, legal or otherwise, for conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. By abandoning Artsakh and its population to their uncertain fate, Nikol was essentially blackmailing Moscow at a time when Russia had become bogged-down in a very bloody war of attrition in Ukraine. As already mentioned, in a cleverly coordinated effort with Western powers and Baku, Nikol's regime was slowly and meticulously undermining Moscow's presence in Artsakh. By suddenly and unconditionally abandoning Artsakh, Nikol effectively placed Artsakh's entire social, humanitarian, political, economic, military and legal burden solely on the shoulders of an already beleaguered Russia. Moscow's small peacekeeping contingent in Artsakh would not be able to handle the created situation, as it was also very unlikely that Moscow would commit more forces and/or resources to the mission there because of the existential fight Russia was now engaged in against the collective West in Ukraine.

By abandoning all claims on Artsakh, which had served as the legal basis for all the international efforts to resolve the matter going back some thirty years, official Yerevan was now signaling that there no longer was any reason for conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. There no longer was a need for Russia, or any other nation for that matter, to mediate. Simply put, there no longer was a dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Moscow therefore had no choice in the matter but to acquiesce to  Baku's demands, especially in a time of war. This is what President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov complained about. When confronted, Nikol's "officials" would deflect blame by saying something to the effect of: "Russians always recognized Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, they therefore have no right to complain now." This is a typical strawman argument. Russia's official recognition of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity was never the real issue. The entire world, including Russia, including Iran, had always recognized Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. The issue was Armenia. The basis of the conflict in question was Armenia's official position on the matter of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, not Moscow's. Nations like Russia were involved in the matter precisely because Yerevan was disputing Baku's claims over Artsakh. Said otherwise, other nations could be legally involved in the dispute only if Armenia disputed Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. Russia was involved in the political process to help resolve the dispute in-line with international law. Moscow's recognition of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity was therefore not the problem. Armenia's take on the matter was the official issue. We all know that Moscow wanted to remain involved in Artsakh, albeit for its geopolitical reasons. An unresolved dispute between Yerevan and Baku, or one that was resolved under its supervision, served Moscow's interests. Nevertheless, Yerevan had to remain in the dispute for any of this to happen. Hence, the complaints by President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov. 
 
The political nuance I outlined above is a very important factor to fully understand in order to understand Nikol's intentions, as well as Moscow's role in the matter.
 
Official Yerevan had agreed that all of Artsakh belonged to Azerbaijan. From a legal standpoint, Baku could therefore do whatever it wanted in that now undisputed territory of Azerbaijan. Merely two months after Nikol's recognition of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, Baku predictably made its move. With Artsakh already surrounded as a result of the war in 2020 and Nikol's decision in the summer of 2022 to evacuate Berdzor/Lachin, Baku started a blockade of Artsakh in December, 2022. The Armenian World complained. Baku responded by claiming that Artsakh officially belonged to Azerbaijan, as Armenia's twice duly elected leader had announced, Baku therefore had the legal authority to do whatever it wanted to do in the territory. In response to Baku's latest aggression against Artsakh, Nikol blamed Russia and went on to accused Russia of threatening Armenia's security. Nikol's regime seemed, as always, fixated on deflecting blame and making Russia look bad. Everything Nikol's regime was doing and not doing seemed to be following a preconceived plan put together by Nikol's handlers. Only a few in Armenian society understood this. In my opinion, Nikol's anti-Russian antics were being done most probably to distract and mislead the public's attention in Armenia, attract Western support for his "democratic" regime, put an already embattled and beleaguered Moscow on the defensive, and clear the way for more Azerbaijani and Turkish advances in Artsakh. With voices of condemnation growing around the world as a result of Baku's humanitarian blockade of Artsakh, official Yerevan responded by reaffirming Nikol's decision to abandon Artsakh, and rejecting a military mission offered by Moscow. Days later, Baku responded to Nikol's latest recognition of its sovereignty over Artsakh by setting up a checkpoint on Artsakh's border with Armenia. Moscow could only accommodate under the circumstances. As expected, Nikol and friends blamed Russia, as well as all previous governments Armenia has had since 1991, for everything that was taking place in Artsakh under their rule. The Armenian sheeple kept buying it for the most part.
 
A pattern was nevertheless discernible. Nikol's regime was clearly following a plan, and that plan was to finally be done with the thirty-five year old problem called Nagorno Karabakh. The political implications of Nikol's move on October 06, 2022 are great indeed. With Armenia officially out of the picture in Artsakh and Russia bogged-down in a major war against the collective West in Ukraine, political observers were asking: what next?
 
By late 2022, it was becoming increasingly apparent to Moscow that an anti-Russian troika had been formed between Armenians, Azeris and Westerners. This was more-or-less confirmed by Nikol's regime spokespeople. Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov publicly lamented about what was being done by Nikol's regime. President Putin publicly warned Armenians what Nikol's regime was getting Artsakh into. By the end of 2022, Moscow had found itself in a serious predicament in Artsakh. This is when Baku took advantage of the situation and began the humanitarian blockade of Artsakh. Needless to say, Nikol once again blamed Russia for what Baku had done. A series of treasonous and duplicitous acts by Nikol during the second-half of 2022 had at-once betrayed Artsakh and Russia. Deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council Dmitry Medvedev would later comment on Nikol's actions.
 
So common in the annals of Armenian history, Armenians were once again attempting to play dangerous games with the region's two competing superpowers, ultimately to Armenia's detriment. As so common in Armenian history, Armenia was neglecting an ally in its neighbor in favor of a enemies in faraway lands.
 
With Armenia now officially out of the picture in Artsakh as a result of Nikol's political machinations, and the Kremlin's attention completely focused on its historic war in Ukraine, as well as saving Russia from unprecedented Western sanctions, Nikol's treasonous act made Artsakh dangerously vulnerable. And with Nikol's regime prioritizing internal security rather than external, another Turkish-backed Azeri attack became inevitable. The greater region in question was already in serious trouble with ongoing wars, and the likelihood of more wars breaking-out in the region was high. With Artsakh now officially abandoned by its homeland, Russia embroiled in a major war against NATO in Ukraine, and Iran on the cusp of hostilities against the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance, Baku and Ankara must have assessed that this was their historic opportunity to capture Stepanakert. The Kremlin, having thus been outmaneuvered by the aforementioned troika in Artsakh - and now needing Baku and Ankara to help it by-pass Western sanctions and generally speaking stay-out of the conflict in Ukraine - knew tat it was in no position to resist when Baku and Ankara would make their final move on Stepanakert. Azeris and Turks were playing their hand brilliantlyArtsakh's final fate, or rather its death warrant, was signed not on November 09, 2020, but on October 06, 2022. The ground was now set for the final blow Artsakh would suffer on September 19, 2023.

Artsakh fell victim to a Machiavellian world

Since the early 1990s, the general geopolitical climate in the greater region in question had created a status quo that worked for the most part in the interests of Armenia and Artsakh. Despite what Armenians through or believed at the time, it wasn't the "mighty" Armenian army or the "almighty" Armenian diaspora that maintained Artsakh's de-facto independence against Baku's wishes. Said otherwise, with Yerevan and Baku unwilling to compromise over the dispute in Artsakh and no major geopolitical changes on the horizon, it was in Moscow's geopolitical interests to keep the said conflict frozen indefinitely. The dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan did after-all give Moscow leverage over Yerevan and Baku. There was no urgent need to change it. This somewhat favorable geopolitical climate, under which Artsakh had comfortably existed for quite a few years, would begin to change. Although the years between 2007 and 2008 is said to be the time when Moscow began reasserting itself geopolitically throughout former Soviet space, the actual watershed moment in the region's history came in 2014. After the Western-financed "Maidan Revolution" in 2014the subsequent annexation of Crimea by Russia and Russia's 2015 military intervention in Syria, a direct clash between Moscow and Western powers became all but inevitable. The point I want to emphasize here is that after 2014, the old status quo that had existed throughout the region since the collapse of the USSR would gradually begin to change, or altogether expire, as new geopolitical formulations and calculations would come into play in power-centers around the world. These changes would inevitably have a negative impact on Armenia and Artsakh, because Yerevan had not only failed to use the time by settling the dispute, but had also failed to move into the Russian fortress. By 2018, it was already too late for Artsakh in particular. By 2020, Armenia itself was seen by Moscow as an unreliable ally. And by February 24, 2022, humanity started living in an altogether new world. The road to where we are today had started in Kiev in 2014, and I will add that the road back to Artsakh will also start in Kiev. As already noted, by 2018 it was too late to save Artsakh. The fluidity of the situation in Eurasia after 2014 inevitably created some geopolitical vacuums. With Armenia gradually moving out of the picture in Artsakh, Russia fully preoccupied in an existential war against the collective West in Ukraine, and Iran under threat from the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance, the geopolitical climate in the region had drastically changed, and Baku and Ankara began seeing the situation as a historic opportunity to finally reconquer all of Artsakh.
 
Many saw this disaster comingSome predicted that another war would take placeSome even proposed remediesNikol's regime nevertheless knew that they had driven Artsakh to a geopolitical dead end. Another war to deliver a final blow to Artsakh was therefore only a matter of time after October, 2022. Because of serious complications in its war against the collective West in Ukraine, by the end of 2022, Moscow was no longer in a position to impose its political will in a disputed territory that even according to official Yerevan was no longer disputed by Armenia. Said otherwise, stuck in an existential fight against the West, Moscow would not start a conflict against Baku and Ankara on the behalf of an unstable and unreliable people that had a persistent fetish for the Western world. Therefore, abandoned by Yerevan, conspired against by the West, relentlessly pursued by Azeris and Turks, and now neglected by Moscow, Artsakh's fate was sealed. By the middle of 2022, Baku knew it had a green-light from parties involved, including Western, including Armenian, including Russian. This was when the government in Stepanakert abruptly resigned.
 
 
With both, Russia and Armenia out of the picture, Artsakh's tiny defense force, abandoned, surrounded, outmanned and outgunned, stood no chance against Baku's relatively large and lavishly financed armed forces. Baku's military operation ended within twenty-four hours. Yerevan stayed out of the fight. Stepanakert capitulatedRussia had reluctantly conceded Artsakh. It can be argued that Western powers, Ankara, Baku and Yerevan coordinated Artsakh's fall, and Moscow had no choice but to go along with it, lest it jeopardized it war effort in Ukraine. In final analysis, Artsakh fell victim to Western-style duplicity, Turkish-style aggression, Russian-style realpolitik and Armenian-style incompetence and treason. Said otherwise, Artsakh fell victim to a Machiavellian world.

Had troops serving under Stepanakert engaged in full-scale resistance, it would have resulted in their total annihilation. Not wanting to see such an outcome, it seemed as if Moscow and Stepanakert had agreed that the best option available was not to resist the inevitable. The main emphasis was therefore placed on saving lives. In fact, measures were implemented to move Armenian civilians away from danger zones even before Azerbaijan's attack on September 19. Nevertheless, with the threat of massacres and/or persecutions now looming over their heads after Stepanakert's capitulation, the Armenian population of Artsakh chose to leave the territory altogether, rather than stay under Azerbaijani rule. Since November 09, 2020, it was hoped that Russia's military presence in Artsakh, albeit small, would somehow deter such an act by Baku. Tragically, that hope did not materialize ultimately because of the Western-instigated war in Ukraine and Nikol's Western-financed regime in Yerevan. Yerevan was signaling it didn't want Artsakh, Baku and Ankara were aggressively pursuing Artsakh, Moscow was simply unable to hold on to Artsakh. In astrological terms, all the stars and planets had lined-up against ArtsakhWith the Ukrainian and Armenian factors now working against it, an already beleaguered Moscow found itself in an increasingly untenable position in Stepanakert by late 2022. Kremlin officials knew that the pragmatic thing to do under the given circumstances was to stand-down and concede Artsakh, at least temporarily. Thus, unable or even perhaps unwilling to attempt to change the political tide working actively against Artsakh in the aftermath of the Russo-Ukrainian war, Moscow decided to focus its efforts on ensuring the safe transfer of Artsakh's population to Armenia after the latter decided it would not live under Baku's ruleA historic exodus took place as a result.
 
Artsakh had fallen, but, at least, a bloody genocide was avoided largely thanks to Moscow.
 
Moscow and the West blamed each-other for what happenedMoscow was naturally blamed for Artsakh's fall by Nikol's regimeMoscow in-turn blamed Nikol's regimeMany around the world were angered with what had just taken place. Tigran Keosayan, the husband of Russia Today's director Margarita Simonyan, asked in an interview: "does Pashinyan really think that he will remain alive after this betrayal?" Russian deputy chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev posted the following comment about Nikol on his Telegram channel: "guess what fate awaits him?" These words, however gratifying they may feel to the general audience, will not bring back Artsakh and will not reverse the damage Nikol has done to Armenia during the last five-plus years. And despite strong words of condemnation by public figures from the Russian Federation for Nikol's actions, as long as the war against the collective West persists in Ukraine, official Moscow will continue tolerating Nikol, because Russia today has the need for good relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey. Armenia after-all has also resisted becoming part of the Russian fortress. As Alexander Dugin implied back in 2018, the Kremlin would therefore not sacrifice any of its geopolitical interests for a bunch of unreliable peasants with an undying Western fetish:
Governments are expected to do whatever is needed for their national security and survival. The Kremlin is no different. Therefore, the real question that needs to be asked instead is, where are Armenians in all this? Why has Armenian society tolerated Nikol for so long? Sixteen years ago, tens-of-thousands of Armenians led by Levon Ter Petrosyan and Nikol Pashinyan rioted throughout Yerevan to overthrow a president under who's rule Armenia was flourishing and Artsakh was impregnable. Fifteen years ago the entire Armenian Diaspora rose to its feet in utter outrage because President Serj Sargsyan had dared to attempt a Moscow-backed peace settlement with Ankara, despite the fact that Artsakh was kept out of the matter and relations between Ankara and Baku at the time were fraying. Did Armenians sense a political opportunity at the time? Of course not. Nine years ago virtually all of Armenia rose to its feet because of tiny hikes in public transportation fees. Six years ago all of the Armenian World rose in anger because Serj Sargsyan had dared to extent his political rule against the wishes of the "Armenian Street". Today, we are at a point where having already lost all of Artsakh, we are now discussing whether or not Nikol will give-up Syunik. How far we have fallen as a people? The question therefore is: where are all the "proud", "chest-beating" and "nationalistic" Armenians of the world today? On Facebook? TikTok? Chasing dopamine hits? In any case, this will be a question that Armenians will be asking for eternity. Many papers will be written on this very topic. In my opinion, the answer to this question, as well as many others like it, can only be found in the genetic code that makes us Armenians who we are.
 
Nikol's announcement last year in Prague was nevertheless a watershed moment in Artsakh's history. Overnight, Nikol drastically altered the geopolitical calculus in the south Caucasus by officially pulling Armenia out of the conflict and recognizing Azerbaijan's suzerainty over Artsakh. Moscow went along with Nikol's treachery essentially to keep Baku and Ankara pacified at a time when Russia was waging a major war against the collective West in Ukraine. In my opinion, Nikol's rise to power was clearly coordinated by all the major powers involved in the region, including Russia. Being that Armenians had kept Armenia out of the Russian fortress as a major global conflagration approached the region, Nikol's Western-financed team of Turkophiles was essentially Moscow's conciliatory gift to Baku and Ankara. That said, Moscow would rather not have this kind of a situation on its hands in Artsakh. What happened was actually a geopolitical setback for Moscow. Even Westerners recognize this. With virtually no Armenians left in Artsakh now, how would Moscow maintain its troop presence in the territory, something it wanted  since the 1990s, against Baku's wishes? What political leverage will Moscow now have over Yerevan and Baku? All told, the way things developed in Artsakh after November, 2020 has been a setback not only for Artsakh but also for Russia. More on this later in this commentary.
 
Nikol's conspiracy against Artsakh and his blackmailing of Russia was, as already mentioned, were most likely done in-partnership with Baku, Ankara and Western powers. This may be why Nikol's internet trolls, in-tandem with Western and Turkish cyber-warriors are all-over the internet today blaming Moscow for what happened in Artsakh. They are in fact accusing Moscow for deliberately conspiring against Armenia and Artsakh. This is also why "nationalists" known as Ազգային Բևեռ, a gaggle of traitors and mercenaries with ties to the Israeli Mossad, CIA, George Soros and perhaps even to Turkey, have been spreading lies about Nikol being a Russian agent. I have spoken about this on many previous occasions. If Nikol is a Russian agent, then the same must be said about Azerbaijan's Abulfaz Elchibey, Georgia's Mikhail Saakashvili and Ukraine's Vladimir Zelensky. It can be proven in a court-of-law that Nikol and his team of professional Russophobes and Turkophiles were financed directly by Western and even perhaps Turkish interests. Simply put, to understand how Armenia and Artsakh got to where they are today, just follow the money trail:
George Soros' Open Society Foundations is a major contributor, and so is the CIA-affiliated NED. In fact, Nikol's tabloid called Հայկական ժամանակ (Armenian Times Newspaper) was also financed in-part by the NED. In 2021, the European Union gifted Armenia one billion Euros for electing Nikol for a second term. The IMF and the World Bank have both recently pledged several hundred million dollars in additional financial aid. Post-Soviet Armenia has been turned into a pay-to-play amusement park for all sorts of toxic influences and intelligence agencies. A country that is economically and militarily dependent on Russia for survival in a very dangerous geographic location on earth is inundated today with Western money and Western agents. And it's not only Western. Turks and Azeris have also been able to buy their way into Armenia's political landscapeThere is evidence that in 2018 alone, the year when Nikol was brought to power, there were money transfers from Azerbaijan to Armenia worth over $200 million. All this Western and Turkish money in a tiny and impoverished nation. All this for a Russian spy? No. Nikol and team are clearly working for Western and Turkish interests and Russians are simply tolerating Nikol's regime because of serious geopolitical considerations pertaining to Ukraine. What people like Ազգային Բևեռ, and other like them, are therefore doing is what is known in warfare as a smokescreen. It's being done to conceal Nikol's real handlers. It's being done to deflect blame. It's being done to poison the air and muddy the water. It's being done to misinform, mislead and disorient Armenian society. It's being done primarily to drive an even deeper wedge between Russia and Armenia. Everything is being done to conceal the fact that Nikol's regime and its supporters alone were responsible for betraying Artsakh.
 
The greatest tragedy for us Armenians is not Artsakh's defeat on the battlefield. Many nations suffer defeat, after-which they rebound and rebuild. The greatest tragedy was the total capitulation of Artsakh's governing body and the complete exodus of Artsakh's native children. Unlike in Armenia, where perhaps ninety-percent of the population is not aboriginal to the land (i.e. a majority of Armenians living in Armenia today are the off-springs of those who moved to the land from Western Armenia, Iran and other parts of the southern Caucasus some two hundred years ago when the area was brought under Russian control), Armenians of Artsakh are the aboriginal population of the territory. Artsakh was the only surviving remnant of historic Armenia that still hosted its aboriginal population. This fact alone makes Armenians of Artsakh truly unique and Artsakh's fall, a great tragedy in the annals of human history. The unthinkable question that now keeps coming to my mind is: could this really be the end of an ancient civilization? Artsakh had survived Caucasian Albanians, Parthians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Mongols, Seljuks, Tatars, Persians, Russians, Soviets and Azerbaijanis. Artsakh finally fell to a monster created by Armenians themselves. What powerful empires would not or could not do, a small group of Western-financed mercenaries did in five short years. All in all, the last twenty-nine years proved that Azeris wanted their "Qarabağ" more than we Armenians wanted our Artsakh.
 
Will Turks now want their Zangezur more than we Armenians want our Syunik?
 
Turks and Azeris outclassed and outmaneuvered Armenians in all sectors and at every turn. The defeat Armenians suffered at their hands was total. And now, having gotten much more than they had actually hoped for in Artsakh due to Nikol's incompetence and treason and circumstances of the peculiar geopolitical situation prevailing throughout the region currently, Baku, Ankara and friends are, expectedly, broadening their geostrategic horizons. Suddenly, Syunik, known as Zangezur among Turks and Azeris, is now in play:
Some of the processes that led to the fall of Artsakh are taking place again, this time in Syunik. Despite their recent historic success in Artsakh, Baku and Ankara continue seeking the Turkification of additional Armenian lands. With Russia and the West locked in mortal conflict, and with Iran having to grapple with serious problems in its spheres of influence in places like Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Palestine, Turks and Azeris are sensing more opportunities. The territory of Syunik, a geostrategic focal-point for many centuries, has naturally been in their sights for a very long time. This is because the southern Armenian territory can unite the two ethnically related Turkic peoples physically, economically and militarily, and in doing so set the stage for creating the "Turkic World" (i.e. pan-Turanism) many Turkish officials have dreamed about. The creation of a pan-Turkic political body, with its military wing, has been one of the imperial dreams of western Turks going back many generations. Ankara put much effort into promoting this vision in Central Asia during the 1990s when post-Soviet Russia was too weak to resist. Fortunately, the said effort proved unsuccessful because the largely Russified newly independent Central Asian nations at the time were mostly uninterested in Ankara's a pan-Turkic vision. Ankara however has not given-up on the idea.

 
 
As we can see, despite what Nikol supporters were hoping for - give-up Artsakh and shed Russia's yoke to live happily ever after with Turks and Azeris - Armenia's five year old nightmare will not be ending anytime soon. The potential good news here is that unlike with Artsakh, where both Russia and Iran were neutral and could therefore allow Turks and Azeris to have their way if need be, Syunik is an important matter for both, Moscow and Tehran as the Turkification of the said territory in southern Armenia poses a direct,  strategic threat to Russia and Iran. Regarding the much talked about "corridors", trade routes or lines-of-communication in Syunik, while Moscow supports the unlocking of Syunik's borders to regional commerce, it opposes granting Baku an "extraterritorial corridor" through the territory. Foreign Minister Lavrov recently reiterated Moscow's stance on the matter. Moscow wants the said route to be under Armenian jurisdiction and sovereignty, and watched-over by Armenian and Russian troops. The same with IranTehran has actually been the most vociferous regarding the need to protect Armenia's borderseven more so than YerevanAs for the West, they simply want a energy corridor through Armenia that is free from Russian or Iranian control. Turning the south Caucasus into a buffer zone against Russia has been a Western dream going back many years. All other particulars, such as Armenia's survival, pan-Turanism, or the official classification of the said route, do not matter much for Western policymakers. And as for what Nikol wants, well, anyone's guess is as good as mine. That said, the indicators are not good at all. All that Nikol's regime seems interested in doing is making matters worst by trying to draw Western powers deeper into the already volatile situation, against the wishes of Armenia's closest allies Moscow and Tehran, and generally speaking giving-in to Azerbaijan's demands. Since the Western-financed "Velvet Revolution" of 2018Nikol's twice, "democratically" elected regime has proven to be both, treasonous and incompetent. Being that the Armenian World is seemingly content with the political status quo in Yerevan, essentially because Armenia's economy is somewhat booming today (largely thanks to Russiaand because most Armenians still prefer Nikol over the previous "Karabakh Clan", we can expect more of the same treason and incompetence going forward.

Therefore, if I had to guess, I would say Nikol and company could careless about Syunik or ZangezurTurks and Azeris appear know this. This is why they are spending large sums of money on building their portion of the "Zangezur corridor". There are indicators that Nikol may already be preparing for some border alterations in southern Armenia. Russians are worried. Iranians are worried. True to his word going back to 2001, Nikol seems determined to give Turks and Azeris their access through Armenia. My fear is, Nikol may have coordinated the invasion of the territory by Azeris and/or Turks, so that he can later claim it was Russia's fault and he could not do anything about it. The main problem Armenia has with regards to Syunik is not Baku and/or Ankara - it's Nikol Pashinyan and his team of Western financed professional Russophobes and Turkophiles. This is a serious concern for Moscow and Tehran. Perhaps this is why Moscow and Tehran have increased their political and military presence in Syunik, and have felt the need to make some public statements:
With Nikol's unholy mission in Artsakh fully complete, all indicators suggest that he has now turned his unholy attention to Syunik. It is very likely that Nikol has already decided Syunik's fate in secret negotiations, similar to what his regime did with Artsakh. Why else would President Erdogan go on record saying the problem regarding Zangezur is Iran, not Armenia. What we don't know for sure, although I have my doubts, is if Nikol has also given the Azeri-Turkish tandem the green-light to invade Syunik in the event that he fails to bring Armenian society on-board with his plans. This would be similar to what was done by his regime in Artsakh. In the event that Azerbaijan invaded Syunik, Armenia will once again lose the battle and Nikol will once again blame Russia, Serj Sargsyan and Robert Kocharyan for the loss, similar to what was done by his regime in Artsakh. And significant numbers of Armenians will buy it. Because Nikol's regime has zero credibility in Russia and Iran, Moscow and Tehran seem to have taken matters into their hands by bolstering their political presence in Syunik as a deterrence. Their distrust of Nikol's regime is also why Moscow and Tehran have been publicly warning Yerevan against drawing Western powers deeper into the region. As a preventative measure, Moscow had taken a step further by also bolstering its military presence in the region. In my opinion, the situation regarding Syunik today is very serious because of the current geopolitical climate in the region. With Russia and Iran facing-off against Western powers in eastern Europe and the Middle East, and their political reach and influence in the south Caucasus therefore somewhat limited currently, Western powers, Baku, Ankara and Nikol's regime may therefore be sensing another opportunity. 
 
In a best case scenario, the matter regarding Syunik or the "Zangezur corridor" would be resolved peacefully and diplomatically. Turks and Azeris will be allowed to traverse through designated routes within southern Armenia after paying applicable taxes and transit fees. Armenia will have sovereignty over the routes in question.  In a worst case scenario, Turks and Azeris may decide to use military force in trying to create an extraterritorial corridor through Armenia. We may therefore be faced with a question. With Nikol's regime effectively out of the picture again, as it was in Artsakh, what are Russia and Iran, both of whom see Syunik as a strategic territory but are currently locked in conflict with the West, willing to do if Baku and Ankara once again chose to pursue their geopolitical goals in the region militarily? Due to the current geopolitical climate in the region, this has suddenly become an open-ended question. Under normal circumstances, this would be an unthinkable question. Under normal circumstances, Russia and Iran would certainly intervene militarily to stop any Turkic invasion of Armenia. But these are not normal times. As already mentioned, with wars currently raging inside Moscow's and Tehran's spheres of influence (e.g. Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Palestine), I am afraid this is not an easy question to answer currently. If I had to give an answer, I would say Russia and/or Iran would probably intervene in some capacity in such a scenario. "Probably" and "in some capacity" is not heartening answer to a very serious question, but it is best answer I can come up with under current circumstances. Let's therefore hope that the matter regarding Syunik is resolved peacefully, diplomatically and with Armenia and Russia retaining full control over whatever transit route Turks and Azeris are given.

With its occasional temper-tantrums against Moscow and persistent attempts to draw Western powers into the volatile mix against the wishes of Moscow and Tehran, Nikol's regime is not helping the situation to say the least. Because Moscow and Tehran are both currently facing very serious geopolitical obstacles as a result of Western aggression against them and because Moscow's and Tehran's ability to resist the Turkish-Azeri tandem is therefore somewhat limited currently, the deciding factor regarding the territory of Syunik will unfortunately be played by Nikol's regime in Yerevan. And we all know where they stand on the matter. As a result, Turks and Azeris are once again sensing a window of opportunity in all this. Just when the "Armenian Street" thought it was going to start living the "good life" because Artsakh was finally gotten rid-of, Armenia's future itself is now looking bleak. Just when Armenian mothers thought they can begin rejoicing because their precious sons no longer need to die in Artskah, their precious sons have began dying in Armenia instead. Armenians are once again learning that Turks don't want peace, they simply want another piece of Armenia. Turks and Azeris know that there is an individual in Armenia than can make more of their pan-Turkic dreams come true. Moscow and Tehran therefore find themselves in yet another serious predicament in the south Caucasus, created for the most-part by us Armenians. This is why I want the Russo-Ukrainian war to end with a Russian victory sooner than later. The sooner the Russian Bear returns to the south Caucasus, the better. Western powers understand this well. Nevertheless, the danger Syunik faces today is very real. Many challenges may therefore lie ahead for Armenia this year. The last twenty-nine years proved that Turks wanted their "Qarabağ" more than we Armenians wanted our Artsakh.
 
Going forward, will Turks want their Zangezur more than we Armenians want our Syunik? Time will tell.
 
Time will most likely not work in Armenia's favor because during the past five years Nikol's regime more-or-less outsourced Armenia's Foreign Ministry. Nikol's "officials" are simply improvising as they go along. With Nikol's regime of Western-financed Turkophiles and Russophobes, it could not be any other way. As a result, foreign powers today are deciding the future of Armenia and Artsakh, and they are doing so independent of Armenians. As long as Yerevan is booming (largely thanks to Russia as noted above) and the average Armenian can afford to sit at their favorite cafe to showcase their American or European apparel, the Armenian society will accept the geopolitical tragedy unraveling in front of it. Simply put, Nikol's regime cannot be trusted with important matters pertaining to either Armenia or Artsakh, neither can Armenians in general for that matter. The coming phase in Armenia's life will therefore be difficult. The situation Nikol's "New Armenia" has gotten itself into is why clear-headed Armenians understand that Armenians, as a people, are not ready for independence.
 
Overall, Nikol's "New Armenia", the Western-financed "democratic awakening" in the heart of the south Caucasus, is essentially what Armenian "independence from Russia" looks like. And it will only get worst. Those among us who are genuinely concerned about Armenia's existence on the world map understand that the country will not survive in a very complex and dangerous place like the south Caucasus without entering into a union of some kind with the Russian Federation. What many Armenians do not realize is that Nikol's relentless efforts to surrender the territory of Artsakh and unconditionally open Armenia's borders to Turkey and Azerbaijan is ultimately designed by his handlers to free Armenia from Russia's unwanted grip:
The "independence" Nikol was referring in the summer of 2022 was independence from Russia. Abandoning Artsakh, wanting to make peace with Turks and Azeris at all costs,  resisting attempts to bring Armenia into a Union State with Russia and Belarus and finally get rid of Russia's 102nd base in Armenia, is the road-map to finally achieve real independence from Russia. Artsakh was always looked upon by Armenia's political and economic elite as a geopolitical tool being used by Moscow to keep Armenia dependent on Russia. From their perspective, without Artsakh, Armenia would therefore be free, and live happily with its neighbors. This belief, in a nutshell, is the locomotive factor that propels Nikol and his supporters forward. This mindset is also what had motivated a significant portion of Armenian society in 2018 and 2021, when they went to the polls to elected their beloved leader twice. This is what Nikol and his supporters are talking about when they say they are fighting for Armenia's independence, they are therefore the real patriots. It all has to do with the pan-Armenian effort to break-free from Russia, which Western powers and Turks are more than happy to help with. This is how the lords of this world used our people's political illiteracy, tribalism and the unbridled lust Armenians have for the good life and easy money, against Armenia and Artsakh. Nikol's so-called Velvet Revolution was essentially its by-product.
 
The working psychology behind Artsakh's fall was: "let's give-up Artsakh so we can live better". Perhaps one day soon this will evolve into: "let's give up Syunik so we can live better". Many in Armenian society today think somewhere along these lines, even if they don't express it publicly. For the average "proud" Armenian today, his personal happiness and well-being is much more important than his homeland. This fully explains the lawlessness, irresponsibility, waste, theft, deceit, greed, negligence, apathy, corruption and treason that has been rife throughout post-Soviet Armenian society. The "national borders" that the average Armenian today is primarily concerned about is the parameter of his home, whatever country that home may be found in. Armenians are primarily pleasure seekers. For the average/typical Armenian today "success in life" basically means driving a fancy car. Civic duty, service, patriotism (beyond lofty talk that takes place over toasts at the dinner table), honesty, lawfulness, altruism, etc., has very little place in modern Armenian society. This, in a nutshell, is the general mindset and post-Soviet culture in Armenia that gave birth to Nikol and death to Artsakh. Can anyone imagine such a self-destructive belief, ideology or concept among Lebanon's Hezbollah, Syria's Alewites, Yemen's Houthies, Israelis, Iranians, Russians, Ukrainians, Palestinians or Turks? There are very few people/nations that are as self-destructive and as politically illiterate as us Armenians. And it is not a modern phenomenon.
 
Some three hundred years ago Armenian peasants ruthlessly murdered their legendary military commander Mkhitar Sparapet, beheaded him and presented his lifeless head to the Turkish Pasha in the region as a peace offering. Mkhitar Sparapet was murdered by his own people essentially because the "Armenian Street" at the time didn't want to be bothered with the hassles of a liberation struggle and instead wanted to simply live in peace with their Turkish, Persian and Islamic overlords. Three hundred years after Mkhitar Sparapet's tragic murder at the hands of his treasonous compatriots, Armenia's peasantry has essentially done the same with Artsakh. Artsakh was murdered and beheaded, and presented to Turks as a peace-offering. Armenians wanted to live well, but Artsakh was getting in the way. Ultimately, Armenians sacrificed Artsakh at the alter of materialism.
 
Artsakh was sacrificed to Mammon
 
Watching the disbandment of Artsakh's once proud defense forces and the dissolution of the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorno-Karabakh was as painful and embarrassing as it was surreal. Watching the exodus of tens-of-thousands of civilians fleeing Artsakh was heart-wrenching. I never thought I would live to see such a black day. Adding insult to injury, once the unholy task of extinguishing Artsakh's life was complete, it even appeared as if a final burnt-offering of sorts was made to the gods that made it all possible. A fuel depot at the outskirts of Stepanakert mysteriously exploded as people had gathered at the site to gather fuel for their journey out of Artsakh. Several hundred people, including many women and children were said to have been burnt to death.
 
Speaking of gods, I don't know who or what they are, but those that Turks and Azeris seem to worship once again proved much more powerful than Mammon, the god of wealth and materialism that Armenians worship. In matters pertaining to nation-building, politics and warfare, Mammon, traditionally the most revered god of Armenians world-wide, actually the god most Armenians obsessively pray to on a daily basis whether they realize it or not, proved vastly inferior in comparison to the god worshiped by Turks. As Christ warns us, one cannot serve God and Mammon. Whether we realize it or not, we Armenians, as a collective, are Mammon worshipers. When one places personal or family interests above that of the nation or the collective good, one is a Mammon worshiper. When personal desires, jealousy, greed, ego, pride, money and the lust for success takes priority over the nation or the collective good, Mammon is there.
 
In my humble opinion, a vast majority of Armenians are not Christians. As our beloved medieval historian Movses Khorenatsi reminds us, the current state of Armenians/Armenia is not a modern phenomenon. I believe it all has to do with a severe lack of altruism, humility and spirituality in Armenians. I am speaking in general terms. There are many decent Armenians. Collectively, however, it's a different picture. Consequently, throughout history, destructive influences, such as Iconoclasm and Marxism of yesterday and Globalism, Westernization and Capitalism of today, has always found fertile soil in Armenian society. Generally speaking, Armenians are glory seekers. Armenians live in a lower or rather a the pleasure-driven, animalistic level of existence. Armenia's sad state during the post-Soviet period is basically a reflection of all this. This may in-fact be a national curse of ours going back centuries.
 
From a spiritual/moral perspective, Armenians, as a whole, both native and diasporan, suffer from most of the deadly sins many spiritual fathers around the world have warned humans about for hundreds of years. To name a few seen in ample quantities throughout Armenian society: pride, arrogance, individualism, cowardice, egotism, apathy, narcissism, vanity, envy, jealousy, greed, hate, materialism, gluttony, gossip, deceit, dishonesty, thievery, lawlessness, superstition and witchcraft/sorcery. To this, I would also add the abuse of nature, animals, women, handicapped people and mass murder. Yes, mass murder. Abortions in Armenia, mainly of female fetuses, are used as contraceptives, and done so very casually. This is why I say Armenians, as a collective, do not worship the creator God of the universe Christ preached about. This is why I say Armenians, both native and diasporan, worship Mammon. When you see an Armenian praying in a church, in all likelihood, he or she is praying for money or success (i.e. success in "biznis", wealth, job, popularity, finding a spouse, winning a Green Card, winning the lottery, etc.). When one prays to ask for material goods or for some other selfish reason, the prayer is only heard by corresponding forces or energies in the universe. In my opinion, such prayers can only be heard by demons, regardless of where one is praying and to whom one may think he or she is praying to. I am not referring to standard church prayers many of us automatically parrot without giving it any thought. Instead, I am referring to selfish and materialistic desires found in the depths of people's hearts which is often the basis or motivation of their prayers. Whether we know it or not, we Armenians, generally speaking, summon unclean spirits when we pray. It can therefore be said that Armenia has been reaping what its sons and daughters have been sowing for centuriesPerhaps it's these negative traits and energies that keep bringing tragedy to Armenia time-and-again.

All this may also be why we proved unable to hold on to Artsakh. Close examination of post-Soviet Armenian society suggests that this may indeed be the case.
 
While Baku was modernizing its armed forces, systematically sowing hatred of Armenians throughout Azerbaijani society and establishing a strong lobbying presence in power-centers around the world, the only things that were developing in Armenia during the same period were casinos, restaurant complexes, cafes, whorehouses, witchcraft, music videos, Indian-style soap operas, American-style comedy shows, Eurovision, Turkish-made products, Western-financed NGOs, Western-financed propaganda outlets and last but not least U.S. funded biolabs. As Azerbaijan's political, economic and military strength was growing, the only things that were concurrently growing in Armenia was the country's national debt, its citizenry's emigration to greener pastures abroad, persistent sociopolitical unrest, religious cults, anti-Artsakh sentiments, corruption, crime, efforts to democratize the country, efforts to foment a revolution, and dreams of peaceful coexistence with Turks and Azeris.
 
The Armenian lust for the good life and easy money is the reason why at any given time about 50% of Armenia's population is ready to abandon his or her homeland. The Armenian lust for money, profit and "biznis" is behind the reason why Armenia's markets have been flooded with Turkish products. Turkey is not seen as an existential threat but an opportunity for profit. This mindset has created a class of pro-Turkish and pro-Azerbaijani "businessmen", and they yield a lot of political clout in the country. We have come to learn during the post-Soviet years that whenever there is an opportunity for money to be made, Armenia's long-term security is not a serious concern among Armenians. Could such individuals be trusted with Artsakh's and Armenia's future? The Armenian lust for money was also behind the motivation to flood Armenia with Western-financed NGOs, Western-financed propaganda outlets posing as news organizations, Western-financed political activists, and religious cults from the United States.
 
The official explanation for allowing the proliferation of such toxic elements in Armenia during the past thirty-plus years was: "we are bringing money and job opportunities into the country". Said otherwise, Western powers were pouring bribe money into the country in the form of financial aid (e.g. for getting Nikol elected a second time), grants (George Soros' Open Society Foundation being a major one) and loans (to promote various Western agendas). A small, impoverished country was being flooded by Western money. A lot of well-positioned individuals in Armenia were/are making a lot of money from it. Needless to say, Western money always comes with a lot of strings attached. Nothing good would therefore come out of it for Armenia or Artsakh. Armenia and Artsakh were essentially sold to foreign interests, because Armenians are essentially Mammon worshipers. The other official explanation for why Yerevan allowed Western interests to operate unhindered throughout the country during the past thirty-plus years was: "we are an independent country now and we need a counterbalance to Russia's overbearing influence". Western powers, including of course Armenia's perennial darling going back almost one thousand years ago, France,  were seen by Armenia's political and economic elite, both native and diasporan, as the ideal counterbalance to Russia's perceived over-influence in Armenia. This is where the traditional diaspora, represented by the AGBU, Armenian Bar AssociationArmenian Assembly of AmericaHovannisian family, Hovnanian family, Jirayr Libaridian, Richard Giragosian, and Vartan Oskanian, basically played the role of pack-animals for all sorts of Western and Turkish agendas in the country. This is why a country that was and continues being desperately dependent on Russia for its very survival, has a very powerful anti-Russian lobby operating inside it. Political illiteracy and cognitive dissonance at its worst.
 
The above, in a nutshell, is how Armenia was systematically turned into a cheap brothel for all sorts of foreign intelligence services, including Azeri and Turkish ones.
 
As Baku was developing into a powerful state by establishing professional lobbying groups in centers of power around the world; by cracking-down on toxic Western/Globalist influences such as "democracy" and "press freedoms" in Azerbaijan; by spreading anti-Armenian hate throughout Azerbaijani society; and by building-up its armed forces; Armenians were enthusiastically turning Armenia into a Potemkin Village, as well as a open entrance, "pay to play"  amusement park for competing powers in the region. The tragic events we have unfortunately been witnessing since 2018 are essentially the consequences of all this. This is why it is said, you reap what you sow. This is why I say, political illiteracy has a high cost. Post-Soviet Armenian society was fundamentally ill, but only a handful of individuals in Armenian society realized it. Overwhelmed with arrogance, pride, gossip, jealousy, greed, cowardice, gluttony and materialism, and suffering from shortsightedness, apathy, cognitive dissonance and political illiteracy, Armenians systematically maneuvered Armenia and Artsakh out of political contention and straight into geopolitical isolation and a dead-end. The following men summarizes all this, and more, quite well:
Make no mistake about it, in final analysis, we defeated ourselves in Artsakh. Armenia's leadership could have taken serious measures to mitigate the dangers it faced in Artsakh. We as a people could have better appreciated Artsakh. We as a people could have taken Moscow more seriously. It was as if we wanted Artsakh in-principal but at the same time we didn't want to do anything inconvenient or difficult to actually have it. In the big picture, it was the infamous Armenian lust for the good life and easy money - and the negative and destructive traits that comes along with their pursuit - that eventually killed Artsakh and brought Armenia to its current state. Had we as a nation prioritized statehood and accordingly pursued rational and farsighted geopolitics, the end result in Artsakh would have been different. We may still have lost the war but we did not have to lose the entire territory as we did. Being that the 2018 regime change in Yerevan was supported by well over 90% of the Armenian world, and Nikol was elected by Armenia's citizenry not once but twice, the second time being after Nikol had lost the 2020 war in most embarrassing of ways, those who hold the ultimate responsibility for the historic tragedy that visited Artsakh recently are none-other-than us Armenians.
 
For thirty-five years, patriotism and heroism in both, Armenia and Artsakh coexisted with corruption, treachery and political illiteracy. As we finally witnessed, the corruption, treachery and political illiteracy in Armenian society eventually proved much more resilient than the heroism and patriotism.
 
Levon Ter Petrosyan's attempt to come back to the political scene in 2008, where Nikol first made a name for himself, made it quite evident that there was a serious divide within Armenian society over the future of Artsakh. It was 2008 when the Armenian world was first introduced to an anti-Artsakh slur known as the "Karabakh Clan". 2008 was also when we began seeing growing numbers of Armenians from Armenia begin referring to Armenians from Artsakh as Albanians, Turks and Tatars. The toxic notion that Armenia would be better-off without Artsakh, and Russia, had taken firm root inside Armenia society by 2008. Even if they did not admit it publicly, growing numbers of Armenians were thinking that Artsakh and Russia were the root causes of their bad living conditions. From the perspective of the so-called Armenian Street, Artsakh was therefore the main obstacle standing in the way of their pursuit of the hitherto elusive good life. This is why Nikol and friends have time-and-again stated in their interviews that Armenia needs to free itself from Artsakh because the dispute over the territory was orchestrated by Moscow over thirty years ago and has since been used by Moscow as political leverage over both, Armenia and Azerbaijan. In other words, without Russian meddling, Armenians, Turks and Azeris can be good neighbors. Many Armenians throughout the past thirty-plus years felt this way but generally were unwilling to publicly admit it. This naturally served Western, Turkish and Russian interests. It was therefore encouraged by the aforementioned. Each side was doing it for their self-serving reasons. Nevertheless, many of us didn't want to admit it before 2018, but a growing number within Armenian society had begun seeing Artsakh as a serious problem that had to be gotten rid of somehow. The anti-Artsakh seeds planted in Armenian society by Westerners, Turks and Russians had found fertile soil in Armenian society, and by 2018 was beginning to bear bad fruit. I reiterate: Armenian society, both native and diasporan, was fertile ground for political manipulation and exploitation because of its political illiteracy, cognitive dissonance, greed, cowardice, jealousy, materialism and tribalism. Had Armenian society unwavering stood behind Artsakh and had the political vision or the foresight to take serious steps to safeguard the territory from all forms of conspiracies, the agendas of anti-Artsakh interests around the world would not have succeeded in the manner it did, and subsequent events in Artsakh would have developed differently. Overall, Armenian society chose the path of treason, incompetence, subservience, appeasement and embarrassing defeat. The following is the toxic mindset I am referring to:
Armenia Opts for Pashinyan, Democracy Despite Defeat in War

Armenian Citizenship Of Karabakh Refugees Called Into Question

Pashinyan implied that Shushi was an Azeri city



‘Armenia Must Normalize Relations with Baku and Ankara or Pack Its Bags and Move,’ Libaridian Says

Քե՛զ ի՞նչ դրանից, որ Թուրքիան ճանաչեց Ցեղասպանությունը. Հովիկ Աղազարյան

Նիկոլ Փաշինյան: Մենք ու մեր շահերը

For a significant number of Armenians, including many influential ones, Artsakh was an economic burden and a geopolitical obstacle for Armenia, and by-extension themselves, for thirty-plus years. I would like to  remind the reader of a very famous, cowardly and gypsy-like Armenian saying: որտեղ հաց, այնտեղ կաց. Roughly translated: where there is food, there is our residence or homeland. In other words, a full belly is more important than an actual homeland. Taking this toxic adage to its logical conclusion: if the dispute over Artsakh was responsible for Armenians in Armenia not feeling complacent or being able to have full bellies, then Artsakh had to be gotten rid of. Unlike patriotic and warlike peoples like Russians, Ukrainians, Palestinians, Syrian Alawites, Iranians, Lebanese Shiites and Houthi Yemenis, who have selflessly waged historic wars in defense of their respective homelands, cowardly Armenians proved to be a people that would gladly sacrifice their homeland for the mere prospect of a better life. As noted above, this is all a replay of the failed liberation struggle of Mkhitar Sparapet in Syunik and Artsakh some three hundred years ago. Greed, individualism, arrogance, tribalism, materialism, cowardice, treason, conspiracy, shortsightedness and political illiteracy had defeated the liberation movement some Armenians had taken upon themselves at the time. The same mindset/culture defeated Artsakh today. The same mindset/culture has placed Syunik in question today. Not much seems to have changed in the Armenian World. In a world where Machiavellian political culture reigns supreme, people like us Armenians cannot avoid getting manipulated, exploited and abused. As a collective people, that is with the kind of collective traits we persistently exhibit, we Armenians will achieve nothing good or productive on our own with regards to nation-building. When it comes to nation-building and independence, we are not that people and Armenia is not that country. This is specially so in a Turkic-Islamic place like the south Caucasus. This is why I say the only thing left to look forward to today is Armenia's return to Mother Russia. I do not say this as a Russophile, I say this as someone that wants Armenia to survive, and for Armenians to evolve little more.
 
Given the circumstances, the only alternative to the Russification of Armenia is the Turkification of Armenia.
 
Armenians need to make a hard choice, as "independence" in a place like the south Caucasus and for a people like us Armenians is simply a fantastic notion and a vain hope. Patriotic Armenians have a difficult time accepting the fact that a relatively large and influential segment within Armenian society, including many influential businessmen, activists, artists, clergy, celebrities, organizations, statesmen, politicians and community representatives, always saw the unresolved Artsakh dispute as the root-cause of all of Armenia's post-Soviet problems. The same group also believed that Moscow was using the dispute over Artsakh, as well as other problems that have historically existed between Armenians and their Turkic neighbors, as leverage over Armenia. According to them, this unwanted meddling by Russia had to be somehow stopped if Armenia was to be truly independent. This is not to imply that all of these people wanted to see the destruction of Artsakh or the total expulsion of its population. It was simply a silly utopian fantasy rooted in political illiteracy and cognitive dissonance. The thinking among such people was that once Artsakh was surrendered back to Baku and genocide-related matters with Ankara were forgotten, Armenians would finally begin living in peace and harmony with their Turkic and Islamic neighbors, as they supposedly had done in the past, that is before Russians (i.e. White Turks) came to the scene and ruined it all. The thinking therefore is, with the problems between Armenians and Turks finally solved, there would no longer be the need for "Russian troublemakers" in Armenia anymore. Armenia would therefore finally be free and independent, in their minds. This kind of mental illness, cognitive dissonance and political illiteracy has been prevalent throughout Armenian society, especially within the traditional diaspora, for a very long time. Moreover, these are the kind of people that instinctively gravitate towards toxic individuals like Nikol Pashinyan and Levon Ter Petrosyan. In other words, this is why men like Nikol Pashinyan and Levon Ter Petrosyan have been so popular in Armenian society throughout the post-Soviet period.
 
Many inside Armenian society worldwide desired to free Armenia of its Artsakh burden and Russian bondage in-order to finally begin living peacefully and, more importantly, profitably with Turks and Azeri, no matter what the cost. The abandonment of Artsakh (and genocide recognition) was the cost many of these people were more than willing to pay. After-all, there was a lot of money to be made in Turkey and Azerbaijan; inhabitants of Artsakh were after-all not Armenian; and Russians were after-all White Turks. This, in a nutshell, was the working psychology or rather the toxic psychosis that ultimately led to the demise of Artsakh and put Syunik in play. This self-destructive mindset and toxic culture, which, I repeat, was quite common throughout Armenian society during the past thirty-plus years, provided a fertile ground to various foreign intelligence services, including Turkish, to operate within. This vulnerability in the Armenian world was therefore exploited to its full-extent by all interested parties: Turks, Americans, Azeris, Israelis, Europeans and Russians alike. Armenians had turned Armenia into a pawn on the international chessboard.

Armenians desperately wanted to free themselves from the so-called Karabakh Clan. Armenians confidently claimed that Armenia did not need Artsakh. Armenians confidently claimed that Armenia could live without Russia. Armenian eyes were constantly fixated on the glittering lights of the Western world. The Armenian world treated a Western-financed street scoundrel like Nikol like a Christ figure. The darkness of the people's minds and souls put them in full communion with evil forces that were conspiring against Artsakh. Evil forces reciprocated by granting the "Armenian Street" their wish. The revolution and regime change they desperately desired in the darkest depths of their hearts was realized in the spring of 2018. The so-called Karabakh Clan was ousted in spectacular fashion and the Armenian World was utterly euphoric. The rest is history, as they say. By the summer of 2020, evil had also descended upon Artsakh. As if a hidden hand was guiding events, Araik Harutunyan and Masis Mayilyan, both known for their pro-Nikol and pro-Western sentiments suddenly rose to power in Stepanakert. This occurred just before the disastrous war in 2020. Mayilyan was rumored to have ties to Washington D.C. and the Soros foundation. The late Gurgen Yeghyazaryan (who may have been murdered during the 2020 war),  Garnik Isagulyan and Aram Harutunyan warned around the time of the said elections in Artsakh, that if Soros-connected individuals came to power in Stepanakert, Artsakh would be doomed:
«Եթե հանկարծ Սորոսը Արցախ մտնի, մենք մեր հացը կուտենք». Գուրգեն Եղիազարյան

 Մասիս Մայիլյանի «հրեշավոր» դիմակը վերջնականապես պատռվեց

Եթե իշխանությունը հանձնվի սորոսական Մասիս Մայիլյանին, դա կլինի Արցախի վերջը. Արամ Հարությունյան
Դանիել Իոաննիսյանին պետք է արգելել դիտորդություն իրականացնել Արցախում․ նա աջակցում է Սորոսի թեկնածու համարվող Մասիս Մայիլյանին

Both Armenia and Artsakh had fallen under Western influence. The gossip at the time was that Moscow had warned Yerevan (which had already fallen to Western-financed political activists with pro-Turkish and anti-Russian sentiments) that if Armenians similarly allowed Western or Soros-affiliated individuals to also come to power in Stepanakert, the Kremlin would pull its protective hand away from Artsakh and allow Baku to settle the matter militarily. I don't know if there was any truth to this rumor, but what ended-up happening afterwards was more-or-less in-line with it. Clearly, anti-Russian interests had made serious inroads not only in Armenia but also in Artsakh. If American agent Richard Giragosian is to be believed, Yerevan and Stepanakert, in-tandem with Baku, did not want to see a Russian military intervention in Artsakh during the forty-four day war in 2020. We all knew Baku did not want Moscow's intervention in Artsakh. What we didn't know is that the same apparently applied to Yerevan and Stepanakert as well. What a "democratic Armenia" wanted to see instead was a Western intervention, that needless to say never came. Here we had two political entities, Armenia and Artsakh, that could not live without Russia, suddenly hosting anti-Russian governments with connections to Western and Turkish interests. That folks, is Armenian-style politics. Needless to say, it would not end well. For a long time before the war in 2020, sober-minded Armenian patriots were warning Armenian society about the increase of anti-Russian, pro-Western and pro-Turkish activities inside Armenia, and the serious dangers that came with such a situation. Some of us were warning that Armenia and/or Artsakh were heading towards a disaster as a result. Overcome by arrogance, cognitive dissonance and political illiteracy, and fooled by Western promises of prosperity, the Armenian World chose to act deaf, dumb and blind. Turks and Azeris, who unlike us Armenians have been traditionally and culturally immune to the kind of Western toxicity Armenians love to embrace and consume, fully understood the serious mess Armenians had gotten Armenia into:

Ilham Aliyev: Pashinyan is a product of Soros

AZERNEWS: Pashinyan follows Soros’ commandments

Daily Sabah: How Vladimir Putin punished Nikol Pashinian

Turks and Azeris therefore understood that this was their historic opportunity. After 2018, it was only a matter of time before Armenians would be comprehensively defeated. For a vast majority of Armenians in 2018, and a significant number even after 2020, Nikol was the man that would finally solve all of Armenia's post-Soviet problems. This is how the Armenian lust for the good life and easy money was used against Armenians. This is how Western and Turkish interests embedded themselves in Armenia. This is how Armenians maneuvered Armenia and Artsakh out of geopolitical contention and into a dead end. This is ultimately how Armenia and Artsakh were turned into chessboards and Armenians into pawns. Artsakh became the sacrificial lamb to the most revered Armenian god of all - Mammon.

However, the Armenian fantasy of wanting to live peaceful and opulent lives with Turks and Azeris, without Russian meddling nonetheless, came to a quick end when after the fall of Artsakh it soon became apparent that Turks and Azeris are not interested in peace with Armenians. And now, there is fear that Azerbaijan may invade Armenia. Armenians are only now slowly beginning to understand that Artsakh was indeed serving as a defensive shield for Armenia and that Turks and Azeris are not interested in peaceful coexistence with Armenians. Armenians are only now beginning to understand that without Artsakh, official Yerevan holds no leverage over Baku. Armenians are only now beginning to understand what diminished or decreased Russian influence in the south Caucasus means for Armenia. Tragically, Artsakh ended-up bearing the brunt of all our sins. All told, Armenians were outclassed, outmaneuvered and soundly defeated by Turks. Artsakh was finally taken from us. In the big picture, we as a people proved unworthy of Artsakh. What we are left with now is death, destruction, displacement, suffering, embarrassment, mourning, sadness, anger, bewilderment, and an uncertain future for Armenia. Today, Armenians once again find themselves doing what they do best: lamenting, protesting, complaining and begging.

Sadly, the modern Armenian-psyche seems most comfortable with reacting to defeat and tragedy, than to success and victory.

The past thirty years have proven beyond any doubt that we Armenians are not ready for independence, and the past five years in particular have shown beyond any doubt that we don’t even deserve independence. We are simply not that people and the south Caucasus is not that place. The past five years have also shown those who still have eyes to see that Armenia cannot survive without Russia despite how much we may want Armenia to be an independent state. Let's also recognize that the West has never been and will never be a viable option for Armenians in a place like the south Caucasus. Simply put, post-Soviet Armenia is not a viable state. Even today, even under Nikol's Western and Turkish led regime, Armenia is able to live because of its economic and military ties to Russia.

Allow me to recap what Russia means for a tiny, landlocked, impoverished and remote nation surrounded by Turkic-Islamic enemies:

Despite what our professional Russophobes want us to believe, Russia remains, even today, the primary geopolitical factor keeping western Turks on their side of the Arax RiverRussia is by-far Armenia's largest trade partner and financial investor. Russia is the destination for a vast majority of Armenian products. Russia is home to the largest Armenian diaspora on earth. In fact, it is said that more Armenians live in Russia than in Armenia. A vast majority of Armenia's migrant workers work in Russia, and the remittances that these workers send back to Armenia makes up a large portion of Armenia's annual GDP. The vast majority of tourists that Armenia's important tourism industry receives annually hail from Russia. Russia provides a landlocked Armenia with very low cost energy. Russia helps Armenians operate Armenia's strategtic nuclear powerplant. In fact, Armenia pays several times less for Russian energy than what European customers pay. Moreover, for Armenia, Russian energy is cheaper than even Iranian. Very large amounts of modern weapons systems from Russia was traditionally provided to Armenia at domestic prices, and much of those weapons would end-up deployed in Artsakh. Moreover, Armenia has been one of the beneficiaries of the tragedy in Ukraine, largely thanks to Russia. Finally, Armenia's economy has been booming recently, again, largely thanks to Russia.

The above is a general snapshot highlighting what Russia means to Armenia and why Armenia is desperately depended on Russia for survival.

Armenia survives in a Turkic-Islamic region of the world primarily due to its economic and military ties to Russia. Armenian and Western sources reluctantly admit this. They therefore want to strip Armenia of its economic lifeline as well. Therefore, the effort to drive a wedge between Russia and Armenia is not only political, it is also economic. The agenda is more-or-less designed to collapse Armenia altogether, just for the sake of undermining Russia in the south Caucasus. Simply put, Armenia cannot survive in a place like the south Caucasus without Russia. We Armenians, as we currently exists, are simply incapable of nation-building in a very complex and dangerous place like the south Caucasus. Anyone that cannot see any of this is either an idiot or an agent of Western and/or Turkish influence, or both. Attempts by Armenians to maintain independence from Russia, will only result in prolonging Armenia's misery and mutilation. This is what Nikol wants. This is what Nikol's so-called officials wantWe need to put a stop to this before it's too late. If Armenia does not join the Russian Federation in some form within the foreseeable future, there may not even be an Armenia on the world map in a few more years. Let's therefore have the humility, vision, wisdom, foresight and the patriotism to finally put an end to our post-Soviet nightmare called independence, and begin the journey back to Mother Russia. The writing has been on the wall for a long time:

General Leonid Ivashov: if Armenia realizes the gravity of the situation, immediate steps must be taken towards deep military and political integration with Russia, because salvation is not from the West, but from Russia
I reiterate: Armenians are incapable of nation-building, especially in a place like the south Caucasus.  The last thirty-plus years have proven beyond any doubt that we as a people will achieve nothing good on our own. Some historians may even say the last two thousand years. Being that Armenia is located in the south Caucasus, and not in central America or southern Europe, the only thing left to look forward to is Armenia's absorption back into Mother Russia. The only question now is: will Moscow want us back?

Moscow did not want this

Although Russia did not have a defense-pact with Artsakh and Moscow had never fully supported Armenian claims over Artsakh (Tehran didn't either), Kremlin officials did not want to see Artsakh's capitulation and depopulation in this manner. As Zori Balayan futilely tried to remind us in an open letter back in 2013, Russia's responsibilities towards Artsakh goes back two centuries. He was asking Moscow to take on a more hands-on approach in Artsakh. He was of course mercilessly attacked by the Armenian society, including none-other-than Nikol. Nevertheless, Russia and Artsakh were historically connected. Christian Armenians (and Georgians) in the middle of a Turkic-Islamic south Caucasus was a strategic opportunity from an imperial Russian perspective. It was well known throughout the post-Soviet period that Moscow wanted to establish a permanent troop presence in Artsakh. To do so, there obviously had to be Armenians living on the territory. It was therefore in Moscow's strategic interests to maintain an Armenian presence in Artsakh. All the while, Moscow was constantly searching for an opportunity to deploy its troops in the territory. This worried some powerful circles. Russians in Artsakh, not Turks, was after-all what Western agents and their lemmings throughout Armenian society, like Nikol, were primarily concerned about. Despite the Russophobic wishes of Armenians and Turks, Moscow finally got its chance to establish a troop presence in Artsakh at the end of Armenia's disastrous defeat in the forty-four day war in 2020. It can be argued that by 2020, senior Kremlin policymakers preferred to see an Armenian defeat in Artsakh, at least in-part to have a legitimate political excuse to deploy Russian troops in the territory.
Traditionally, the power-broker in the south Caucasus essentially since the early 19th century, Moscow desperately wanted and still wants to be the main peace-broker in Artsakh as well.
 

Moscow wanted both Yerevan and Baku to also agree to the presence of Russian peacekeepers in the territoryand put-off the issue concerning Artsakh's official status. Moscow also wanted to keep border demarcation and Artsakh's status as separate matters. In short, Moscow always wanted both sides of the Artsakh dispute to reach a final agreement, albeit solely under its supervision. At the very least, Moscow wanted to refreeze the conflict after the war in 2020 and put-off issues relating to Artsakh's official status.  Unable to impose its will because of the war in Ukraine, President Putin warned Armenians about Western intentions in Artsakh and asked Armenians to chose their path. Foreign Minister Lavrov explained that Moscow's plan was best alternative for Artsakh. Ultimately, it was the Kremlin's desire to reclaim strategic zones of influence that had gotten out of its control in the post-Soviet period. This desire has thus far remain unrealized, because Nikol's regime placed Armenia on a Westerly course.


Kremlin officials understood that a Russian military presence in the disputed territory would give them political leverage over both Yerevan and Baku, and help them maintain Russia's status as the region's main power-broker. But, being that post-Soviet Russia is a superpower power of limited capabilities, such a plan, vis-à-vis Artsakh in particular, required not only Armenian cooperation but also active collaboration. In other words, for Russia to have a military presence in Armenian-controlled Artsakh, Armenians would first have to agree to major land concessions and then invite Russian forces into the territory. Armenians were of course not interested in it. I would like to remind the reader that this was at a time when Armenians felt they had the upper-hand over Azerbaijan militarily. This was after-all why we saw a proliferation of  "Kill Dim" cartoons. This was also a time when Armenians thought Russia was weak enough to be toyed with. While Armenian officials gave lip-service to their Russian counterparts, in reality, any plan that would make Armenia cede territory to Azerbaijan and deploy Russian troops in Artsakh was strongly opposed not only by official Yerevan but also by the entire Armenian world prior to 2018.

Looking at developments in hindsight and how painful it has been for Artsakh, Moscow's road map for peace would have been a dream come true for both, Yerevan and Stepanakert. This is why everything was done by Armenia's fifth-column, including foreign mercenaries working under the guise of nationalism, to sabotage all efforts by Moscow.
 
Blinded with arrogance and euphoric about the victory over Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, Armenians felt Baku was an easy enemy to defeat. Yerevan essentially kept telling Moscow to stay out of the Artsakh dispute and just focus on protecting Armenia's border with Turkey. We Armenians therefore committed the deadliest sin in warfare: we grossly underestimated our enemy and grossly overestimated ourselves. However, something strange happened to the Armenian world in 2018. The Color Revolution of 2018 saw the rise of a group of Western-financed Russophobes and Turkophiles. The political climate in Armenia had changed suddenly and drastically. Similar changes were seen in Stepanakert soon thereafter. Consequently, the Armenian calculus regarding Artsakh had suddenly changed as well. Yerevan, Artsakh's only protector, was no longer interested in Artsakh. Thus, Armenia had gone from one extreme to the next. It was therefore not a surprise that Nikol's regime lost the war  against Azerbaijan in 2020. In fact, Nikol and team botched the war so badly that it can be argued that Nikol may have wanted to see the fall of Artsakh back in 2020. But, much to the chagrin of its foes in Yerevan, Stepanakert, Baku, Ankara and the West, Moscow had managed to station its troops in Artsakh in the process.

On the surface, Moscow seemed to have finally gotten what it wanted - a military presence in Artsakh. In reality, however, Moscow's success had come a bit late. By 202o, the geopolitical climate of the world had drastically changed and the winds of war were blowing around the world. After 2021, when Russia was drawn into a major war in Ukraine, Russia's position regarding Artsakh could only be as strong as Yerevan's desire to keep Artsakh. Alas, Nikol's regime had no such desires. With the Yerevanian factor therefore actively working against Moscow by late 2022, Russia's position in Artsakh would prove untenable. Compounding the matter for the Kremlin must have been the realization that all parties involved on the ground in, Yerevan, Baku and even perhaps Stepanakert, were fundamentally against Russia's peacekeeping presence in Artsakh. Thus, facing an existential war against the collective West in Ukraine and finding itself in an increasingly difficult situation in the south Caucasus, the Kremlin was clearly in a serious dilemma and had a major conundrum on its hands. Perhaps this is when a decision was made to take a step back in Artsakh. Thus came Stepanakert's capitulation. Besides the embarrassing failure of its peacekeeping mission in Artsakh, Stepanakert's capitulation also caused Moscow to lose one of its main levers of control over Yerevan and Baku. All told, Artsakh's demise may have been a tragedy for the greater Armenian nation, but it was also a major geopolitical setback Moscow. Moscow did not want this. Even Westerners recognize this. Moscow had after-all intervened in Artsakh in 2020 primarily to preserve its political and military presence in the territory, despite the fact that Nikol's regime was doing everything to lose the war, and despite the fact that Yerevan, Baku and Stepanakert did not want Russian troops in Artsakh. This is why I believe Russian troops have been kept in Artsakh despite the fact that the territory's Armenian population is no longer there.
 
I don't believe the Kremlin has washed its hands from Artsakh, at least not yet.
 
Artsakh's fall was directly caused by Nikol's regime and indirectly caused by the war in Ukraine. As expected, Azeris and Turks played their cards brilliantly. From the Kremlin's perspective, with the war in Ukraine raging with no end in sight and Armenia's Western-financed regime officially out of the picture in Artsakh, allowing Baku and Ankara to have their way in Artsakh may have been the least-bad option Moscow was presented with. Regarding the bad options Kremlin officials may have had on the table: there have been persistent rumors that Ankara and Baku had threatened Moscow that if it did not give into their demands regarding Artsakh and/or if Nikol was ousted from power by the political opposition in Armenia, not only could they start siding with the West over Ukraine, they could also starting hostilities against Armenia. To perhaps drive this point across at the time, Turks had deployed large numbers of troops near Armenia's western border. Regardless of the validity of the said rumor, Ankara and Baku had indeed accumulated forces near Armenia's borders in a clear attempt to blackmail and strong-arm Russia and Iran at a very sensitive time in the region. Despite who is in power in Yerevan currently, Moscow continues seeing the territory of Armenia as a strategic foothold for Russia. Moreover, Moscow has a long-standing defense-pact with Yerevan, particularly with regards to Armenia's western border with Turkey. Moreover, Moscow is also desperately trying to prevent new wars from igniting near its borders. Therefore, if Armenia's was truly threatened, Russia and Iran would have no choice but to react. Such a risky move by Ankara and Baku, if true, could therefore seriously jeopardize not only Russia's war effort in Ukraine but also Armenia's very existence. According to this rumor, Ankara and Baku had therefore seriously raised the stakes. Turks were essentially telling Russian officials that if they wanted to avoid an even bigger mess in the region, Nikol had to stay in power and Moscow had to give into their demands over Artsakh. And with Nikol's regime not interested resisting the Turkic tandem in any way, this threat was yet just another attempt by Turks to blackmail Moscow and force its hand. And it seems to have worked. This story thus far remains in the realm of rumor. Upon close consideration, however, it does seem somewhat plausible. Such machinations are after-all how major powers play the game of geopolitical chess. 
 
Turks, as always, are opportunistic and they have been relentlessly pursuing their interests. Artsakh's fall, which was against Russian interests, could have therefore been the least-bad option on the table for Kremlin officials.

Moscow has been in a serious predicament in Ukraine, as the conflict there has evolved into a slow, grinding war against the collective West. In a nutshell: the brains, the money and the weapons behind the war in Ukraine has been Western, the flesh and blood being sacrificed en-masse on the battlefield is Ukrainian. Nevertheless,  some of Russia's limitations and weaknesses as a superpower have been revealed in this war. One such weakness has been its relatively small military, which is one of the fundamental reasons why Russia has not yet been able to defeat Western-backed Ukraine. And the small size of Russia's military is ultimately the by-product of its other main weakness, the relatively small size of its economy, an economy that is primarily reliant on heavy industry and selling raw materials and energy to foreign countries. This is why the United States, Great Britain and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Russia. The hope was to collapse Russia's economy. It nearly worked. The danger has not fully passed. To prevent an economic catastrophe and therefore a sociopolitical disaster throughout the Russian Federation, Kremlin officials have been relentlessly working to buffer Russia's economy from the powerful sanctions imposed on it by the West by closely engaging with cooperative governments around the world. This is where both Baku and Ankara used the situation created in the region by Western powers to their benefit. Moscow's effort to keep Russia economically and financially afloat has been largely successful, thanks to friendly nations that have helped it by-pass Western sanctions. Baku has played a major role in this regard, so has Ankara. This has elevated Ankara's and Baku's political stature not only inside Moscow but also in Western capitols. Ankara and Baku have taken full advantage of the changing geopolitical situation in the region, which they clearly see as a window of opportunity for them. Nevertheless, the overall situation at-hand has also led to a noticeable decline of Russian influence in the south Caucasus.
 
However, although it did not have a military-alliance with Artsakh, Moscow could have still done things to salvage Artsakh.
 
Lured into an existential war in Ukraine against the collective West, and with post-Soviet Yerevan drifting hopelessly on the deadly sea of westernization and democracy, Moscow had the strategic need to appease the powerful Turkic element in the south Caucasus. This calculus is most likely why Moscow is tolerating Nikol's regime. Therefore sensing an opportunity, Baku and Ankara were relentlessly and aggressively pursuing their interests. With Armenia having been deliberately kept out of the Russia fortress via what Armenians proudly call "complimentary politics", Armenia and by extension, Artsakh became less-important for senior policymakers in the Kremlin. Moscow therefore made the necessary sacrifices to appease Ankara and Baku. The sacrifices came at Armenia's and Artsakh's expense. Armenians simply neglected to understand that Artsakh had remained under Armenians control since 1994 largely thanks to Russia. Armenians also neglected to understand from early one that the key to a proper settlement to the Artsakh dispute was only found in Moscow.

 
In 2008, Russia invaded Western-backed Georgia to put an end to Tbilisi's aggression against Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In 2015, Russia militarily intervened in Ukraine and Syria. After the "Arab Spring" in 2011 and the 2014 "Maidan Revolution" in Kiev, Moscow understood that it would sooner-or-later have to go to war against the West. The world was changing. Nations around the world were in upheaval. Governments were falling. Governments were emerging. Major powers were getting ready for war. Consequently, geopolitical formulations previously upheld by Moscow were becoming no longer tenable. One would have hoped at the time that the Armenian world, which proudly claims to have thousands of years of experience under its national belt, would have seen the writing on the wall, and would have taken serious measures to safeguard Armenia from the impending storm. That would prove to be an illusive hope. By 2018, Yerevan was set to repeat the disastrous mistakes previously made by Baku, Tbilisi and Kiev. Not even the clarity of hindsight would help Armenian perception. With the world on the edge of a historic global conflagration, Armenia's widely popular Western-backed Color Revolution in 2018 brought professional Russophobes and Turkophiles to power in Yerevan. Realizing it is unable to compete with the Western world when it came to matters relating to soft power and social engineering, Moscow basically decided it could no longer continue souring its relations with strategically important players on the world stage like Baku and Ankara. Naturally, Turkey and Azerbaijan had much more to offer to Russia and the Western world than a tiny, remote, landlocked and impoverished Armenia.
 
Thus, upholding the status quo in Artsakh for a bunch of unruly, unstable and unreliable peasants in Armenia no longer served Moscow's strategic interests by 2018. In hindsight, 2016 seems to have been Yerevan's last chance to avoid a disaster as a major geopolitical storm approached the region. After 2018, with the gathering geopolitical storm already visible on the not-too-distant horizon and Armenia effectively left out of the Russian fortress, it was already too late to do anything. Today, drawn into an existential fight against the collective West in Ukraine, the Kremlin today will simply do what it needs to do to save Russia.
 
This, in a nutshell, is why Moscow reluctantly began to downgrade its ties to Armenia after Nikol's rise to power in 2018. Moscow did not want to do it. Moscow would have preferred to see Armenia in its fortress and Artsakh under its rule. As already mentioned, when it came to matters pertaining to winning the so-called hearts-and-minds of sheeple around the world, and fomenting revolutions at will, Moscow simply could not compete with Western powers. Geopolitical circumstances brought about by Western machinations within its spheres of traditional influence had forced Moscow's hand. From the current Russian perspective, Armenia is not part of the Russian fortress (e.g. Abkhazia and Chechnya) or even in a close political union with Russia (e.g. Belarus), why therefore alienate strategically important countries like Turkey and Azerbaijan for Armenians, especially at a time when the global political order is being rewritten in Russian blood? In other words, why sacrifice Russia's core interests for a bunch of unreliable, problematic, corrupt and independence-minded peasants with a Western fetish? An Armenia not inside the Russian fortress is an Armenia that is worthless for Russians. An Armenia not inside the Russian fortress is actually a threat for Russia, as the country can become a staging ground for Turkish and/or Western forces. Unlike the American empire, a global hyper-power that controls peoples around the world through its powerful civilizational lure (e.g. money, goods, liberal ideology, film, apparel, food, drugs, music, fashion, etc.), Russians are forced to get things done the "old fashioned" way. From a Russian perspective, if Yerevan cannot be convinced to accept Moscow's suzerainty and move fully into Russia's orbit, Armenia needs to be brought to its knees. As Byzantines had done about one thousand years ago, Russians today are likewise using Turkic people to put political pressure on Armenia. We can debate the merits of the said effort ad nauseam. At the end of the day, we must understand that this is realpolitik. This is geopolitics. This is a chess game. This is Russian-style statecraft. Ultimately, this is the Machiavellian world we live in.
 
By militarily intervening to stop the war in Artsakh on November 09, 2020, Moscow had initially managed to outmaneuver its foes in Artsakh, among whom, according to American agent Richard Giragosian, were Yerevan and Stepanakert. Said otherwise, by 2020, Moscow had come to see all parties involved in the dispute in Artsakh (i.e. Western powers, Ankara, Baku, Yerevan and Stepanakert) as its foes. By officially reinserting itself directly into the conflict zone on November 09, 2020, Moscow was therefore attempting to restore its waning influence over its above mentioned foes. However, by late 2022, with Russia's focus now fully on its historic war against the collective West in Ukraine, and its many foes relentlessly conspiring against it, Moscow's position in Artsakh was getting discernibly weaker with each passing day. The following is a chronological look at how it all developed:
Russia’s win in Nagorno-Karabakh is EU’s loss

Caught between Russia and Turkey, Armenians say West has abandoned them

Putin’s Karabakh victory sparks alarm in Ukraine

In Caucasus War, Russia Succeeded to Demonize Democracy

Russia and the West Still Need Each Other in Nagorno-Karabakh

Russian Troops in Nagorno-Karabakh ‘Clearly a Win for Moscow’

In Nagorno-Karabakh Peace Deal, Putin Applied a Deft New Touch

How Russia Pushed For—and Achieved—a Military Presence in Artsakh

France struggles to retain Karabakh sway after Armenia defeat

Russia Took Advantage While the West Slept

In Nagorno-Karabakh peace deal, Russia’s Putin claims a strategic win. But risks are attached

Russia Is Worried About Challenges in the Caucasus

Why Russian peacekeepers are a threat to peace in the South Caucasus

The US Must Save Armenia From Russia

With Russia distracted, Azerbaijan escalates in Karabakh

Russia’s Challenges in the South Caucasus Amid the War in Ukraine

Renewed Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict Underlines Russia’s Waning Influence

Lavrov Blames Western Powers for Obstructing Russian Efforts to End Conflict Between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Russia's Lavrov says Moscow ready to send mission to Armenia-Azerbaijan border

Peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan is possible — but a Russia-backed oligarch is trying to stop it

Experts: New war between Baku and Yerevan will be shorter, but no less dramatic than the conflict of 2020

How the West Managed to Sideline Russia in Mediating the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Russian Peacekeepers Find Themselves Sidelined in Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenia’s Pashinyan gives up Karabakh, abandons Russia-led CSTO

Armenia Is Ready to Relinquish Nagorno-Karabakh: What Next?

How the war in Ukraine helped stoke an Armenian tragedy

Russia is turning Nagorno-Karabakh into another Crimea

US and Russia Put Boots on the Ground in the Same Country

Security Council secretary: Armenia will not join Russia-Belarus Union State

Pashinyan Confirms Agreeing to Place Artsakh Under Azerbaijan’s Control

EU observer mission agreed as Pashinyan and Aliyev meet in Prague

Turkey-Azerbaijan Alliance Weakens Russian Grip on Caucasus

Russia concedes Karabakh for stake in new regional order

In Blow to Russia, Armenian Separatists Capitulate in Nagorno-Karabakh

In a nutshell, Moscow proved unable to resist the combined and coordinated machinations of Anglo-American-Jews, Europeans, Turks, Azeris and Armenians. Thus, Moscow went from success to failure in Artsakh in three years. With all that said, there is only one political entity that is directly responsible for Artsakh's demise, and that political entity is Nikol's regime. Nikol and company did everything possible during the past five-plus years to rid Armenia of its Artsakh burden. Nikol and company did everything possible during the past five-plus years to alienate Russia. Nikol and company did everything possible during the past five-plus years to embrace Western powers, Azerbaijan  and Turkey. Artsakh's fate was finally sealed in late 2022, when Nikol's regime officially abandoned Artsakh.

In the historic conflict that is currently taking place between East and West throughout the Eurasian continent, Artsakh's fall can be seen as yet another situation since February 24, 2022 where Moscow got out-maneuvered by Russia's adversaries, which, as noted above, also includes Nikol's regime.
 
Despite what our professional Russophobes want us to believe, Moscow did not want this. Moscow's hand was forced. Despite what our professional Russophobes want us to believe, Nikol is not a Russian agent. Moscow is tolerating Nikol's regime merely to maintain cordial relations with strategically important nations like Baku and Ankara at a time of major geopolitical instability. Allowing today's Western-financed Russophobes and Turkophiles to  come to power in 2018 can now be seen as a conciliatory gesture by Moscow to Turks and Azeris ahead of the global conflagration we are in today. And then again in 2021. Said otherwise, knowing that Armenia can't really go anywhere, Moscow has been tolerating Nikol's political antics and temper-tantrums simply to preserve Baku's and Ankara's neutrality in Russia's conflict with NATO in Ukraine. Said otherwise, with Yerevan desperately trying to deepen its ties with the Western world to offset or negate Russia's perceived over-influence in Armenia, Moscow basically cut Armenia loose by a little, by giving Armenians some of the "independence" they so desperately desired. Busy with a major war against the collective West in Ukraine and therefore needing normal relations with Ankara and Baku, Russians have basically been allowing Armenians to play-around with Armenia's future for the past few years.
 
With Armenia having been maneuvered out of Moscow's favor as a major war was approaching the region, Kremlin officials could no longer afford sacrificing Russia's core national interests vis-à-vis Ankara and Baku for a bunch of peasants with an undying Western fetish in Yerevan. The problem at hand is with us Armenians and what we have allowed to take place in Armenia in recent years. Everything we see happening under Nikol's regime is following the agenda made public by yet another mentally-ill character called Levon Shirinyan. This individual is one of Nikol's many Western-financed lemmings and he currently poses as a historian and a politician. At the start of the 2020 war in Artsakh, he said the following on public television in Armenia: "it's better to be a Turk's dog than to be an agent of [Russia]". His dream has come true. Armenia has indeed become a Turkish dog because Armenians have refused to become Russian agents:
Nikol's "New Armenia" is exactly what "independence from Russia" looks like. And as bad as things may seem today, it can get much worst if Moscow further distances itself from Yerevan. Right now, the fate of Syunik or Zangezur is being decided not in Yerevan but in Moscow, Tehran, Ankara and Baku. This, in a nutshell, is what Armenian independence from Russia is all about. I hope our westernizers and democratizers are enjoying the fruits of their labors going back thirty-plus years. I hope that the toxic entity that calls itself the "traditional diaspora" is particularly proud of itself. The said diaspora's mere existence has become a serious problem for Armenia. In the humble opinion of this diasporan, the traditional diaspora couldn't die a fast enough death. All told, we got what we desired in 2018, a Western-financed revolution, we then got what we deserved in 2020, a historic defeat.

How did we get here?

The short answer to the complex question of how Armenia and Artsakh got to where they are today is: "democracy", "westernization", and Vartan Oskanian's utterly dysfunctional "complimentary politics", all showcased by the now infamous revolution that Armenia's suffered in 2018. This Western-financed regime change in Yerevan came almost exactly ten-years after Levon Ter Petrosyan's and Nikol Pashinyan's unsuccessful Color Revolution attempt in 2008. The failure of the attempt in 2008 must have taught its organizers some very valuable lessons. The next attempt would therefore be better organized. Consequently, Nikol's second revolution now infamously known as Armenia's "Velvet Revolution" of 2018 proved highly successful. It was obvious from day one that Nikol and his co-conspirators were meticulously cultivated for this task. The lords of this world knew exactly what Armenian society wanted, or rather deserved. Tailor-made for the Armenian psyche, Nikol and his team were enthusiastically supported by a vast majority of Armenians around the world. Nikol was universally exalted by Armeniandom. The American-Armenian Diaspora made a documentary film about himnative Armenians wrote songs about him, the Cilician Armenian Church showered praises upon him. In reality, however, a terrible evil had raised its head in Armenia.

If there is one man that accurately describes where Armenia finds itself today, that one man is Levon Shirinyan. In a television interview three years ago, this ardent Nikol supporter and self-styled historian and Western-financed politician, publicly claimed that it is better for an Armenian to be a Turkish dog than a Russian agent:

Levon Shirinyan's dream has turned into reality. Armenia is indeed becoming like a Turkish dog, instead of being an agent of Russia. Since we are still on the topic of how we got here. If there is one photographic gem from the sad saga known as post-Soviet Armenia that can accurately summarize the tragic path Armenia and Artsakh were set on in recent years, it would be the following one, circa 2012 featuring Western-financed activists, native and diasporan, one of whom, Babken DerGrigoryan, later became an official for Nikol's regime:

And who ended-up "fucking themselves" in the end? Armenians! As always. The above two examples of Western-financed Russophobia and Turkophilia in post-Soviet Armenia are in a nutshell exactly why we are where we are today. It was obvious from day one that the political culture and mindset that had come to fore in 2018 would not end well for neither Armenia and Artsakh. The 2018 regime change in Armenia brought to the political limelight a large group of well-known professional Russophobes and Turkophiles on the payroll of various Western and Turkish interests. A country that was almost totally dependent on Russia for survival suddenly found itself under the control of anti-Russian activists. It was only a matter of time before the geopolitical status quo would begin falling apart. Western-financed individuals that had been preaching reconciliation with Turks and burning Russian flags just prior to 2018, were thrust into political power under mysterious circumstances. The most worrying part for me at the time was the Kremlin's seeming complacency, if not complicity. Not only did Moscow not oppose the rise of Nikol and his team to power in Yerevan, it actually welcomed it. Soon thereafter, Russians began accusing Nikol's regime of being a den of anti-Russian activists. Something did not feel right. This, needless to say, was extremely worrying for me. Nikol's rise to power and Moscow's inaction raised a lot of questions in my head. Was this an ominous sign that the prevailing geopolitical calculus at the time, the status quo, had begun to change against Armenia's favor. Was Moscow beginning to pull its protective hand away from Armenia and/or Artsakh? Were major geopolitical changes lurking on the not too distant horizon? Was a major war coming? I knew that Kremlin officials were one of the world's top masters in the art of not allowing a crisis to go to waste. How would Moscow therefore react to Nikol's rise to power? By allow the rise of repugnant creatures like Nikol and his teammates, was Moscow getting ready to devaluate its ties with Yerevan in order to appease Turks and Azeris ahead of something big that was to come down the road? Serj Sargsyan's unexpected and highly suspicious resignation did not alleviate any of my concerns, to say the least. Then the ominous Blood Moon and Planet Mars that appeared in the skies of Yerevan on July 27, 2018 only served to increase my concerns. The political events that took place in 2018 felt as if Armenia had fallen victim to a sinister conspiracy that was multinational in nature and heralded by celestial bodies, and Nikol was its earthly manifestation. I suspected early on that Nikol's rise to power had something to do with Artsakh. I made my feelings known in this blog at the time. Little did I know the terrible times that actually lay ahead for the entire region. In hindsight, the darkness we Armenians are living in today was set in motion in 2018. And the disastrous forty-four day war in Artsakh in 2020 seemed to have been the opening salvo of the broader, global conflagration Eurasia finds itself in today. All in all, it has been a hellish five years for Armenia and Artsakh.

Political events that took place in Armenia in the spring of 2018, started processes that eventually led to the end of the road for Artsakh. And now, Armenia awaits an uncertain future; all because Armenian's political and business elite desperately wanted independence from Russia and believed that close ties with Western powers and rapprochement with Turkey and Azerbaijan would fix all of Armenia's post-Soviet ailments. Like so, Armenia and Armenians fell victim to a decades-long, Western and Turkish agenda designed to lure Armenians out of the Russian orbit in order to have their way with Armenia. Stripping Armenia's of its Russian protection and making Armenia isolated and therefore vulnerable to Turkish inroads is exactly what Westerners and Turks, and their Armenian lemmings throughout Armenian society, had been wishing for many years:

Consider the following for added context and perspective. Western powers have similar motivations and agendas when collaborating with extremist groups from Islamic countries around the world. The following confession by CIA-operative Graham Fuller is what basically lies behind the said effort:
"The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against [the Russians]. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia"
As we can see,  it's all about Russia again, and increasingly so about China. Western civilization has had an irrational and somewhat mysterious or inexplicable fear and hatred of Russia and Russians going back centuries. I personally think it goes beyond mere politics. In any case, the admission by the above mentioned  CIA-operative is also why Uighurs have an office in Washington DC. The geostrategic intent is to keep rising nations like Russia and China contained and embroiled in conflict, In a nutshell, Western intelligence agencies, as well as Israel's Mossad, support Islamist terror groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS for geopolitical reasons. From a Western-imperial standpoint, radical Islamist is an easily manipulated animal (which is primarily done through intelligence organizations of allied nations such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Turkey). And radical Islam is also a powerful geopolitical weapon and a tool. Covertly supporting such groups is an essential constituent of the hybrid war Western powers wage against geopolitical upstarts and nonconforming governments. It's all about undermining geopolitical competitors around the world in order to stay on top of the global food-chain. Periodic attacks by such extremists against Western assets is basically seen as a price well worth paying to keep nations like Russia, Serbia, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Iran and China embroiled in conflict. Let's for once recognize that everything in the Western world today is weaponized: Language, culture, banking, trade, money, financial loans, humanitarian aid, industry, journalism, sexuality, medicine, narcotics, academia, scholastic curriculum, minority rights, human rights, religion, cults, television programming, entertainment, etc. All of these are seen as weapons or tools of manipulation, exploitation, meddling, coercion and violence. For Western imperialists, liberal minded democracy seekers and radical minded Islamists are therefore two sides of the same coin.
 
Long story short, the Western powers are not in the south Caucasus to bring peace and prosperity, and especially not to Armenians.
 
Getting back to our main topic of discussion. Their wish to drive a wedge between Moscow and Yerevan and therefore make Armenia vulnerable was partially realized with Nikol's rise to power in 2018. After 2018, any form of integration with Russia would simply be out of the question for Armenia. As a result of what was started in 2018, a six year long tragedy is playing-out right in front of our eyes. The jubilation 0f 2018 has turned into historic nightmare. As so often in Armenia's long and turbulent history, we Armenians once again failed to understand the nature and character of the political world we live in. We also proved that we remain stubbornly incapable of leaning from our previous mistakes. Armenians also failed to understand that revolutions eventually devour their own children. Overcome with hate and blinded by greed, jealousy and tribalism, and always suffering from political illiteracy and cognitive dissonance, little did the "Armenian Street" know in 2018 that the flesh they were grilling and consuming on the streets of Yerevan in celebration of their perceived victory over the "Karabakh Clan" was none-other-than that of their beloved children that would be slaughtered mercilessly by their beloved leader some two years later.
 

As Russia's ambassador to Armenia warned some ten years ago, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Hate is a poison that first-and-foremost poisons the hater. Envy and greed are diseases of the soul. You reap what you sow. Materialism is Mammon worship. There are no free meals in politics. Peoples deserve the governments they have. Governments are a reflection of their citizenry. When you live only for today your tomorrow promises to be very painful. Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Despite having a history that spans thousands of years, Armenians remain stubbornly ignorant, very impotent and utterly incompetent with matters pertaining to politics and nation-building. I have concluded that it must be a genetic defect inherent in the collective Armenian body.
 
It is glaringly obvious that we Armenians have not learned any lessons from Armenia's long and turbulent history. As a people, we still do not understand that politics is not a domestic dispute, a drunken bar brawl or an emotional street fight. We Armenians still do not understand that politics is a master-level game of chess, an exact science and a form of art, where those who master it live and those that don't, die. We still do not understand that Machiavellian principals govern the political world we live in. This inability to understand the political world we live in is the reason why even after the tragic defeat of Artsakh and the troubles facing Syunik today, we still see Armenians proudly bragging that "at least Armenia is more democratic than Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkey". Our inability to understand the real world we live in is ultimately the reason why we still see Armenians begging for mercy at the feet of duplicitous reptiles in places like Washington D.C., Brussels and Paris. Many in Armenian society today, even the highly "educated" and wealthy ones among us, still think that if they can only "prove" to Western officials that a genocide did take place during the First World War and that Artsakh rightfully or historically belongs to Armenians, officials of the "democratic" West will suddenly become pro-Armenian. This cognitive dissonance and political illiteracy is why Armenians, the traditional diaspora in north America in particular, has wasted many decades and untold amounts of money on "lobbying" efforts in Washington D.C. If they could only "prove" to American officials that Armenians are a good people that deserve help. At the end of the day, it's all this talk about rights, justice and democracy that got us to where we are today. It's maddening. As I keep saying, it has to be a genetic defect in us.
 
Political illiteracy has a very high cost, and we Armenians have been paying it dearly, especially during the past six years. Long story short, the 2018 revolution in Armenia continues to devour its children.
 
Some of us have been warning about all this for a very long time. We were called Putin’s agents, Kocharyan's agents, Sargsyan's agents, spies, traitors, crazies, etc. Sadly, many of our warnings have come to pass. And now, Armenians are desperately searching for answers and looking for people and/or nations to blame. It's Russia's fault. It's Turkey's fault. It's the West's fault. Armenians need to look no further than the mirror to find those responsible for the fall of Artsakh and the historic mess Armenia is in today. Those who supported Nikol at any time during the past five-years (i.e. over 90% of Armenians around the world) need to blame themselves for what has been happening since 2018. If any of you reading this had at any time spoken against Robert Kocharyan, Serj Sargsyan, Vladimir Putin or Russia in general, you partook in making this historic tragedy possible. Those who supported Nikol and his Western-financed Turkophiles at any time during the past five years, have the blood of Artsakh on their hands.
 
Let no one today plead ignorance or innocence. We all knew or should have known who Nikol was.

His entire life, Nikol dreamed of abandoning Artsakh, forgetting the Armenian Genocide, unconditionally opening Armenia’s borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey and, last but not least, bringing Armenia out of Russia’s orbit. Nikol put such sentiments on paper as early as 2001. Nikol also expressed such sentiments during many speeches he gave while serving as a parliamentarian. Everyone therefore knew, or should have known, where Nikol stood politically. Moreover, Nikol is a sharp-witted scoundrel who keenly understood Armenian psyche. Nikol knew exactly how to manipulate Armenian society. These politically expedient and useful characteristics exhibited by Nikol would naturally not escape the attention of various intelligence services monitoring the region. This is essentially how and why Western and Turkish interests embarked on a well-planned process to to help elevate Nikol into political power. They finally succeeded in 2018. This is not mere speculation. This is not political spin. This can actually be proven in a court of law. To understand how Armenia fell under the rule of Nikol's Western-financed team of Russophobes and Turkophiles, which then led to the loss of Artsakh and the current situation in Syunik, follow the money trail.
 
This is not a problem Nikol created. Nikol was a by-product of the toxic landscape created. That said, he did make an already bad situation much-much worst. With direct help from the traditional diaspora in North America and Europe, all of the ruling administrations that Armenia has had in the post-Soviet period participated in the process of turning the country into an amusement park for all sorts of toxic influences and intelligence agencies. A country that is economically and militarily dependent on Russia for survival, in a very dangerous geographic location on earth nonetheless, was subsequently inundated with Western money and Western agents. And with Western influence came Turkish ones. Nikol's tabloid called Հայկական ժամանակ (Armenian Times) was financed at least in-part by the Washington DC based and CIA-affiliated NED. Many in Nikol's team were long-time activists working for various Western organizations, George Soros' Open Society Foundation being one of the main ones. Turks and Azeris were also able to buy their way into Armenia's political landscapeThere is evidence that in 2018 alone, the year when Nikol was brought to power, there were money transfers from Azerbaijan to Armenia worth over $200 million. In 2021, the European Union gifted Armenia one billion Euros for electing Nikol for a second term. The IMF and the World Bank have both pledged several hundred million dollars in additional financial aid. All this Western and Turkish money in a tiny, landlocked and impoverished nation desperately dependent on Russia for survival. Some of us knew this would not end well. As alluded to previously, Armenia was gradually turned into a whore-house for all kinds of intelligence agencies. As already mentioned, the country that was and continues to be almost totally dependent on Russia for survival is flooded today with Western money and individuals representing a conglomeration of spy agencies and social engineering organizations: CIA, MI6, MIT, Mossad, NED, USAID, British Council, European Council, Western-financed NGOs, Western-financed news agencies, Western-financed political parties, et cetera. Russians simply could not compete with the social engineering efforts of the West, and proved unable (or even perhaps unwilling as the geopolitical storm neared) to stop Yerevan's relentless efforts to move closer to the Western world. Thus, complaints and warnings from Russia and elsewhere simply fell on deaf ears:

Ex-Russian Envoy Warns Armenia Over European Integration Drive

Methods and goals of anti-Russian media in Armenia

NGOs, mass media “fed” by West are trying to destroy age-long Russian-Armenian relations: Russian embassy 

Leonid Reshetnikov: One cannot confidently state that Armenia is a staunch ally of Russia in the South Caucasus 

Russian defense adviser 'urges for Armenia’s vigilance' as he comments upon US report

Russia concerned that pro-Westerners will dominate next Armenia parliament

Russian General Leonid Ivashov: Turkey Seeks Separation Between Russia and Armenia

Turkey seeks separation between Russia, Armenia

Американские корни Почему реплика Маргариты Симоньян привела в бешенство Никола Пашиняна

Американские корни Почему реплика Маргариты Симоньян привела в бешенство Никола Пашиняна

To reiterate, Nikol and his team of professional Russophobes and Turkophiles were not the ones created this toxic landscape in Armenia. Nikol and friends were simply its by-product or its offspring. Nikol was the soulless monster, the Armenian Golom if you will, that was brought to life by the Armenian lust for easy money and the burning desire to gain independence from Russia. A tiny, landlocked, blockaded, remote and impoverished country that was very dependent on Russia for survival in a very dangerous part of the world was flooded with Western money, Western organizations, and thus North American, European and Turkish activists. Russians simply could not compete with the social engineering or brainwashing efforts of the West. And their complaints and warnings to Armenian society fell on deaf ears. In typical Russian manner, Moscow reacted to the Armenian problem with realpolitik, to Artsakh detriment. Nevertheless, with the help of Western money and promises of a good life in Armenia without Russian meddling, the Armenian dream seemed to be slowly coming true. And Nikol was simply the said dream's manifestation. Despite knowing who/what Nikol was, to its utter shame and perpetual disgrace, the Armenian World, both native and diasporan, kept Nikol in power not once but twice, the second time being after the embarrassing defeat Armenia suffered in 2020. Make no mistake about it, Nikol is not just a soulless and politically incompetent character, he and his team are also deliberately treasonous. We see this in every step they take. Everything they do is meticulously planned by their handlers from abroad. Just prior to Baku's latest aggression that dealt the final death-blow to Artskah, Nikol's regime seemed to be doing everything possible to further alienate Moscow and embolden Baku and Ankara. Said otherwise, Nikol and his team of Western-financed Turkophiles and Russophobes were preparing the sacrificial table upon which Artsakh would finally be put to death. The following is a look at the said process:

Russian Embassy sends note to Armenian Foreign Ministry over false accusations

Pelosi’s visit fires debate in Armenia over alliance with Russia

We can’t rely on Russia to protect us anymore, Armenian PM says
Armenia Holds Drills With US Troops Amid Rift With Russia
Armenia cancels military drills of Russian-led alliance
Armenia Might Quit Russia-Led Military Bloc

Pashinyan says Russian military presence “threatens Armenia’s security”

Security Council secretary: Armenia will not join Russia-Belarus Union State

[Armenia] said it is 'not Russia's ally' in the fight against Ukraine, further splintering the alliance

Armenian PM: Russia isn’t defending us because we aren’t pro-Moscow enough

EU launches observer mission in Armenia

 U.S., Armenian Officials Discuss Sanctions Against Russia

Armenian Banks Block Russian Cards After New U.S. Sanctions

One of Russia's longtime allies said it will arrest Putin if he goes there, leaving him a pariah in a region where he was once dominant

Armenia sends Ukraine first assistance since start of war

Pashinian Addresses EU Parliament, Blasts ‘Armenia’s Allies’

Pashinyan changing country’s politics to align with West

Nagorno-Karabakh's leader resigns

With Moscow looking the other way for the most part because it currently has the need to appease Turks and Azeris, Nikol's regime has been playing with fire on behalf of Western and Turkish interests. If American agent Richard Giragosian's words from three years ago can be believed, there was only one point of agreement between Yerevan, Stepanakert and Baku, and that was about keeping Russia out of the conflict in Artsakh:
If true, this comment by the well known American agent freely operating in Yerevan reveals quite a lot. For one, it clearly reveals the Russophobic atmosphere present both, in Yerevan and Stepanakert at the onset of the war in 2020. It also suggests that Yerevan and Stepanakert wanted to face Baku and Ankara on their own. Wrap your minds around that, folks. In any case, this gives credence to the belief that Nikol Pashinyan's and Arayik Harutunyan's regimes in Armenia and Artsakh respectively were placed into power not only by Western interests but also by Turkish interests. This also suggests that Artsakh was slated for complete capitulation back in 2020, but Moscow's last minute intervention stopped it, apparently, as we saw above, against the wishes of Yerevan, Stepanakert and Baku. Official Yerevan's anti-Russian stance has been obvious, deliberate and well-planned. Everything was being done to alienate Russia, isolate Artsakh and set the stage for another war. Under Arayik Harutunyan, Stepanakert seemed content with the plan. It at times felt as if an invisible hand was guiding events. It was surreal. Nevertheless, by September 2023, it was obvious that all the stars had aligned against the Armenian right of self-determination in Artsakh. Ultimately, Artsakh finally fell to Turkish-style aggression, Western-style duplicity, Russian-style realpolitik and Armenian-style incompetence and treason. Artsakh ultimately fell victim to a Machiavellian world.
 
Fifteen years of warnings fell on deaf ears
 
It was the summer of 2018. It was soon after Nikol and company had suddenly risen to power in Armenia and the "Karabakh Clan" had unexpectedly been toppled. The Armenian world was is an utter state of euphoria. Despite the jubilant atmosphere in Armenia at the time, I felt something sinister in the air. I was deeply worried not only because I knew the kind people Nikol and his cohorts were, but also because of an ominous celestial sign that accompanied his rise to power. Witnessing firsthand the historic Blood Moon accompanied by the war Planet Mars in the night sky of Yerevan on July 27, 2018 all but confirmed my greatest fears. I feared that the region was heading towards a major war. At the time, I thought it may be related to Iran. I also feared that Nikol was placed in power to engineer an Armenian defeat in Artsakh. Soon after Nikol's rise to power, Concurrently, Baku had begun saber rattling My readers may recall that at the time I said Nikol was brought to power to make Armenia give-up Artsakh. I also said I hope I am proven wrong about this. It pains me to say this but, I told you so. Gazing at the Blood Moon and Planet Mars from my balcony in Yerevan, I remember making the sign of the cross and simply wishing for the best. The following are some of the comments I wrote in this blog in the summer of 2018:
"Nothing major that happens in politics happens by chance. Armenian politics is no different. The recent political unrest in Armenia had all the hallmarks of an international political conspiracy. There is no doubt in my mind that hidden hands brought Nikol and friends into power for a specific purpose. I also suspect Levon Petrosyan's hand in what happened. The only question is, what is that purpose? I suspected an Artsakh connection from early on. I fear that an agreement has been reached over the fate of Artsakh, an agreement that will not please Armenians. In a sense, Serj may have given Nikol the "honor" of agreeing to major land concessions sometime in the near future."
"Pressure is being put on Armenia to settle the Artsakh dispute. This is why Nikol and friends are in power today. They will be expected to make peace with Baku. And if war comes, allow me to remind the reader of a well known Wall Street saying: past performances do not guarantee future results. The stage is currently being set. If another major war is forced upon Armenia, our arrogant idiots, those who have been boasting about Armenian military superiority over Azeris for many years now, will be in for a nasty surprise. What we as a people are doing in Armenia today is setting up our "boys" for a potential slaughter on the battlefield. I really hope I am proven wrong in this regard, but I don't think I will be. The first fatal mistake a fighter makes is to overestimate his capabilities. The second fatal mistake a fighter makes is misjudge or underestimate his opponent. We Armenians have a long history of making such grave mistakes essentially because we have a long history of arrogance, shortsightedness and political illiteracy. And Armenia has paid an immense price as a result."
Like I said back then, I wish I was wrong! This blog has been in existence for nearly fifteen years for the main purpose of warning Armenians about things that have unfortunately come to pass in recent years. This blog warned that Armenia's independence from Russia would simply translate to Armenia's dependence on Turkey. This blog warned that those waiting on the political sidelines in Armenia would prove far-worst than the much hated "Karabakh Clan". This blog warned against allowing Western activists and Western NGOs a firm foothold in Armenia. This blog warned against importing into Armenia foreign toxicity such as democracy and westernization. This blog warned against Yerevan's disastrous "complimentary politics". This blog warned against overestimating Armenians and underestimating Turks. This blog warned against venturing too far from Russia's protective umbrella. This blog warned that bad times were coming and that Armenia needed to move closer to Russia. This blog warned that when you try to please both sides of a political divide, neither side will be pleased with you. Armenia and Artsakh would have been in better shape today had Armenians, as a collective, were well-versed in Armenian history, deeply understood core concepts in geopolitics and better assessed Armenia's geopolitical reality in the south Caucasus. Armenia and Artsakh would have been much better-off today had Armenians understood the fact that the political world is governed not by morals, justice or democracy, but by Machiavellian principals. The last fifteen years for me was like watching a calamity developing in slow motion, and the frustrating feeling that there was nothing I could do to stop it. I have no doubt that this feeling was felt by countless patriotic Armenians going back two thousand years.
 
The saddest part in all this is that it did not have to be this way. That said, I guess it could not have been any other way with us Armenians.
 
Besides being very shortsighted, Armenians also have very short memories. Let's think back to the years between 1994 to 2020. How many times did Russian officials try to convince our chobans in Armani suits that matters pertaining to Artsakh's settlement needed to be taken seriously? For years, Russian officials and political activists were saying give back the five territories, bring in Russian troops and you could have Artsakh plus the Berdzor (Lachin) corridor. We we jeered, we boasted, we insulted, we rejected. We also brought Western interests deeper into matter to create what we thought was "counterbalance" to Moscow's plans. This effort was actively encouraged by representatives of the traditional diaspora. This is basically how and why Vartan Oskanian, Jirair Libaridian and Raffi Hovanissian ended-up in Armenia in the 1990s. This is how and why Western-financed propaganda outlets like Civilnet, Factor TV, Noyan Tapan TV, EVN Report and the now defunct Armenia Now were created. All were involved in spreading Russophobia. Long story short, official Yerevan refused to compromise. President Lukashenko's unprecedented proposal or offer in 2016 was most probably a last-ditch effort by Moscow to resolve the Artsakh dispute before the events of UkraineThink back to the time when the Armenian world went hysterical just because Serj Sargsyan wanted to normalize relations with Turkey, at a time when Ankara was not seeking any preconditions relating to Artsakh. Think back to all the calls for settlement made by men like Foreign Minister Lavrov, and try to remember our responses. Think back to all the times we told Russians to mind their own business because we could handle Azerbaijan on our own. In fact, we kept announcing that Armenia will be allied to Russia militarily, but at the same time it will seek political and economic integration with the West. Political illiteracy and cognitive dissonance comes to mind. Think back to how much the Armenian world hated the "Russian backed Karabakh Clan" in Armenia. Think back to all the times we tried to overthrow the "pro-Russian" government in Yerevan, because they were not progressive enough, liberal enough, democratic enough, West-leaning enough, etc. Think back to how we treated a great man like Zori Balayan for daring to write an open letter to President Putin.
 
It was cognitive dissonance, political illiteracy, arrogance and self-righteousness in full display between 1994 and 2018.
 
If any of my readers forgot the political climate in Armenia prior to Nikol's rise to power, you can revisit my previous works on this blog pertaining to Armenia and Artsakh. Without wanting to sound arrogant or boastful, this blog is in my opinion a repository of important commentary, and very valuable news articles and reports, some of which only survive in this blog.  The following are a sampling of the more important work I put into this blog spanning some 15 years. I recommend saving each page in case this blog is taken-down some day:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



Looking at Armenian-Turkish Relations - Without the Paranoia, Obsessions or the Hysteria - October, 2009

Armenia Assaulted by Orange Agents - March, 2008
For fifteen-plus years I did my part, however big or small, to warn Armenians that Armenia was heading in the wrong direction and that the further it got from Russia, the more dangerous it would be for Armenia and Artsakh. The collective Armenian mindset, drunk with arrogance and ill with cognitive dissonance, was not ready to hear such advise. All I got in-return for my effort was accusations and insults. This is not a personal complaint from my part. This matter was never about me, it was about the health and well-being of Armenia and Artsakh. I would gladly endure personal insult had Armenia and Artsakh been in a better state today. A narcissistic nation that boasts about being thousands of years old, proved utterly incompetent and impotent. How did we as a people not fully appreciate Armenia's ties to Russia? How did we as a people not fully appreciate what Artsakh meant to Armenia's defense? How did we as a people not know who Nikol and his cohorts were? How did we as a people not see the varied dangers coming from the West? How did we as a people not see where "democracy" would lead us? How could we as a people be so blind and out-of-touch with reality? Tragically, cognitive dissonance, political illiteracy and self-destructionism remains rife throughout the Armenian world, even in the twenty-first century. Alas, the proud, self-rightous and narcissistic Armenian psyche will never admit guilt nor responsibility. How can one reason with a people like this? How can one help such a people? Armenians are all-knowing. And Armenian men do think of themselves as kings:
 
 
 
Insult the mother of any one of the wannabe kings featured in the photo above, and knives will come out and blood will be spilled. Begin raping Mother Armenia on a daily basis and the same wannabe kings will most likely be found standing with their families on the visa lane at the U.S. embassy. The homeland of the typical Armenian male alive today is the boundaries of his home, whatever country that home may be found in. I hate to say it but Thomas Edward Lawrence's opinion about us Armenians was right in some aspects: Armenians are indeed impossible. Armenians cannot be reasoned with. Armenians cannot be made to sacrafice anything for the greater good. Perhaps this is why Armenians have been the authors of all the black pages in Armenian history. In the big picture I always talk about, the fall of Artsakh was the natural by-product of thirty-plus years of widespread political illiteracy, cognitive dissonance, greed, apathy, lawlessness, tribalism, corruption, shortsightedness, materialism, arrogance, maximalism, Russophobia, Turkophilia, and a relentless effort by Armenian society worldwide, the North American diaspora in particular, to westernize and democratize Armenia. Nothing could derail Armenians from this pan-national effort, that is until the effort eventually derailed itself.
 
We should have seen all this coming many years ago, and thus taken serious measures to mitigate whatever dangers that time and changing geopolitical circumstances would bring with it. We needed to do this at the time when Armenia still held some advantage over Azerbaijan.
 
After 2008, when Russia first began to reassert itself in former Soviet territory, a conflagration between Russia and the West suddenly became possible. After 2014, when the West managed to drive a wedge between Kiev and Moscow, a conflagration between Russia and the West became inevitable. Moreover, the Middle East had exploded, and Iran had become the primary target of the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance. Knowing that a global crisis was approaching the region Armenia finds itself in, what did we Armenians do? Instead of looking into making the necessary land concessions in Artsakh and making a serious effort to move deeper into Russia’s protective umbrella, we did the opposite. Sargsyan's regime did all it could to delay the inevitable. Official Yerevan continued playing between East and West. Armenia's large army of Western and Turkish agents of influence continued brainwashing Armenian society. And after 2018, Moscow began pulling its protective hand away from Armenia and Artsakh. In a nutshell, Armenians effectively maneuvered Armenia out of political contention and into a geopolitical dead-end. As a result, Armenia today is simply a pawn in the deadly game taking place in and around it. Consequently, Armenia is no longer in any position to control or to even influence events. Therefore, what will happen, will happen. Let things come to their logical conclusions. And whatever happens, let's remember that in the big picture it will be our collective fault.
 
We collectively made Armenia and Artsakh vulnerable to Western and Turkish meddling ultimately because we wanted to distance ourselves from Russia's perceived "overbearing" influence. Official Yerevan eagerly used Vartan Oskanian's complimentary politics to avoid land concessions in Artsakh and become eligible for financial aid from the West. We enthusiastically adopted all forms of Western agendas. We hosted an army of Western financed NGOs and one of the largest U.S. embassies in the world. Everything we did during the past thirty-plus years was more-or-less designed around luring more Western capitol and therefore influence into Armenia. Naturally, with Western political influence came Turkish political influence. In a nutshell, we wanted to embrace the "progressive West" as a buffer against "repressive Russia". We did everything possible to maintain "independence" from Russia, even though we knew Armenia was almost totally dependent on Russia for survival. It was collective cognitive dissonance and political illiteracy at work. We collectively alienated Russia from Armenia, and did so at the worst possible time. Again, this is where the traditional diaspora, to its eternal shame, played a significant role by being a pack-animal for all sorts of Western and Turkish agendas in the country.

No conversation about Artsakh is complete without discussing Levon Ter Petrosyan

Levon Ter Petrosyan was an historian and an intellectual. He was one of the original members of the famous Karabakh Committee. He was the first president of post-Soviet Armenia. He presided over Armenia's historic victory in 1994 which saw the liberation of Artsakh. This victory however had come against Petrosyan's explicit wishes. Petrosyan was a steadfast believer that Armenia needed to adhere to dictates of the international community. He believed that a newly independent Armenia could not afford getting into an expansionistic war against its much larger and much more powerful neighbors. He believed Armenians were not a people that could afford opposing the wishes of the international community, including Moscow. Petrosyan's beliefs were a problem because Armenian society in the late 1980s was united, resolute, mobilized and burning with nationalistic fervor. Patriots at the time were talking about liberating historic Armenian lands not only in Azerbaijan but also in Georgia and Turkey.

Petrosyan's presidency was essentially about moderating Armenian aspirations and ambitions on behalf of international powers and Russia. Everything his regime therefore did and did not do basically reflected this agenda.

Petrosyan was used as a check-valve or a control mechanism by the international community and Russia during the first Artsakh war. He essentially was there to make sure that Armenians didn't go too far. His main mission in Armenia at the time was to make sure that Armenians did not go beyond Artsakh's internationally recognized borders. Petrosyan's pragmatic, rational and rules-based approach to the Artsakh dispute was after-all why he was chosen at the time to lead Armenia during the time when the collapse of the USSR was imminent. Said otherwise, Globalist interests that had been presiding over the demise of the Soviet Union wanted to make sure that fledgling and ambitious nations like Armenia remained in-line with international law and order. Changing internationally recognized borders by force is not taken lightly by the international community. Such privilege is only enjoyed by superpowers, and even then only at times. How long did it take for Russians to retake Crimea or wage war for the beleaguered Russian population in the Donbas? Almighty Israel has still not been able to annex the West Bank. Turkey's occupation of northern Cyprus is still not recognized by the same international community. A lot of idiots these days bring up Kosovo as an example of Western largess, and why Armenia should be allied to the West. Putting aside the obvious fact that Kosovo was taken from Serbia simply because Belgrade was politically and culturally close with Russia at the time, what idiots who exalt Western actions in Kosovo don't understand is that Western powers did not allow Albanians of Kosovo to unite with Albania. In other words, Kosovo was turned into a Western protectorate, and all efforts by Kosovars to unite with Albania was quelled. How is that any different from what Russia wanted in Artsakh? In any case, the point is, even superpowers take international law and border changes seriously because growing opposition to such laws, especially by lesser powers, can lead to global chaos. As such, Moscow, Yerevan's strategic ally, was unhappy with Armenia's growing appetite in Artsakh because it could cause serious problems in Russia's relations with the Turkic world. Petrosyan therefore did everything he could at the time to limit Armenian military advances in and around Artsakh.
 
This more-or-less is why he was despised and hated by Armenian nationalists, including myself. Many to this day believe that Armenia at the time was intentionally placed on a wrong trajectory (politically, economically and culturally) in order to weaken it and force it into compliance with the dictates of the international community. Many are now beginning to understand that this is how and why Nikol, one of Petrosyan's acolytes, was brought to power in Armenia. In hindsight, and I say this reluctantly and with reservations, when it came to the matter of Artsakh, Levon Ter Petrosyan was perhaps the only adult in the room.

Being a Soviet-trained historian, Petrosyan instinctively knew that the Artsakh saga would not end well for Armenia if Armenians did not put an end to their nationalistic ambitions and sat at the negotiations table with Azerbaijan. We the sheeple should have likewise understood that the Artsakh dispute would not end well. The Armenian world, myself included, was so drunk throughout the 1990s with our newly gained independence and our pyrrhic yet historic victory in Artsakh, that we completely blinded ourselves to the geopolitical realities of the world we live in. We therefore chose to totally shun men like Petrosyan, and instead chose to watch "Kill Dim" cartoons to reinforce the self-serving notion in us that we Armenians did not need to compromise over Artsakh because we are a superior people, and because we had justice on our side. Artsakh and all the surrounding territories were historic Armenian lands. We Armenians had spilled precious blood to liberate that sacred land. Therefore, every square centimeter of Artsakh would forever be ours. Influential men like Vazgen Sargsyan and political organizations like the ARF embodied these kinds of sentiments.

While Petrosyan was indeed the person solely responsible for most of Armenia's post-Soviet ailments, when it came to Artsakh and geopolitics, he understood the situation and the game better than all of us. He knew from day one that the collective West (aka international community) and Moscow were not on-board with our claims over Artsakh. He therefore knew that the matter would not end well for Armenia. Here are some of Petrosyan's most notable interviews from recent years. I strongly recommend watching them all:
Հարցազրույց Լևոն Տեր-Պետրոսյանի հետ
Օրակարգից դուրս. Լևոն Տեր-Պետրոսյան
Ուրվագիծ 28.03.2017 Լևոն Տեր-Պետրոսյան
Հարցազրույց Լևոն Տեր-Պետրոսյանի հետ
The following video clip from 1993 is particularly historic, as well as prophetic. Levon Ter Petrosyan is giving a stern talk to a group of men that includes Robert Kocharyan, Arkady Ghukasyan and Samvel Babayan. He is asking those present: now that we have defeated Azerbaijan, are we ready to fight the entire world? He goes on to say that the international community knows what it needs to do regarding the Artsakh dispute, and adds that Armenia's belligerence is also turning a friendly Russia into an enemy. This talk was given at the height of Armenia's historic victories in Artsakh in 1993 that saw Armenians capture the seven territories around Artsakh:
Before I am accused of being pro-Levon Ter Petrosyan, allow me to add the following as well: being correct in certain geopolitical matters does not absolve Petrosyan from his many sins against Armenia and Artsakh. Petrosyan is the root cause of all of Armenia's and Artsakh's failures during the last thirty-plus years. Petrosyan is Nikol's spiritual father. Petrosyan is basically a more intelligent and a more refined version of Nikol. That does not make him a better person. Petrosyan was and continues to be a Globalist stooge. He knows what the international community wants simply because he serves them. What I am therefore lamenting about is not that I was wrong about Petrosyan, but that we as a people did not have an alternative statesman capable of solving the Artsakh dispute in-accordance with some of what the international community wanted, but at the same time not by totally disregarding Armenia's and Artsakh's core interests either. Simply put, I am lamenting about not having a strong and competent leadership with foresight and strong ties inside the halls of the Kremlin to fix the Artsakh problem before the geopolitical tide would turn against us. I am lamenting that we as a people didn't understand or appreciate Machiavelli's advise: "There is no avoiding war. It can only be postponed to your enemy's advantage". What I am therefore ultimately lamenting about is that it did not have to end this way. We knew from Armenia's top two statesmen in 1990s, Levon Ter Petrosyan and Karen Demirchyan, that the dispute over Artsakh was a very serious matter for both, Russia and the international community. We therefore knew that the entire world was against Armenia in matters pertaining to Artsakh. We therefore knew that the matter needed to be taken very seriously by Armenia's leadership. Settling the dispute through needed negotiations and compromises should not have been put-off or avoided. The matter should not been passed from one administration to the next, with each administration hoping that they would not have be the one to deal with its final, painful resolution. Not resolving the Artsakh dispute when we could have in the past is ultimately how Nikol was brought to the political scene. We had two choice: war or peace. We chose neither. Speaking of Karen Demirchyan. Perhaps not as historic as the video recording where Levon Ter Petrosyan is lecturing rebel leaders in Artsakh, but an equally important archival video from the mid-1990s is the following interview featuring Karen Demirjyan:
Karen Demirjyan was the First Secretary of the Armenian Communist Party of Soviet Armenia (i.e. leader of Soviet Armenia) from 1974 to 1988. The period I am referring to is roughly the time when Azerbaijan's leader Heydar Aliyev would come to Armenia to commemorate the 1918 defeat of the Turkish army at Sardarapat. Karen Demirjyan remained active in politics throughout the post-Soviet period until his assassination on October 27, 1999. While I am not particularly a fan of either, in the visual clarity that hindsight provides, Demirchyan and Petrosyan were nevertheless one of the very few voices of reason at the time. In the interview above Demirchyan is claiming that in the tumultuous aftermath of the anti-Armenian Sumgait pogroms/massacres in early 1988, Soviet authorities, with the approval of Soviet Baku (led by Ilham's father, Heydar Aliyev), were ready to officially grant Artsakh the status of autonomous republic under Soviet supervision but, according to Demirchian, Armenian rebels refused the offer. It's important to remember here that nationalists from the traditional diaspora in the late 1980s, some genuine some not so, were pouring into Armenia and Artsakh, in some cases by the help of Western intelligence agencies (as in the case of Paruyr Hayrikyan and in all likelihood Monte Melkonian), for the sole purpose of helping Armenia and/or Artsakh secede from the USSR. A similar process was taking place in other areas of the USSR as well. It was a Western-Globalist effort to collapse the Soviet Union. By late 1980s, Soviet authorities in Moscow were struggling to keep control of their vast and diverse empire, and its opponents around the world were actively seeking ways to strike the mortal blow. This is one of the least talked about geopolitical factors that lay behind the Armenian struggle for Artsakh's liberation. And this was the reason why seasoned statemen like Karen Demirchyan opposed the war. In any case, Armenians at the time were dead-set on breaking from the USSR and uniting Armenia with Artsakh. Karen Demirchyan believed that it was a serious mistake. He believed that the matter concerning Artsakh could have been resolved without much bloodshed and destruction had Armenians simply accepted Artsakh's self-autonomy under Russian supervision rather than the territory's unification with Armenia. He continued believing this even after the dissolution of the USSR in 1991 and Armenia's victory over Azerbaijan in 1994. Demirchyan goes on to say in the following interview that the Soviet authorities in Moscow directly complained to him in 1988 that rebel leaders in Artsakh had rejected Moscow's offer to grant Artsakh self-autonomy under Soviet rule. Demirchyan believed the Soviet leadership should have simply stepped-in and take direct control over Artsakh. Long story short, this didn't happen as geopolitical events in the late 1980s had taken a life of their own and the USSR was weakening with each passing day. Now that the Armenian ego has come crashing down, let's see if Karen Demirchyan's thirty year old suggestion, voiced again by Hayk Babukhanyan in the following very interesting interview from a couple of months ago, will get anywhere in Armenian society:
What have we therefore learned from any of our mistakes spanning thirty-plus years? In hindsight, what would have been the best policy or approach with respect to Artsakh? Yerevan should have done everything possible to lure Russian troops into Artsakh (not "international peacekeepers" like Petrosyan wanted). Yerevan should have unconditionally pulled-back from the five eastern and southern territories surrounding Artsakh. Yerevan should have officially recognized Artsakh's unification with Armenia or, if that proved problematic from a geopolitical standpoint, Yerevan should have instead recognized Artsakh's self-autonomy and signed a defense treaty with Stepanakert. Worst case scenario, Yerevan should have encouraged Moscow to take total control over Artsakh. This should have been done early on, at a time when Armenia and Artsakh enjoyed a clear advantage over Azerbaijan. Unless certain geopolitical, military and economic factors are forecasted to be in a nation's favor indefinitely, that nation should never keep putting-off the settlement of an important geopolitically matter if there is a chance to do so. I personally believe we had chances to settle the dispute between 1994 and 2014. Moreover, there needed to be serious investments on defense and education. If Ukrainians could build formidable defenses against Russia and if Hamas and Hezbollah could build formidable defenses against Israel, Armenia could do the same, and even more, against Azerbaijan. We proved to the world that Azeris wanted their Qarabağ more than we Armenians wanted our Artsakh. There needed to be a serious crackdown on corruption and waste. There needed to be a serious crackdown on the activities of Western NGOs and diasporan activists working in service of Western powers and Turkish interests. Complimentary politics should have been put to death, especially after 2008. What's more, Yerevan should have placed serious effort on organizing and mobilizing Russia's large, affluent and influential Armenian diaspora. Finally, a process of Armenia's reintegration with Russia should have started early-on. This should have been done in total disregard of public opinion and/or complaints from the traditional diaspora, and all opposition to it should have been ruthlessly crushed. Simply put, Yerevan should have concentrated its full potential on forming or manipulating the geopolitical landscape to serve Armenia's and Artsakh's long-term interests, while it could still do so. In other words, we as a people should have had the wisdom, intelligence, foresight and the pragmatism to make Armenia and Artsakh indispensable for the Kremlin. What we did was the exact opposite. Had we secured for Armenia and/or Artsakh the political status enjoyed today by Belarus or even Chechnya, we would not be where we are today. Because of our political illiteracy (e.g. the counterproductive stupidity called complimentary politics), our legendary greed (i.e. craving the good life at all cost), and our love of all things American/European (democracy, free press, human rights, NGOs, aid, grants, etc.), we maneuvered Armenia right out of the political contention it was in and straight into the isolation and dead end it is in today.

I do realize that all this is much easier said than done. I also realize that everything is seen much more clearly in hindsight. This is why the "street" cannot be involved in making political policy. This is why "democracy" is toxic, especially for a people like us Armenians. This is why we needed serious think tanks, state institutions and a cadre of experienced diplomats to help Armenia and Artsakh navigate through the geopolitical storm in the region. We could have settled the Artsakh dispute when we were still in a position of strength. We could have joined the Union State with Russian and Belarus when it was still possible to do so. Had we as a people done any of the aforementioned, we would not have seen the capitulation of Stepanakert and the depopulation of Artsakh. All of them - Levon, Robert and Serj - failed to secure Armenia's and Artsakh's security. All of them are therefore responsible, directly or indirectly, for bringing Nikol and his team of Western-financed Russophobes and Turkophiles to power in 2018. All of them brought evil to Armenia and Artsakh. Of all of them, however, President Robert Kocharyan was and still remains the lesser evil. Perhaps a bit too late, President Kocharyan did nevertheless have the political wisdom and honesty to encourage Armenia's reintegration with Russia, recognize that only Russia can neutralize Turkey in the south Caucasus, and call for the curbing of Western activity in the country.
 
In my opinion, while Nikol is certainly the only one that is directly responsible for the tragedy Artsakh suffered, the blame for Nikol's rise to power however goes to Serj Sargsyan's government. Similar to how no conversation about Artsakh is complete without discussing Levon Ter Petrosyan, no conversation about Nikol is complete without discussing Serj Sargsyan.
 
Regardless of his intention or motivation, it was Serj Sargsyan's government that failed to settle the Artsakh dispute after 2008, when the writing first appeared on the wall. It was Serj Sargsyan's government that failed to do away with Vartan Oskanian's complimentary politics once it had begun to work against Armenia's strategic interests. It was Serj Sargsyan's government that allowed the flourishing of Western-financed NGOs and political activists in the country that sowed the seeds of a Color Revolution. Finally, it was Serj Sargsyan's government that meekly stepped aside and allowed Nikol and his team of Western-financed Russophobes and Turkophiles to take power in 2018. For what it's worth, it should also be mentioned that in late 2018, Alexander Dugin suggested that Nikol's rise to power in Armenia was designed to undermine a comprehensive peace plan brokered by Moscow at the time that according to him was in its advanced stages. This needless to say was a very loaded comment by the well-known political philosopher from Russia:
Alexander Dugin's comments are some serious food for thought so to speak. If what he said back in 2018 was true, and I have no reason to think he would be lying about something like this, it raises a very important question: was Nikol's rise to power in 2018 an attempt by Serj Sargsyan's government to delay or undercut an unpopular, Russian-brokered peace plan that expected Armenia to surrender the five or seven territories around Artsakh, or was Nikol's rise to power in 2018 ultimately a Western-Turkish run operation designed to stop Moscow's peace plan from coming into fruition and push forward a Western-Turkish plan? Or was it a combination of both? If the motivation for bringing Nikol and his team of Western-financed Russophobes and Turkophiles to power in 2018 was the former, that is, it was an Armeno-centric plan by Serj Sargsyan's regime meant to sabotage Moscow's unpopular plan, then it backfired miserably. If it was the latter, and Nikol was elevated to power by Western and Turkish interests, perhaps with Serj Sargsyan's approval, to specifically undermine Russia, then it has been a rousing success. Moscow was indeed eventually pushed-out of the political equation in Artsakh by the combined efforts of Western, Turkish, Azeri and Armenian interests. I personally believe that Nikol's rise to power in 2018 was indeed a Western and Turkish run operation (again, follow the money trail) specifically designed to undermine Moscow's growing political clout in Artsakh and undermine, like Alexander Dugin suggests, Moscow's efforts to settle the dispute under its terms and conditions. Serj Sargssyan may have willingly gone along with the plan, or was somehow forced or trapped into it. It should also be added here that the West's intention may have also been related to creating new conflict zones for Moscow in order to "extend Russia" ahead of the war in Ukraine. In any case, by late 2022, Foreign Minister Lavrov more-or-less confirmed that Nikol's regime and Western powers obstructing Moscow's effort to end the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. I therefore subscribe to the belief that in matters pertaining to Artsakh, Moscow simply got outmaneuvered by Western powers, Turks, Azeris and last but not least Nikol's regime:
In any case, the precise role played by Serj Sargsyan in 2018 will be determined by historians and political analysts in the future. At the moment, some think he was recruited by Western powers, and some, like his representatives, think his hand was forced. In my opinion, Serj Sargsyan clearly had a hand in what happened in 2018. What is not clear however is his motivation. Serj Sargsyan remains an enigma for me. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that Serj Sargsyan and Levon Ter Petrosyan are currently playing major roles in the nation's politics, albeit behind the scenes. Although Petrosyan and Sargsyan were most intimately involved in bringing Nikol to power in 2018 and keeping him there, I don't think that even they could imagine how disastrous Nikol's reign could have been.

Ultimately, between the years of 1994 and 2020, it was the Armenia-side that acted rigid, arrogant, indecisive, incompetent and treasonous. President Putin went out of his way to point this out during a press conference recentlyIn hindsight, the proposal/offer to President Serj Sargsyan in 2016 seems to have been Yerevan's last chance to avoid a disaster as a major geopolitical storm approached the region. In my opinion, Serj Sargsyan rejected the offer at the time not because of patriotism or any other lofty principal, but most likely because of narrow, personal reasons. Serj Sargsyan knew he was hated by the Armenian World. He therefore must have known that he could not deliver on the offer without sparking serious complications that would ultimately jeopardizing his health and accumulated wealth. By 2018, with the gathering geopolitical storm already visible on the horizon, it was too late to do anything. This is basically when Serj Sargsyan decided to give the reigns of power in Yerevan to Nikol's Western and Turkish led team. In hindsight, giving up the five regions outside Artsakh, keeping the two regions between Artsakh and Armenia, and bolstering Moscow's political standing in the south Caucasus would have been a dream come true for Armenia and Artsakh. With all that being said, I do not think anyone in Armenia's traditional political landscape, including Serj Sargsyan, including Levon Ter Petrosyan, could imagine just how bad things would actually turn-out under Nikol's very treasonous and equally incompetent rule.

Geopolitically speaking, Armenia's approach to Artsakh was doomed from day one
 
While Nikol certainly was the monster sent to destroy Artsakh, it should also be said that Artsakh, as envisioned by Armenian nationalists, was doomed from day one. For the thirty-five years since the conflict had started, a vast majority of Armenians could not even get themselves to call the territory by its Armenian name, Artsakh. For some strange reason, Armenians worldwide kept referring to the territory almost exclusively by its Turkic name, Karabakh. Or, worst yet, Gharabagh. Although calling the territory by its Turkish name for the past thirty-plus years was quite indicative of where the Armenian psyche stood on the matter, that was actually the least of the problems Artsakh faced. Even though the war of liberation was won in 1994, the political leadership in Armenia could not get themselves to officially recognize the Artsakh's independence or its unification with Armenia. Neither did Yerevan ask Moscow to take control over the territory. Neither did Yerevan take any serious steps to once and for all settle the dispute by pulling back from the five or seven additional territories taken outside of Artsakh's recognized borders and allow the deployment of Russian peacekeeping troops, as Moscow had wanted. Simply put, nothing was done. The Artsakh dispute had remained unresolved, and Artsakh had thus remained unrecognized not only by the international community, including Russia and Iran, but also by Armenia. Fear that a major war would erupt if Artsakh was recognized by Armenia was Yerevan's official reason for not doing so. The excuse made some sense, as long as there wasn't a war. Then a war came in 2020, and Yerevan still did not recognize Artsakh's independence. President Putin pointed this out in the immediate aftermath of the war in 2020. Moreover, although we knew that Kremlin officials held the key to a proper settlement of the said dispute, we instead went shopping in places like Washington D.C., Brussels and Paris in hopes that we could somehow avoid or delay the inevitable. The years between 1994 and 2018 looked as if Yerevan wanted to keep Artsakh, but at the same time was not taking any serious steps towards realizing that goal. President Putin recently pointed this out as well. Everything official Yerevan did and did not do vis-à-vis Artsakh basically aggravated the situation. Everything official Yerevan did and did not do regarding the issue was basically designed towards putting-off or delaying the matter. Official Yerevan seemed to be hoping and gambling that something may somehow work-out in Armenia's favor some day in the future. In other words, it was the height of irresponsibility, political illiteracy, cognitive dissonance and wishful thinking. Ultimately, we as a people weren't able to finalize our victory in Artsakh in 1994. We were therefore eventually made to give it up.
 
In final analysis, Azeris proved that they wanted their "Qarabağ" more than we Armenians wanted our Artsakh.
 
While Nikol certainly was indeed the monster that was sent to destroy Artsakh, it should also be said that Artsakh, as envisioned by Armenian nationalists, was doomed from day one, for the simple reason that the entire political world were against Yerevan's "expansionistic" claims over it. By winning the first war in Artsakh in spectacular fashion in the early 1990s, Yerevan had therefore basically ran afoul of the international community (i.e. major political players on earth, primarily Western powers, but also including Moscow). Ironically, it was Russian weapons supplies that made Armenia's spectacular gains in the summer of 1993 possible. Nevertheless, from the perspective of international order, internationally recognized national borders could not be changed by-force regardless of reason. This was especially the case when it came to lesser/smaller nations trying to correct the wrongs of history, as Armenians saw themselves doing. All the major powers on earth exist after-all on lands that they have conquered from other peoples. It is therefore not a surprise that international law is written by the powerful to control the weak. Here we had a situation in 1994 where Armenians had not only liberated the officially recognized territory of Nagorno-Karabakh by military force, but had also taken an additional seven territories, compromising approximately one-fifth of Azerbaijan's landmass. Armenia's historic victory in the chaotic aftermath of the USSR's fall in the early 1990s had thus pitted little Armenia against not only the Turkic world but also against the international community. As already noted above, Levon Ter Petrosyan at the time warned that Armenia was heading into serious problems, not only with the international community but also with Russia. Karen Demirchyan was similarly concerned. In any case, we Armenians had gotten Armenia and Artsakh into a serious fight that we Armenians, with our problematic and complicated traits I always talk about, simply speaking could not win. With the political world order, including Russia, including Iran, against Armenia's claims over Artsakh, Armenia would eventually prove unable to digest what it had acquired in the early 1990s.
 
Thus, Artsakh remained stuck in our throats for nearly thirty years. The prevailing geopolitical situation at the time had served to freeze the conflict, but time ultimately would prove not to be on Artsakh's side.
 
As Baku was developing into a powerful state by establishing powerful lobbying groups around the world, by cracking-down on toxic Western/Globalist influences such as "democracy" and "press freedoms" in Azerbaijan, by spreading anti-Armenian hate throughout Azerbaijani society, and by building-up its armed forces, Armenians were enthusiastically turning Armenia into a Potemkin Village, as well as a pay-to-play amusement park for competing powers in the region. Instead of taking Artsakh security seriously, we were gleefully producing "Kill Dim" cartoons to taunt and insult Azeris. Post-Soviet Armenian society was fundamentally ill, but only a few understood this. The early post-Soviet period in Armenia and Artsakh saw political pragmatism, patriotism and heroism coexist with civic irresponsibility, corruption, treachery and political illiteracy. With each passing year, the civic irresponsibility, corruption, treachery and political illiteracy increased in volume and intensity. The political pragmatism, heroism and patriotism of the early 1990s soon became fleeting memories. Making matters worst was the cultural degeneracy that became rife in the post-Soviet period. By 2020, the civic irresponsibility, apathy, mass migration, tribalism, materialism, corruption, greed, thievery, treachery, cognitive dissonance and political illiteracy had come to completely overshadowed the politically pragmatic, heroic and patriotic elements in both, Armenia and Artsakh. Like so, by 2020, Armenians had systematically maneuvered Armenia and Artsakh out of political contention and straight into geopolitical isolation and a dead-end.
 
Reminder: we Armenians won the war of liberation in Artsakh in by 1994 in part because we were able to win Russia's support after 1991. Starting in early 1992, when there no longer was Soviet borders for the Kremlin to preserve and Azerbaijan had just elected a pro-Western president, Moscow began pouring into Armenia massive amounts of Soviet-made weapons systems and military advisors to help Yerevan's war effort in Artsakh. This was why the tide-of-war began to change in Armenia's favor in early 1992. Moreover, Armenia was able to win the first war because "Soviet" society in Armenia at the time was far-superior to today's "independence" society. Soviet Armenia was in-fact a highly developed republic we Armenians could genuinely take pride in. Soviet generation of Armenians were far-superior to today's malnourished and undereducated "independence" generation that grew up on American-style sitcoms, Indian-style soap operas, Rap, Gap, and dreams of Eurovision, "biznis", easy money, Dubai and the good life in sunny "Los"In any case, with total disregard to geopolitical realities surrounding us at the time, we bit-off more than we could swallow. Artsakh therefore remained stuck in our throats. Everything official Yerevan did vis-à-vis Artsakh in the subsequent years was basically designed to put-off or delay the inevitable. The inevitable being war or very painful concessions. Concurrent to official Yerevan's delaying strategies, instead of taking measures to also strengthen Armenia's and Artsakh's geopolitical standing in the region, post-Soviet Armenian society was put into a steep cultural decline. As a result, the delay games played by Armenian officials since 1994 did not work to our Armenia's or Artsakh's advantage. In other words, the chickens finally came home to roost. We should have known better. This is what President Putin had in mind when he recently said: "for 15 years Russia had been offering Armenia to compromise and return five districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan and keep the other two, but Armenia refused... Russia had long offered Armenia ways to resolve the Karabakh issue, but Yerevan refused, expressing readiness to fight".
 
Five hundred years ago Niccolo Machiavelli reminded us that "there is no avoiding war. It can only be postponed to your enemy's advantage".
 
Nikol was finally sent by the lords of this world to make us regurgitate what we had long proven we could not digest. Nevertheless, between the years 1994 and 2020, Armenia was able to preserve the status quo in Artsakh against the wishes of the international community not because "Armenians were superior to Turks" or "Turks were afraid of the almighty Armenian Diaspora", as we all desperately wanted to believe all those years, but simply because the status quo at the time served Moscow's interests. Moscow's interests at the time clearly converged with that of Armenia's and Artsakh's. The geopolitical status quo at the time was fully in Russia's interests as it gave Moscow officials political leverage over both, Yerevan and Baku. Through Artsakh, Moscow was keeping Armenia and Azerbaijan dependent and obedient. It should also be mentioned that it's precisely this "Russian meddling" in Armenia's political affairs that Nikol and his supporters in Armenian society have been complaining about for many years. In their view, Russia was stoking the flames of inter-ethnic conflict and had to be stopped if Armenia was to enjoy its independence. In their view, the Kremlin was standing in the way of peace and prosperity in the south Caucasus. This is why certain circles in Armenian society have done their best since the 1990s to "free" Armenia from both, Russia and Artsakh.
 
 
This geopolitical shift in the halls of the Kremlin accelerated between the years 2011 and 2014. As a consequence of the 2014 Western-backed coup d'état in Kiev, a country that Moscow sees as its own, and the Western-instigated civil war in Syria, where Russia has a strategic military presence, Ukraine and Syria had suddenly become the focal points of the Kremlin's attention. From Moscow's perspective, both conflict zones would require good relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan. And with Yerevan finding itself outside of the Russian fortress as a result of the pan-Armenian effort to westernize and democratize Armenia, the newly developing geopolitical atmosphere in the Kremlin would not bode well for Artsakh. This was around the time when Baku and Ankara sensed an opportunity to advance their interests. The four day war in 2016 was most likely a trial-run as well as a warning. President Lukashenko's unprecedented proposal that came soon after the said war was most probably a last-ditch effort by Moscow to resolve the Artsakh dispute before the events of Ukraine. The writing nevertheless was clearly on the wall. Armenia's political elite at the time must have understood this.
 
By 2018, professional Russophobes had taken control in ArmeniaNikol's unexpected rise to power in Yerevan did not come by chance. Moscow's acquiescence to Nikol's regime was not by chance either.
 
In hindsight, with Armenia finding itself outside of the Russian fortress, it is more than obvious to me that Moscow had come to some compromise with Western, Turkish and Azeris interests ahead of its war in Ukraine. Nikol's regime was its offspring. Having been placed out of the geopolitical contention and into a dead end, Armenia was in a sense being systematically primed for changes by friend and foe alike. By 2020, Baku and Ankara registered their first victoryBy early 2022, Russia was fully engaged in a major war against the collective West. Russia's setbacks in the war in Ukraine would have dire repercussions for Artsakh. The moment Russian troops invaded Ukraine and the Western-backed leadership in Kiev decided to resist to-the-death, therefore forcing the Kremlin to embark on a large-scale war against the collective West in the country, a very dangerous geopolitical vacuum was created in the south Caucasus. This is when Baku and Ankara filled the void. Having limited resources at-hand as a result of its conflict with the collective West in Ukraine and therefore not prepared to openly oppose Baku and Ankara, Moscow upgraded its diplomatic ties with Baku ahead of the war in Ukraine. At the same time, Moscow seems to have given Tehran the permission to increase its activity in Armenia. Moscow today fears losing Baku's and Ankara's neutrality over the war in UkraineIt is therefore very plausible that Moscow, which has allied relations with Tehran, may have asked Tehran to essentially watch-over Armenia on its behalf because, as noted above, it has the need to maintain good relations with Baku and AnkaraIn my opinion, everything that has taken place in Armenia and Artsakh since 2016 should be looked at from within the backdrop I described above.
 
Mkhitar Sparapet and Prince Thoros are the quintessential Armenian tragedies

"Anyone that wants to know what will happen in the future should examine what has happened in the past. Everything in the world today has their replicas in the ancient world". This was written five hundred years ago by Niccolo Machiavelli. Recent years feel oddly familiar to me. It strangely feels as if we have been through all this before. And maybe we have. History does indeed repeat. There is also a thing called genetic memory. Studying Armenian history teaches us that more things change, the more they stay the same.
 
Many Armenians have heard the name Mkhitar Sparapet. An accomplished military commander, Mkhitar Sparapet was the contemporary of another great military leader, David Bek. Both were natives of southern Armenia's Syunik and Artsakh region, and both became famous for leading the first liberation movement in modern Armenian historyBoth legendary men had achieved great success on the battlefield and they were in-contact with the Russian Empire, which had still not expanded into to the south Caucasus at the time, to ask Russians to intervene in their struggle. Many Armenians have seen the two-part Soviet-era film about the time period. Mkhitar Sparapet and David Bek would soon discover however that they were disliked by the "Armenian Street" and by Armenia's "economic elite" at the time. Why would such great men be disliked by their compatriots? The answer, I am afraid, is all-too-familiar in Armenian history. They were disliked because their liberation struggle had become a great inconvenience to the livelihoods of the region's Armenian population. Armenians basically wanted to live quietly and in peace with their Turkic-Islamic overlords, and men like David Bek and Mkhitar Sparapet were making their lives difficult.
 
Consequently, Mkhitar Sparapet and David Bek did not die in battle against any Ottoman, Persian or any other Turkic- Islamic army. David Bek died in his stronghold from a mysterious illness that may have been caused by poisoning. Mkhitar Sparapet died at the hands of his compatriots. As the legendary military commander was passing through the southern Armenian village of Khndzoresk, Armenian peasants took the opportunity to thank him for his services to the homeland by murdering him, beheading him and then delivering his severed head to the Turkish Pasha of Tabriz as a reconciliation gift. According to legend, the Turkish Pasha was so disgusted by their treasonous and dastardly act that he ordered their beheading. Thus, Armenians treacherously murder one of their great military leaders, one who was trying to liberate his people from Ottoman, Persian and Islamic rule, essentially because the military struggle for Armenian liberation that men like Mkhitar Sparapet and David Bek were embarking upon against Turks and Persians was threatening the livelihood of the region's Armenian population. By getting rid of Mkhitar Sparapet, the "Armenian Street" at the time thought they could continue living their peaceful lives as tolerated infidels under Islamic rule. A hundred years later, the Russian Empire would conquer the territory from Persians and Ottomans, and the Armenian epoch would be given new life.

Mkhitar Sparapet's death marked the anticlimactic end of the 18th-century Armenian liberation struggle in Syunik and Artsakh. Does it sound familiar?
 
In modern times, the desire to live peacefully with Turks and Azeris was the main motivation behind the betrayal and subsequent murder of Artsakh. Three hundred years after Mkhitar Sparapet's tragic murder at the hands of his treasonous compatriots, the Armenian peasantry has essentially done the same with Artsakh. Artsakh was murdered and beheaded, and presented to Turks as a peace-offering. Artsakh was getting in the way of Armenia's development. Artsakh was getting in the way of personal ambitions. Artsakh was being used by Moscow as a political lever over Armenia. Artsakh was getting in the way of peaceful coexistence with neighboring Turkic peoples. Artsakh therefore had to be gotten rid of. Getting back to the great tragedy that took place some three hundred years ago. Armenians wanted to live well, but Artsakh was getting in the way. Ultimately, Armenians sacrificed Artsakh at the alter of materialism. Mkhitar Sparpet's tomb is found not far from where he was murdered by the Armenian peasants. On his tomb one can read haunting words: "from the land of Ganja (a town located in historic Artsakh and known in Armenian as Gandzak), died young without having reached his goal". 
 
Three hundred years later, the same can now be written on Artsakh tomb: "from the land of Artsakh, died young without having reached his goal".

We Armenians have always placed our narrow, personal interests and the security of our private domains above that of our nation's interests and security. As a collective body, as a people, we do not comprehend or appreciate the importance of statehood, 
we do not comprehend the fundamental necessity to unconditionally rally around our state, we do not have the zeal to fight for what is ours, and we don't recognize the authority of other Armenians over us. This is why I keep saying that we as a people are not ready for independence, nor do we deserve independence. The past thirty-two years, and the last six years in particular, is its proof. This is why I say, we need to go back into the Russian fortress, for Armenia's sake. Otherwise, we simply won't survive in a place like the south Caucasus. I always bring up the life and death of Mkhitar Sparapet as a quintessential Armenian story, a story we needed to derive important lessons from. Needless to say, he is not the only Armenian leader martyred at the hands of his compatriots. Unfortunately, there are many.
 
Sadly, the life and death of Prince Thoros of Edessa also reads like another typical Armenian story.

T
he ancient city of Edessa had come under Armenian rule by the late 11-th century. Its leader was an elderly Armenian man known to history as Prince Thoros. Prince Thoros was hated by the city's predominantly Armenian population because he was a member of the Eastern (Greek) Orthodox Church and therefore politically allied to Byzantium. This apparently did not sit well with the Armenian church, as well as Armenian princes opposed to Byzantium. Sounds familiar? Armenians today hate men like Serj Sargsyan, Robert Kocharyan, Sergey Lavrov, Margarita Simonyan, Anastas Mikoyan, etc., essentially because they are "Russified" and therefore pro-Russian. Getting back to the story of Prince Thoros of Edessa. Unexpectedly, a few dozen heavily armed and armored Frankish Crusaders led by a very ambitious and cunning Norman knight by the name of Baldwin of Boulogne (later known as Baldwin I of Jerusalem) showed up at the gates of Edessa in 1098. Perhaps impressed with the imposing sight of these physically large and heavily armed Christian warriors adorned with crucifixes standing at their gate, Armenians quickly invited them into the city and asked them for protection against Seljuk Turks that were increasingly becoming a problem in the region at the time. For his part, Baldwin of Boulogne simply wanted to make a name for himself by becoming the first Frankish leader to establish a Crusader state in the Holy Land. Edessa, although some distance away from Jerusalem, would be good enough alternative for the time being. And luck would be on his side.

The fortified city of Edessa, an ancient and historic town on the road to the Holy Land, proved to be a good candidate for the Norman's political ambitions because of the bad sociopolitical situation he found in the Armenian-controlled town. From a Frankish perspective, control of Edessa must have been seen as a strategic stepping-stone for their final goal of conquering Jerusalem. Soon after the arrival of the Frankish knights into the city, a major riot mysteriously erupted against Prince Thoros and he was overthrown. Not allowing a crisis to go to waste, these handful of cunning westerners quickly took control over the entire city. All of a sudden, a medieval "regime change" of sorts had just taken place. How did these handful of Franks manage such a quick conquest of a major city in an exotic land far away from their homes? Simple: the Franks first tricked the aging Armenian prince into adopting Baldwin of Boulogne as his son by promising the prince and his embattled city much needed military protection against Turks and other Muslim tribes in the region. Once the Frankish knights were comfortably settled in the walled city, they wasted no time in fomented a popular uprising against the prince, who they knew was hated by his people.

According to chroniclers from the time, the uprising in the city that was in all likelihood organized by the Franks, saw the Prince Thoros get torn to pieces by an angry Armenian mob. After Armenians brutally murdered their prince, they enthusiastically accepted Baldwin of Boulogne, now Count of Edessa, someone they did not even know existed until very recently, as their ruler. After the successful "color revolution" of Edessa in 1098 AD, Armenians were finally living happily as subjects of these ambitious westerners, until these ambitious westerners set their sights on the biblical city Jerusalem and decided to basically abandon Edessa to its fate. Eventually, with Crusaders gone, Byzantines weakened and Armenians impotent, Edessa fell into Turkic/Islamic hands. After which, Armenians began living happily as subjects of Turks and Muslim. The reader should have noticed many uncomfortable and troubling parallels between the tragic stories about Mkhitar Sparapet and Prince Thoros and more recent, equally troubling events in Armenian history. Sadly, history repeats and the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Moral of the story: Armenians place narrow, personal interests above that of the nation or state; Armenians will always find reasons and excuses to hate their leaders and their neighbors; Armenians behave their best when ruled over by oppressive foreigners; Armenians are the primary authors of all the blackest and most embarrassing pages in Armenian history. Long story short, for much of the past two thousand years Armenia's most persistent and most dangerous enemy has been the Armenian ego. It is the Armenian ego that drives the Armenian to always place personal ambition above that of the greater good. It is the Armenian ego that drives the Armenian to always place personal ambition above the interests of his or her homeland. Throughout history Armenia's internal or domestic enemies have always been more destructive than its external enemies. The following words were spoken by Cicero more than two thousands years ago but they fully apply today:
"A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and he carries his banners openly. But the traitor moves among those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not traitor, he speaks in the accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their garments, and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of a city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to be feared" - Cicero, 42 B.C.
Two thousand years on, it is no different today. Cicero's words are specially poignant for us Armenians. Our homeland's geographic location demands that we as a people need to be flawless. We have however thus far proven to be an incompetent and impotent people when it comes to nation-building. Armenians love complaining, arguing, whining, quarreling, gossiping, throwing temper-tantrums when things don't go their way and packing their bags, and abandoning their homeland when things get tough. Armenians demand independence from Russia, yet they also expect Russia to fight for Armenia every time Turks attack. It's political illiteracy and cognitive dissonance in full display. This kind of behavior - coupled with a strong streak for jealousy, greed, materialism, tribalism and arrogance - makes Armenians susceptible for manipulation by foreign intelligence agencies. This is why we have "well meaning" Armenians today, such as our "democratizers", promoting agendas in Armenian society that are essentially serving Western and Turkish interests. What Armenia really needs today is a population and by-extension a leadership that is willing to put aside its tribalism, greed, arrogance and personal ambitions and seriously begin thinking about the country's future. More than any particular type of government, what Armenians need to embrace is the following kind of political wisdom:
“For the power of the nation-state by no means consists only in its armed forces, but also in its economic and technological resources, in the dexterity, foresight and resolution with which its foreign policy is conducted; the efficiency of its social and political organizations. It consists most of all in the nation itself, the people; their skills, energy, ambition, discipline, initiative; their beliefs, myths and illusions. And it consists, further, in the way all these factors are related to one another. Moreover, national power has to be considered not only in itself, in its absolute extent, but relative to the state’s foreign or imperial obligations; it has to be considered relative to the power of other states” - Correlli Barnett 
I reiterate: it's the arrogance, egotism, self-righteousness, individualism, emotions, greed, jealously, tribalism, materialism, political illiteracy, cognitive dissonance and the toxic love of all things Western getting in the way of nation-building today. For this situation to improve, for us to evolve as a people, we will need at least several generations of peace and stability, and perhaps even a fresh dose of compatible foreign DNA in our gene pool. I do not want to compare Armenians to other nationalities. As I have previously said, we Armenians are more capable in certain aspects of life on earth than many other nationalities today. Yes, we have been blessed with many positive traits, but we have also been damned with quite a few destructive ones. Unfortunately, the flaws that we have are pronounced flaws that get in the way of Armenia's development. These flaws, as well as the region where Armenia is located in, is the reason why I place great emphasis on deepening Armenia's ties with Russia. Said otherwise, considering where Armenia is located and the flaws we exhibit as a people, Armenia cannot survive without a close union with RussiaUltimately, the secret to Armenia's health and prosperity is a more responsible citizenry, a stable sociopolitical climate in Armenia and close ties with the Russia. If Armenians refuse to understand this, Armenia will continue to stagnate and grapple with existential threats indefinitely.
 
Armenia could have been like a Belarus, Armenians instead chose to be like a Kurdistan

As the story goes, the belligerent and delirious Armenian house-cat that thought he was a courageous lion, ventured out of the safety of the bear's den, only to get mauled and nearly killed by a bunch of hungry wolves. Today, the Bear is dangling the delirious house-cat over the ramparts of his fortress just above the heads of the hungry wolves to keep them preoccupied for a while. For the past thirty-plus years, Armenians recklessly and mindlessly maneuvered Armenia out of geopolitical contention and straight into a geopolitical dead end. Some Armenians are still doing their best to make Armenia's plight even worst than it already is by trying to draw Western powers deeper into Armenia. I don't think such people can be this stupid. I therefore have no choice but to assume that they are Western and/or Turkish financed agents of influence. There is a segment within Armenian society that will not rest until Armenia disappears from the world map. Because of our "democratizers" and "westernizers", as a major geopolitical storm neared the south Caucasus, Armenia suddenly found itself outside of the Russian fortress, and alone. Armenians learned the hard away, once again, that Western powers, including the United States, including the Armenia's favorite France, were never and will never be a reliable life-line for Armenia. From the perspective of senior policymakers in the Kremlin, an Armenia outside of the Russian fortress is a country that Russia simply does not need. This is a very important geopolitical nuance Armenians need to seriously consider. In fact, an Armenia outside of the Russian orbit actually poses a direct threat to Russia. We also need to keep in mind that Moscow controls a lot of strategic levers, not only in Armenia but also throughout the region. If need be, Moscow can ignite a massive inferno throughout the south Caucasus. If there is the need, and Armenia breaking away from Russia would be one such need, Moscow can easily collapse the country entirely. The realization of this fact has been the main restraining factor stopping West-leaning officials in post-Soviet Armenia, including of course Nikol's regime, from embarking on such a risky adventure. This is why Nikol's regime has been trying to change Armenia's geopolitical vector slowly, gradually and incrementally. Again, Armenians need to seriously ponder this geopolitical equation. Simply put, while Russia may not be the perfect ally, it can however be a much worst enemy.
 
Kremlin officials will not sacrifice their geopolitical interests by ruining their relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan for a small number of problematic peasants with an undying Western fetish. And, if need be, they can kill what they resurrected two hundred years ago.
 
Regardless of whether Armenians like Russia/Russians or not, Armenians need to seriously think about all this before they entertain stupid thoughts about Western/European integration or changing the country's geopolitical vector. Armenians need to also be cognizant of the fact that driving a wedge between Russia and Armenia is something Westerners and Turkish have been pursuing for many decades. This is exactly what the ringleaders/masterminds behind Nikol's regime, as well as the army of professional Russophobes operating throughout Armenian society under the guise of "nationalism", "complimentary politics" or "democracy" have been seeking. Allow me to make one thing clear. The main intent of the West is not to harm Armenia per se. The primary goal of the Western, including Israeli, agenda in the south Caucasus is to control energy transportation routes, drive Russia out of the territory, and establish an anti-Iranian foothold there. That is the geopolitical extent of what the West is trying to accomplish in the region. In this context, Armenia is simply seen as a convenient tool to exploit towards that greater goal. If Armenia gets mortally wounded in the process, well, from a Western perspective, it is a price well worth paying. Simply put, Westerners and Turks want to bring Armenia out of Russia's protective umbrella so they could have their way with the south Caucasus. Anglo-American-Jews and Turks having their way in the south Caucasus does not bode well for Armenia, to say the least. It amazes me that Armenians generally speaking do not understand the inherently anti-Armenian nature of the Western world's anti-Russian and anti-Iranian agenda in the south Caucasus. The following, in a nutshell, is what it is all about:

Clinton Calls Eurasian Integration An Effort To 'Re-Sovietize'

The above is what our pro-Western activists have been pushing throughout Armenian society for decades. This anti-Armenian agenda outlined by various Western operatives succeeded to some degree after 2018, essentially because Moscow acquiesced to some of it due to serious geopolitical considerations that had come to fore by that time. Prior to 2018, we all knew that Russians wanted Armenians to make the necessary sacrifices in Artsakh and join them in their fortress. As a Nikol lemming admitted recently, Russians have wanted this since the 1990s. After 2018, it was already to late to save Armenia and Artsakh from the coming storm. Had Armenia's political leadership taken Moscow's political overtures seriously, and I am referring to all of Armenia's post-Soviet era ruling administrations, and concrete steps were taken to bring them to life, we could have ended the Artsakh dispute in our favor and entered into a close union with the Russian Federation. We said no to settling the Artsakh dispute via concessions during previous ruling administrations. We said no to settling the Artsakh dispute via concessions during this ruling administration. Even when we were soundly defeated on the battlefield and Russians stretched-out a hand of support, we said no to entering into a Union State with the Russian Federation. By keeping Armenia out of Russia and Russia out of Artsakh between 1994 and 2020, Armenians created a geopolitical vacuum in Artsakh. By its very nature, geopolitics has a strong aversion to vacuums. As soon as a political void is created in some place, there is always some political interest somewhere on earth that is ready to quickly fill it. This applies especially to strategic locations such as the south Caucasus. Western powers, Turkey and Israel were therefore quick to exploit the geopolitical vacuum created by Armenians in Artsakh. Again, by keeping Armenia out of Russia and Russia out of Artsakh, Armenians created a geopolitical vacuum in Artsakh. This void was quickly filled by Anglo-American-Jews and Turks. Long story short, Russians did not bring Turks into the Artsakh conflict, Armenians brought Turks, as well as Westerners and Israelis into the Artsakh conflict.
 

By 2018, Armenia had been effectively maneuvered outside of the Russian fortress as a result of the pan-Armenian effort to democratize and westernize the nation. Russians simply could not compete with Western-style social engineering and the civilizational/cultural lure of the Western world. Making matters worst, a major geopolitical storm was fast approaching the region. Moscow had to therefore make some hard decisions and prepare for a historic clash of civilizations. The year 2018 was also when Moscow began to quietly downgrade its ties to Yerevan. This was more-or-less when Armenians were given some of their much desired "independence". Russians were wagering/gambling that Armenia would not be going anywhere. In other words, Russians did not think, and still do not think, that they will lose Armenia as a foothold in the southern Caucasus regardless of who was in power in Yerevan. With Moscow therefore downgrading its ties to Yerevan, Western and Turkish interests used the opportunity to elevate Nikol and his team of Russophobes and Turkophiles to power. Artsakh was the main target of the effort.

From Moscow's perspective, Armenia is a tiny, remote, landlocked and impoverished country surrounded by predators, and desperately dependent on Russia for survival. Russians feel that they have enough leverage over Armenia to keep Yerevan in-line, regardless of who is in power in Yerevan. From the Kremlin's perspective, allowing Armenians to play around with "democracy" as a political compromise with Baku and Ankara (which gave birth to Nikol), as they tackle more important matters elsewhere, may have therefore been seen as a good gamble at the time. In my humble opinion, the Kremlin's assessment of Armenia/Armenians is mostly accurate. Armenia has been desperately dependent on Russia for survival ever since the country was resurrected by the Russian Bear some two hundred years ago. The situation is no different today. Armenia's is dependent on Moscow because Russia remains its only reliable source for energy, trade, investments, tourism, migrant remittances and military protection. Breaking news: Turkey and Azerbaijan have not made any serious inroads into Armenia not because they fear Western powers, Nikol's military or the Armenian Diaspora. Armenia lives at the mercy of Russia. Artsakh lived because of Russia.

If Armenia is alive today, it's because Russians need it alive.

Moscow had been calling on Yerevan to enter into a closer union with the Russian Federation since the 1990s. Sensing danger to Western interests in the south Caucasus, Western officials have been doing their best to discourage Armenia's reintegration with Russia. Western and Turkish intelligence agencies have also had their profesional activists spreading anti-Russian hysteria throughout Armenian society. This is happening all over social media. Ethnic Armenians are also involved in the effort. Their most often heard selling point in recent years has been: Russia will be collapsing soon, for its protection Armenia therefore needs to make peace with Turks and Azeris, with all that it entails, and quickly enter into an alliance with Western powers, or else. They have been persistently preaching this fairytale since 2019. It is now obvious that Western powers expected Russia to collapse as a result of the Russo-Ukrainian war and the unprecedented sanctions the West targeted Russia with. As the war neared, a memo was most probably sent down the chain of command. Our professional Russophobes were therefore preparing their field of play. Their dream however did not materialised. But they continue doing everything they can to pull Armenia further away from Russia. The war in Ukraine figures greatly in this calculous. They understand that the quickest and most effective way to permanently bring Armenia out of Moscow's embrace is a Russian defeat in Ukrain.
 
Sadly, their efforts to keep Armenia outside of the Russian fortress worked to a discernable degree. With turbulent times approaching, the pragmatic move would have been to move closer to Russia, not further away as we did. Armenia today desperately needs some form of reintegration with Russia. Some within Armenia's political landscape, and some from abroad, have had the political foresight and the wisdom to warn us about all this. The following words of advice are from two-to-three years ago, from around the time when the so-called Armenian Street had once again given Nikol the political mandate to do as he pleased with both, Armenia and Artsakh:
Those who called for Armenia's integration with Russia were attacked, ridiculed and slandered. The advise therefore fell on deaf ears. Moreover, Armenians simply failed to understand that Armenia lived and Artsakh remained under Armenian control largely thanks to mercy shown by Moscow. Armenians also neglected to understand from early-on that the key to a proper settlement of the Artsakh dispute could only be found in Moscow. All in all, it was almost thirty years of opportunities wasted. It did not have to be this way. If Armenians had political maturity and properly understood where Armenia stood in the world's political hierarchy, it would not have been this wayThe past thirty years proved beyond any doubt that we Armenians are simply incapable of understanding the game of geopolitics and how it is played. Consequently, Artsakh became the expendable pawn in the greater game played between greater powers. If we are not careful, Syunik may be next:
Armenia-Artsakh had the opportunity to be like a Belarus, stable and secure, but Armenians instead "democratically" chose to be like a Kurdistan, used and abused. In the end, Artsakh finally fell victim to Western-style deception, Turkish-style aggression, Russian-style realpolitik and Armenian-style incompetence and treachery. Said otherwise, Artsakh fell victim to a Machiavellian world.

Politics could have been much less painful for Armenia and Artsakh if only Armenians understood all these geopolitical nuances and approached geopolitical matters accordingly. Said otherwise, a country that was and continues to be dependent on Russia and is surrounded by predators in a very complex and dangerous region of the world should have moved closer to Russia, and not further away from it. In any case, there is no person today that can break Armenia's historic bond with Russia without killing the country in the process. Nikol understands this. As repugnant as I think he is, I do not think Nikol's intent is to kill Armenia. Even if he wanted to, he would not be allowed to by Moscow and Tehran. Efforts by Westerners, Turks and Armenians to break Armenia's dependence on Russia will only serve to prolong the country's misery. Simply put, Russians know that at the end of the day Armenia is not going anywhere - unless it wants to die:
We therefore have a situation where Armenia can't go anywhere in reality, but Armenians are relentless trying to break free. This is political illiteracy and cognitive dissonance at its worst. From the Kremlin's perspective, let Armenians have their fun with democracy, while we take care of business in Ukraine. Said otherwise, this is what "independence from Russia" means for Armenia.

However, the main question I have is, how did we as a people not understand all this? How did we as a people not see this coming? Hindsight should have worked to our advantage. We saw what had happened in Baku in 1991, Belgrade in 2000, Tbilisi in 2008, the Middle East and north Africa in 2011 and Ukraine in 2014. We saw how pro-Western movements and machinations had brought ruin to those counties. How did we not see this disaster coming? How did we not see that those waiting on the political sidelines in Armenia to grab power during the reign of the "Karabakh Clan" would be much worst for Armenia and Artsakh? How did we not know that Armenia had become one of the main targets of Western powers and Turkey, and their main purpose was the pull Armenia completely out of Russia's orbit, even at the cost of killing Artsakh and/or Armenia? This is what the so-called Velvet Revolution of 2018 was all about. This is what the Armenian sheeple enthusiastically voted for twice. This is what the traditional diaspora helped make possible during the past thirty-plus years. This is what Western-financed lunatics like Jirayr Sefilian dream about even today. Said otherwise, this latest tragedy in Armenian history was once again authored by none-other-than Armenians. Said otherwise, Armenian traits such as arrogance, pride, greed, gossip, individualism, shortsightedness, jealousy, apathy, cowardice, tribalism, hardheadedness, cognitive dissonance, political illiteracy, corruption, materialism, toxic ambition and the undying lust for the good life, wherever that may be, brought us to where we are today.

Armenians need to better understand the nature of geopolitics and Armenia's place in the world's political hierarchy

Russians are a truly unique people among nations of the world. Russia does indeed have a mysterious soul. Russia is indeed a riddle, wrapped inside a mystery, inside an enigma. Despite being centrally located in the most exposed, most dangerous and most complicated location on earth (i.e. bordering Europe, Central Asia and the Far-east, and therefore surrounded by much larger enemies that have periodically invaded Russian lands), Russia has survived over five-hundreds years as a major power on earth. Russia, as an identifiable nation-state, has existed continously for well over one thousand years. This is remarkable in the annals of human history. In my opinion, there are three reasons behind what makes Russia, Russia: Slavic, Viking and Asiatic pedigrees (all of which contribute to the enduring warrior spirit found among Russians); long-standing political institutions and think tanks; the presence of a supernatural hand over the Russian nation, perhaps due to receiving the mantle of Christian Orthodoxy after the fall of Byzantium in 1453. Historical circumstances such as geography, periodic tragedy and racial pedigree, with perhaps a little bit of divine intervention, have bred Russians to be who they are today. Today, even after exposure to the dumbing and numbing effects of western civilization, the typical Russian male still makes the perfect soldier. Modern Russian society is still ready to endure great hardship in the name of patriotism. Russians are still great chess players by nature, and they tend to play the long game. Senior policymakers and national institutions that devise foreign policy in Russia tend to be pragmatic, practical and calculating. If I had to describe the Russian appeoach to political affairs, it would be realpolitik.
This is not to say Russians don't make mistakes. It can be argued that the Kremlin made mistakes with regards to Ukraine and Armenia/Artsakh. Regarding Artsakh, the Kremlin simply did what it had to do given the prevailing circumstances. Similar to how the war in Ukraine developed after the first Russian soldier placed his foot into the country is not what Kremlin officials expected or wanted, the fall of Artsakh is also not what Kremlin officials wanted. These were both setbacks for Moscow, in part due to its miscalculation. Nevertheless, let's be mindful of the fact that Russia alone is fighting the collective West and its allies today. It's a tall order. Setbacks and mistakes should therefore be expected. Nevertheless, the mere fact that Russia has existed as a superpower after centuries of major wars and tragedies, including rebounding from complete collapse brought upon the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 and the fall of Soviet Union in 1991, suggests that Russian, perhaps with the help of the invisible hand I mentioned earlier, are doing something right.

Now, if you are a small, poor and landlocked nation located in one of Russia's strategic zones of interest and influence and you want to survive in the master level game of chess being played by Russians (i.e. be treated well by Russia's aforementioned chess masters), you need to somehow figure out how to become an important piece on the Russian chess board.
 
Friendly advice to Armenians - shouting nonsense like "we were the first Christians", "we demand Armenian genocide recognition", "Russia needs to live up to its obligations towards Armenia" and trying to bounce back-and-forth between major powers to get your way (i.e. complimentary politics) - will get you killed rather quickly in the said chess game. What's more, constantly complaining, demanding, blackmailing and insulting the chess player that has you in its control and makes your life in a dangerous neighborhood possible will also get you killed quickly in the chess game. As mentioned, Russians are the masters of realpolitik and they play the long-game. They may do things that may defy logic or expectations. They may do things that may outwardly seem like a defeat or a major setback. These are ultimately done with the intent to win the chess game being played. This is why Russian place so much importance on defensive depth. Defensive depth gives the Kremlin time to muster forces and resources, and room for mistakes and errors. Defensive depth gives Russians room to think, to organize, to retreat, to survive failure and setback, to rebound. Defensive depth in geopolitics is therefore a very sacred notion for Russians. In fact, we have a major war in Europe today essentially because Western powers foolishly yet deliberately encroached on Russia's sacred defensive depth and did so on sacred territory that Russians see as their ancient homeland.
 
After several centuries of imperial experience, Turks today are also great players of the chess game being played. Turks are also very cunning opportunists. Turks and Azeris understand that Russians today has the need to appease them while the war in Ukraine is active. Turks and Azeris are fully aware of their geopolitical value and how to exploit it. Moreover, unlike Armenians, Turks/Azeris are for the most part immune to Western toxicity.
 
As for us pleasure seeking Armenians, instead of doing our best to turn Armenia into an important chess piece on the geopolitical chess board Armenia is located on, everything we did going back thirty-plus years worked to turn Armenia into a "pay to play" playground for foreign interests. Everything we did turned Artsakh into disposable pawn. Everything Nikol did since 2018 in particular brought Armenia and Artsakh into isolation and a geopolitical dead end. Consequently, Artsakh became the sacrificial pawn in the game being played by the region's major powers. From the looks of it, Syunik/Zangezur is now in play. The south Caucasus is a very dangerous and complicated place to live in, especially for a problematic and unstable people like us Armenians. Despite our best efforts, Armenia will simply not survive on its own in the region. With powerful nations like Russia and Turkey present in the south Caucaus, Armenia faces two choices: Russification or Turkification. Desregard all the silly talk you hear about "joining the West" or "going it alone". Is't not going to happen. It's daydreaming at best, delusional thinking at worst. This realization is why I say Armenia needs to go back to Mother Russia before its turned into a Turkish Vilayet.
 
For those among you who for some reason do not particularly like Russia or Russians, I will add something that will help you better understand what I am saying.

Had Armenia been located somewhere in Europe, I would be preaching European integration. Had Armenia been located in central America, I would be preaching American integration. The harsh reality we Armenians need to deal with is that Armenia is located in the south Caucasus. If any of you reading this have a problem with this reality, summon Hayk Nahapet's spirit and complain to him. Let's therefore deal with reality, not fantasy. In other words, let's refrain from entertaining wishful or delusional thinking. Due to geography, historic circumstances and geopolitical considerations, Armenia is stuck with an ally, Russia, that will not always do things that are in the best interests of Armenia. And that's totally normal. As any self-respecting people with a backbone, Russians will pursue Russia's interests, and we Armenians are expected of course to pursue Armenia's interests.

With that in mind, what are Russia's interests and what are Armenia's interests?

Russian interests in the south Caucasus is basically to maintain a permanent foothold in the region via either Armenia, Georgia and/or Azerbaijan, in order to keep Western powers out and Turkic and Islamic powers in control. Russians see the south Caucasus as a strategic zone essential for their long-term security. Keeping Turkic and Islamic powers under control however does not necessarily mean going to war against them. Diplomacy, trade, tourism, intermarriage, cultural exchanges, etc., works better to keep powers that are potentially hostile under control or contained. Nevertheless, the above is primarily what Russian are seeking in the south Caucasus. Now, with that in mind, what are Armenia's interests? Armenia's primary interest is to basically survive in a hostile environment. That's about it. It's about survival in a bad neighborhood. Being that Armenia is located in the south Caucasus and not in Europe or central America, and it is sandwiched by two hostile Turkic-Islamic nations, Armenia's interests first and foremost requires keeping as close as possible to the nearest non-hostile superpower that has core/fundamental  interests in the south Caucasus. That superpower is Russia, and to a much lesser extent Iran. Sober assessment of Armenia's overall situation reveals that Armenians don't have any viable alternatives to Russia. In the south Caucasus, farway Europe is not a realistic option, the United States which is even further away is not a realistic option, and needless to say genocidal Turkey who also happens to be allied to the United States and Europe is not an option either. The Islamic State of Iran is not a superpower and its capabilities are therefore quite limited. Moreover, Iran is under serious threat from the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance. What's more, we Armenians need to be mindful that at the end of the day Iranians and Azerbaijanis are closely related, ethnically and culturally. Sooner or later, Tehran and Baku will fix their problems. More importantly, I personally do not see Iran going to war against Azerbaijan or Turkey over a bunch of unreliable peasants with a Western fetish. Tehran will do everything to help Armenia survive because it fears pan-Turanism, short of going to war for Armenia.
 
As it has been for the past two hundred years, and as it will be for the foreseeable future, if push comes to shove, it will only be Russians that will come to Armenia's aid militarily. It will be Russian boys that will die for Armenia, to the delight of Armenian mothers and their precious boys around the world.

I will also want to reiterate here that we need to end the nonsense about Armenian "unity". The nonsense about "if we were only united" we would be able to do or that. Unity will not get Armenia anywhere, as the country is still tiny, landlocked, impoverished, remote, desperately dependent on others for survival and stuck in the middle of much greater powers in the region. Let's also be mindful of the undeniable fact that the country's population is in large-part made up of incompetent, backward, dishonest, apathetic, egocentric, shortseighted, greedy and emotionally unstable sheeple. As for the traditional diaspora, it is for the most part a toxic graveyard. Diasporans have traditionally acted as pack-animals for all sorts of Western and Turkish agendas in Armenia. Besides, the thing called "Armenian unity", the dream that Armenian patriots claim is a cure-all for all of Armenia's problems, is a mathematical or theoretical impossibility for a people like us Armenians. In Armenia's very long and tragic history, there never was a thing called national unity. So, it's not going to happen now, or at any time in the foreseeable future. Let's therefore end this silly fantasy. When assessing Armenia's core national interests realistically and rationally, one will eventually come to the conclusion that if "independence" is not working out, and it clearly is not, becoming part of the Russian Federation is the only viable option Armenia has for survival. Liking or not liking Russia or Russians does not matter in this geopolitical equation simply because there are no other realistic or viable alternatives for a country like Armenia. Prolonging Armenia's "independence" will therefore only prolong the country's misery and will most likely place the country's very existence at risk. Russians, and Iranians, have been warning us in this regard:

Iran warns of turning Caucasus into battlefield

Sober analysis of Armenia's situation suggests that Armenia will have a future only if it becomes part of the greater Russian nation. The only question is, after all this, are Russians ready to allow Armenian back into their home?

Whether we like it or not, Armenia is married to Russia, and the marriage is for better or for worst. The marriage is not perfect (as no relationship is) but it is a natural union among two entities that genuinely need each other. That said, we must ignore our professional Russophobes and never forget that Russia can survive without Armenia, Armenia however cannot survive without Russia. So, instead of acting like a bunch of hysterical women, and therefore making the country's situation worst, let's embrace the only genuine partner we have and work with it to derive benefits from it. One more time: a brutish Russia may not be a gentle partner for a bitchy, unfaithful and high maintenance spouse like Armenia, Russia is however a good provider, if understood and treated right. I should also add that Russia may not be an ideal ally, it can however be a very deadly enemy. In any case, we Armenians have no choice but to work with what we have. We need to accept our reality. Wishful thinking will not get us anywhere. We need to have the wisdom and the foresight to make the most of the relationship we have with Russia. Moreover, we cant realistically expect Russians to put Armenia's interests ahead of Russia's and we can't expect Russians to fight Turks and Azeris in our place especially when we also want "independence" from Russia. Knowing that Russia is in the middle of an existential war against the collective West in Ukraine, we cannot in all honesty expect Russians to sacrifice their core national interests and fight for Artsakh on Armenia's behalf especially when its was Armenia's leadership that surrendered Artsakh to Azerbaijan.
 
Ultimately, we Armenians were the ones solely responsible for Artsakh, not Russians. Said otherwise, Armenians cannot expect Russians to be more Armenian than Armenians themselves.
 
Allow me to address a political nuance here. A lot of idiots these days bring up Kosovo as an example of Western largess, and why Armenia should be allied to the West. Our professional Russophobes shout: "Look at what Western powers did for Kosovo!" Putting aside the obvious fact that Kosovo was taken from Serbia simply because Belgrade was politically and culturally close with Russia at the time, what idiots who exalt Western actions in Kosovo don't understand or simply ignore is that Western powers did not allow Albanians of Kosovo to unite with Albania. In other words, Kosovo was made to become a Western protectorate, and all efforts by Kosovars to unite with Albania was defeated. How is that any different from what Russia wanted in Artsakh? Russia was against Artsakh's unification with Armenia. Russia wanted control over Artsakh. How is that any different from what Western powers did in Kosovo? The only difference was that due to its post-Soviet limitations Moscow proved unable to impose its will over Yerevan and Baku.
 
In any case, if Armenians want better treatment from the Kremlin, Armenians need to figure-out a way to turn Armenia into an important chess piece on the Russian chessboard. It's really that simply, and yet also that hard.
 
If Armenians want to avoid future calamities, Armenians need to better understand how the geopolitical game is played and where Armenia as a nation stands in the field of game. There has to be a convergence of interests between Armenia and Russia if Armenians are to expect unconditional support from the KremlinWhat have we done to bring about such a convergence of interests? The answer is, nothing. A lot of what Armenia's leadership did going back thirty-plus years actually served the opposite purpose. By doing our best to open Armenia's gates to Western interests in an ill-conceived effort, in-part devised and encouraged by the traditional diaspora, to create a counterbalance to Russia and of course attract Western capital into Armenia in the process, what we essentially did was maneuver Armenia and Artsakh into a geopolitical dead end. Under current circumstances, the only way to create a genuine convergence of interest between Moscow and Yerevan is for Armenians to begin working towards entering into an all-encompassing political union with the Russian Federation. This is the only option Armenia has, that is if it does not want to become a Turkish Vilayet in the foreseeable future. Love it or hate it, joining the Russian Federation, in some form, is the only way to make the Kremlin treat Armenian territory as if it is part of Russia.

What this means is that we as a people have to do our part to stay geopolitically relevant in a difficult place like the south Caucasus. And that for the most part means moving into the Russian fortress.

Armenians generally have a difficult time processing core concepts in geopolitics and international relations. We failed to understand that among the world's powerful, realpolitik (i.e. pragmatic or practical approach to solving political problems) has always trumped morality, justice and ideology. We failed to understand that nation-states are solely guided by national interests. We failed to understand that the term “international community” simply means club of major powers. We failed to understand that “international law” is written by the strong to control the weak. We failed to understand that "treaties" are not worth the paper they are written on. We failed to understand that there are two standards in international affairs: one for powerful nations, one for smaller and/or weaker nations. We failed to understand that might makes right. We failed to understand that in geopolitics there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies, just permanent interests. Said otherwise, we failed to understand we live in a world governed by Machiavellian principals. More importantly, we failed to understand that the keys to keeping Artsakh under Armenian control could only be found in Moscow. This is why I am constantly reminding my readers that politics is not a street fight or a domestic dispute. This is why I am constantly reminding my readers that politics is a master-level game of chess, and that war is politics by other means.
 
Those who play the game well, live. Those who don't, die. It's really that simple.

Many in Armenia's pro-Russian camp are now worried about the rapid rise of anti-Russian sentiments in Armenian society. No need to worry. At this point in time, the Kremlin could care-less how its statecraft vis-a-vis the south Caucasus looks in the eyes of Armenian society. As far as the Kremlin is concerned, what is going on is not a beauty pageant and it is not a popularity contest. Russians owe absolutely nothing to Armenians. Moscow is in realpolitik mode. The Kremlin has a long-term plan and that plan ultimately serves Russia's interests, not Armenia's. Moscow is simply doing what is in Russia's best interests. It's Armenians that have the need to better assess the situation and make proper adjustments. If Armenians want Russians to take Armenia seriously, then Armenians need to figure out a way to incorporate Armenia into Russia. It's that simple. Armenians desperately wanted independence from Russia. When it comes to protecting Armenia's interests, Russians therefore cannot be expected to be more Armenian than Armenians. The Armenian desire for independence and the Armenian pursuit of westernization kept Armenia outside of the Russian fortress. Russians therefore cannot be expected to put Armenia's interests ahead of Russia's. Simply put, Armenians cannot expect Russians to fight Turks and Azeris as Armenians go shopping in Paris, London, New York and LA.

Artsakh's fall may not be the end of the Artsakh saga
 
We can discuss the reasons or motivations behind Moscow's decision to distance itself from Yerevan and Stepanakert ad nauseam. However, the one thing that remains unmistakably clear is that between 2018 and 2020, Moscow did indeed downgrade its relations with both Armenia and Artsakh. Please note that I said downgrade and not abandon. Moscow did not want Artsakh's fall in the manner that it happened. Moscow's hand was forced in Artsakh. Several geopolitical factors led to Artsakh's demise, not the least of which was the war in Ukraine and Nikol's treachery. What happened was nevertheless against Moscow's long-term interests. I therefore believe that the Kremlin will try to maintain a degree of military/political presence in Artsakh, and by doing so it will keep the spirit of Artsakh alive.

This isn't speculation. Russian officials have publicly stated their desire to remain in Artsakh, even though Artsakh's Armenian population is no longer there and Nikol's regime has long recognized the territory as part of Azerbaijan. What's more, Baku has not made a serious effort to repopulate Artsakh with ethnic Azeris. Moreover, why else would Moscow want to build a monument to the Russian peacekeepers that recently died in ArtsakhI have a strong feeling that Kremlin officials have future plans for Artsakh. While Artsakh may be dead today, its spirit lives on. And as long as the spirit is alive, it can be resurrected some day. The pro-Russian camp in Armenia is trying to do exactly that. Hayk Babukhanyan recently called on Artsakh's exiled government in Armenia to officially ask the Russian government to take direct control over Artsakh so that the territory's displaced population can go back to their ancestral homes:
Zori Balayan made a similar call almost exactly ten years ago in an open letter to President Putin. The Armenian world at the time, both native and diasporan, reacted with outrage. Now that the Armenian ego has come crashing down to earth in spectacular fashion, and we witnessed the worst possible outcome in Artsakh, similar calls might get better traction in Armenian society this time around. More recently, in a stunning reversal that no-doubt has all observers scratching their heads, the head of Artsakh's government in exile announced that the previously announced dissolution of the Republic of Artsakh of Republic is no longer validThe political opposition in Armenia, accused of being President Putin's stooges by our professional Russophobes, wasted no time in seconding the decision. Naturally, Nikol and friends are upset. Perhaps to put Nikol and his team on notice, Foreign Minister and Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova made some very interesting comments very recently:

"Among the matters discussed are the prospects of the return of the Armenian population to Karabakh, with proper protection of their rights and safety, the organizing of joint patrolling, the protection of monuments of cultural, historical, and religious heritage."

All this is coinciding with the growing realization around the world that the Russo-Ukrainian war may be nearing its end with a Russian victory. Moscow's official reaction to what happened to Artsakh suggests to me that Moscow did not want to see its fall. Comments by President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov suggests to be that Russian officials may currently be working behind-the-scenes to keep the contentious issue between Armenia and Azerbaijan alive. This is good news. But we can expect the pro-Western and pro-Turkish camps in Armenian society become active again. In any case, whatever that comes next in Artsakh, it will for the most part be a Russian show.
 
The good news here obviously is that Artsakh's fall may not after-all be the end of the story, and the Russian Bear may returning to the south Caucasus sooner-than-later. As I said earlier, as long as the spirit is kept alive, the body can be resurrected. That said, how matters develop going forward will depend on the duration and outcome of the war in Ukraine. The quicker that war ends with a clear Russian victory, the quicker can the Russian Bear return its attention to the south Caucasus. Needless to say, Western powers are hoping for the opposite. Long story short: if any part of Artsakh is to be resurrected some day, the Russian Bear needs to triumphantly return to the region. However, we are still far from such a development, as the end of the war in Ukraine is still not yet in sight.

Closing thoughts and some more reiterations

For most of my life, Artsakh was Armenian, and proudly so. Artsakh was the only bright-spot in an otherwise terrible post-Soviet situation in the third world cesspool called the Republic of Armenia. I had visited the disputed territory on several occasions. I had even thought about purchasing property there at one point. In any case, it was just dream. The visa of the Republic of Artsakh that was stamped in my passport when I first entered the territory is now a relic of history. It's over, at least for now. Recent events have left me in a daze. It still feels unreal. The last six years have been like a continuous nightmare and one of the most tragic periods in Armenian history. Nikol and his team of Western-financed Russophobes and Turkophiles will go down in Armenian history as one of the greatest evils that has plagued Armenia. And today's Armenian population, both native and diasporan, will go down in Armenian history as one of the most incompetent and impotent. Make no mistake about it, heroic Artsakh was felled not by Azeris, Turks, Westerners or Russians but by Armenians. Artsakh's tragic fall was one of the saddest days of my life, and something I will forever blame Armenians for. For many years the writing was clearly on the wall, but Armenians chose not to see it. Lured by the dazzling lights of the Western world, Armenians mindlessly and haphazardly maneuvered Armenia and Artsakh  into geopolitical isolation and a dead end. The smart thing to have done, especially after 2008, was to immediately put an end to Vartan Oskanian's complementary politics; get rid of all the Western funded NGOs, news organizations and activists in the country; surrender five of the seven regions or territories taken outside of Artsakh; and embark on a serious and concerted effort to join the Union State with Russia and Belarus. It didn't happen because Armenians were simply too busy dreaming about easy money, democracy, Eurovision, BMWs, social media, American Green Cards and life in "Los". Now, it's too late to do anything. The future of Armenians in the south Caucasus is being decided by non-Armenians. Russia has better concerns today than appealing to the whims of a bunch of unreliable and unstable peasantry with an undying Western fetish. Drawn into an existential fight against the collective West in Ukraine, the Kremlin today will simply do what is needed to save Russia. Regarding Armenia, the chips will fall where they may. We are living in a new world. Armenia is no longer in a position to influence events. Armenians no longer have a say in what happens with Armenia. Armenians  turned Armenia into an expendable pawn on the international chessboard. Consequently, Artsakh was sacrificed. If we continue our stupidity, the next sacrificial lamb may be Syunik.

While we know that Artsakh's demise was exactly what Western powers, Azeris, Turks and Nikol wanted, despite what our professional Russophobes want us to believe, it was not what Moscow wanted.
 
This was not the outcome Moscow wanted. Moscow's hand was forced. Do not believe the disinformation being put-out by our professional anti-Russian propagandists. Artsakh's fall and the subsequent evacuation of its population was not in Russia's geopolitical interests. As already described, ever since Moscow brokered the dispute's first ceasefire back in 1994 Kremlin officials wanted to settle the dispute by having both sides of the conflict agree to land concessions under its supervision. It was also not a secret that Moscow wanted to permanently station its troops in Artsakh. Much effort was made by Russian officials to settle the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan and deploy Russian troops in the region. It proved ineffective as both, Yerevan and Baku had other plans. Hoping for a breakthrough that may come in the future, Moscow therefore did its best to keep the conflict frozen, and Western powers out of it. If peace was unattainable, Moscow knew that having a frozen dispute between Armenians and Azeris would act as an effective political lever over Yerevan and Baku. This was important for senior Kremlin officials because the two post-Soviet countries in the south Caucasus are considered within Russia's traditional/historic spheres of influence. However, with each passing year, management of the conflict got increasingly complicated, and eventually untenable for Moscow. Western pressure on Moscow as well as various Russian zones of influence was mounting after 2014. Concurrently, Baku's and Ankara's political clout were growing inside power-centers around the world. Tragically, Yerevan had all-along plotted a Westerly course to offset or negate what Armenians around the world thought was Moscow's overbearing influence in the country.
 
Opening Armenia's doors to Western and by-extension Turkish influence put the country into a steep sociopolitical decline and political instability that by 2018 bore bad fruit.

Ultimately, what Armenians failed to understand was that Artsakh was Armenia’s responsibility, not Russia's. We failed to understand that Artsakh was Armenia's fight, not Russia's. Russia (and Iran) was never fully on our side with respect to Artsakh. The rest of the world was fully against us with respect to Artsakh. In fact, a significant portion of Armenian society was also against Artsakh. It was this group that rose to power in 2018 and eventually surrendered Artsakh. This group, and the idiots that believe them, are now doing everything they can to make it look as if it was Russia's responsibility to protect Artsakh. It always amazes me how Armenians constantly demand independence from Russia, but every time Turks attack and Armenians die, Armenians expect Russians to fight for Armenia. It's cognitive dissonance and political illiteracy at its very worst. At the end of the day, it was us and only us that created this historic mess throughout the post-Soviet years, ultimately culminating in the Color Revolution of 2018. By enthusiastically embracing a filthy team of street activists and anti-Russian agitators that were clearly on the payroll of Western and Turkish interests, we as a people undermined both, Armenia and Artsakh.

Foreign conspirators that brought Nikol and his team to power could succeed only if we as a people allowed them. We allowed them in spectacular fashion.

As already noted, by 2018, with the Armenian World obsessing over "Karabakh Clan" and democratization, and the world heading towards a major geopolitical crisis, Armenia's political landscape was ready for the arrival of anti-Russian, anti-Artsakh and ultimately anti-Armenia forces. We as a nation proved utterly gullible, vulnerable and impotent. Why else would Nikol and his team be reelected in 2021? For the wonderful job they had performed in 2020? Why else would there be significant numbers of people in Armenia and in the Armenian diaspora that still think: better Nikol than "Rob" or "Serjik". In other words, significant numbers of Armenians today are good with Artsakh's tragic loss and the serious problems now facing Syunik, as long as Robert Kocharyan or Serj Sargsyan don't return to power. This folks, is suicidal behavior, political illiteracy and cognitive dissonance at its worst. This is Armenian-style politics.
 
Let's therefore stop complaining and start enjoying the bitter fruits of our tribalism, hate, greed, jealousy, Russophobia and the pursuit of westernization and democracy.
 
Moscow always looked at the south Caucasus as its geopolitical backyard. Moscow always looked at Armenia as its natural ally. Moscow wanted to bring about peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan through mutual concessions under its supervision. Distant Western powers always looks at nations in the south Caucasus as tools to exploit against Russia and Iran. Western powers always wanted Armenia to abandon all claims on Artsakh and surrender all of the territory to Baku, so they could freely go about working on an agenda to free the south Caucasus of all Russian and Iranian influences. The main reason for the Western presence in the south Caucasus was always about Russia and Iran. Russians have been warning us about this. Equally important was WesternEuropean and Israeli energy interests in Azerbaijan. For Western powers, nations like Azerbaijan and Georgia were better tools than a tiny, landlocked, remote and impoverish Armenia. Good relations with Baku, which produces energy, and NATO-member Ankara, with is a major energy hub or conduit for transporting Azerbaijani and Central Asian natural gas and crude oil to its international ports on the Mediterranean Sea, is therefore vital to Western, European and Israeli energy interests, especially now at a time when the collective West is at war with Russia and Iran. Moreover, Turks is a major military power and plays a major geopolitical role throughout the region. These geopolitical factors and calculations makes Baku and Ankara strategically important for Moscow as well. Moreover, Moscow's main concern today is losing Ankara's and Baku's neutrality over its war in Ukraine. All in all, it's the modern day's version of the "Great Game" played a century ago, which also ended in an Armenian tragedy.
 
A century ago, with Armenia no longer inside the Russian fortress, the country found itself  caught in the middle of a major geopolitical storm without a friend in sight, although the cognitive dissonance and political illiteracy among Armenians at the time led them to believe that they had friends in Washington DC, London and Paris. The Russian Empire began to fall as a result of the defeat it suffered at the hands of Germany during the early stages of the First World War. The final death-blow to the venerable empire came in late 1917, when the Romanov Czar was overthrown by the Western-financed and Jewish-led Bolshevik revolution. Incidentally, on the eve of the Bolshevik revolution in Saint Petersburg, regions of Trabzon, Erzerum, Bitlis and Van were firmly under Russian control. With Russia no longer a power in Anatolia and the south Caucasus by late 1917, the genocide of the region's Armenians was completed by 1923. Western powers exploited Armenians during the said time period, and when the war was over they basically abandoned Armenians to their fate. History repeats. More things change, more they stay the same.

In any case, an Armenian presence in Artsakh never was and will never fit into the geopolitical interests of Western powers, including Armenia's favorite, France. Moscow, on the other hand, despite its strategic need to maintain good relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan today, has always wanted the Armenian population of Artsakh to remain as an autonomous group within Azerbaijan, albeit after pulling back from the five of the seven territories or regions that were taken outside of Artsakh's internationally recognized borders. Moscow also wanted to indefinitely hold-off on deciding Artsakh's official statusand wanted to keep matters pertaining to Artsakh and Armenia's border demarcation with Azerbaijan as separate matters. Both measures would technically ensure Artsakh's survival as an Armenian enclave. At the very least, Kremlin officials understood that the only way they can legally deploy troops in Artsakh, thereby giving Moscow political leverage over Yerevan and Baku, is to have an Armenian population inside Artsakh and a frozen conflict.
 
A refrozen conflict in Artsakh and Armenia's continued dependence on Moscow again is what Nikol's regime is doing its best to avoid today. Nikol is after-all heroically fighting for Armenia's independence from Russia.

Moscow wanted an Armenian presence in Artsakh. This is why the Kremlin militarily intervened during the forty-four day war in 2020 to stop Artsakh's total capitulation at the time. It was done to restore some level of control over Yerevan and Baku. Nevertheless, and regardless of its political motivation, had Moscow not intervened on November 09, 2020, Stepanakert would have most likely capitulated within a couple of weeks. Everything was done by Nikol's regime to lose that warNikol's regime may have actually wanted to see the fall of Artsakh at the time. It can therefore be argued that Moscow actually prevented Stepanakert's total capitulation at the time. This, according to American agent Richard Giragosian, is why Yerevan, Stepanakert and Baku did not want Russian intervention. We knew at the time of fighting that Baku opposed any intervention by Moscow. What we didn't know is that the same applied to the Armenian sideI have no reason to doubt agent Giragosian's claims. With both Armenians and Azeris bitterly complaining about Moscow's role in Artsakh, the period between November 09, 2020 and September 19, 2023 did seem as if Russian forces were there against the wishes of Yerevan and Baku. Both, Armenians, Azeris and Turks seemed united in wanting to keep Russians out of the political equation in Artsakh. Wrap your minds around that for a moment.

Nikol's "New Armenia" was clearly serving Western and Turkish interests. Tragically, Russia's security services continued tolerating Nikol because as the war in Ukraine neared, Russia needed good relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey.
 
By 2022, Moscow no longer had the political weight to impose its will in the south CaucasusThe war in Ukraine revealed some of Russia's shortcomings and limitations. According to President Putin at the time, Armenians faced two choices with respect to Artsakh: adopt the Russian plan or adopt the American-Western plan. The Russian plan would put-off deciding Artsakh's official status, thereby essentially refreezing the dispute. The Western plan would want Yerevan to altogether abandoned Artsakh. This is something Nikol's regime and its supporters throughout the Armenian world wanted. From their perspective, abandoning Artsakh would free Armenia's of its Russian shackles, and finally lift all obstacles hindering post-Soviet Armenia's economic development. No longer in a position to impose its political will in the south Caucasus due to serious difficulties it was beginning to face in its war in Ukraine by late 2022, and therefore having the need to maintain good relations with Baku and Ankara, it seemed as if the Kremlin had reluctantly decided to give Yerevan the political "independence" Armenians had so desperately been seeking throughout the post-Soviet years. And what did Armenia do with it newly found independence from Russia?

Nikol's cavemen looking "officials" are doing their best to announce to the world that Yerevan prefers the Western vision for Artsakh over the Russian one. In other words, Armenians unconditionally surrendered Artsakh, undermined Russia at the worst possible moment, and are today in the process of placing southern Armenia in danger. Welcome to Nikol's "New Armenia".

Make no mistake about it, Nikol's regime was a joint venture. Nikol was put into power by Western and Turkish interests for the sole purpose of abandoning Artsakh. Russians went along with the effort because they knew they were heading towards a major war with the West, and they therefore knew they would need to appease Baku and Ankara. As a major geopolitical storm was approaching the region, and by 2018 Armenians had made sure to keep Armenia outside of the Russian fortress, Moscow decided that it could sacrifice Armenian interests, until at least the problem in Ukraine was solved. Moscow did not want to see the fall of Artsakh. Circumstances brought upon by the war in Ukraine basically forced its hand. Nevertheless, Nikol and his team are living on borrowed time. Nikol knows that once the war in Ukraine is over and Russia returns its attention to the south Caucasus, his end will come. Nikol and his handlers are therefore hoping for a Russian defeat in Ukriane. In an effort to save his skin, he is doing his to best to draw Western powers deeper into the southern Caucasian cauldron. Nikol probably thinks that drawing Western actors deeper into the mess his regime created will act as a security buffer for him and his teams. Russians have been warning him about this, so is Iran. It does not concern Nikol's regime that playing dangerous games such as drawing Western powers into the region against the wishes of Russia and Iran can prove very detrimental for Armenia. For Nikol's regime, Artsakh never was and will never be a concern. For that matter, Armenia does not seem to be a concern for them either. What matters for Nikol and his team right now is saving their skins. This in my opinion is why Nikol's regime is persistently trying to draw Western powers into the already volatile mix. From purely Armenia's geopolitical standpoint, Nikol's actions in regard to Artsakh and Armenia make absolutely no sense. Russians and Iranians must be wondering, how could a leadership be so incompetent?
 
I think here they may be underestimating the Armenian ego and Armenian greed, and the Armenian penchant for treason and the ability to destroy Armenia purely for personal gain.
 
We are living in historic times. We are living in dangerous times. The geopolitical crisis much of the world is now plagued with will most likely continue for the foreseeable future. If humanity survives, the end of the current period will give birth to a new political order. Everything happening in Armenia and Artsakh in recent years has been happening in the backdrop of these geopolitical shifts. Armenia will not survive these turbulent times if we as a people don't change course and do so quickly. Friendly reminder: Armenia is not located in central America or central Europe. We Armenians are not ready for independence in a place like the south Caucasus. Simply put: Armenians are not that people, Armenia is not that country. We failed even in victory. We could not properly digest what we had ingested in 1994. We were therefore eventually made to regurgitate it. Much now has been destroyed and wasted because wisdom, intelligence, foresight, professionalism, humility, logic, dedication, patriotism, responsibility, sense of duty, etc., has had no place in post-Soviet Armenia. Yes, people today are slowly waking up, but sadly it is a little too late for Artsakh. That said, we may still be able to salvage what little we have left. My primary concern now is Syunik. Let's therefore pray that the war between Russia and the collective West in Ukraine ends sooner-than-later, so that the Russian Bear can return its much needed attention back to the south Caucasus. Western powers are naturally hoping for the opposite. Said otherwise, I want to see the repeat of December 02, 1920. Because Armenian history books have been altered to make Russia and the Soviet Union look bad, not many Armenians today know that the Sovietization of Armenia on that date actually saved the country from the disastrous Treaty of Alexandropol also signed on the same date by "independent" Armenia's pro-Western government.
 
Simply put, Moscow needs to come back to Armenia, with force if necessary, before Armenians turn the country into a Vilayet as they had done back in 1920 before the Red Army reversed it. If history repeats, and I believe it does, there may be hope. For now, however, Artsakh has fallen. Artsakh is dead but its spirit lives. The only question we are therefore left with is: will Artsakh be resurrected?
 
As already mentioned, there is some good news in this regard. Some are doing what they can to keep the spirit of Artsakh alive. Echoing a curious event from ten years ago, the pro-Russian camp in Yerevan recently called on Artsakh officials who are currently in exile in Armenia to officially ask the Russian government to take direct control over the territory of Artsakh so that the territories displaced population can go back to their ancestral homes. Soon thereafter, in a stunning reversal, the head of Artsakh's exiled government in Yerevan announced that the previously announced dissolution of the Republic of Artsakh of Republic is no longer valid. This came a shock to all. The political opposition in Armenia wasted no time in seconding the momentous reversal. And Nikol's regime wasted no time in criticizing itThis is indeed good news as Russia wants to stay in Artsakh. This was confirmed by Foreign Minister Lavrov very recently All this is coinciding with the growing realization around the world that the Russo-Ukrainian was may be nearing its end with a historic Russian victory. All this clearly suggests to me that Moscow did not want to see the total capitulation of Stepanakert and the complete depopulation of Artsakh, and it may be working behind-the-scenes to keep the contentious issue between Armenia and Azerbaijan alive. It is therefore possible, theoretically at least, that Artsakh can be resurrected at some point in the foreseeable future. This is what worries Nikol and his supporters in Armenian society because, as I have been saying, getting rid of Artsakh was their way of freeing Armenia from Russia's clutches. Nevertheless, and despite what Nikol and friends want, there is a chance, however small, that we may not have seen the actual end of the Artsakh saga. This however will require a Russian victory in Ukraine, a regime change in Yerevan and a serious pan-Armenian effort to rekindle allied relations with Moscow.
 
From a grander, geopolitical perspective, it was Western machinations against Russia in eastern Europe and the Anglo-American-Zionist designs against Iran in the Middle East that eventually led to the demise of Artsakh. Nikol and his team of professional Russophobes and Turkophiles were simply the mechanism or the tools used to reach their goals. Said otherwise, Nikol was their front-man, the person entrusted with selling the agenda to the Armenian sheeple. They succeeded massively. In hindsight, 2016 seems to have been Yerevan's last chance to avoid a disaster as a major geopolitical storm approached the region. After 2018, with the gathering geopolitical storm already visible on the horizon, it was already too late to do anything. By 2020, with Yerevan and Stepanakert both finding themselves out of the Russian fortress, Armenia and Artsakh became geopolitically isolated and in a dead end.

Artsakh finally fell victim to Western-style deception, Turkish-style aggression, Russian-style realpolitik and Armenian-style incompetence and treachery. Artsakh fell victim to a Machiavellian world. And now, Syunik is threatened. Ultimately, this is essentially what Armenian independence from Russia looks like. So, I want to congratulate all our pro-independence, pro-democracy, pro-westernization and anti-Russian compatriots for a job well done.

Armenia-Artsakh had the opportunity to be like a Belarus, stable and secure, but Armenians instead "democratically" chose to be like a Kurdistan, used and abused.

In any case, whatever comes next for Artsakh will be for the most part a Russian show. This is at least the hope for now. The only thing to hope for in the short-term, is for the extension and the expansion of Russia's troop presence in what remains of Artsakh. The only thing to hope for in the long-term, is for the population of Artsakh to go back to their ancient homeland and for Artsakh to be incorporated into the Russian Federation in some form. I hope it is not too late for that. As pointed out above, there are some encouraging signs out of Moscow in this regard. Comments made by President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov leaves some room for hope. Sadly, hope is the only thing we can do now. I hope there will be a new beginning for Armenia and for Artsakh once the global conflagration in the region between East and West subsides and the Russian Bear returns to the south Caucasus in triumph. The outcome of the Russo-Ukrainian war will have great implications. From a Western perspective, Armenia will not be able to go to the West until Russia is defeated in Ukraine. Just as how the road to where we are today started in Kiev in 2014, the road back to Artsakh will also start in Kiev, after the country's Western-backed regime's capitulation. However, we are still far from such an event, as the end of the war in Ukraine is not yet in sight. With Iran also facing Western aggression from the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance, the situation around the region may actually get worst before it gets better. Difficult times lay ahead. Long story short: if Artsakh is to be resurrected, it will be done not by Armenians but by Russians, and it will not happen before the end of the current geopolitical crisis afflicting the region. The best thing to do in the interim is to therefore keep the spirit of Artsakh alive. History repeats. More things change, more they stay the same.

Arevordi,
Winter, 2024

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Armenia and Azerbaijan - What Happens Next?


Despite lasting only one day, the conflict led to 412 official causalities for both sides and according to the Armenian Government has led to ethnic cleansing – with practically the entire Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh, numbering over 100,000, fleeing from the disputed region to Armenia in the days following the clash. The one-day war also surprisingly resulted in relatively high causalities for both sides.

Military Imbalance Eroding the Status Quo

Nagorno-Karabakh started to become a conflict region in 1988, when the local Armenian population started to claim the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous region from Azerbaijan and demanded to join Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR). This process triggered the First Nagorno-Karabakh War of 1992-1994, and ended with defeat of Azerbaijan, which lost control not only over the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous region, but also of seven ex-Azerbaijani SSR regions around Karabakh, most of which provided a land connection with Armenia, which Karabakh itself lacked. A ceasefire was brokered by Russia, but it never was completely fulfilled. Peace negotiations were mediated by the Minsk OSCE Troika (France, Russia and the USA) for many years without result and continued against the background of continuous violations of the ceasefire along the line of contact in Karabakh and even at the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.

The status quo started to deteriorate in April 2016, when the first large-scale hostilities after 1994 started and resulted in small gains on the line of contact for Azerbaijan. This was the result of the military approach chosen by Baku, which became a much wealthier country after 2005, as it began to export of large volumes of fossil fuels amid higher oil prices. This would resulted in changing the military balance between the two countries’ armed forces, since the Azerbaijani defence budget was several times larger than Armenia’s. Baku enacted the large-scale procurement of tanks, artillery, armoured vehicles, air defence assets, combat aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Israel and Turkey starting from around 2005.
 
  
The Bayraktar TB2 strike UAV developed by Baykar. The Bayraktar TB2 was procured by Azerbaijan, and rose to considerable prominence in the aftermath of the 2020 Second Nagorno-Karabakh war, in which it was credited with a large number of successful strikes against Armenian targets. Credit: Baykar

A major shift occurred in 2020, during the 44-day Second Nagorno-Karabakh war, where Azerbaijani troops managed to gain a military victory. The 2020 war demonstrated some of the newest components of modern warfare, including the massed use of combat UAVs such as the Bayraktar TB2, and ISR UAVs in combination with artillery and loitering munitions.

Azerbaijani Armed Forces were able to conduct a suppression of air defence (SEAD) operation almost without use of manned aviation, relying on the coordinated actions of uncrewed vehicles. Such success was reinforced with a more modern and creative approach in land warfare: the first failed attempts to undertake a ‘classical’ offensive with tanks and armoured vehicles were replaced with offensives by lighter mobile troops, which were able to disorganise the defending Armenian forces. Many of these modern approaches were taught to Azerbaijani Armed Forces by high-ranking Turkish officers, which Armenia has stated were actively involved in developing and conduction the operation. At the same time, Russian support to Armenia was very limited, despite the two countries being allies.

The war resulted in the Trilateral Statement, made by leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. According to statement, Azerbaijan gained control over territory of seven regions around Nagorno-Karabakh along with Shushi and Hadrut cities which were part of Karabakh, while Russia established a 1,960 personnel-strong peacekeeping mission which became security guarantor for local Armenians and was in charge of guarding the Lachin corridor – the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia proper. Also, the Statement outlined some bases for peace negotiations, including the exchange of POWs, opening of the transport communications between countries, and various others.

This postwar period was stable for only a few months, and in May 2021 Azerbaijan started to re-assert military pressure – now also directly on Armenia, as well as occupying border territories during limited operations. The most large-scale escalation happened on September 12-13, during which the intensity of hostilities was comparable to Second Karabakh war. Azerbaijani troops occupied more than 140 km2 of Armenian territory and conducted artillery and UAV strikes deep into Armenian territory, destroying some air defence assets and damaging Armenian Armed Forces bases. According to official sources, Armenia lost 202 and Azerbaijan lost 80 servicemen in just two days – more than during the 2016 four-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh. These hostilities showed that the Armenian Armed Forces were still not ready to organise an effective defence against Azerbaijan, especially in the sphere of air defence. As a result of the Azerbaijani attack, Armenia negotiated an EU monitoring mission to the border, which was established for 2 years and could be prolonged further.

Against the background of direct Armenia-Azerbaijan tension, Baku also started to put pressure on Nagorno-Karabakh, despite the existence of the Russian peacekeeping mission and security guarantees. The peacekeepers were shown to be very passive, especially after the beginning of Russo-Ukrainian war, which took a much higher priority for Russian military resource dedication, as well as limited general interest to the region. After several local attacks by Azerbaijani troops, which resulted in almost no reaction from the Russians, Baku started a blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh by blocking the Lachin corridor in December 2022. This also did not lead to any real reaction from Russia and its peacekeepers. This passivity gave Baku the confidence sure that it could run a final military campaign in Karabakh, which started on September 19 and finished on September 20, 2023. 

Success with Surprisingly High Causalities

The launch of hostilities in Karabakh on 19 September 2023 started with massed indirect fires by Azerbaijani troops on military objects and defence infrastructure along the line of contact. Azerbaijani troops used Lora tactical ballistic missiles (TBMs), Harop and SkyStriker loitering munitions, tube and rocket artillery, as well as Spike-NLOS long-range anti-tank missiles. After this, their land forces launched an offensive, planning to cut Nagorno-Karabakh into 3 isolated parts, without entering the large cities, such as the capital – Stepanakert, or Martakert, which was surrounded but not taken. Despite the heavy indirect fire support, Azerbaijani land forces met fierce resistance in most directions and took higher-than-expected causalities. By contrast with their performance in 2020, Armenian forces even conducted several successful drone strikes, using modified civilian multicopters without encountering many counters from their enemy, which seemed unprepared for such actions.
 
  
The SkyStriker loitering munition, developed by Elbit Systems. The SkyStriker was among the many loitering munitions Azerbaijan procured from Israel, and subsequently used in conflicts with Armenia. Credit: Elbit Systems

Despite such innovations, the defenders had no chance of winning, as the region was already cut-off from Armenia and the number of troops was quite limited, with contemporary assessments of Nagorno-Karabakh Defence Army estimating a strength of 7,000-10,000 servicemen. Alongside this, Azerbaijan’s pre-war 9-month blockade also diminished their fuel stocks, making their defensive and offensive options more limited.

Given this situation, if the war had not been stopped almost immediately by the surrender of Karabakh local authorities, the question would have been how many days it would have last and how many casualties sides would have, but the final result was never in doubt. Russian peacekeepers did everything to stay out of the conflict, despite that there is evidence of an artillery strike on one of their bases and two cases when Azerbaijani troops opened fire at them. That led to death of six peacekeepers, including Captain First Rank Ivan Kovgan, the deputy commander of Russia’s Northern Fleet submarine forces, and deputy commander of the peacekeeping mission. Following his death, an official apology was made by Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev over a phone call to Vladimir Putin.

The one-day conflict resulted 192 dead and 512 wounded Azerbaijani servicemen, while local Armenian forces reported 220 servicemen dead and 360 wounded. Yet the most grave outcome of Azerbaijan’s offensive was that it resulted in the effective ceding of the self-proclaimed Artsakh Republic to Azerbaijan. Artsakh Republic President Samvel Shahramanyan signed a bill which dissolved the existence of the republic, allegedly with under the condition of threats to both himself and local population. Azerbaijan’s seizure of the region also resulted in the entire Armenian population of the former Artsakh Republic fleeing for Armenia, leading Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to accuse Azerbaijan of conducting the ethnic cleansing of the region. Additionally, several acting and former political and military leaders of the Artsakh Republic were arrested and are being prosecuted in Baku, including an Armenian-origin billionaire from Russia, Ruben Vardanyan, who moved to Karabakh before the blockade of Lachin corridor.

What Next?

Despite the fact that since 2020 Baku has attained its maximalist goals, and there are no practical obstacles for a peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, tensions between the two countries is not decreasing. At present, Azerbaijan is seeking to get maximum possible out of negotiations on opening of the logistical routes between the countries. Based on the point 9 of the Trilateral Statement of 9 November 2020, Baku is demanding a railway and highway with special status, which should pass through Armenian territory and connect Azerbaijan’s mainland with its Nakhchivan exclave. This is known as the ‘Zangezur corridor’. According to the Trilateral Agreement, “The Republic of Armenia shall guarantee the safety of transport communication between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic with a view to organize the unimpeded movement of citizens, vehicles and cargo in both directions. Control over transport communication shall be exercised by the Border Guard Service bodies of the FSS [Federal Security Service – more commonly referred to as the FSB] of Russia”.
 
 
This map shows the possible routes for the Zangezur Corridor. Credit: Hayaliq/Armenian Wave

Moscow’s interest also lies with this ‘corridor’ idea, as it will provide Russia more on-the-ground presence in Armenia. Yerevan’s position in this case is to simply open the route for Azerbaijanis to go to Nakhichevan via Armenian territory, but with no special status road and no Russian FSB guarding the route in place of Armenian customs officers. This position has a certain logic, since de-facto, none of the ‘pro-Armenian’ points of the Trilateral Statement exist anymore – including security for Karabakh Armenians and the functioning of Lachin corridor, as well as exchange of all POWs – and the agreement has long since been seen as a failure.

Another artificial way of keeping the situation in tension is the issue of enclaves – small pieces of foreign territory which during the existence of the USSR were located in the Armenian and Azerbaijani SSRs. Azerbaijan wants its enclaves back under its control, despite the fact that Armenia also has enclaves with Azerbaijani territory, not counting the >140 km2 of territory occupied by Baku after 2020. The situation is complicated by the fact that an Armenian strategic highway connecting the country to Georgia passes by one of these enclaves. In reality, the only realistic ‘peaceful’ approach here is to leave the enclave question for a post-peace treaty delimitation and demarcation process, where such territories could be exchanged to benefits either side countries. However, the current tensions over regarding the enclaves represents a possible scenario for a further military incursion by Azerbaijan.

At the moment, there are three Azerbaijani enclaves in Armenia which are located in the Tavush province, located in Armenia’s North, and the Ararat province, located North of the Nakhchivan exclave. All are approximately 3-4 km from the border, which theoretically makes them a possible target for a limited rapid operation. However, the parts of the northern border where enclaves exist are both relatively well fortified and are located in mountainous and forested areas. During the 2020 Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, Azeri troops were not able to breach the defences in the northern parts of Nagorno-Karabakh, despite a landing a hard blow at the beginning of hostilities. By contrast, Armenia’s southern border is much less fortified, since it never existed until Armenia’s defeat in 2020, before which this border was shared with the Artsakh Republic. Additionally the terrain in this area is more permissive, mainly comprising open plains. In a scenario where Azerbaijan would seek to link its mainland to these aforementioned enclaves by force, it would need to conduct an offensive on three axes of up to 8-9 km deep, and would likely result a heavy multi-day war. Such a conflict is more difficult to diplomatically ‘sell’ as a limited border skirmish, and as such would carry a greater risk of triggering sanctions. Which perhaps serving as a potential dissuasive element, this does not guarantee such a scenario would not come to pass.
 
  
This map shows the overall security situation in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Credit: Hayaliq/Armenian Wave

Another and perhaps the most probable conflict scenario for the near future would be a limited operation on the ‘new’ border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, similar to scale and style to one in September 2022. This means, that Azerbaijani troops will have limited time, but not scale or intensity for the attack, with the probable aim being that Azerbaijan’s forces take their objectives before an international response can be organised. If successful, this could notably change the tactical situation on the borders, as well as put more pressure on the Armenian leadership to make more one-sided concessions, most probably related to the Zangezur corridor and/or enclaves issue. The real scenario may include the same idea as in September 2022 – to create a feasible risk of encirclement of a relatively large Armenian city which is close to border. If in 2022 it was Jermuk, next time it could be Goris (9 km from border) or toward Vardenis (15 km from border), located on the shores of Sevan Lake.

The third, and least probable scenario is a full-scale invasion to Armenia and attempt to occupy all or a large chunk of the Vayots Dzor and Sunik provinces of Armenia, the latter of which is in the South of the country and shares a border with Iran. Azerbaijan’s likely goal here would be to connect its mainland to Nakhichevan and to Turkey, while cutting Armenia off from Iran. However, attempting such an offensive would have serious risks of an international reaction, as well as the the possibility of direct military support from Iran, which is not interested in such scenario coming to pass, as it would dramatically decrease its influence in the South Caucasus. 

Long-Term Consequences

Along with the aforementioned scenarios, it is important to assess the long-term trends for both countries’ Armed Forces. At present there is a major capability gap between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which was exacerbated after the former’s defeat in 2020.

Following its victory, Azerbaijan has sustained a relatively high defence budget, which is planned to reach USD 3.8 Bn in 2024. Baku is still undertaking on defence procurement and advice for military reforms mostly from Israel and Turkey. The arms deals are now mostly kept in secret, but high numbers of cargo aircraft fights between the three indicates that they are continuing at pace. The most recent news in this sphere is Azerbaijan’s selection of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) to upgrade Azerbaijan’s Su-25 combat aircraft, and procurement of a 0.5 metre-resolution remote-sensing satellite and possible procurement of Barak MX air defence system from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). It can be surmised that Azerbaijan continues to fill its stocks with Israeli and Turkish UAVs and loitering munitions, and is continuing to develop its long-range precision-guided strike capability.

In Armenia, there is more of a shift going on, as the 2020 war saw the devastating of its Armed Forces, especially in Air Defence and Artillery domains. The country boosted its military spending twice, and is due to have a defence budget of USD 1.4-1.5 Bn in 2024. Yerevan tried to rely on Russia, its traditional partner, after the Second Karabakh War, signing a contract worth USD 400 M in August 2021, mostly for air defence systems. The contract has still not been fulfilled, which Russia has justified by citing its own needs in Ukraine. This, along with Russia’s aforementioned refusals to fulfil the alliance treaty, has pushed Yerevan to find new partners.
 
 Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan meeting Russian President Valdimir Putin in 2023 during a visit to Sochi. Relations between the two countries have frayed somewhat since 2020. Credit: Press Office of the Government of Armenia

The most significant one at present is India, which according to local media has secured an armament contracts package worth around USD 1 Bn. This includes such major Indian systems as Akash SAMs (with a memorandum of understanding to procure Akash-NG when it is ready), ATAGS 155 mm L52 towed howitzers, MArG 155 155 mm L39 self-propelled howitzers, C-UAV electronic warfare (EW) systems, licensed-produced Konkurs-M anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), and other equipment. Interestingly, Armenia made the decision to switch to NATO calibres, and with the number of pieces of artillery being procured, which by some estimations may exceed 150-160, this is a strategic change. Another new partner is France, which is now open to sell NATO-standard weapons to Armenia. First contracts signed on October 2023 include three Thales Ground Master 200 radars, as well as binoculars and sensors produced by Safran. Additionally, memorandum of understanding was signed with MBDA to start the process of procuring Mistral very short-range surface-to-air missiles.
 
 Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan meeting India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019 during a visit by the two leaders to New York. Credit: Press Office of the Government of Armenia

In terms of overall security prospects, the short-term in particular, but also the mid-term currently very much favours Azerbaijan, which lost less equipment in the 2020 war, and has continued to invest a higher amount than Armenia in defence. On the Armenian side, the prospects could look better over the long term, provided the country manages to retain its sovereignty until then. This is because the country is currently undergoing a boom in economic growth, driven in particular by Armenia’s IT sector, with the country’s GDP growing by 12.6% in 2022, likely reaching 10% in 2023, and looking set to remain high over the coming years. By contrast, Azerbaijan’s economy is stagnating and is heavily dependent on fossil fuel exports. The worldwide trend towards decarbonising economies may begin to strongly affect Azerbaijan’s economy after 2030, which may allow Yerevan to secure some breathing room. However, 2030 remains further away than is comfortable, and as such Armenia would do well to secure itself in the present.

 
Putin: Putin on Yerevan's refusal to compromise in Karabakh issue


For 15 years Russia had been offering Armenia to compromise and return five districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan and keep the other two, but Armenia refused, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a Valdai Club meeting today. "Russia had long offered Armenia ways to resolve the Karabakh issue, but Yerevan refused, expressing readiness to 'fight,'" Putin said. He noted that Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh could only observe the ceasefire, they had no other mandate. "The status of Karabakh was a key issue, but Armenia itself recognized it as part of Azerbaijan," Putin said.

On September 27, 2020, Azerbaijani armed forces, backed by Turkey and foreign mercenaries and terrorists, attacked Nagorno-Karabakh along the entire front line using rocket and artillery weapons, heavy armored vehicles, military aircraft and prohibited types of weapons such as cluster bombs and phosphorus weapons. After 44 days of the war, on November 9, the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a statement on the cessation of all hostilities. According to the document, the town of Shushi, the districts of Agdam, Kelbajar and Lachin were handed over to Azerbaijan, with the exception of a 5-kilometer corridor connecting Karabakh with Armenia. A Russian peacekeeping contingent was deployed along the contact line in Karabakh and along the Lachin corridor.

On September 19, 2023 Azerbaijan launched what it called an "anti-terrorist" operation against ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh. The assault lasted 24 hours and ended with Azerbaijani forces gaining full control of the region for the first time since the 1990s war. This led to a vast refugee crisis, with tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians fleeing along the narrow mountain road connecting the region to the Republic of Armenia.


Source: https://arka.am/en/news/politics/putin_on_yerevan_s_refusal_to_compromise_in_karabakh_issue/


Lavrov: Russian peacekeeping force in Karabakh “no longer concerns Armenia”


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has declared again that the West is trying to oust Russia from the process of normalizing relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Speaking at a press conference in New York, Lavrov recalled that several Armenian-Azerbaijani-Russian documents have been agreed upon at the highest level, which he said define the key parameters of the settlement, including border delimitation, unblocking trade and transport routes and signing of a peace treaty.

“Lately we have seen how, after all these agreements were achieved, our Western colleagues decided that it was somehow wrong that Russia was managing to achieve progress in this area. They began to lure Armenians and Azerbaijanis to Brussels, then to Paris, then to Washington, then to Prague. By the way, in the Czech Republic in 2022, the Prime Minister of Armenia signed a document stating that he recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within the 1991 borders,” Lavrov said.

“This means that the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (as Karabakh was then called) is an integral part of Azerbaijan. This came as a surprise to us. Before this, various options for a final solution to the problem of the status of Karabakh were discussed, but the Prime Minister of Armenia did it on his own. Since then, the question of status, of what Karabakh is, has been closed.” Lavrov reminded that Russian peacekeepers who first deployed in Karabakh in 2020 and were supposed to ensure the safety of Armenians are still there.

“This issue no longer concerns the Armenian side,” he added. This is a matter of bilateral relations between Russia and Azerbaijan. The presidents discussed this topic, they agreed that at this stage the presence of Russian peacekeepers plays a positive role in strengthening stability, trust in the region and facilitating the return of Karabakh residents who want to do so.”

Source: https://www.panarmenian.net/eng/news/311978/Lavrov_Russian_peacekeeping_force_in_Karabakh_no_longer_concerns_Armenia

Putin: We were not the ones who left Karabakh, it was Armenia that recognized Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan


It was not us that left Karabakh; it was Armenia that recognized that Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan. This was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin, answering the Mir television reporter’s question about the future of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), taking into account the respective positions of Armenia and Moldova. When asked how he assesses, in general, the integration associations in the post-Soviet area, the Russian president responded as follows: "There are no simple processes in Armenia related to Karabakh; we all realize this. It was not us [Russia] that left Karabakh; it was Armenia that recognized that Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan. They actually did it on their own initiative, and they did not particularly inform us that they were preparing for such a decision. This is just a statement of fact, as there are both positive and negative aspects to it. Well, it happened, and the internal political processes are complicated."

Source: https://news.am/eng/news/797717.html

Lavrov Says Pashinyan Was ‘Connected to Soros’


In what can be seen as further escalation between Yerevan and Russia, the Russian foreign minister said that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was connected to the Soros Foundation, with his aim being to distance Armenia from Russia-led alliances.

“When Nikol Pashinyan was in the opposition and was leading the movement he created—which everyone knew was connected to the Soros Foundation—the slogan of his movement was ‘Exit’: exit the CSTO and the Eurasian Economic Union. With this slogan, he brought crowds to the streets, demanded his election as prime minister (at the time the prime minister is elected by the parliament), while announcing that if he weren’t elected he will he will make the people stand up,” Lavrov said in an interview with Russian Izvestia daily newsspaer, adding that “this was democracy at its best display.”

Such an overt attack on Pashinyan is unprecedented from the Russian leaders, who have expressed dismay at Pashinyan and his government’s policies of courting the West. With an upcoming meeting between Pashinyan and the U.S. Secretary of State and the European Commission president scheduled for April 4, Moscow – and Baku – have voiced their concerns, and accused the West of sowing instability in the region.

Pashinyan and his allies have also fueled the flames with, primarily, Parliament Speaker Alan Simonyan continuously making anti-Russia declarations, including calling for the ouster of Russian border guards from Armenia. Pashinyan has also threatened to leave the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, saying the organization did not fulfill its obligations toward Armenia when Azerbaijan invaded sovereign territories in Armenia proper.

Opposition forces have accused Pashinyan of having ties to the infamous Soros Foundation, which is often seen as a force of imposing Western values on burgeoning democracies around the world.

“After becoming the Prime Minister, I remember very well, [Russian President] Vladimir Putin met with him several times, emphasizing in every way that we will not be guided by some previous [experience], but by how exactly the leadership of Armenia will build relations with Russia. In response, Nikol Pashinyan said that both the CSTO and the Eurasian Economic Union are fundamental organizations for Armenia, for the development of its economy, for preventing its isolation in the South Caucasus,” Lavrov explained to Izvestia. He explained that relations between Yerevan and Moscow were advancing and developing based on Pashinyan’s pledges of support for the CSTO and EU, until 2020, when “the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan flared up.”

Lavrov added that Pashinyan turned to Putin, as ally and a member of the CSTO. Russia’s top diplomat said that Putin, at the time, “was negotiating—literally nightly, tirelessly, and sparing no effort—with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to stop this war.” Lavrov said that after the signing of the now-infamous November 9, 2020 agreement, the European Union was taking steps to “draw Armenians and Azerbaijanis to its side, with Pashing as the main supporter of the idea to work on a platform with the EU and the U.S.”

“They [Armenia] went there on a regular basis—to the detriment of the meetings that were planned in the territory of the Russian Federation,” Lavrov added.

According to Lavrov, when in Prague in 2022, at the European Political Community Summit, which he called an “invention” by French President Emmanuel Macron, they signed a document with the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, in the presence of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, that Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan, “No one notified us,” Lavrov added.

“Then Putin told Pashinyan during a subsequent meeting: ‘We were surprised that you made that decision.’ There were no explanations, as Pashinyan always asked us not to forget that in parallel with the efforts of the last three years, the issue of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh should be somehow resolved, and we were doing it,” the Russian foreign minister explained. Lavrov explained that, after signing the agreement in Prague to recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, Pashinyan blamed Putin for abandoning the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“For God’s sake,” Lavrov exclaimed, “it was you [Pashinyan] who decided that they are not citizens or claim some kind of citizenship of Azerbaijan.”

According to the Russian foreign minister, he had gotten a sense from Pashinyan that his government was convinced that an alliance with Russia – that includes CSTO and EU membership—was in the best interests of Armenia and the region.

“Howver, now Armenian officials, both in the Security Council and in the parliament, directly are saying that ‘we should rely more on the European Union,’ that the CSTO allegedly has not fulfilled its obligations to the republic. That is, in essence, the full circle—the leadership of Armenia has begun to express the same thought, with which Pashinyan created his ‘Exit’ movement,” Lavrov said.

“I am convinced that this does not correspond to our and Armenian people’s interests, from the point of view of historical friendly ties with Armenians, the huge Armenian diaspora living in Russia, and stability in the South Caucasus,” Lavrov said. “The objective of those who are now luring the leadership of Armenia to the side of the West is clear: to not allow stability in the South Caucasus, to try to turn this region into a zone of their dominance, as the West is doing in Central Asia and in many other parts of our shared continent,” Lavrov concluded.
 

Thomas de Waal: 2024 is somewhat dangerous moment for Armenia


Many challenges await Armenia in 2024. Thomas de Waal, a specialist in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and a senior analyst at the Carnegie Foundation, stated this in an interview with the RFE/RL Armenian Service.

Undoubtedly, this is a very crucial, important, somewhat dangerous moment for Armenia in 2024. The country faces perhaps the most difficult choices, comparable to the situation in the late 1980s or even the 1920s. Of course, it is about the loss of Karabakh and the fleeing of the Armenian population from there. This is a serious moment for Armenia, which some compare with the Genocide of 1920 or even 1915. This will also be the year when Armenia will face not only the threat from Azerbaijan, but also the threat of losing or severing relations with Russia. Thus, in 2024, many challenges await Armenia without a doubt, de Waal noted.

To the remark that for many Armenians, Russia not only abandoned them, but also betrayed them in a very dramatic way, Thomas de Waal responded by saying to start with the fact that, of course, Russia has always had many interests in this region. Although it may have always had stronger relations with Armenia, it has never abandoned relations with Azerbaijan. If we look at the recent history of the Karabakh conflict, we will see that there were moments when Moscow was closer to Baku—for example, in 1990 and 1991.

For Russia, its interests are the priority, and the fact that Armenians are Christians, the existence of traditional historical relations there are not so important. But, for sure, Moscow continues to be the main guarantor of Armenia's security. There is a military alliance, and there are obligations that Moscow has undertaken towards Armenia. What changed? Obviously, the situation began to change after Armenia’s Velvet Revolution in 2018, when incumbent PM Nikol Pashinyan came to power, who was a much more unpredictable and unreliable partner from Moscow's point of view, while Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev continued to be a much more predictable and reliable partner; and that was one of the changes.

Then there was the war of 2020 when Moscow intervened only at the last moment. While the people of Karabakh welcomed Moscow's intervention, Thomas de Waal believes that the Armenians have already realized that change. As per de Waal, the decisive moment was the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022, after which Russia's priorities changed and everything began to revolve around this war and the war with the West. The Caucasus has become secondary, and everything is now secondary compared to those war efforts.

According to Thomas de Waal, if we look at what we have on the ground, we will see that on the one hand there is Armenia, which has a democratic government whose intentions seem to be more pro-European, and there is—from Russia's point of view—a much more reliable partner in the form of Azerbaijan. He believes that if we read what Russian officials have been saying since the start of the war, it's that they need to reorient the entire Russian economy from West to South and East; and South means Georgia, but it also means Azerbaijan, in particular; the railway to Azerbaijan via the Caspian Sea.

Azerbaijan is mainly a road for Russia to the south—to Iran and the Middle East. And in that case, Armenia becomes less important. And that's why Thomas de Waal believes we saw this. For the first time in history, Russia did not react, and its peacekeeping forces in Nagorno-Karabakh did not react for the most part. Obviously, they were informed in advance that Azerbaijan was going to occupy Karabakh, de Waal added.


Stratfor: Armenia will probably accept Azerbaijan's demands


Progress on a peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan is likely, but the risk of flare-ups or the resumption of full-scale war will remain high as Azerbaijan seeks to maintain leverage over Armenia, according to 2024 forecast published by prestigious American analytical center Stratfor. According to the center's analysts, Armenia will continue to strive for a peace agreement with Azerbaijan, but disagreements over the conditions of regional transit corridors will continue to hinder the respective negotiations.

As per Stratfor, Armenia will use its growing political ties with the West and the latter’s military support to counter Azerbaijan's stubborn ambitions. But considering that Armenia has little leverage in its hands, it is likely to accept Azerbaijan's demands in terms of transit through southern Armenia and border delimitation. After Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s probable re-election on February 7, according to Stratfor's forecast, Azerbaijan will continue to increase its military capacity along the border with Armenia in order to prepare for a possible invasion and gain leverage in negotiations.

If significant progress is not made in the first half of the current year, the risk of Azerbaijan seizing considerable territory in southern of Armenia will increase in the summer, when conditions will be favorable for large-scale military operations. Despite growing signals of Yerevan's desire to leave Moscow, Russia's influence in the South Caucasus will not diminish to the point where it is no longer significant, as Armenia will remain in the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the country's economy will be closely tied to the Russian economy.

At the same time, bilateral relations and trade ties between Azerbaijan and Russia will rise to a new level. The East-West transit in the South Caucasus will continue to be carried out mainly through the territory of Georgia, while Azerbaijan will contribute to the development of the North-South infrastructure connecting Russia to Iran. If Azerbaijan invades Armenia to establish a land link with its exclave of Nakhichevan, Azerbaijan and Turkey will come under pressure from the West and threaten to change foreign policy away from the West and forge closer ties with Russia, China, and Iran, Stratfor concludes.


Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: How Azerbaijan forced Armenia to back down


The Armenian separatist forces in Nagorno-Karabakh on Wednesday agreed to lay down their weapons following Azerbaijan's lightning offensive in the Armenian-majority enclave. Between Moscow's weakening position in the Caucasus and the West's dependence on hydrocarbons, Azerbaijan has taken advantage of a favourable international context to complete a decades-long mission to control the disputed region. 

After more than 30 years of conflict, the battle between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh may soon conclude. Under the guise of an "anti-terrorist operation" following the death of four soldiers and two civilians, Baku continued its efforts to reassert control over Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday. Armenian separatists – who have mostly governed the disputed territory since 1994 – promptly agreed on Wednesday to surrender their weapons following Baku's lightning offensive, indicating they are open to talks on reintegrating the secessionist territory into Azerbaijan.

"An agreement has been reached on the withdrawal of the remaining units and servicemen of the Armenian armed forces ... and on the dissolution and complete disarmament of the armed formations of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defence Army," the Armenian separatist authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh said in a statement.

This announcement is a decisive victory for Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, who has made the reunification of his country a priority. Separated from Armenia and attached to Azerbaijan in 1921 by Stalin, the predominantly Armenian mountainous enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh has been a point of permanent tension between the two former Soviet republics since the collapse of the USSR. In 1991, the territory declared itself the independent Republic of Artsakh but was never recognised by the international community. Then, in 1994, Armenia won the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, resulting in the de facto independence of the Republic of Artsakh which Azerbaijan refused to accept.

In the intervening years, the tables have turned, says Jean Radvanyi, geographer and professor emeritus at the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO). Thanks to significant revenues from oil and natural gas, "Baku has taken advantage of the situation to rearm, with the support of allies such as Turkey, and the balance of power has continued to evolve", says Radvanyi. This role reversal gave Azerbaijan the confidence to launch the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020, which saw Baku's forces overpower the Armenian military.

In the wake of this defeat, Armenia was forced to cede territory in and around Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan. The ceasefire stipulated the presence of 2,000 Russian peacekeepers tasked with guaranteeing the safety of the Armenians but this measure failed to stop regular armed skirmishes on the border. Taking advantage of a divided Armenia, Azerbaijan then launched the second phase of its plan: a war of attrition designed to cut off the enclave's 120,000 or so Armenians. Despite the presence of the Russian peacekeepers, beginning in December 2022, Azerbaijan blockaded the Lachin corridor, a narrow mountain road that links Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh. It wasn't until September 18 – just one day before the offensive – that Red Cross trucks carrying food and medicine gained access to Nagorno-Karabakh.
 
Turkish support and Moscow’s declining influence in the Caucasus

In both the first and second Nagorno-Karabakh wars, Azerbaijan received support from Turkey. On Tuesday, a Turkish defence ministry official said the country is using "all means", including military training and modernisation, to support its close ally Azerbaijan but it did not play a direct role in Baku's military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh. Baku's success also appears to be the result of Moscow's weakening regional position. Russia has struggled to maintain its traditional role as policeman of the Caucasus since it launched its offensive in Ukraine in February 2022.

"Since the fall of the USSR, Russia has been the guardian of the region, maintaining a kind of status quo, but Moscow is focused on the conflict in Ukraine, which seems far from over," says Lukas Aubin, associate researcher at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS).

What’s more, Russia has become much more dependent on Azerbaijan. The country serves as a corridor between Iran and Russia, allowing for the transfer of military supplies for the war in Ukraine and is one of the countries that enables Russia to circumvent Western sanctions. Finally, Moscow's support for Armenia has been steadily waning in recent years. Elected in 2018, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has edged away from Russia and turned to the West for security guarantees. For instance, in November 2022, Pashinyan refused to sign the final declaration of the summit of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). This signalled Armenia's growing resentment at Moscow's lack of support for the country.

"Pashinyan is pursuing a pro-Western policy, which was not necessarily the case at the outset, and which irritates Moscow," says Laurent Leylekian, a South Caucasus specialist and political analyst. "Armenia ratified the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court to protect the Armenian minority in Nagorno-Karabakh."

This process began at the end of 2022, but ended, coincidentally, a few days after the announcement of the ICC's arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin – at a time when Putin wanted to sully the ICC's credibility, Armenia was legitimising it. Since then, Pashinyan has multiplied acts of defiance towards the Russian president. In early September, Armenia announced humanitarian aid to Ukraine and undertook a joint military exercise with the United States, which began on September 11. In response, Moscow responded by summoning the Armenian ambassador and denouncing the measures as "unfriendly".
 
‘It's death or exile that awaits the Armenians’

A Western response is yet to materialise. But here again, the international context is working in Azerbaijan's favour. In January, the European Union signed a far-reaching natural gas import agreement with Baku, to reduce dependence on Russian supplies. A few months later, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, travelled to Baku to announce a new agreement to double gas imports from Azerbaijan. In an article published in Le Monde, some fifty French lawmakers criticised a project that would once again place Europeans "in a situation of new dependence on a state with bellicose aspirations".

"The West has always been rather hypocritical in this matter, preferring to negotiate gas and oil with Baku rather than genuinely support the Armenians", says Radvanyi. As Azerbaijan now enters negotiations with Armenian separatists from a position of considerable strength, the power asymmetry could spell danger for both the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia itself. “The (ethnic) Armenian leaders of secessionist Karabakh have long refused to acknowledge that this territory belongs to Azerbaijan,” says Radvanyi, for whom the power shift on the ground could lead to a “solution” to the long-lasting standoff over Nagorno-Karabakh.  “I hope this solution will ensure the status of the Karabakh Armenians,” he adds.

But other experts envisage much gloomier scenarios. "It's death or exile that awaits the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh because it's impossible for an Armenian to live in a country where racist anti-Armenian hatred is the raison d'être," says Leylekian. Speaking before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday, an Armenian ambassador warned of "looming ethnic cleansing" in Nagorno-Karabakh. "Civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh are trapped and they do not have a way to evacuate since Azerbaijan continues to block the only lifeline connecting with Armenia," he said.

Another concern relates to the integrity of Armenian territory, as Nagorno-Karabakh could lose its role as a buffer zone between the two enemies of the Caucasus. "There's every reason to be worried. If this buffer zone were to disappear, Azerbaijan's ambitions could be even more pronounced," says Aubin. "Without Russian support and frank and massive support from the West, it's hard to see the Armenian army being in a position to resist.” In contrast with this, Azerbaijan's presidential foreign policy advisor Hikmet Hajiyev said Wednesday that the country aimed to "peacefully reintegrate" Armenians living in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh and that it supports a "normalisation process between Armenia and Azerbaijan".


Pashinyan Attempts To Blame Russia For The Situation He Helped Create In Nagorno Karabakh


Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the Prime Minister of Armenia who oversaw a humiliating defeat in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War of 2020, delivered a speech on September 24 claiming that he is leading Armenia’s “independence defence movement” and blamed Russia for the situation in the disputed region. Describing the terrible humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, Pashinyan said:
“The responsibility for such a development of events will fall entirely on Azerbaijan, which has adopted the policy of ethnic cleansing, and on the peacekeeping troops of the Russian Federation in Nagorno-Karabakh”.
The Armenian prime minister is propagating a fake narrative to distract from any criticism of his policies and actions that have led to the rapid capitulation of Nagorno-Karabakh in the face of Azerbaijani aggression, which is also occupying territories belonging to the Republic of Armenia, not in the disputed region. Pashinyan first set the trap for the Armenian people five years ago in the context of the Velvet Revolution when he announced that either he would be the prime minister or Armenia would not have a prime minister. Even as recently as September 24, in his infamous speech, Pashinyan said:
“I am the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia. Therefore, I lead the independence defence movement […] the future of Armenia depends on one person and that one person is me.”
Effectively, Pashinyan is pushing the narrative that either he will remain the prime minister, or there will be no Armenia. His speech was very dangerous in all aspects as it served to sever further the ties that Russia and Armenia have. He also said nothing about how his diplomacy brought the Caucasian country to this desperate situation.

Rather, Pashinyan’s speech was signalling to the West that Yerevan is moving very aggressively in breaking its ties with Russia. This is an especially dangerous manoeuvre since Armenia, quite obviously, is not in the Alps of Europe with states like Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Austria neighbouring each other, but rather in a very dangerous Caucasus that has been a crossroads of trade, religion, and battle for thousands of years. This region has become more dangerous because Pashinyan attempts to change his country’s alliances and strategic thinking without securing any guarantee from any Western country, including France, which only encourages Azerbaijan to take action. Moscow must be careful not to overplay the Turkish-Azeri card because NATO views Turkey as a way to subvert and weaken Russian and Chinese cultural and economic influence in Central Asia. For this reason, the Atlantic Alliance fully supports Turkey’s vision of becoming the hegemon of Central Asia.

Although the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is now seemingly resolved, Azerbaijan and Turkey are already pushing for the opening of the “Zangezur Corridor,” a transportation corridor which would give Azerbaijan unimpeded access to its detached Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, which borders Turkey, via Armenia’s Syunik Province and without Armenian checkpoints – effectively a loss of sovereignty to Armenia’s only border region with Iran. Creating such a corridor would connect Turkey to the rest of the Turkic world, which would be a far greater threat to Russian interests than what a small, weak, and liberal Armenia is.

Regarding security, Armenia has every right to expand its partnerships and cooperate with more countries. However, it was unnecessary to achieve this by pursuing an aggressively anti-Moscow policy. Take the case of India, in which Russia was traditionally and still is the South Asian country’s main weapons supplier. India has entered weapon manufacturing agreements with Russia but still purchases weapons from France and the US. New Delhi gained favour with the West without provoking Russia, unlike Pashinyan, who still has not received any guarantees from his so-called Western partners. All the former leaders of Armenia conducted a balanced foreign policy by increasing the number of allies and limiting the number of enemies as much as possible. Now, under Pashinyan, there is a crisis in Armenian-Russian relations, Armenia is without Western allies, and all signals point to Azerbaijan extending its aggression until the Zangezur Corridor is opened.

Source:https://southfront.press/pashinyan-attempts-to-blame-russia-for-the-situation-he-helped-create-in-nagorno-karabakh/

Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenians Fall Victim to the EU’s Dependence on Hydrocarbons and Pashinyan’s Betrayal


More than 30 years of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is drawing to a close, and Armenia is the loser. On September 19, following the death of four soldiers and two civilians, Azerbaijan pushed aggressively to control Nogorno-Karabakh, and the next day the Armenian forces agreed to lay down their arms in the Armenian majority enclave. Azerbaijan previously had waged a war of attrition to cut off supplies to the 120,000 Armenians. Despite Russian peacekeepers being stationed there since December 2022 tasked with keeping the Lachin corridor open, Azerbaijan blockaded the narrow mountain road which links Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh. On September 18, Red Cross trucks carrying food and medicine finally gained access to Nagorno-Karabakh.
“An agreement has been reached on the withdrawal of the remaining units and servicemen of the Armenian armed forces … and on the dissolution and complete disarmament of the armed formations of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army,” the Armenian authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh said in a statement.
Europe’s insatiable demand for energy is in part supplied by Azerbaijan’s gas and oil resources. In January, the EU signed a natural gas import agreement with Azerbaijan, as the EU moved away from Russian supplies. Within months, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, announced a new agreement to double gas imports from Azerbaijan while visiting Baku. In response to the new agreement, about 50 French legislators denounced the move that would place Europeans dependent on a state with war-like aspirations, referring to Azerbaijan’s aggression against the Armenians. Energy analysts have pointed to the West’s hypocrisy in the conflict, as they negotiate gas and oil at the expense of the Armenians. Azerbaijan saw their chance to finish off a decades-long dispute with Armenia as the West turns to Baku for oil, and turns away from Russia. In the middle of the conflict is Nikol Pashinyan, the Prime Minister of Armenian since 2018.

He faced intense domestic pressure in 2020 after he agreed to a Russian-brokered ceasefire that ended a 44-day war between ethnic Armenian, and Azerbaijani forces who had achieved victory, after taking back a third of the breakaway territory, and an additional seven surrounding districts. Pashinyan had faced calls to resign in 2020, as angry crowds protested in the capital Yerevan after the defeat then, and he faced thousands of protesters in Yerevan on Wednesday asking him again to resign, after viewing the surrender of the breakaway region as a final humiliating defeat. In the past, Pashinyan reversed his position and recognized that Nagorno-Karabakh was part of Azerbaijan and gave up on his previous claim. However, he demanded that Azerbaijan agree to protect the rights and security of the Karabakh Armenians, but Azerbaijan refused.

Pashinyan is pursuing a pro-Western policy, and in early September, Armenia announced humanitarian aid to Ukraine and undertook a joint military exercise with the US, which began on September 11.  Pashinyan’s critics have said he has moved towards the US and NATO, and away from his former alliance with Russia, which is a neighbor and has peacekeeping forces in the area. The Armenian people look at results, and have seen Pashinyan’s failures mounting up, while they have seen a lack of any American involvement in their conflict, which leaves them wondering what is driving Pashinyan’s decision to go West, when the US has not helped Armenia other than bread crumbs in humanitarian aid, and the EU are depending on Azerbaijan.

Armenia ceded territory in and around Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan after the 2020 defeat, and 2,000 Russian peacekeepers were placed to guarantee the safety of the Armenians as stipulated in the ceasefire, but despite their presence armed skirmishes continued on the border. Washington provides security assistance to Azerbaijan through a presidential waiver to Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. US ally Israel is Azerbaijan’s principal supplier of weapons. The Azerbaijani army is trained by the Turkish military, another US-NATO ally. Despite having an awful human rights record, Azerbaijan is a strategic partner for the West.

The US is not allied to Armenia, but has diplomatic relations, although Washington is not legally bound to Yerevan by any bilateral or multilateral security agreements. Experts are left wondering: why is Pashinyan moving away from Moscow, when Washington has never moved towards Yerevan? Are there secret promises from the US only Pashinyan knows about? Will a coup unfold in Yerevan to remove Pashinyan before he can reveal his motives?

In 1921, Stalin separated the predominantly Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia, and attached it to Azerbaijan, and this became a permanent tension between the two.  During the USSR collapse in 1991, the separatist Republic of Artsakh declared independence from Azerbaijan; however, it was not internationally recognized. In 1994, Armenia won the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, resulting in the de facto independence of the Republic of Artsakh, but Azerbaijan refused to acknowledge it.

The Armenian defeat in Nagorno-Karabakh is a decisive victory for Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, who has made the reunification of his country a priority. Azerbaijan had taken advantage of the significant revenues from oil and gas to build up their military arsenal from Turkey, and this turned the tide in the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. In the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020, Azerbaijan’s forces overpowered the Armenian military in the conflict which Baku had launched with the support of Turkey.
 
On Tuesday, the Turkish Defense Ministry admitted they are supporting Azerbaijan, but denied playing a direct role in the recent victory at Nagorno-Karabakh. On Wednesday, Hikmet Hajiyev, Azerbaijan’s presidential foreign policy advisor said they aimed to “peacefully reintegrate” Armenians living in the separatist region and that it supports a “normalization process between Armenia and Azerbaijan”. At the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday, officials were warning about a possible “ethnic cleansing” of the Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan is Muslim as well as their ally Turkey, who has a history of genocide against the Armenians in 1915, as well as the Syrian Christians.

In March 2014, the US sponsored Radical Islamic terrorists crossed from Turkey into the Armenian village of Kessab, Syria. They raped, killed, and occupied the village for three months during which every home and business was destroyed. In April 2014, Ahmed Jarba, the president of the political wing of the US sponsored Free Syrian Army visited Kessab to congratulate his troops, and then left Syria to sit in the Oval Office with President Obama. After almost a decade, Kessab still sits destroyed and the Armenian residents have almost all gone due to US sanctions preventing any rebuilding, donations, or investment for recovery. A similar fate may await the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Pashinyan changing country’s politics to align with West - experts


It is believed that the Armenian prime minister is taking advantage of the situation in Ukraine, trying to sign an agreement with Azerbaijan with the help of the West

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has decided to change the country's politics in a move that benefits the West, as evidenced by his recent moves, Eduard Sharmazanov, a former deputy speaker of the country's parliament and member of the board of the Republican Party led by the third President, Serzh Sargsyan.

Last week, Pashinyan, in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, argued that Russia was distancing itself from the South Caucasus and that Russian peacekeepers were not controlling the Lachin corridor, because Russia was either unwilling or unable to do so. The day before, Armenia's Cabinet sent the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to parliament for ratification. This week, Yerevan announced joint exercises with the United States, due to begin on September 11, and Pashinyan's wife Anna Hakobyan visited Kiev, where she took part in a "forum of first ladies and gentlemen" and was photographed with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky.

"Nikol Pashinyan is changing Armenia's political course," Sharmazanov believes. "This is a continuation of his statements that Russia’s military presence in Armenia is a threat, that Russia wants us to provide them with a corridor (meaning a proposed transportation corridor from the main territory of Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan through the territory of Armenia - TASS) or is forcing us to join the Union State. This is a continuation of the statements about the issue of Lachin (Lachin corridor - TASS) being put under the responsibility of Russia."

He said this was not the first such attempt by the current Armenian authorities. "Back in 2018, US presidential national security advisor John Bolton visited Armenia and said that the Armenian people should abandon their traditions. Among other things, he had in mind the destruction of Armenian-Russian relations. Pashinyan is consistently ruining Armenian-Russian relations," the expert believes. "Pashinyan is taking advantage of the situation in Ukraine, trying to sign an agreement with Azerbaijan with the help of the West. As a result, Armenia sustains territorial losses," Sharmazanov warned.
 
Final decision

Hayk Naapetyan, a security expert and retired colonel, agrees. "The plans for ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the Armenian-US military exercises, the statements about joining NATO, and the visit of Pashinyan's wife to Kiev indicate that the Armenian leadership has made a final decision to start the process of distancing itself from Russia and leaving the CSTO and the EAEU," he told TASS. According to Naapetyan, in his interview with the Italian newspaper, Pashinyan clearly stated that security cooperation with Russia was the wrong architecture and that the CSTO was not fulfilling its legal obligations.
 
Russia's position

In Moscow, Pashinyan's statements to the Italian media sparked criticism. A diplomatic source told TASS that the Russian side regarded them "as unacceptable in tone and content and aimed at shifting the responsibility for its own miscalculations and mistakes onto Russia." Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, commenting on the news of the upcoming Eagle Partner 2023 exercises between Armenia and the United States, told TASS that Russia had made its allies in Armenia deftly aware of the fact that their military exercises with the United States were perceived in Moscow with certain concern. Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the information about these exercises was worrisome, and Moscow would deeply analyze this situation and keep an eye on what happened next.

Russia also paid attention to the statement made by the Chairman of the European Committee for NATO Development Gunther Fehlinger to the effect that Armenia should join the North Atlantic Alliance. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin said in this regard that the Armenian people had enough wisdom "not to buy" NATO's attempts to draw their country into the alliance's sphere of influence. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told TASS that the statements made in the EU about Armenia's needing to join NATO were "grand fantasies."

Source: https://tass.com/world/1671299
 
New masters in the South Caucasus

Armenia lost Nagorno-Karabakh, but the regional ambitions of Azerbaijan supported by Turkey may mean that the worst is not over for Yerevan
  • Turkey and Azerbaijan are the undisputed leaders in the South Caucasus
  • Armenia is vulnerable after losing the 35-year conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh
  • The Kremlin’s regional influence also took a hit over Yerevan’s swift defeat
Following the one-day war fought between Armenia and Azerbaijan on September 19, Turkey and Azerbaijan are now in full control of geopolitics in the South Caucasus. The focus of the emerging axis between Ankara and Baku had been to once and for all resolve the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Following 35 years of intermittent warfare, that objective has now been achieved, at the great expense of Armenia – and of Russia.

The self-styled Republic of Artsakh will soon cease to exist. Unilaterally established by ethnic Armenians in the autonomous Azeri province of Nagorno-Karabakh, it was the linchpin of Russian hegemony in the region. Playing both sides, the Kremlin ensured that it had the final say in regional developments. The one-day war produced two important results: all ethnic Armenians residing in Artsakh were forced to flee, and Azerbaijan is now in full control of its own, internationally recognized territory. This fundamentally alters the security architecture in the geopolitically important South Caucasus region. As the scope for outside mediation will now be defined by Ankara and Baku, there will be no more outside “peace plans.”

Following the cease-fire agreement in 1994, Armenia assumed the role of protector for the Republic of Artsakh, and it retained control of those Azeri territories between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia proper that it had seized by military force. Although Artsakh was not formally recognized even by Yerevan, it represented a substantial de facto enlargement of the territory of Armenia.
 
Azerbaijan’s long push to retake Nagorno-Karabakh

Backed by Turkey, Azerbaijan executed its counteroffensive in three stages. The 44-day war in the fall of 2020 resulted in Baku regaining control over a large part of Nagorno-Karabakh and in a rout of the bulk of the Armenian forces from the surrounding areas. Russian intervention prevented a total collapse of the Armenian side, and 2,000 Russian peacekeepers were deployed to ensure continued free passage between Artsakh and Armenia. The second stage was a blockade that made life for the remaining Armenians inside Artsakh very difficult. The third and final stage was the assault on September 19, which ended in swift capitulation by the Armenian forces.

Turkey and Azerbaijan are the unequivocal winners. They will now be able to dictate the conditions for what will follow. The biggest loser in the short term is Armenia. With a population of 2.8 million, it has been forced to accept 100,000 refugees and it lives under the threat of an Azeri invasion. Although both sides have offered to recognize the territorial integrity of the other side, Baku maintains strategic ambiguity by referring to remaining Azeri exclaves inside Armenia as “Western Azerbaijan.”

Armenia seeks closer ties to the West

Having long believed it was protected by Russia, Armenia has started currying favor with the West. It has not only reneged on a pledge to host drills of the Russian-led Common Security Treaty Organization. On October 3, it crossed the Rubicon by opting to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. That means that if President Vladimir Putin were to visit Armenia, he would risk being arrested. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov branded this move as “extremely hostile” and threatened there would be the “most negative consequences.” But the only consequence to date has been that Russian customs is making trouble for imports of Armenian brandy. 
 
Russian peacekeepers exit the region

These moves indicate how much Russia has lost. Its peacekeepers are getting ready to leave Azerbaijan. They were subjected to intermittent shelling of their bases that destroyed equipment and the killing of several Russian soldiers, including a senior Russian commander. No escalation followed. The Kremlin is so dependent on its transport route to Iran that it was forced to accept this humiliation, or risk antagonizing Azerbaijan. Russia has been informed that once its peacekeepers have left Azeri territory, they will not be welcome in Armenia, and it is likely that in addition it will be asked to vacate its remaining bases on Armenian territory.

Before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Armenia was home to around 10,000 Russian troops. About half were stationed at the 102nd military base at Gyumri, the second-largest city in Armenia. Located near Turkey, it was the largest Russian military base abroad. Additional garrisons have been at Zvartnots airport and at Erebuni military base. Russian border guards have also patrolled the borders with Turkey and Iran. Given that many of these troops have been sent to the “meat grinder” in Ukraine, it is not clear how many are left. Yet, being called on to leave completely would be a major setback.

A formal peace treaty awaits

The immediate future will be marked by efforts to finalize a formal peace treaty. This process has long been pursued along two tracks, one with Russia and the other with the European Union and the United States. Now it is up to Azerbaijan to decide both the terms of a treaty and where it is to be signed. Given that the Armenian population has been displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh, and that both sides have offered to recognize the territorial integrity of the other, there is not much left to talk about. Yet, the outcome is shrouded in uncertainty.

On October 5, the two sides were to meet at Granada, Spain, together with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and European Council President Charles Michel. Although Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan did show up, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev did not. In a clear snub to France, and to aspiring Western mediators, he hinted at dissatisfaction with President Macron’s pro-Armenian statements and talk about French arms sales.

A few days later, the two sides were to meet at a summit meeting of the Russian-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), held in Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan. This time President Aliyev showed up, but in a clear snub to Russia, Prime Minister Pashinyan did not.

The likely venue is Georgia. In late 2021, it refused to take part in a 3+3 format, where the three regional powers Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia were to meet with the three outside powers Iran, Russia and Turkey. Tbilisi argued that negotiations should be left to the three regional powers. On October 8, 2023, President Aliyev held a meeting in Tbilisi with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili. On October 26, 2023, at the 4th Tbilisi Silk Road Forum in Tbilisi, prime ministers from regional powers Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, also in Tbilisi, met and Prime Minister Pashinyan proclaimed a peace deal would be signed “in the coming months.”

Turkey’s role in the dispute

Given that Turkey is now emerging as a regional hegemon, the future will be shaped by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s strategic priorities in positioning Turkey as a regional energy hub and in securing its access to markets in Central Asia without passing through Iran. Both highlight relations with Azerbaijan, which in turn means that opening the Zangezur corridor to link Azerbaijan proper with its Nakhichevan exclave, crossing Armenian territory, becomes a Turkish priority.

President Erdogan has played a deliberately opaque game. First, he wanted a seamless corridor that would be beyond Armenian sovereignty. Next, he suggested that Armenian checkpoints would be accepted, and the latest is that a corridor may be drawn to Nakhchivan via Iran (pandering to Tehran’s strong objections to a pan-Turkic corridor). In mid-October, he suggested that “If Armenia honors its commitments, especially the opening of the Zangezur corridor, then Turkey will step-by-step normalize relations.”

What is quite clear is that Russia will have no further role to play. According to the trilateral agreement that was signed in 2020, envisioning an opening of Zangezur, it was stipulated that Russian border guards would be in control. In a recent statement, however, Prime Minister Pashinyan stated that “no third power should have control over any territory of Armenia.”

Georgia in contrast will play a vital role. Apart from being a possible venue for peace talks, it is of great strategic relevance to Russia. As the Ukrainian armed forces are pushing the Russian Black Sea Fleet out of its bases on Crimea, the Kremlin needs to find an alternative. Given that its port at Novorossiysk is too small, it is looking at a port in Abkhazia, which is a de facto Russian vassal state. While Georgia cries foul in public, the current government may play along.

Scenarios
 
Unlikely: Azerbaijan invades Armenia

Three very different scenarios may play out. One is that Azerbaijan acts on its implied threats and takes further military action against Armenia. It has already launched a series of cross-border attacks that have resulted in the occupation of about 215 square kilometers of Armenian land. The rhetoric on “Western Azerbaijan” is driven by the legacy of eight exclaves inside Armenia that, during Soviet times, were populated by ethnic Azeris. Two of those – Yukhari Askipara and Barkhudari – are located on the Yerevan-Tbilisi highway, which could be cut off.

What makes this scenario unlikely is that it would lead to powerful reactions from the West. The United States has sent strong signals warning against an invasion of Armenia, and Baku must consider the heavy investment it has made in being a reliable supplier of energy to Europe. The purpose in keeping the threat alive is to add pressure on the government in Yerevan.
 
Possible: Western intervention

A radically different scenario envisions a decisive intervention by the EU and the U.S. to bring the region closer to the West. The track record of such ambitions has not been good. When Brussels launched its European Neighborhood Policy, Georgia was the only country in the South Caucasus to show interest. Azerbaijan preferred to tread its own middle road and Armenia felt safe with Russia. Since then, the increasingly pro-Russian Georgian government has moved away from the EU. When Moldova and Ukraine were offered candidate status for membership, Georgia was put on hold.

This is where Armenia could – paradoxically – emerge as a winner out of the debacle in Nagorno-Karabakh. Brussels could decide to upgrade the Armenian Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement to the level of association agreements it has awarded Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It is delivering humanitarian support and in talks about macro-financial assistance similar to what it offers Moldova and Ukraine.

The big divide will be the 2024 parliamentary elections in Georgia. If the opposition wins, it may join hands with Armenia in a bid to approach the West, and if both Armenia and Georgia can be brought into the Western community, it will shine a light on the continuing Russian occupation of the Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Likeliest: Armenia’s position is weakened

While both these scenarios are possible, the likeliest is that the incumbent Georgian government succeeds in winning the upcoming elections. All the young Russians who have fled there to avoid being sent to the war in Ukraine have brought with them both financial resources and links back to Russia. It is also important that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban paid a recent visit to Tbilisi to show support from within the EU. This axis of authoritarian leaders will ensure that Russia retains at least some influence in the South Caucasus, including a green light for a naval base in Abkhazia.

These developments will further weaken the position of Armenia. In the eyes of Brussels, Yerevan’s sudden resolve to make a push for inclusion into the community of the West is undermined by the fact that it remains a member of both the CSTO and the Eurasian Economic Union. Adding its role in helping Russia circumvent sanctions, Brussels will be hesitant to make any moves that may antagonize Azerbaijan.

Left to its own devices, Armenia will be vulnerable to pressures from Azerbaijan and Turkey that range from vague threats of a full-scale Azeri invasion to ambiguous statements from Turkey about the Zangezur corridor. The fact that Turkey and Azerbaijan recently held military drills near Armenia and that they have already begun work on a gas pipeline from Turkey to Nakhchivan suggests that the goal remains to force Armenia into accepting a de facto loss of sovereignty over its southern border.
 

How Pashinyan Betrayed Armenia For A US Pat On The Back And A Snoop Dogg Concert


The full background of the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh (also known as Artsakh to native Armenians) is centuries old and certainly exceeds the scope of a single opinion piece. It can be argued that it would probably require nothing short of a small library. Thus, the focus will be on the most recent tragic events unfolding in the embattled region, primarily in the last several days and weeks, along with the main events of the last five years. Namely, on September 19, Azerbaijan launched yet another full-scale attack on what was left of Artsakh following their previous invasion in 2020, when most of the Armenian-populated republic was lost, including the strategically (and historically) important city of Shushi. Azerbaijan had the full support of Turkey, which provided unmanned systems, artillery pieces, armored vehicles, ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) data, etc.

On the other hand, Artsakh was largely abandoned, even by Armenia itself, as the Sorosite Pashinyan regime, busy with making openly anti-Russian moves, quietly gave up on the Armenian-populated republic. Before Nikol Pashinyan came to power in 2018, after the US-backed “Velvet Revolution”, Yerevan was actively engaged in Artsakh, with local armed forces effectively integrated within the Armenian military itself, while their economies and infrastructure were also largely unified. In addition, the country was firmly allied to Russia, which provided security not only to Armenia proper, but Artsakh as well. And yet, in the aftermath of the aforementioned color revolution, the new Sorosite regime decided to completely dismantle Armenia’s previously stable foreign policy. Needless to say, the results have been an absolute disaster for the Armenian people.

Unfortunately, the role of Armenia’s diaspora living in Western countries (primarily the United States and, to an extent, France) has been instrumental in this collectively suicidal effort. Ironically, the descendants of survivors of the horrendous Turkish-perpetrated Armenian genocide that nearly wiped out all Armenians inadvertently contributed to a sort of 21st-century version of the same in Artsakh. Naively believing that the US would be able (or even willing) to get into a virtually direct confrontation with its NATO ally Turkey, Armenian Americans supported the 2018 coup, helping Pashinyan seize power. He immediately started a campaign of sweeping anti-Russian “reforms”, including the closing of Russian-language schools, suppression of pro-Russian media, as well as the openly declared intention to join the European Union and NATO.

This effectively destroyed the traditional, centuries-long Russo-Armenian alliance, turning it into a mere superficially cordial formality. Pashinyan’s blame game with Moscow for the defeat during the 2020 Azeri invasion led to further cooling in relations, with Russia slamming Armenia for not engaging in the conflict itself while demanding Moscow to launch a war against Baku, despite friendly (and much more predictable) relations between the two Caspian Sea neighbors. And yet, in 2020, Russia still deployed 2000 peacekeepers to prevent the total loss of Artsakh. For his part, Pashinyan continued with anti-Russian foreign policy and rhetoric, naively believing that the US would step in and replace Russia as Armenia’s most important security partner. Washington DC was happy to take yet another opportunity to hurt Russia’s interests in the region.

Pashinyan also allowed the massive expansion of the American Embassy in Yerevan, which is now housing over 2000 staff members, many of whom are intelligence operatives whose activities are an obvious security hazard for Russian forces deployed in the South Caucasus. Back in January, he canceled joint military exercises with Russian troops, once again grumbling about Moscow’s unwillingness to go to war with Azerbaijan at a time when even Armenia itself refused to do so. In the meantime, the NATO-sponsored Putin indictment launched by the increasingly illegitimate ICC was supported by Pashinyan’s Sorosite allies, who openly stated that arresting Putin in Armenia and extraditing him to the ICC was supposedly “in the best interest of Yerevan“.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Pashinyan agreed to conduct joint military exercises with US troops on Armenian soil, right in the middle of the second (and in all likelihood, final) Azeri invasion of Artsakh. Worse yet, the said exercises also involved crowd control and anti-riot training, obviously indicating that Pashinyan’s US handlers knew what to expect. Hardly surprising, given that the Pentagon kept close contact with Azeri counterparts in the months prior to the invasion. Meanwhile, the only people actually taking care of the unfortunate Armenian refugees are the Russian peacekeepers, some of whom were even killed in a supposedly “accidental” Azeri attack. Pashinyan’s only statement worth mentioning so far has been that Armenia will stay out of the conflict.

It’s quite clear that the escalation in the region is in the political West’s interest, as it aims to destabilize Moscow’s periphery in hopes of diverting Russian resources and attention away from Ukraine. At the same time, the belligerent power pole is trying to present the ongoing events as Putin’s fault, with pro-Soros Armenians protesting in front of the Russian embassy in Yerevan. Sorosites are consciously ignoring the fact that Russia kept the peace in Artsakh for nearly a quarter of a century (1994-2020). Pashinyan’s diaspora backers decided (quite bizarrely) to block a highway in Los Angeles, a place nearly 12,000 km away from their native lands. On the other hand, the majority of sane Armenians are (rightfully) enraged at Pashinyan and are demanding his resignation.

The political West will certainly try to keep him in power for as long as possible and given how beneficial he’s been to Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s Neo-Ottoman ambitions and delusions of grandeur, it’s likely both Ankara and Baku will also want to ensure he stays. After all, who wouldn’t want an “enemy” busy with organizing a Snoop Dogg concert rather than defending his people and country? That says a lot about Pashinyan’s priorities while the Armenian people of Artsakh are subjected to yet another Turko-Azeri genocide. Their goal is to have Armenians wiped out from their multi-millennial native lands. However, things could get a lot worse, as Pashinyan’s continued pro-Western pivot could lead to the complete destruction of Armenia proper as well.


Treason And Incompetence: How Soros-Trained Armenian Government Lost Karabakh War


On November 9, Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a peace deal to end the war for Nagorno-Karabakh. The peace was brokered by Russia. Largely due to mismanagement of the situation and its own forces, Armenia can be considered as having lost the war. Despite Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s claims that “the loser is only he who thinks himself defeated,” the facts are there. On November 9, Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a peace deal to end the war for Nagorno-Karabakh. The peace was brokered by Russia. Largely due to mismanagement of the situation and its own forces, Armenia can be considered as having lost the war.

Despite Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s claims that “the loser is only he who thinks himself defeated,” the facts are there.

The peace deal as mentioned was brokered by Russia, and it was the least it could do to salvage a situation that was becoming more for Yerevan with each passing day. The entire situation is such:

  • Back in 2018, the pro-Western coup took place in Armenia, which saw the government fall and Nikol Pashinyan, a Soros-funded ‘democratic’ activist back then, being released from prison and becoming the Prime Minister.
  • In 2018, and continuing in the future, he proved one thing – he has no actual authority, as he had to join citizens’ protests to attempt and enforce his political plans, and they were ineffective in most areas.
  • One area where they were quite effective, however, was spreading anti-Russian hysteria, and for two years Armenia’s main foreign and internal policy has been focused on distancing itself from Russia, which continues being its only real ally and the guarantor of the Armenian statehood.

In Nagorno-Karabakh, there was a sort of testing of the waters in 2016 when a more open conflict began, shortly and then ended. In 2018, when Armenia started distancing itself, willingly, from Russia, there were a few small-scale clashes. In July 2020, heavier clashes took place, likely as a way for Azerbaijan to see what Armenia would do and if Russia would flinch, at all. It didn’t. As a result of two years of anti-Russian policy, Azerbaijan ultimately began its offensive on September 27th, and approximately a month and a half later, the fighting ended with Baku as the victor, and Armenia’s Prime Minister Pashinyan looking for a scapegoat to blame for the disgrace.

Throughout the approximately 1.5 months of war, Armenia tried a very questionable bid at “multipolarity” looking to get help from any direction, all the while not attempting to restore any relations with Moscow. Essentially, no significant forces, equipment or hardware were actually deployed from Armenia to fight in Nagorno-Karabakh. Whatever forces were presented in the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh fought, with some limited support from “mainland Armenia.” As per official information, no regular Armenian troops from the armed forces entered Nagorno-Karabakh to fight. What was there instead of that? Livestreams of Nikol Pashinyan in Facebook and multiple PR statement claiming about victorious counter-attacks of Armenian forces. In comparison to actions of the Armenian prime minister, the Artsakh President even went to the frontline for a day or two to promote protecting the motherland. The lack of any concrete actions, as well as any adequate actions was covered by a very wide and loud media campaign, calling for other countries to recognize Artsakh as an independent country, hoping that it would happen, and for a while there was a minor hope from France (presented by Yerevan as the large victory of the ‘democratic government’). It didn’t happen, but also Armenia didn’t recognize Artsakh as independent and didn’t undertake any tangible actions at all, since “reunification” would be quite difficult, especially if the OSCE or UN Peacekeepers are present.

This all led to Armenia ultimately losing Nagorno-Karabakh, it was certain as soon as Azerbaijan’s forces, with some help from Turkey and a few thousand Syrian militants captured a vital road, and managed to encircle the Artsakh forces. Even the Artsakh president admitted that Shusha was actually lost on November 7th, or rather that it was inevitable for it to fall. News of Shusha falling came on November 9th. The peace deal, which was a “very, very difficult decision” as per Pashinyan is a fact, and he’s now struggling to find whom to blame. He’s blaming other officials, other countries for not recognizing Artsakh as an independent country, also the military for not doing enough. Armenians are blaming Russia for not stepping in and fighting their war for them, while less than 2 years earlier, banners with “Russia go home and never return” were commonplace.

The entire situation is such: Russian peacekeepers will preserve the situation right now. As long as the Russian military is there, the Armenians remaining in the area of the Russian presence in Nagorno-Karabakh are safe. However, in the event of the further deterioration of the Russian-Armenian relations these peacekeepers could be withdrawn. For example, in the event of Armenian attacks on Azerbaijani forces, it is unlikely that Russia decide to simply send troops and retake the region back for Armenia’s sake. On the other hand, Azerbaijan cannot capture the entire region  as long as the Russians are there. Nonetheless, from the military and political point of view, Baku also made gains. The control of Shusha and the promised transport link between the mainland and Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic through Armenia and under the supervision of Russian border guards are important achievements.

In short, what is the short-term result: It seems that the pro-Western government of Armenia intentionally failed the war and lost the unrecognized territory that by the fact of its existence undermined the pro-NATO, EU integration of Armenia. Azerbaijan received its lost territories back, and it is quite satisfied, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev even made fun of Pashinyan, in his speech following the “victorious peace deal.”

"This paper does not contain a word about the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. Well, Pashinyan? Where is your status? Your status has gone to hell. There is no status, and will not be. As long as I am the President, there will be no status. This is part of Azerbaijan,” Aliyev said in the video.

Turkey strengthened its position in the Caucasus and the Turkic world, as a trustworthy ally that can help its own. Russia once again demonstrated that it is protector of the Armenians, and secured the existence of Armenia as the state, it guaranteed that no other losses were made, despite Armenia entirely failing to adequately handle the situation. And Russia didn’t specifically need to do it, since Moscow has a strong foothold much further south – in Syria, and the military base in Armenia as the factor of Russia’s “security perimeter” has no more strategic importance. Thanks to actions of the pro-Western, globalist, neo-liberal-oriented government, the Armenians have faced and will face even more hard times. There will be more chaos, disappointment in the government, blaming of the Russians, and depending on how successful the propaganda is, the blame could entirely be shifted on the “traitorous” Moscow and the older generation of leadership.

Once again, the history demonstrated that color revolutions, the seizure of power by supporters of NATO and the circle of globalists, generally, leads only to the chaos and the destruction of the statehood and widespread chaos. For example, when Pashinyan seized power in 2018, he was congratulated by another famous ‘democratic’ activist – the leader of the pro-Western/neo-liberal Russian opposition, Alexey Navalny. Fortunately for Russia, in the current conditions such persons as Pashinyan and Navalny have no chances to come to power in the country and lost some Russian territory to foreign forces.

“Pashinyan has been elected prime minister. I congratulate the Armenian people for preventing the usurpation of power in the same hands. Great achievement. I hope Armenia will succeed. Well, everyone in Russia will only be happy with the emergence of a successfully developing neighbor.”

Below is what Pashinyan commented, following the signing, and he considered that, he really wasn’t to blame. He reportedly even left Armenia, because he can’t face responsibility for his failures.

“I was not the initiator of the truce,” he said, then who was?

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that he made a decision to end the war in Karabakh under pressure from the country’s military leadership.

“The army said that we must stop, because we have certain problems, the prospects for solving them are not clear, and the resource has been exhausted. The military resource was not effective in everything. Those who fought on the frontline had no replacement … On the frontline there were people who had not been replaced for a month in a row,” Pashinyan said in his Facebook video speech.

The Prime Minister of Armenia specified that the ceasefire had not been signed earlier, because at the end of September it assumed the transfer of seven regions around Nagorno-Karabakh.

“And we could not take such a step, because we believed that we could all do so that we were not interested in ceasefire, but could impose it on the enemy. Unfortunately, this did not happen,” Pashinyan said.

The country had problems with the mobilization system, and civilians were not ready to fully participate in hostilities, the prime minister said. Pashinyan also pointed to a number of problems in the troops, in particular, about several dozen cases when the population of specific regions did not allow the military to redeploy troops, the low level of combat capability of the militias and cases of desertion. It is not known exactly where Pashinyan is now. Earlier there were rumors that he hastily left the country. At night, the protesters, dissatisfied with the surrender of Artsakh, broke into the government building and the prime minister’s residence. They smashed furniture and appliances, and took away some of the prime minister’s personal belongings. Meanwhile, Armenian President Armen Sarkisian claimed that he learned about the agreement on Karabakh from the media.

“Taking into account the deep concern of a large mass of people due to the current situation, I am immediately initiating political consultations in order to quickly agree on decisions arising from our agenda for protecting national interests,” the president said.

The head of Karabakh Arayik Harutyunyan said that the Armenian troops completely lost control over the city of Shusha on November 7. He added that history will appreciate the decision that was made yesterday, but they had to go for it.

“If the hostilities continued at the same pace, we would have lost all Artsakh in a matter of days. <..> There were no more resources to continue the struggle,” Harutyunyan said.

According to him, the fighting took place on the outskirts of Stepanakert, at a distance of two to three kilometers from the city.

“The drones inflicted heavy losses on the Karabakh Defense Army. The question is why the Armenian army did not create similar weapons,” Arayik Harutyunyan stated.

At the same time, it became known that the Secretary of the Security Council of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) Samvel Babayan announced the termination of his powers after the adoption of a joint statement of the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan and Armenia on a ceasefire.

“Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) is the center of the Armenian statehood, a symbol of the Armenians, and we were obliged to preserve the dignity of the Armenians. Realizing this, we have gone through all the stages of the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict, sacrificing thousands of lives and suffering from hardships for the sake of this land, for the right to a dignified life on this land. Today, when the leaders of the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Artsakh questioned the existence of the Armenians by one conspiratorial decision, and then made false statements about reality, the question arises – who authorized you in a democratic country without the consent of the people, without consultations, to surrender us,” Babayan wrote on your Facebook page.

It should be reminded that Armenia and Azerbaijan, with the mediation of Russia, agreed to end the war in Nagorno-Karabakh from midnight on November 10. After this news, mass disturbances began in Yerevan. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of the city, shouting curses at the Prime Minister. On the eve of 17 opposition parties in Armenia demanded the voluntary resignation of Pashinyan. If the patriotic forces do not take power in Armenia and the globalist-controlled government led by Pashinyan or Pashinyan-like leader remains in power, the destruction of the Armenian statehood will continue in the coming years. At some moment, this process could become irreversible.

Source: https://newcoldwar.org/treason-and-incompetence-how-soros-trained-armenian-government-lost-karabakh-war/
 
Soros agents network in Armenia


The unprecedented activity of the United States in Armenia in the last years of the presidency of Barack Obama led to the revolution of 2018, as a result of which the journalist Nikol Pashinyan came to power.

Armenia is a strategic ally of Russia in Transcaucasia, with which we have had fraternal relations for many centuries. But all this glorious past and allied relations did not become an obstacle to the implementation of the standard "velvet revolutionary package", which was previously implemented in Georgia, Ukraine and a number of other countries.

Armenian media outlets note that a number of local NGOs are helping the Americans expand their network of agents in the Republic, the main one being the open Society Armenia Foundation, or the Soros Foundation. Most recently, a scandal broke out between the head of Russia Today, Margarita Simonyan, and the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, the main topic of which was the activities of the notorious Soros in Armenia. Simonyan openly annouced the claims that accumulated in Russia after Pashinyan came to power regarding the dominance of former NGO activists in the state apparatus and the harm they cause to Armenian-Russian relations.

In particular, Simonyan noted: "you have flooded the country with anti-Russian NGOs that teach young people on your territory how to overthrow the government in Russia. You have become a springboard for anti-Russian forces in the Caucasus." In response to Simonyan's verbal attack, Pashinyan in an interview with Russian RBC noted that these organizations were created during the reign of Robert Kocharian, whom Russia trusted. "NGOs that are considered hostile to Russia have been operating in Armenia since the times of the presidents, whose loyalty in Russia no one doubted."
 
Robert Kocharian's response was not long in coming: "They were a marginal organization that did not affect any process, and now they are very active. I was surprised that they had grown so strong in recent years"

"The question is not about Soros itself, it has become a household word. But I can see what's going on here. Imposing values on the younger generation, which uproot the component that is a feature of our identity - family, faith. There are conversations about the eternity or non-eternity of the allies, the demonization of some countries. This was previously done at the level of marginal, non-governmental organizations, but now all this group has joined the government. I didn't even know that Soros had an office in Armenia. They were creeping into the country. They were a marginal organization that did not influence any process, and now they are very active. I was surprised that they had grown so strong in recent years" - said the second President of Armenia.

Indeed, if one looks at the history of the Soros Foundation's formation and activities in Armenia, it falls precisely during Kocharian's presidency, but the placement of people from this structure in the state apparatus already falls on the last two years, i.e. the period of Pashinyan's leadership of the Republic. If at the beginning of his Premiership Pashinyan appointed representatives of the former government to high positions in the security sphere, and assigned more socio-economic block to his team, then after the parliamentary elections in December 2018 and the consolidation of their positions, the appointment of Soros members "walking with him" became widespread. These groups of NGO representatives, activists and media professionals were the organizers of anti-Russian actions in front of the Russian Embassy in Yerevan. They received the skills of "velvet" revolutionaries in the United States and Europe, which were used during the 2018 revolution.

Let us recall that all these groups, and Pashinyan himself, supported Armenia's withdrawal from the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). An instant change of Pashinyan's position concerning integration associations after coming to power looks like a forced step by a country that is surrounded by detractors and whose only patron is Russia. So who are the Soros people in power in Armenia and how widely are they represented in the Government and Parliament?
 
[...]
 

Nikol Pashinyan is not an isolated western agent


The sides involved in the Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have fortunately reached a temporary ceasefire agreement. But the crisis seems far from over. Being governed by a pro-NATO junta, Armenia will have many problems in the near future, both in Artsakh and in its own territory, since evidently the West’s intention is to increase chaos in the region as much as possible.

There is no doubt that Nikol Pashinyan’s irresponsible and unpopular government is to blame for the recent escalations in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Having come to power through a pro-Western color revolution, Pashinyan has strived since 2018 to make Yerevan a NATO proxy state in the Caucasus, exponentially increasing ties between Armenia and countries such as the US and France while creating frictions with Russia.

Unable to achieve any real guarantee of security from his Western partners and adopting a hostile behavior towards Russia, Nikol Pashinyan led Armenia to absolute strategic weakness at a time of new high tensions with Azerbaijan, culminating in the attacks that occurred between 19 and 20 September during Baku’s so-called “anti-terrorist operation”. Cowardly, Pashinyan made it clear that he would not participate in the conflict, almost forcing the Armenians of Artsakh to surrender in order to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.

More than 120,000 Armenians are now fearing their future in the face of Azerbaijani aggression, without being able to count on their partners in Yerevan to help in the crisis. In practice, Pashinyan “handed over” the lives of his compatriots to an enemy country, putting his own people at risk and showing a lack of concern for the safety of ethnic Armenians. All this to continue following the government’s number one goal, which is to please Western “allies”.

It must be remembered that Pashinyan’s Western “friends” made a real trap for Armenia by mediating the so-called “Prague agreements”. At the time, Yerevan recognized Azerbaijani sovereignty, which was mistakenly seen by the mainstream media as a “step towards peace”. The problem is that the agreement did not establish any real conditions to resolve the dispute over Artsakh, therefore serving to further legitimize Baku’s interest in the region. With Armenia recognizing Azerbaijani territorial integrity, the country was left without any justification to prevent further Azerbaijani aggressions against the ethnic Armenians of Artsakh.

In practice, Pashinyan legitimized Turkish-Azerbaijani expansionism in Nagorno-Karabakh and “authorized” the beginning of ethnic cleansing, abandoning more than 120,000 Armenians. This was the Western intention when promoting such an “agreement”, whose terms, instead of achieving peace, legitimized even more conflicts. This obviously serves Western interests, since in the face of new hostilities, Yerevan, unable to intervene, tends to request help from NATO – exactly as the Armenian Ambassador in Washington did – thus allowing Western troops to arrive in the region. In this scenario, Baku would certainly also request international help, calling the Turks. In the end, the Caucasus would become a NATO zone of influence and the Russian presence in the region would be minimized or even terminated.

Of course, all of this became clear recently, leading to a wave of mass protests and criticism against Pashinyan. In addition, the “Civil Contract” party received the lowest number of votes in five years in the last Council of Elders elections, being supported by only 32% of voters. There is evidently a crisis of legitimacy, and it is possible that the end of the Pashinyan era is a matter of time.

The main problem, however, is that Pashinyan is not an isolated agent. He is just one of the members of the pro-NATO junta that rules today’s Armenia. In addition to him, there are other politicians similarly willing to make Yerevan subordinate to Western plans. For example, the Secretary of the Security Council, Armen Grigoryan, who many analysts see as someone with the possibility of growing politically and becoming the new prime minister, is an even more pro-Western politician than Pashinyan.

Linked to the Soros Foundations, Grigoryan openly says that he will promote Armenia’s integration into NATO, advancing the policies started by Pashinyan. Furthermore, Grigoryan is already notorious for his pro-Western militancy, having even been accused of leaking confidential documents from the CSTO to NATO, which shows his high level of subservience to foreign interests.

So, unfortunately, there is no good expectation about the future of Armenia. The country would need to undergo a radical political change to reverse the catastrophic effects of the 2018 coup. If this does not happen, Yerevan will continue to be governed by pro-Western politicians, and the only point of divergence between them will be on how to be even more obedient to NATO.

Nikol Pashinyan increasingly seems to understand that he will be replaced by someone more “competent”. Not surprisingly, there are rumors that his wife recently started looking for estate in Switzerland and his son is already living in Canada. Unlike the Armenian people of Artsakh, Pashinyan will be able to leave the country with his family, not seeing firsthand the catastrophe he created for his own people.

Armenia Cannot Go West Until Russia Loses its War Against Ukraine


Euphoria in Washington and Brussels about Armenia’s reorientation towards the West should be welcomed. Armenia attended the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) heads of state and Eurasian Economic Union meetings in Moscow on December 26. Armenia will chair the Eurasian Economic Union in 2024. At the same time, euphoria is premature; to reach the West, Armenia must first leave the east which would be only possible if Russia was militarily defeated by Ukraine. As witnessed by Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine last year, the Kremlin is not a supporter of ‘Brexits’ from its Eurasian sphere of influence.

History and geography constrain a country’s foreign policy and geopolitical orientation. And no more so than in the case of Armenia, which lies in the South Caucasus neighbouring Azerbaijan and Turkey. Armenia has no common border with its traditional Russian ally. Armenia has aligned with Russia since becoming an independent state following the disintegration of the USSR. A brutal war in 1988-1992 led to Turkey closing Armenia’s western border in 1993 while its eastern border with Azerbaijan lay through occupied territory. After winning the First Karabakh War, Armenia occupied a fifth of Azerbaijani territory which included the symbolically important Karabakh region.

In May 1992, with the war just over, Armenia, Russia, and four Central Asian states – all former Soviet republics – signed the Tashkent Treaty. A year later Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan signed as well but they did not renew their participation in 1999, opting instead to align with Ukraine and Moldova in the pro-Western GUUAM (named after the first letter of its five members) group. A decade later the original six members of the Tashkent Treaty became the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation). Although promoted by Russia as a Eurasian response to NATO this was a misnomer as NATO did not launch its first enlargement in the post-communist era until seven years later. Since then, NATO has enlarged on five further occasions while the CSTO has remained static.

CSTO members joined for diametrically different reasons. Belarus is a Russian satellite state and, like Russia, is xenophobically anti-Western. Four Central Asian states do not feel threatened by their neighbours and have looked to the CSTO to defend their regimes. Armenia built security partnerships with Russia and Iran to counter Turkey and Azerbaijan with whom it had poor relations and occupied territory of Azerbaijan.

Armenia’s pro-Russian security policy was deepened by bilateral military relationships with Russia signed in August 1992 and March 1995. Russia has two military bases in Gyumri and at Yerevan airport. Armenian officers train at Russian military academies and most of Armenia’s military equipment is Russian. Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine there were rumoured to be plans to expand the number of Russian bases in Armenia. In February 2021, Armenian Defence Minister Vagharshak Harutyunyan raised the possibility of ‘redeploying some military formation of the [102nd] Russian base to the eastern part of Armenia.’ The possible location was the Vardenis region, southeast of Lake Sevan.

In August 2010, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed an agreement extending these Russian military bases until 2044. Serj Sargsyan and Robert Kocherian, who have played musical chairs with the positions of president and prime minister and who were dubbed the ‘Karabakh clan,’ are solidly pro-Russian in their foreign policy orientation. Russia’s military involvement in Armenia goes even deeper.

Uniquely in the former USSR, Armenia’s borders are controlled by Russian border guard troops based on a treaty signed in September 1992. Russian border guard troops are based in Gyumri, Armavir, Artashat, Meghri and at Zvartnots airport. Russia’s border guard troops are under the control of the FSB, Russia’s Federal Security Service whose responsibility is internal Russian security but also stretches to cover the entire former USSR. In the USSR, the border guards came under the control of the KGB. After the ceasefire following the 2020 Second Karabakh War, Russia expanded the presence of FSB border guard troops to five locations in Armenia, including two on the border with Nakhichevan, two on the border with Iran, and one in Tegh.

Russia’s military control of Armenia goes even further. In 2016, Armenia ratified an agreement with Russia to create a joint air-defence system which includes the entirety of Russia’s Air Force’s capabilities, including reconnaissance and surveillance, fighter jets and bomber planes. On the economic front, Russia expanded its control over Armenia stealthily over the course of the last three decades. Armenia’s gas, and nuclear power sectors are controlled by Russia. Nearly as many Armenians live and work in Russia as do in Armenia, sending home remittances that are important for the government budget.

The EU included Armenia alongside five other Soviet republics, in the Eastern Partnership unveiled in 2010. The Kremlin viewed the Eastern Partnership as a threat to its Eurasian sphere of influence and created the CIS Customs Union as its response. After coming back as Russian president in 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin applied pressure on Ukraine and Armenia to not sign Association Agreements with the EU. In 2013, Ukrainians rebelled against President Viktor Yanukovych’s withdrawal from the Association Agreement while Armenians accepted President Sargsyan’s decision to do so. Armenia joined the Eurasian Economic Union, as the CIS Customs Union had been renamed.

Nikol Pashinyan came to power in 2018 following a popular revolt against corruption and undemocratic practices undertaken by the ‘Karabakh clan’ which dominated Armenian politics since the early 1990s. Pashinyan has no love for the CSTO because it failed to intervene in the 2020 Second Karabakh War. Russia claimed there was no military action on Armenian territory and the CSTO did not intervene because the war was fought on territory internationally recognised as Azerbaijani. Pashinyan also condemned Russian peacekeeping forces for not intervening on Armenia’s side during the short-lived Azerbaijani retaking of Karabakh earlier this year.

Pashinyan has boycotted recent CSTO summit showing how Armenia has become a de facto passive member. Nevertheless, despite the prime minister’s criticism, Armenian government officials have been at pains to say that there are no plans to withdraw from the CSTO or close Russian military bases. The only discernible difference has been Armenia’s interest in balancing countries with whom it conducts military cooperation. Nevertheless, this has been on a small scale, the Eagle Partner peacekeeping training exercise held in Armenia in September included only 85 U.S. and 175 Armenian soldiers.

Pashinyan and other Armenian officials have never raised the question of withdrawal from the Eurasian Economic Union. In 2016, the UK held a Brexit referendum using article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union; the charter of the Eurasian Economic Union does not include such a mechanism. Countries can only be in one customs union. In 2014, Ukraine signed the Association Agreement and is part of the EU customs union. Armenia cannot re-join the path to signing an Association Agreement until it leaves the customs zone of the Eurasian Economic Union which it joined in January 2015.

Washington and Brussels should encourage Armenia to pursue a more balanced multi-vector foreign policy. This may gradually reduce Russia’s influence in Armenia. With the decline of the ‘Karabakh clan’ following the formerly occupied territories returning to Azerbaijani sovereignty, Russia has lost its main source of influence in Armenia. While Pashinyan’s heart would like to steer Armenia towards Europe, his head understands realities on the ground. There is no easy mechanism for Armenia to withdraw from the CSTO or Eurasian Economic Union – even if the Kremlin were to accept this step, which is unlikely. It is also unclear what would be the Kremlin’s response if Armenia unilaterally abrogated Russian military bases.

Ironically, Armenia’s best chance of moving west is if the east is militarily defeated by Ukraine. As Russian history has shown in the mid nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Russian leaders have traditionally not survived the domestic turmoil brought about by military failures.

Source: https://www.geopoliticalmonitor.com/armenia-cannot-go-west-until-russia-loses-its-war-against-ukraine/

As Azerbaijan takes over Karabakh, Armenian-Russian ties reach new nadir


Many Armenians believe the strategic partnership with Russia has brought their country nothing but ruin and want to look elsewhere, but Moscow retains ample levers to exert pressure.

These days Armenia's relationship with Russia is looking more like a hostage situation than a strategic partnership. On September 19, as Azerbaijan was waging its massive assault on Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia's first reaction was to call on both sides to stop fighting and suggest that Armenia had brought about the situation itself. A short time later, former Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev chided the Armenian prime minister for blaming Moscow for Yerevan's problems, "flirting with NATO," and engaging in a modest outreach to Ukraine. "One can guess what fate awaits him…" Medvedev concluded ominously (his ellipsis). Medvedev's aide, Oleg Osipov, asked to elaborate on his boss's comment the following day, put it even more starkly: "In case someone didn't understand, Russia has been and will be the guarantor of the very existence of Armenia as a state and of the Armenian nation. God has willed it thus."

Armenia has been overwhelmingly reliant on Russia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It is a member of the Russia-led regional military and economic blocs - the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). It hosts a large Russian military base in Gyumri and several other smaller Russian military installations. And its economic dependence on Russia has only grown since the latter launched its war on Ukraine. Nonetheless, Russia's interests appear increasingly more aligned with Azerbaijan's than Armenia's. For one, Russia shares a border with Azerbaijan and needs it for a north-south trade corridor to the Persian Gulf necessitated by Western sanctions over the Ukraine invasion.

Perhaps more significantly, both are repressive authoritarian states whose leaders are at liberty to engage in transactional politics with nothing but the faintest pretensions to democracy and human rights. And now Russia is the sole outside mediator in a Baku-Stepanakert talks process that appears set to end three decades of ethnic Armenian de facto control of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenian-Russian relations began to sour in earnest in spring 2018 when the so-called "velvet revolution" swept away the Russia-aligned kleptocratic old guard and brought the young reformer Nikol Pashinyan to power.

Pashinyan was at pains to assure Moscow that his agenda was not geopolitical, vowing that Armenia would stay in the EAEU and CSTO and keep the Russian base. Russia accepted Pashinyan but never trusted him, seeing his rise to power in the context of other "color revolutions" in what it considers its backyard that brought pro-Western regimes to power.

In 2020, when Azerbaijan launched its offensive to take back the lands it lost in the First Karabakh War in the early 1990s, Russia did not intervene on Armenia's behalf. (Indeed, though it has obligations to protect Armenia through the CSTO and a bilateral defense agreement, Nagorno-Karabakh was recognized as Azerbaijani territory.) Moscow stepped in only to broker a ceasefire that saw Baku regain most of the territories previously held by Armenian forces and the deployment of a 2,000-strong Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh for a term of five years. A fragile status quo held on the ground for roughly the next two years.

Armenia and Azerbaijan engaged in periodic peace talks on two separate tracks that were not coordinated with each other; one mediated by Russia and the other by the United States and the European Union. They never advanced very far, though, due to fundamental differences on the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh's Armenian population. But during that time — in fact, just two days before Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 — Baku and Moscow formalized an "alliance" that one observer said aimed to "ensure that Azerbaijan did not get involved in any Western anti-Russian campaign."

Azerbaijan then began a series of deft maneuvers in the new reality created by the Russia-Ukraine war. It has supported Ukraine's territorial integrity and sent humanitarian aid there. And it has simultaneously helped Western countries cut themselves off from Russia, including through the provision of natural gas, and helped Russia break out of the resulting isolation.

Baku also took advantage of Russia's preoccupation with Ukraine, launching a series of cross-border attacks on the territory of Armenia in September 2022. Pashinyan appealed to Russia and the CSTO for help but none was forthcoming. Anti-Russian sentiment grew in Armenia, pushing Yerevan to seek whatever help it could in the West. Russian media narratives accordingly turned sharply against Armenia. Over the ensuing months, Armenia refused to host a CSTO exercise and later formally downgraded its participation in the alliance.

In May, during the course of the peace talks, Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan explicitly announced that Yerevan was ready to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan provided that international security guarantees were provided to the region's Armenian population. Then in July, Russia for the first time declared that the Armenians of Karabakh must accept Azerbaijani rule (while making no reference to international mechanisms ensuring their security). By early September Armenian leaders began questioning out loud the efficacy of the partnership with Russia. Pashinyan said that betting on Russia for its security was a "strategic mistake." This was followed by a visit by Anna Hakobyan, Pashinyan's wife, to a summit in Kyiv and the first delivery of the first Armenian humanitarian aid to Ukraine since the war began.

And then two weeks later came Azerbaijan's all-out offensive on Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenian society was plunged in despair, with protesters in Yerevan directing their outrage at both Russia and Pashinyan's government. Yerevan-based commentator Eric Hacopian voiced what many Armenians were thinking when he told the local outlet CivilNet that the attack was "obviously coordinated between Baku and Moscow. The objective of Baku is to get an ethnically cleansed Artsakh [Nagorno-Karabakh] back under its complete control, and the object of the Russians is to overthrow the Armenian government." Now, the likely end of ethnic Armenian rule over Nagorno-Karabakh would seem to free up Armenia to break away from Russia and seek friendships in the West. But Moscow still has its levers.

Whether or not there actually is coordination between Russia and Azerbaijan, Moscow can use the threat of further Azerbaijani incursions against Yerevan. After all, it has already shown its willingness to shirk its treaty obligations to Armenia.

And then there's Baku's long-standing demand for the establishment of a "Zangezur corridor" through Armenia connecting mainland Azerbaijan with its exclave Nakhchivan. The notion was born out of the Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement that ended the 2020 war, the ninth point of which stipulated that Armenia would "guarantee the security of transport connections" to Nakhchivan "in order to arrange unobstructed movement of persons, vehicles and cargo in both directions." Russian border guards would be responsible for "overseeing" the route. Azerbaijan has interpreted that provision to mean a road that cuts through Armenian territory with movement unhindered by any Armenian supervision, e.g. customs controls. (Armenia disagrees.)

In recent months, Baku stepped back on its demands for the establishment of the corridor and chose instead to focus on retaking Karabakh. But early this month the Azerbaijani foreign minister spoke of a "plan B" for making it happen. It is easy to see a scenario where Russia comes to share Azerbaijan's interpretation of the ceasefire provision and presses Armenia to accept a corridor running through its territory over which it has no sovereignty.

Armenia flounders as allies turn away

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ON the day Azerbaijan’s military sliced through the defences of an ethnic Armenian redoubt on Sept 19, American soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division had just finished a training mission in nearby Armenia, a long-time ally of Russia that has been trying to reduce its nearly total dependence on Moscow for its security. The Americans unfurled a banner made up of the flags of the United States and Armenia, posed for photographs – and then left the country.

At the same time, nearly 2,000 Russian “peacekeepers” were dealing with the mayhem unleashed by their earlier failure to keep the peace in the contested area, Nagorno-Karabakh, recognised internationally as part of Azerbaijan. The timing of the US soldiers’ rapid exit at the end of their training work – carried out under the intimidating name Eagle Partner but involving only 85 soldiers – had been scheduled for months. Yet, coinciding as it did with the host country’s greatest moment of need, it highlighted an inescapable reality for Armenia: While it might want to reduce its reliance on an untrustworthy Russian ally that, preoccupied by the war in Ukraine, did nothing to prevent September’s debacle, the West offers no plausible alternative.

Later, the defeated ethnic Armenian government of Nagorno-Karabakh formally dissolved itself and told residents they had no choice but to leave or to live under Azerbaijani rule, acknowledging a new reality enabled by Russian passivity and unhindered by Washington. The Biden administration rushed out two senior officials to the Armenian capital, Yerevan, to offer comfort to Armenia’s embattled prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan. But it has so far resisted placing sanctions on Azerbaijan for a military assault that the State Department previously said it would not countenance.“We feel very alone and abandoned,” said Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Pashinyan’s former foreign minister.

That is not a good position to be in for a country in the South Caucasus, a volatile region of the former Soviet Union where the destiny of small nations has for centuries been determined by the interests and ambitions of outside powers. “Mentally, we live in Europe, but geographically, we live in a very different place,” said Alexander Iskandaryan, director of the Caucasus Institute, a research group in Yerevan. “Our neighbors are not Switzerland and Luxembourg, but Turkiye, Iran and Azerbaijan.”

This tough and predominantly Muslim neighbourhood has meant that Armenia, intensely proud of its history as one of the world’s oldest Christian civilisations, has traditionally looked to Russia for protection, particularly since the 1915 Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Empire, a perennial enemy of the Russian Empire. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia in 1992 joined a Russian-led military alliance offering “collective security” and expanded close economic ties with Russia forged during the Soviet era. There are, by some estimates, more Armenians living in Russia than in their home country, which gets two-thirds of its energy from Russia.

These intimate bonds, however, have now frayed so badly that some supporters of Pashinyan fear that Russia wants to capitalise on public anger and daily protests in Yerevan over the loss of Nagorno-Karabakh to try to topple the Armenian leader for having let US troops in to help train his army. The training mission was small and lasted just a few days, but that, along with other outreach to the West by Pashinyan – including a push to ratify a treaty that would make Russian President Vladimir Putin liable for arrest on suspicion of war crimes under a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court should he visit Armenia – infuriated Moscow.

“They blew it out of all proportion,” said Mnatsakanyan, because “in their view, you are either their stooge or an American stooge”. Armenia, he said, never had any intention of “jumping to America”. “That is childish,” he added. “Playing simplistic geopolitical games, allowing ourselves to be the small change in global competition, is going to be at our cost.”

But the cost for Armenia, whatever its intentions, has already been high and could get much higher if, as many fear, Azerbaijan, with support from Turkiye and a wink and a nod from a distracted Russia, expands its ambitions and tries to snatch a chunk of Armenian territory to open up a land corridor to Nakhchivan, a patch of Azerbaijani territory inside Armenia’s borders. Benyamin Poghosyan, the former head of the Armenian Defence Ministry’s research unit, said Azerbaijan’s conquest after more than three decades of on-off war in Nagorno-Karabakh “is not the end; it is just the start of another never-ending story”.

Many Armenians blame Russian inaction for the loss of Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan, accusing Moscow of abandoning its small ally in pursuit of bigger economic and diplomatic opportunities offered by Turkiye and Azerbaijan. That Russia would realign its priorities in favour of a former Soviet satrap like Azerbaijan or Turkiye, which it has long viewed as an impertinent interloper into former Soviet lands, is a sign of how much the war in Ukraine has rearranged and shrunk Russia’s horizons.

“Azerbaijan and Turkiye suddenly became a lot more important to Russia than we are because of the war in Ukraine,” Poghosyan said. “Russia is busy in Ukraine, and it doesn’t have a lot of interest in us.”

In a bitter speech last weekend to mark Armenia’s independence day, Pashinyan said responsibility for the suffering of tens of thousands of terrified ethnic Armenians fleeing their conquered enclave lies “entirely” with Azerbaijan and “on the peacekeeping troops of the Russian Federation in Nagorno-Karabakh”. Armenia, he added, “has never betrayed its allies”, but “the security systems and allies we have relied on for many years have set a task to demonstrate our vulnerabilities and justify the impossibility of the Armenian people to have an independent state”.

For some of the more than 75,000 ethnic Armenians who had fled Nagorno-Karabakh, the explanation for their plight is simple: Unlike Azerbaijan, Armenia has neither large reserves of oil and gas nor control of vital transport routes to Iran, an important source of weapons and other support for Russia in Ukraine. “They succeed because they have oil and they buy everyone,” said Naver Grigoryan, a Nagorno-Karabakh musician who joined a cavalcade of cars and trucks carrying refugees into Armenia. “We have nothing. We can only talk.”

Azerbaijan’s energy resources have also made it a vital partner for the European Union, whose hunger for energy as it tries to wean itself off deliveries from Russia make autocratic Azerbaijan a “reliable, trustworthy partner”, as a high-ranking EU official said last year. The EU has condemned Azerbaijan’s attack on Nagorno-Karabakh but has taken no concrete action. The Biden administration has stressed in the past that the use of force in Nagorno-Karabakh was “unacceptable”. Nevertheless, in a meeting with Pashinyan in Armenia this week, Samantha Power, the head of the US Agency for International Development, said only that the United States expressed support for his leadership and “reformist government”. — ©2023 The New York Times Company

 
'CIA cutouts', big money grants and biolabs: The depth of US interference in Armenia explained
Within days of the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh, US Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power touched down in Yerevan with promises of “support for Armenia’s sovereignty.” RT explores how USAID is attempting to reshape the country with the aid of its pro-Western prime minister.

How did we get here?

In the face of a military onslaught by Azerbaijani forces, the ethnic Armenian leadership in the disputed province of Nagorno-Karabakh agreed last week to lay down arms and allow the territory to be subsumed into Azerbaijan. Although Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused Russian peacekeepers of failing to prevent the Azerbaijani attack, he had already recognized the territory as Azerbaijani, and sought to distance himself from his traditional allies in Moscow and ingratiate himself with the US by holding military exercises with American forces and sending aid money to Ukraine.

What is USAID doing?

Power and US State Department Acting Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasian Affairs Yuri Kim visited Yerevan on Monday. According to a press release from the State Department, the visit was intended “to affirm US support for Armenia’s sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and democracy and to help address humanitarian needs stemming from the recent violence in Nagorno-Karabakh.”

Last year, USAID spent $33.7 million on Armenia, according to the agency’s website. Almost half of this amount was directed to government and civil society projects. The agency stated that it intends to speed up the country’s “strategic transition to a more inclusive, democratic, and economically resilient society.”

USAID is Washington’s primary distributor of civilian foreign aid. With a yearly budget approaching $30 billion, the agency is active in over 100 countries. While some of its missions involve the straightforward provision of food or medicine to developing countries, it has been accused of financing hazardous biological research, and in the words of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr, is a “CIA cutout.” USAID is currently seeking contractors for tourism, disaster response, and PR projects in Armenia. However, other US government agencies have already spent millions of dollars rebuilding the Armenian government and civic society in the image of the US.

American influence

According to the US government’s contracting website, the State Department currently plans to hire a legal consultant to rewrite Armenian labor laws, spend $1.5 million on anti-corruption initiatives, and purchase a firearms training simulator for Armenian police, which Pashinyan has vowed to use in a “tough response” against protesters. The State Department has already paid a think tank funded by USAID, the EU, and the UK almost $30,000 to “debunk manipulations and smear campaigns in Armenia,” in addition to funding anti-”propaganda” training for Armenian journalists. Another $70,000 has been spent promoting American state media on Armenian television, while $25,000 has been allocated for “LGBT support” programs. Additionally, the Pentagon is currently seeking to build a “biological threat reduction” facility in Armenia. While the description of this facility provided by the Pentagon is vague, Russia has accused the US of using similar laboratories in Ukraine to research and manufacture biological weapons.

Russia’s response

Armenia is a former Soviet republic and a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russia-led defense bloc roughly analogous to NATO. The Russian Foreign Ministry warned on Monday that Pashinyan is “making a huge mistake” by turning to the West, arguing that while Russia and Armenia have “largely common interests in the fields of security and development,” the US is only taking interest in Armenia to “inflict strategic damage to Russia” and “destabilize the Eurasian region.”


Turan: Pashinyan is ready to sign a peace for which he will be cursed


Turan: Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Wednesday that as a result of the hostilities on September 12-13, Azerbaijan "occupied" 10 square meters. kilometers of the territory of Armenia. Prior to this, on May 12 of this year, Azerbaijan "captured" 40 square kilometers, he said to the deputies of Armenian parliament. 
 
“I took on the responsibility of making difficult decisions in the name of peace. But difficult decisions do not mean decisions that are contrary to the state interests of Armenia. We must make decisions to guarantee security, lasting stability and peace in the Republic of Armenia," he said. "We want to sign a document, because of which many will criticize us, many will curse, many will call us "traitors", and the people may even decide to remove us from power. However, we will be satisfied if, as a result, the Republic of Armenia with an area of ​​29 800 square kilometers will receive lasting peace and security.

The solution that this will provide, I say very clearly, I will sign. I do not care what will happen to me, I`m interested in what will happen to Armenia,” - Pashinyan said. He stressed that Armenia will not sign a peace agreement if Azerbaijan does not liberate the "captured" lands. He also noted that the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan should pass along the borders of the former USSR.Armenia would not provide a corridor through its territory, under any circumstances. At the same time, at a meeting in Brussels, Armenia presented its proposals to Azerbaijan on opening communications, Pashinyan said, without revealing what they are


Moscow calls Armenia a “Ukraine 3” after Pashinyan’s speech at European Parliament


The war of words between Armenia and Russia appears to be worsening as Yerevan becomes more and more vocal about its disappointment with Russia and Moscow reacts fiercely. The latest incident took place after Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s speech in the European Parliament, where he, once again, complained about Armenia’s “allies” that abandoned the country in its conflict with Azerbaijan.

"When hundreds of thousands of Armenians were fleeing from Nagorno Karabakh to the Republic of Armenia, not only did our allies in the security sector refuse to help us, but they also made public calls for a change of power in Armenia to overthrow the democratic government", Pashinyan said, adding that the “conspiracy” against Armenia failed thanks to the unity in the country. An anonymous high-ranking source told Russian state news agency TASS that Pashinyan was following Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s footsteps by “quantum leaps”. "We consider Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's speech at the European Parliament on October 17 as absolutely irresponsible and provocative, especially as far as Russia and Russian-Armenian relations are concerned," the source told TASS, adding that “Armenia is trying to turn into Ukraine No. 3”, calling Moldova a “Ukraine No. 2”.

Armenia has been voicing criticism about Russia and the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty organisation (CSTO) since 2021, when Azerbaijan captured lands inside Armenia, but it became more vocal following the 2022 September attack when Azerbaijan captured a number of military positions inside Armenia, leaving hundreds dead. Armenia’s requests to Russia and CSTO for military assistance remained unanswered, making Armenia reconsider its strategic allies. In a September 24 speech, Pashinyan stated that the “security systems” – meaning CSTO and the alliance with Russia – of which Armenia was part were not effective and that Armenia was seeking to diversify its security architecture. Armenia has recently been more eager for Western-led initiatives and peace negotiations with Azerbaijan. Refusing a number of events with the CSTO and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Armenia hosted a short-term military training with US troops days before Azerbaijan’s September 19 attack on Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia has been looking for new possible partners, among them, India and France. India and Armenia already have a number of contracts on arms supplies, while with France Armenia has just agreed to co-operate militarily, which includes delivery of weapons. Russia is still the main supplier of weapons, but with its war in Ukraine, the country struggled to send promised weapons to Armenia, nor has it returned the $400mn Armenia pre-paid for the weapons. Along with security issues, Yerevan faced a test of loyalty when initiating the ratification of the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court. Armenia decided to join the court despite Russia’s warnings and threats that the ratification could affect the two country’s relations. The West has also become one of the leading facilitators of talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan. While the talks are facing a standoff over the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders keep repeating that the peace agreement between the two countries is within reach. Pashinyan stated in Strasbourg that Armenia is ready to sign the peace treaty with Azerbaijan by the end of the year.

Stronger US-Azerbaijan ties can help counter Russia and Iran


Russia’s war against Ukraine has wrought major upheaval across Eurasia, forcing countries to search for new partners as they seek security and stability. Some Eurasian countries are looking to strengthen ties with the United States to maintain regional security and to develop new economic opportunities. Azerbaijan, for example, has sought to further its partnership with the United States on the two countries’ shared strategic interests.

Relations between the United States and Azerbaijan have historically centered on energy transit, most significantly the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Southern Gas Corridor. In July 2022, Baku signed a new memorandum of understanding with the European Union (EU) to increase Azerbaijani gas exports to the EU from 12 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year to 20 bcm by 2027. Officials in Brussels certainly see the importance of diversifying energy imports away from Russia—European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called Azerbaijan a “reliable” partner in the bloc’s renewed emphasis on energy security.

But Azerbaijan’s geography means it is also a gateway to the countries of Central Asia and the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR), also known as the Middle Corridor, that connects Europe with China via Central Asia and the South Caucasus. The Middle Corridor provides Europe with a critical alternative to trade routes that pass through Russia and Belarus, the so-called Northern Corridor.

At the same time, the Middle Corridor provides the inverse opportunity for Central Asian countries to reduce dependency on transit through Russia to the European market. It is in Washington’s strategic interest to help develop alternative trade routes between Europe and Central Asia that minimize opportunities for Russian malign interference along the way.

Moreover, Azerbaijan and the United States share a set of strategic interests that may only grow in the coming years. Washington should resist the calls from some commentators to distance itself from Baku. Russia’s war on Ukraine has shaken stability in the South Caucasus, and Moscow may try to claw back influence in the region at the expense of regional peace and security. Greater US engagement with Baku should reinforce a platform for peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Stronger US-Azerbaijan ties can also help counter threats to shared interests emanating from Moscow and Tehran.

Delicate peace talks

The United States has been a major mediator between Armenia and Azerbaijan since the early years of the two countries’ conflict over the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan that began in the 1990s. This mediating role gained new importance and urgency following the Second Karabakh War, which ended in November 2020 with Azerbaijan liberating Karabakh and much of its surrounding territory.

While the situation remains tense, leaders in both Armenia and Azerbaijan have worked hard to build lasting peace. Baku and Yerevan have reached important achievements to this end, with one set of peace talks mediated by Russia and a second negotiating platform with the EU and the United States. The turning point came in May, when Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan recognized Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan in the EU-mediated summit in Brussels, following US-mediated talks weeks earlier between the two countries’ foreign ministers in Washington. There are even signs the long-standing dispute over access to the Lachin road is improving, with new reports that humanitarian aid is reaching Karabakh via the Aghdam road.

The peace process is, however, fraught with major challenges. Some political groups in Armenia and in the diaspora continue to pressure the Pashinyan government against acknowledging Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized sovereignty over Karabakh. Separatist leadership in Karabakh refuses to integrate the region into Azerbaijan and recently undertook unrecognized “elections.” These authorities also receive financial and diplomatic support from Kremlin-connected individuals.

A peace treaty signed via Western mediation and built upon the recognition of Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan would deal a severe blow to Russia’s influence in the region. Such a treaty would create preconditions for the withdrawal of Russia’s peacekeeping mission from the Karabakh region where it was deployed after the 2020 war and, generally, deprive Moscow of one lever of influence against Baku.

This contradiction in the interests of Azerbaijan and Russia has at times strained relations between them. By voicing a plan not to extend the Russian peacekeeping mission beyond 2025 and by investing more in the Western-mediated track of negotiations, Baku regularly challenges Russia’s policies vis-à-vis the peace process.

Message to Moscow and Tehran

Azerbaijan stands out as a rare post-Soviet state that has provided humanitarian and political support to Ukraine in the context of the country’s fight against Russian aggression. Azerbaijan has so far sent almost thirty million dollars’ worth of humanitarian aid, including free fuel to ambulances and vehicles operated by the State Emergency Service of Ukraine and power transformers and generators. Azerbaijan’s independent foreign policy course has drawn “bewilderment” from Russia’s foreign ministry and nuclear threats from its political circles.

The Azerbaijani government’s stance on Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine contrasts with the policies of two of its neighbors, Armenia and Iran. Investigations and media reports in Europe and the United States have uncovered how Armenia and some other post-Soviet countries have been assisting Russia to import prohibited goods. Officials both in the United States and the EU have listed Armenia among the states that help Russia to circumvent Western sanctions. Armenia only belatedly sent a small package of humanitarian aid to Ukraine in early September.

Iran has been one of Russia’s most strident military allies in its war, providing Moscow with thousands of Shahed drones that terrorize Ukrainian civilians and helping the Kremlin evade Western sanctions. In October 2022, an Iranian military commander Yahia Rahim Safav reportedly said that Armenia may buy Shahed drones. Baku has long opposed Tehran’s brazenly aggressive foreign policy, even as Iran’s ties with Armenia and Russia may be growing. Significantly, Baku has also redoubled its support for Israel—a major US ally—despite Iran’s anti-Israel threats and increasingly militaristic posture in the region. The time is right for the United States to strengthen its relationship with Azerbaijan and take the historic opportunity to pursue peace and break ground on a new template for regional stability.


Stephen Blank: Armenia Must Build the Zangezur Corridor

 
In the midst of Russia’s blockade of global supply routes, there are few viable solutions for transporting goods from East to West. The Zangezur Corridor stands out as the most optimal among them.

Recent border clashes in the South Caucasus have been all but eclipsed by much more publicized events in Ukraine. But make no mistake: the renewed fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia—the worst since a Moscow-brokered ceasefire in 2020—is of global significance. Ongoing peace talks between those two countries are now endangered and, by extension, the secure transit links running through both countries’ territory upon which the global market relies are now in jeopardy.

Those same transit links were already under threat from the war in Ukraine. Severe disruptions to the movement of energy, food, and commercial goods have caused seismic shocks to economies around the world. European gas prices are soaring after Moscow slashed access to the Nord Stream 1 pipeline while Western sanctions have sparked an increase in the prices of the most basic food items around the world.

It is against this backdrop that Armenia can no longer delay the construction of a critical new transport route between Europe and Asia: the Zangezur Corridor. This corridor, long tabled but currently blocked by Armenia, would run from Azerbaijan’s southwestern border through Armenia to the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan and then to Turkey and beyond. This is the missing link in one of the only East-West trade routes that can bypass Russia. If Armenia is really a friend of the West, as its large diaspora claims, it must return to the negotiating table and immediately allow the opening of the corridor.

Armenia is committed to opening the corridor as part of the ceasefire agreement brokered by Moscow in November 2020. However, the terms of that deal left Russia in charge of the corridor—a dangerous precedent for further mischief-making. More preferable is the formula announced by the European Union’s (EU) Charles Michel last December following trilateral talks with Armenia and Azerbaijan. Michel’s plan would allow each country to control the portion of the corridor which passes through its territory, leaving no room for manipulation by third parties.

No wonder the EU has sought, with some success, to reframe the negotiations and rebuff Moscow’s attempts to manipulate the situation. The search for a secure “southern corridor” bypassing Russia is not new but the current state of global geopolitics dictates a new level of urgency. In theory, the easiest route of transport should be through Iran. However, given U.S. sanctions and chronic underinvestment in Iranian railways, it is hard to see it as a secure or reliable option.

That points to the South Caucasus as a solution. In recent years, different factors have strengthened the region as a transit link. Successful collaboration between Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan has created new links, such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway and the Southern Gas Corridor pipelines, that provide Europe with vital Caspian gas and other resources. This initiative gained further momentum when former Soviet republics such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan started sending fuel and goods through Azerbaijan in response to the blockade of Russia. However, relying on the South Caucasus route also has drawbacks. In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia in an attack that has been seen as a rehearsal for the recent invasion of Ukraine. The military operations involved Russia’s consolidation of control over the two puppet “republics” on Georgian territory, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russian tanks are still deployed a mere forty miles from Georgia’s capital Tbilisi.

Ominous signs point to the threat of further Russian incursions. Former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili has pointed out that “after Ukraine the next target is Georgia.” Dimitri Medvedev, the former Russian president and currently a high-ranking member of the security council, referred to Kazakhstan and Georgia as “artificial” creations on social media, pointing out that “after the liberation of Kyiv, Russia will become united again.” Although the post was taken down ten minutes later and blamed on “hackers,” it has only confirmed suspicions about Russia’s possible future intentions. Therefore, the corridor through Georgia cannot be a reliable solution for a long-term investment nor is it a route completely insulated from Russian interference.

A better solution is the Zangezur Corridor, which is part of a strategic transportation route that extends from Baku to Kars, Turkey’s eastern province, and through Armenian territory near its border with Iran. The Zangezur Corridor would become the shortest land transportation route between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Armenia would benefit significantly by opening a missing link in the global supply chain. Yet, so far, Armenia has tried to backtrack on its commitment. With a foreign policy that pays lip service to a partnership with the West, the reality is different. Armenia is firmly embedded as one of Russia’s closest allies and dependents, presenting a major political dilemma for the country’s leadership.

By continuing to block the Zangezur Corridor, Armenia plays to Moscow’s script of creating a stranglehold on the world economy. At the same time, generations of populist anti-Turkish and anti-Azerbaijani rhetoric have narrowed the space available for Armenian politicians to normalize relations with their neighbors. However, now is the time for Armenia to decide whether it is a friend of the West, as its strong and vocal diaspora in the United States and Europe firmly maintains, or not. If it is, it must resume peace negotiations with Azerbaijan and help open the Zangezur Corridor. In the midst of Russia’s blockade of global supply routes, there are few viable solutions for transporting goods from East to West. The Zangezur Corridor stands out as the most optimal among them.

Source: https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/armenia-must-build-zangezur-corridor-204894

Erdogan Chides Iran for Opposing ‘Zangezur’; Praises Pashinyan

 
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday praised Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan for attending his inauguration ceremony in Ankara and criticized Iran for strongly opposing a “corridor” that would connect Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan via Armenia. “Pashinyan’s acceptance of our invitation was an important step,” Erdogan was reported to tell journalists after wrapping up his latest visit to Baku. “Mr. Pashinyan attended our ceremony, overcoming many obstacles emanating from his country’s opposition.”

Armenian opposition leaders condemned Pashinyan’s presence at the inauguration ceremony held after Erdogan’s reelection and accused him of humiliating Armenia. They argue that Ankara continues to fully support Azerbaijan and make the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations conditional on Yerevan meeting Baku’s key demands. One of those demands is the opening of an exterritorial corridor passing through Armenia’s Syunik province, which also borders Iran. Tehran is strongly opposed to the corridor, having repeatedly warned against attempts to strip the Islamic Republic of the common border and transport links with Armenia. ran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei emphasized this stance when he met with Erdogan in Tehran last July.

“Iran’s approach to this issue disappoints us and Azerbaijan,” Erdogan said on Wednesday. “I want us to overcome that problem soon.” The Turkish leader claimed that unlike Tehran, Yerevan does not object to the idea of the “Zangezur corridor” which he discussed with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev during his trip to Baku.

Pashinyan’s government regularly rejects Azerbaijani demands for such a corridor and says it can only agree to conventional transport links between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It has specifically made clear that Azerbaijani citizens and cargo passing through Syunik cannot be exempt from Armenian border controls. Pashinyan and Aliyev openly argued about the matter during a Eurasian Economic Union summit in Moscow on May 25. Nevertheless, the deputy prime ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan as well as Russia reportedly made major progress on practical modalities of a rail link between Nakhichevan and the rest of Azerbaijan during a subsequent meeting held in the Russian capital.

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk met with Pashinyan and his Armenian counterpart, Mher Grigorian, in Yerevan on Wednesday for further discussions on the thorny issue. n Armenian government statement said they concentrated on the “restoration of railway communication” and “border and customs controls based on the sovereignty and equal jurisdiction of the parties.” It did not elaborate.


The Times of Israel: [Armenia's surrender] in the South Caucasus is Good for Israel and the West and Bad for Iran


After over three decades of conflict, a joint communique on December 7 between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stated they were close to signing a peace treaty. The peace treaty would recognise the territorial integrity of both countries and open regional communication routes hitherto blocked.

A peace treaty is good news for both countries, especially smaller and less economically developed Armenia, but also good news for Israel which has been a long-time strategic ally of Azerbaijan that goes back to the 2000s, in part because they view Iran as a common security threat. Israel began their security and military partnership a decade before Turkey began to develop military relations with Azerbaijan. A peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan will open the door for the normalisation of relations between Armenia and Turkey whose border has been closed since 1993.

A peace treaty is bad news for Iran, Israel’s long-time threat. Iran has long interfered in the South Caucasus through covert military supplies to Armenia and by supporting instability, separatism, and Islamic fundamentalism. Persian nationalists claim Azerbaijani’s are not a separate people and view Azerbaijan as a breakaway region that should return to Iranian historic overlordship.

Outside powers had little to do with Armenia and Azerbaijan being close to concluding a peace treaty. The OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Minsk Group failed to achieve any success whatsoever since it was founded over three decades ago in 1992. The OSCE’s failure in the South Caucasus added to its long record of failures elsewhere, such as in eastern Ukraine from 2014-2021.

OSCE Minsk Group members were never fully committed to resolving the conflict. France and Russia were biased and supported Armenia. Meanwhile, Washington did not view the South Caucasus as an area of strategic importance to US national security interests – despite Azerbaijan’s close security relationship with Israel. From 2010, the US and France became passive allowing Russia to fill the vacuum in claiming for itself the primary place for pursuing peace talks. The EU only became interested in the South Caucasus 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine when it sought to broker a peace treaty, but ultimately failing because of Azerbaijan’s long held distrust of pro-Armenian France.

Azerbaijan’s retaking of Karabakh closed the separatist regime and disbanded its self-defence forces, which had been supplied by Armenia and Iran, which were illegal under the terms of the November 2020 ceasefire agreement. Some Armenian leaders have been detained and put on trial for crimes against humanity committed against Azerbaijani civilians and soldiers in the First Karabakh War from 1988-1992.

Russia has a poor record of resolving conflicts on the territory of the former USSR. After manufacturing ethnic conflicts directly in Moldova and Georgia and indirectly (through Armenia) in Azerbaijan, the Kremlin preferred to freeze conflicts rather than seek to bring about a negotiated settlement. Russian security interests, whether under President Borys Yeltsyn, or imperial nationalist Vladimir Putin, remained to use frozen conflicts to establish military bases as spheres of influence over Eurasia. Russia, Iran, and Armenia worked closely in the South Caucasus for nearly three decades until the Second Karabakh War in 2020.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has been critical of Russian policies since his country was defeated in the Second Karabakh War. Pashinyan accused the Kremlin of attempting to stage a coup against him. Russian and Iranian leaders’ distrust Pashinyan because they believe colour revolutions are manufactured coups organised by Western intelligence agencies. Pashinyan came to power in 2018 in a popular uprising against the corrupt pro-Russian ‘Karabakh clan’ (led by former Presidents and Prime Ministers Serzh A. Sargsyan and Robert S. Kocharyan) who had led Armenia since it became an independent country in 1991. The ‘Karabakh clan’ had cemented a close security, economic, and trade relationship with Iran.

Following two relatively short wars in 2020 and 2023, the ground is set for the normalisation of relations by Armenia with Azerbaijan and Turkey. Azerbaijan’s insistence that the treaty recognise the former Soviet republican boundary as their international border is in keeping with the December 1991 Alma-Ata Declaration signed by former Soviet republics. A peace treaty will be beneficial for Israel’s security interests by providing greater stability to the South Caucasus and reducing Iran’s ability to interfere and spread instability.

The normalisation of relations between three South Caucasian countries will reduce Russian-Iranian influence while enhancing the geopolitical influence of the West and Israel. This comes at a strategically important time when the anti-Western axis of evil has declared war on the West with Israel and Ukraine as their battlegrounds.

Source: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/peace-in-the-south-caucasus-is-good-for-israel-and-the-west-and-bad-for-iran/

Fyodor Lukyanov: “The West seems unlikely to serve as Armenia’s replacement for Russia”

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When Azerbaijani forces, in a lightning assault, overwhelmed the self-declared Armenian-populated republic of Nagorno Karabakh late last month, forcing it to legally dissolve itself and most of its population to flee to nearby Armenia, it may have brought some peace to the long-troubled south Caucasus. But observers warn the abrupt end to the seemingly intractable conflict may have also sown the seeds of future conflicts.

It comes at the cost of erasing the Armenian population of Karabakh from their ancestral homeland – if mostly bloodlessly. And it represents an unambiguous triumph of military force over diplomacy that will likely encourage hawks across Russia’s sphere of influence, from Moldova to the Caucasus. The most immediate effects are likely to be the realignment of the Southern Caucasus, says Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs, a Moscow-based foreign policy journal. “We’re looking at a very significant shift in the balance of forces.”

Azerbaijan’s sponsor Turkey is emerging as the dominant power with major ambitions to project its influence, via Baku, into the heart of Turkic-speaking former Soviet central Asia. Russia’s days as key arbiter and peacekeeper in the region may be numbered, as Armenia turns away from its traditional protector in Moscow and seeks new sources of support to the West. Meanwhile, Iran, largely on the sidelines of recent events, grows increasingly leery of expanding Turkish power, Azerbaijan’s close ties with Israel, and potential future territorial changes on its own northern flank.

“There is no doubt that Azerbaijan’s victory is also a major win for Turkey, and that has a lot of implications down the road,” says Mr. Lukyanov. “In Armenia, there’s disappointment with its ally Russia’s inability to play a significant role, especially in the security area, and they are looking for new partners in NATO and the West. Everything is in flux.”

Azerbaijan sets the rules

Barely three years ago the picture looked very different. Armenia occupied a vast swath of western Azerbaijan, including the self-declared independent state of Nagorno Karabakh, an enclave within Azerbaijan which it had won in a bitter post-Soviet war. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a speech about the crisis, decades of diplomatic efforts by the Minsk Group – led by Russia, France, and the United States – had repeatedly failed to reach a compromise that might preserve the ethnic autonomy of Armenian Karabakh while returning illegally-seized Azerbaijani lands to Baku. In September 2020, Azerbaijan launched a well-planned blitzkrieg, using modern Turkish and Israeli weapons, that swept Armenian forces out of all the occupied territories except Karabakh, which was temporarily saved by a Moscow-brokered ceasefire and the insertion of Russian peacekeeping forces.

But Moscow’s regional influence suffered badly when it became embroiled in its war against Ukraine, while military victory made Azerbaijan less willing to compromise on its claims for full control over Karabakh. When Azerbaijan imposed a full blockade of Karabakh last December, Russian peacekeeping forces did nothing. Despite last-ditch diplomatic efforts to reach a settlement over beleaguered Karabakh, Azerbaijan again resorted to military force, seizing Karabakh in a rapid assault last month and triggering a mass exodus of Armenians – one that seems likely to be permanent – from the stricken territory. Azerbaijani experts claim their state showed great patience for many years and only resorted to force when it was clear that Armenians would never compromise. Ilgar Velizade, an independent political expert in Baku, says that’s the end of the conflict and peace is now possible if Armenia wants it.
 
“All grounds for conflict have been eliminated,” he says. Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory, including Karabakh, have been fully restored. “Azerbaijan has no reasons to attack Armenia.”

As for any Armenians who choose to remain in Karabakh, they must accept Azerbaijani citizenship, which will henceforth be the sole source of their rights and freedoms, he says. “There is a plan under which they [Karabakh Armenians] may return to their homes and be re-integrated. But if they want to live in Azerbaijan, they must live as citizens of this country.”
 
Resentment in Armenia

For Armenia, the rapid reversal of battlefield fortunes and now the influx of over 100,000 refugees from Karabakh has aggravated political divisions. They could ultimately bring down the government of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who came to power following a peaceful pro-democracy revolution five years ago. “The population of Armenia finds it very difficult to bear the loss of [Karabakh],” says Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan, head of the independent Voskanapat think tank in Yerevan. “We could see a fresh wave of protests, with a high probability of a change of power in the near future.”

Armenia faces hard geopolitical choices, none of them good, he says. Despite deep and longstanding ties to Russia, Moscow’s lack of support for Armenia in its crisis has been deeply disappointing for many. But the West seems unlikely to serve as Armenia’s replacement for Russia, says Mr. Lukyanov, as the South Caucasus has never been a high priority for the West, and its fate has been largely left to the interplay of local powers. “With what’s happening in the Middle East right now, it seems less likely than ever that the U.S. or European Union are going to want to devote resources in this area,” he says. “That leaves Armenia with very few choices.”

“Unfortunately the alternative solutions offered by the West do not meet the main concerns of the Armenian side in any way. Especially in the realm of security,” says Mr. Melik-Shahnazaryan. “So, Armenia is presently facing existential challenges that it is not yet able to solve.”

Ripple effects

The next crisis may well erupt over the Zangezur Corridor, a proposed transport route that would run from Turkey, through Armenian territory, to create an unbroken and reliable land connection between Turkey and Azerbaijan for the first time. It would also link Azerbaijan with its exclave of Nakhichevan, greatly strengthening Azerbaijan and solidifying its links with Turkey. Turkey champions this route because it would provide open access to former Soviet Central Asian states, just across the Caspian Sea from the port city of Baku.

Russia and Iran are not pleased with the Zangezur Corridor project – largely because of the boost it would provide to Turkish influence – and might move to block it. Moscow and Teheran want to involve Azerbaijan in their own North-South Corridor transport route, which would run from Iranian ports on the Indian Ocean, through as-yet incomplete railways in Iran and Azerbaijan, to link up with Russia’s vast east-west rail network. “The North-South Corridor is one possible reason behind Russia’s passive attitude toward Azerbaijan’s recent actions,” says Dmitry Suslov, an expert with the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. “As Russia reorients toward Asia and the Global South, this corridor has become extremely important, both politically and economically.”

If Azerbaijan’s military solution of the Karabakh issue has set the stage for a fresh round of international competition, and perhaps conflict in the south Caucasus, it may also hold implications for other frozen conflicts around the former Soviet Union. Rumblings out of Moldova suggest that some nationalist politicians see it as a model for dealing with their own breakaway region of Transnistria. One of Georgia’s two “independent” statelets, Abkhazia, is reportedly moving closer to Russia in hopes of forestalling any future attempt to force it back under Georgian rule.

“It was unthinkable, just a few years ago, that Karabakh would ever be taken back under Azerbaijani rule,” says Grigory Shvedov, editor of Caucasian Knot, an independent online news site that covers the Caucasian region. “But Azerbaijan broke the status quo through military force, and got everything it wanted. That will certainly be an inspiration for militarists everywhere who favor forceful solutions and don’t care about diplomatic ones.”
 

Armenia Needs Alternatives to Russia and Iran


Armenia is far from perfect, but it’s a democracy. Two of Armenia’s closest partners are Russia and Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran is characterized by its repression of women and minority groups. The Russian Federation is defined by its imperialist ambitions to invade and annex former Soviet republics. Whether good or bad options, these are existential partnerships for Armenia due to the threat posed – and the strategic advantage held – by Azerbaijan. To be clear: Armenia’s geopolitical predicament is precarious, and it needs alternatives to Russia and Iran.

Armenia’s partnership with Iran is pragmatic. Armenia is cursed by geography. Blockaded by an antagonistic Turkey to the west and an even more hostile Azerbaijan to the east, Armenia’s connection to the world depends on Georgia to the north and one border crossing with Iran to the south. Although Iran’s direct military support to Armenia is limited, Armenia and Iran share a common cause in their respective disputes with Azerbaijan.

While Armenia’s conflict with Azerbaijan is common knowledge, tensions between Azerbaijan and Iran are not as well-known. Put simply, Baku and Tehran have quasi territorial disputes based on incompatible worldviews. On the one hand, the Azeri concept of Bütöv Azərbaycan – Greater Azerbaijan – is predicated on unifying the lands historically inhabited by Azerbaijanis into one state. This includes Armenian territory to the west of Azerbaijan and Iranian territory to the south of Azerbaijan. On the other hand, Iran has long viewed Azerbaijan as a lost territory that belongs within its sphere of influence. Like Iran’s connection to Iraq and Lebanon, this is mainly due to Azerbaijan’s Shia majority.

Historically, Azeri peoples resided at the intersection of the Russian Empire, Ottoman Empire, and Persia. Today, Azerbaijan’s population is roughly 10 million. While Iran counts over 85 million inhabitants, more than 15 percent of Iranians identify as Azerbaijanis. In fact, there are more Azerbaijanis living in Iran than in Azerbaijan itself. Clearly, the potential for Iranian Azerbaijani separatism threatens Iran’s territorial integrity. Likewise, Iran’s vision of incorporating the Azeri Shiites under the Iranian banner also imperils Azerbaijan’s sovereignty.

Given that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Iran’s disputes with Azerbaijan translate into a strategic partnership with Israel. For example, Israel accounted for more than 25% of all arms transfers to Azerbaijan between 2011 to 2020. In exchange, Azerbaijan provides Israel with access to airfields near the roughly 420-mile-long border with Iran. If war were to erupt between Tel Aviv and Tehran, this access would enable Israeli fighter jets to bypass Jordanian, Syrian, and Iraqi airspace and reach military targets in Iran more easily.

Azerbaijan is also allied with Turkey. A regional power at the intersection of Europe and Asia, Turkey is an important transit hub at the mouth of the Black Sea and East Mediterranean. Turkey also wields significant influence within NATO. Azerbaijan and Turkey are both Turkic speaking countries, and members of the Organization of Turkic States (OTS). Azerbaijan’s strategic advantage over Armenia extends beyond its special relationship with Israel and “brotherly” alliance with Turkey. In contrast to Armenia, Azerbaijan also has natural gas and oil.

Eurasia’s appetite for energy made Azerbaijan one of the 21st century’s fastest growing economies. For example, the British Petroleum-owned Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline can carry more than one million barrels of oil per day from Azerbaijan to Georgia through Turkey to the Turkish port of Ceyhan for export to international markets. Likewise, the Southern Gas Corridor(SGC) transports gas from Azerbaijan through Georgia and Turkey to Greece, Albania, and Italy. Rest assured, Azerbaijan will continue benefiting from Europe’s diversification away from Russian fossil fuels.

Armenia’s alliance with Russia has historic roots. Armenia was the first Christian state. Russia was viewed as the defender of Asia Minor’s Christian minorities. After the Armenian genocide, the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the fall of the Russian Empire, and the failure of independence movements in the Caucasus, the Soviets took control of Armenia and incorporated it into the Soviet Union. Armenia only gained its independence and began its transition to democracy after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Today, Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), has a bilateral defense agreement with Russia, hosts several Russian military bases, and relies on Russian guards to secure its borders.

The CSTO is Russia’s equivalent of NATO. Its members are Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Armenia. While NATO has its problems, CSTO cohesion is nonexistent. For example, conflict erupts between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan every few months. Likewise, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are also members of the Organization of Turkic States (OTS). In other words, both share close diplomatic ties with Azerbaijan and Turkey despite owing security guarantees to Armenia. Clearly, this arrangement does not work in Armenia’s favor.

Article 4 of the CSTO states that an attack on one member state is considered an attack on all member states. When President Tokayev requested assistance to quell protests in January 2022, the CSTO – including Armenia – sent peacekeepers to Kazakhstan. When Prime Minister Pashinyan invoked Article 4 following Azerbaijan’s violation of the ceasefire agreement in September 2022, the CSTO did not respond to Armenia’s request for help let alone condemn Azerbaijan’s aggression. As far as Armenia is concerned, the CSTO’s security guarantees are not worth the paper they are written on.

Moscow brokered the November 2020 ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Russia’s obligations include deploying peacekeepers and protecting the Lachin Corridor that serves as a lifeline for more than 120,000 Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh. Unlike peacekeeping operations in Cyprus and Kosovo, Russia’s deployment in Nagorno Karabakh is not mandated by the UN and is devoid of international engagement. Evidently, Russia’s unilateralism lacks the civilian oversight and accountability mechanisms that make other peacekeeping arrangements work. Given that the Lachin Corridor has been blockaded by Azerbaijanis since December 12, 2022, the Russian peacekeeping mission is clearly not working.

To make matters worse for Armenia, Moscow’s unilateralism is complemented by Russian both-siderism. To Armenia, Russia is an ally. To Russia, Armenia is a client. In terms of Russian grand strategy, Moscow wants to maintain its influence in Baku while limiting that of Ankara – at the expense of Armenia. Thus, Russia is still the largest arms exporter to both Armenia and Azerbaijan despite its security guarantees to Yerevan. For example, Russia accounted for 60% of arms transfers to Azerbaijan and a whopping 94% of arms transfers to Armenia in the leadup to the Second Nagorno Karabakh War.

From a geopolitical perspective, it seems Russia and the CSTO have helped Azerbaijan checkmate Armenia. Admittedly, Baku maintains a strategic advantage over Yerevan. Nevertheless, Armenia still has options at its disposal to salvage the situation. The key lies in Armenia’s democratic orientation, and the influence wielded by the Armenian diaspora in fellow democracies like the U.S. and France.

The West has repeatedly signaled its intention to increase engagement with Armenia. In September 2022, Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Armenia since it gained independence. In October 2022, President Macron and President Michel negotiated an EU Fact-Finding Mission to the Armenia-Azerbaijan border with Prime Minister Pashinyan and President Aliyev. In December 2022, Canada opened its Consulate to Armenia in Yerevan. The list goes on and on, but fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will either push Armenia closer to the West for the better or deepen Armenia’s dependence on Russia for the worse.

There are two policies Armenia could pursue to improve its strategic position. First, Armenia should push for increased international engagement in Nagorno Karabakh. Calling for an international fact-finding mission to the Lachin Corridor is a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, Yerevan must go further. Armenia’s hardline should be demanding that an international peacekeeping force be deployed to replace or accompany the Russian peacekeepers in the Lachin Corridor. Armenia’s red line should be a permanent, multilateral civilian monitoring mission in Stepanakert to complement the Russian-Turkish Joint Monitoring Centre in Aghdam. Increasing the number of international stakeholders and deepening their engagement is crucial for improving Armenia’s strategic position and reducing the likelihood of Azerbaijani aggression.

Second, Armenia should withdraw from the CSTO. Unfortunately, CSTO security guarantees are compromised by divergent allegiances and interests within the alliance. Armenia cannot rely on Russia and the CSTO to prevent – nor protect it from – Azerbaijani aggression because Yerevan’s national security concerns diverge from Moscow’s strategic designs. Even worse, CSTO membership makes it difficult – if not impossible – for Armenia to diversify its supply of military equipment, modernize its armed forces, and seek alternate bilateral or multilateral security arrangements from the West or elsewhere. Evidently, withdrawing from the CSTO would enable Armenia to pursue a policy of strategic ambiguity. Put simply, this would provide Yerevan with the flexibility to cooperate with whoever it deems appropriate on an issue-by-issue basis rather than limiting its options to Russia.

One thing is certain: Azerbaijan maintains a strategic advantage over Armenia. If the balance of power remains unchanged, Baku is unlikely to wait 26 years before launching the next war; this time, aimed at building a land bridge from Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan.

Russia lawmaker: US assistance to Armenia is aimed at creating anti-Russian springboard


The statements by Yuri Kim, the Acting US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs, about assisting Armenia in security and cooperation with the United States are aimed at creating an anti-Russian springboard in Transcaucasia. Leonid Slutsky, Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs of the Russian State Duma, stated this. Kim had said that the US should expand as much as possible its assistance aimed at the development, defense, and security of Armenia. "Yuri Kim announced during the hearings at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the conversation should be about Armenia's partnership with the US, not Russia. Now Washington is ready to ‘help’ Yerevan, obviously dreaming of creating a new anti-Russian springboard in Transcaucasia," Slutsky noted. He emphasized that similar “assistance” was offered to Ukraine, too. "Ukraine has now turned into a puppet of the US, losing its sovereignty and losing many of its citizens," Slutsky noted. "Foreign 'patronage' has benefited no country in the world, bringing only misery and sorrow, blood and destruction, and that is what American-style 'partnership' and 'development assistance' lead to in the end."

Source: https://news.am/eng/news/780841.html

Iran warns of turning Caucasus into battlefield


During a phone call with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned against attempts by countries outside the Caucasus to gain a foothold in the region, and also warned against making the region a battleground. “The Islamic Republic’s policy toward the Caucasus is fixed,” he said, noting that it “must not turn into a field of competition between extra-regional countries, and its issues should be resolved by regional countries and away from foreign meddling.”

Regarding Armenia’s intention to develop road and railway connection routes between the two nations in addition to regional states, Raisi relayed Iran's support, calling the plans an effective step to set in place peace and protect the interests of neighboring nations. Raisi affirmed that any step aimed at opening communication routes and infrastructures in the region, while simultaneously respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries is supported by Iran. He also called Iran's hosting of the 3+3 meeting in October a “constructive step” to strengthen regional cooperation.

The 3+3 format cooperation mechanism includes the three South Caucasus countries: Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan plus Russia, Turkey, and Iran. “Developing relations with neighbors and strengthening relations to ensure mutual interests and the interests of regional countries is the fundamental policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Raisi added. On the other hand, Pashinyan stated that the increased interactions between both Armenia and Iran show the determination of the two neighbors to expand their bilateral ties in all fields.

Back in October, Raisi said that geopolitical change in the Caucasus is "unacceptable" as it would harm the interests of countries in the region. The Iranian President made the statement after hosting Azerbaijani and Armenian officials for talks on the successive developments in the Caucasus, specifically regarding Azerbaijan's military campaign in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.


Breaking Ties With Russia And Refocusing On France Could Destroy Armenia

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Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan seems to be a “gift that keeps on giving“, although the only problem is that the beneficiary is anyone but Armenia. On the contrary, with him coming to power in 2018, in the aftermath of the so-called “Velvet Revolution” (the same name used in Czechoslovakia in 1989 and aptly recycled by Pashinyan himself), Turkey and Azerbaijan couldn’t have possibly gotten a better strategic gift than this. The results of his rule have been an unmitigated disaster for Armenia, as evidenced by the loss of most of the territory of Artsakh (more widely known as Nagorno-Karabakh), further galvanizing Turkey’s Neo-Ottoman ambitions.

Prior to Pashinyan’s 2018 color revolution, Azerbaijan was regularly engaging in skirmishes with local Artsakh forces in an attempt to “defrost” and escalate the conflict which was more or less frozen since 1994. Each and every time, Russia intervened to prevent such escalation, including in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018. However, that year, after Pashinyan took power, he started a campaign of sweeping anti-Russian “reforms” and moves that essentially distanced Moscow and Yerevan. This included closing down Russian-language schools, as well as openly declared intentions to join the so-called “Euro-Atlantic integrations”, which effectively means joining the European Union and NATO.

Thus, at that point, Russia was faced with a very difficult choice – either help its historical ally which was (slowly but surely) turning into anything but, or leave Armenia to its own devices so as not to risk derailing the crucially important rapprochement with Ankara and Baku. Even then, Moscow decided to intervene in the nick of time and prevent the total loss of Artsakh by rapidly deploying 2000 soldiers to the area. So how did Pashinyan react to this? He started a blame game in an attempt to shift responsibility from himself and simply throw Russia under the bus. This accomplished nothing but the further cooling of relations between Yerevan and Moscow, the last thing the Armenian people need.

And while 2000 Russian soldiers keep protecting the indigenous Armenians of Artsakh, Pashinyan allowed the massive expansion of the American Embassy in Yerevan, which is now housing over 2000 staff members, many of whom are intelligence operatives whose sole purpose is to hurt Russia’s interest in the region. As if that wasn’t enough, in a recent interview with the Italian La Repubblica, Armenia’s Prime Minister effectively announced the breaking of close ties with Russia. At the same time, there is an ongoing strategic shift towards France, the country that Pashinyan foolishly thinks will get into an open confrontation with Turkey over Armenia (to say nothing of Artsakh).

Namely, in early July, several sources revealed that France would deliver weapons to Yerevan, including armored vehicles and short-range SAM (surface-to-air missile) systems. There was no mention of drone acquisitions, although unmanned systems proved to be the main decisive factor during the 2020 Azeri invasion of Artsakh. Precisely Russia is one of the world’s leaders in this regard, as evidenced by the superb performance of its drones in Ukraine. Why hasn’t Pashinyan approached Moscow to procure thousands of strike drones that could provide a significant asymmetric advantage over the more numerous and heavily armed Azeri forces? This would help both Artsakh and Armenia proper.

However, Pashinyan has other plans, including the wasting of Armenia’s modest resources on expensive French weapons that are now burning across the endless steppes of Ukraine, along with countless other Western tanks and armored vehicles, many destroyed precisely by aforementioned (and inexpensive) Russian drones. In the meantime, Azerbaijan keeps militarizing the border with Armenia, while Artsakh is still in jeopardy. The only thing standing between Baku’s forces and the Armenian people in the area are Russian peacekeepers. What’s more, Moscow’s forces in Armenia proper are the only reason why Turkey doesn’t dare to attack the country itself. However, all that doesn’t mean much to Pashinyan.

In an obvious reference to Russia, during the aforementioned interview with the Italian La Repubblica, he said that having “just one partner is a strategic mistake”. According to Pashinyan’s “logic”, France will get into a confrontation with Turkey, one of its NATO allies, for the sake of Armenia, a country nearly 3,500 km away that can be reached only through neighboring Georgia. What’s more, Tbilisi is extremely unlikely to even allow this, as it has zero reasons to worsen its largely cordial relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan for the sake of Armenia. All this is without even taking into account the troubles Paris is going through as its neocolonial system in Africa is faced with unprecedented unraveling.

The US is also unlikely to allow the worsening of ties within NATO at the time when it’s trying to keep the belligerent alliance together or at the very least maintain a semblance of unity during Russia’s strategic counteroffensive. For the sake of the Armenian people, as well as the preservation of their magnificent civilizational heritage, Yerevan should seek to reestablish close ties with Russia, the only true guarantor of Armenia’s security.

 
French Minister Rules Out Military Intervention In Armenia


France strongly supports the territorial integrity of Armenia but will not intervene militarily to defend it, according to French Armed Forces Minister Sebastien Lecornu.

The French government condemned Azerbaijan’s September 19-20 military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh that paved the way for the restoration of Azerbaijani control over the region and displaced its virtually entire ethnic Armenian population. President Emmanuel Macron suggested last week that Baku might now attack Armenia as well.

“The president of the republic said it: the integrity, sovereignty, protection of the Armenian population are an absolute objective for us,” Lecornu told the France Info broadcaster in a weekend interview. “Could France intervene militarily?” he said. “I do not think so. It is up to the president of the republic and head of the armed forces, obviously, to answer this question.” Lecornu did not rule out arms supplies or other military aid to Armenia. The minister noted that France opened recently a “defense mission” in the South Caucasus state which is looking into “their needs, particularly in terms of defense and protection.” He did not go into details.

Macron’s government signaled the possibility of arms supplies when it sent a delegation of French defense officials to Yerevan in October 2022. They met with Defense Minister Suren Papikian, Armenian army chief Eduard Asrian and High-Technology Minister Robert Khachatrian. Papikian visited Paris in September 2022 and June this year. He met with Lecornu on both occasions. Visiting Yerevan in July, the French Senate speaker, Gerard Larcher, called for the “acceleration of the delivery of defensive weapons by France to Armenia.”

Armenian parliament speaker Alen Simonian described France as a “real ally of Armenia and the Armenian people” when he met with the speaker of the lower house of the French parliament, Yael Braun-Pivet, in Dublin last Thursday. According to his press office, Simonian also “expressed confidence about the continuation of France's efforts to ensure Armenia's security.” Azerbaijan has repeatedly accused Macron and other French officials of siding with Armenia in the Karabakh conflict. Azerbai
jani President Ilham Aliyev charged on July 3 that Paris is fomenting “Armenian separatism” in Karabakh. Yerevan rejected the Azerbaijani criticism.

Source: https://www.azatutyun.am/a/32619548.html

How the West Managed to Sideline Russia in Mediating the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict


The Kremlin still has the convincing argument that is military force, but as Russia experiences defeat on the battlefield in Ukraine, its hand is now weaker than it once was.

When the Second Karabakh War ended in 2020 with Azerbaijan’s victory and Russian peacekeeping forces being brought into the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, it seemed that Russia had retained its status as the key mediator in Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. Within just a few months, however, the situation had changed beyond recognition. The West is now once again part of the peace negotiations and moving ever closer to being the main intermediary, pushing Russia out.

Until September, the lead in the mediation process went back and forth, but the gradual weakening of Russia’s position was noticeable. The military escalation in March around the settlement of Farukh led to the ethnic Armenian forces of the unrecognized Republic of Artsakh having to give up their positions and local Armenians having to abandon their homes. In August, continued military action forced the handing over of the Lachin corridor between Armenia and Karabakh to Azerbaijan, with the Armenians living there having to leave.

All of this demonstrated that the Russian peacekeepers are no longer inspiring the opposing parties with fear or respect, and sounded alarm bells for Yerevan and the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, who at present see the Russian peacekeepers as their only guarantors of security. In the region’s capital Stepanakert, many are convinced that Baku’s aim is ethnic cleansing, and their fears have been confirmed by the fact that there are now no Armenians on the territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh towns of Shusha and Hadrut, which came under Azerbaijani control in 2020.

The gradual weakening of Russia’s position turned into a collapse in September, when the Azerbaijani forces crossed not only the line of contact with the unrecognized Republic of Artsakh, but also the state border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Artillery strikes reached cities and villages deep within Armenian territory. In two days, according to the Armenian Defense Ministry, over 200 Armenian soldiers were killed and in the days that followed, evidence of the murder and torture of Armenian prisoners, including female soldiers, appeared online.

According to the official Azerbaijani version, the border in this region has not been delimited or demarcated and so there are no grounds for maintaining that the military action took place on Armenian territory. Yet wherever the border may be, towns such as the Armenian resort of Jermuk, or Vardenis on the shores of Lake Sevan, are internationally recognized as being Armenian.

It’s possible that the main reason that the military action unfolded specifically in the southern part of Armenia is down to communication links. With the border between Russia and Europe effectively closed, the South Caucasus route to Turkey, Iran, and beyond has gained a new significance. The three-party agreement that ended the war in 2020 stated that “Armenia guarantees the security of transport links” between the western regions of Azerbaijan and its exclave of Nakhichevan.

Baku interprets this as meaning that the road from western Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan, which will run through the southern Armenian region of Syunik (Azerbaijan prefers the term “the Zangezur Corridor”) should have the same status as the Lachin Corridor from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh. That is to say that it should be extraterritorial and shouldn’t be controlled by the Armenian authorities, with, for example, Russian border guards doing the job instead. For Russia, this is also an entirely acceptable option, as it would give Moscow control over the road linking Russia and Turkey: a convenient alternative to the current communication links through pro-Western Georgia.

Armenia, however, sees this interpretation of the issue as a threat to the country’s sovereignty, especially as the corridor could impede Armenia’s transport links with Iran, which also pass through Syunik. Yerevan is supported on this issue not only by Tehran, which doesn’t want to lose control of its links with Armenia, but also, it seems, by the West, which would prefer not to hand over important communication links to the Russians.

The most important thing about the September escalation was who stopped it. If in the war of 2020 the conflict was stopped by Moscow, now the laurel wreaths of peace go to the West. What’s more, it was done without the involvement of the military: a few calls from Washington to Baku were sufficient.

Moscow and the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) were either unable or unwilling to help their ally, from the point of view of Yerevan, even though the military action was now taking place in Armenia itself. The CSTO answered a direct request for assistance with a promise to send observers, causing indignation even among pro-Russian Armenians. In addition, in explaining their refusal to intervene, Moscow and the CSTO essentially repeated Baku’s arguments about the absence of delimited borders.

Even the rhetoric of Moscow and the CSTO was toothless compared with that of NATO, though the U.S.-led alliance doesn’t officially owe anything to Yerevan, unlike its ally Russia. Against this backdrop of Russian passivity, the West’s actions appeared far more beneficial. Active contact between Washington, Yerevan, and Baku was begun within the first hours of the military action, and fairly strong-worded statements were made by U.S., French, and EU representatives.

Many saw the visit to Armenia by the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, as clear evidence of the West’s support for Armenia. In addition, Western bureaucrats condemned Azerbaijan’s alleged war crimes, despite previously having preferred more general rhetoric and appeals to both sides. This doesn’t mean, of course, that the West has gone over to Armenia’s side, simply that it is trying to help the two sides to achieve peace through diplomatic pressure.

The West’s mediation efforts peaked at the European Political Community summit in Prague in early October, where the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders met in person and agreed to send a mission of EU observers to the Armenia-Azerbaijan border: another unprecedented step that would have been difficult to imagine several months ago. The most striking statement to come out of the summit, however, was that the signing of a peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia was expected by the end of the year.

Although Armenian officials insist that the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh was never territorial for Armenia, and merely concerns issues revolving around the population’s rights and freedoms, it is clear that Baku will interpret the agreement as a recognition by Armenia that the region is part of Azerbaijan. Following its defeat in 2020, however, Yerevan’s ability to influence the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh has been severely limited.

In late October, Moscow attempted to regain initiative, when Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Sochi, but the summit yielded little. Still, even under Western mediation, there’s no guarantee that the treaty will be signed, since the parties have very different concepts for the future of the region, and there is a lack of trust. They may be voicing their agreement at this stage in order to be seen as taking a constructive approach, while counting on the other side to ultimately refuse to sign the deal.

Whatever the case, even if the peace agreement is signed, it’s unlikely that Baku will be able to immediately establish control over the rest of Nagorno-Karabakh, since that depends not only on Yerevan, but also on the Armenians who live there, as well as on Russia, which still has boots on the ground. It seems that the fate of the region will be decided at talks between Stepanakert and Baku with the mediation of Russian peacekeepers, although both Azerbaijan and Armenia, for the time being, prefer to keep quiet about this.

The obvious explanation for the West’s return to the South Caucasus is that the war in Ukraine has weakened Russia’s position in the post-Soviet arena. Yet Armenia and Azerbaijan have more profound reasons to look to the West for an alternative to Russian mediation. Those reasons are to be found in the political philosophies advocated for by the West and Putin’s Russia. The West continues to defend what is known as a “liberal, rules-based order.” Russia, meanwhile, relies on realpolitik, where the strong do as they wish, and the weak put up with it.

The multipolarity declared by Moscow as the ideal world order can only be of interest to relatively strong regional powers such as Iran or Turkey. Small countries such as Armenia, and even the relatively more powerful Azerbaijan, are doomed to navigate their way between regional powers. The best that they can hope for is a role as a satellite, and at worst they could lose their sovereignty. The liberal world order, on the other hand, though it strengthens the West’s leading role, benefits smaller countries as it at least provides some rules, allowing them to survive and even resolve conflicts.

Still, breaking off relations with Russia completely would be risky for both Armenia and Azerbaijan, and for now, the outcome remains unclear. The Kremlin, of course, still has the convincing argument that is military force. But in a situation where Russia is itself being beaten on the battlefield, it doesn’t make quite the same impression as it did just a few months ago.

Source: https://carnegieendowment.org/sada/88347

Pashinyan, Not a New Geopolitical Reality, is Armenia’s Primary Problem
Pashinyan, Not a New Geopolitical Reality, is Armenia’s Primary Problem

When Pashinyan and his cronies came to power as a result of their 2018 coup, using tactics directly out of the playbook of Western-backed “color revolutions”, they did so on a populist agenda that promised an end to corruption and a higher standard of living in Armenia. The majority of Armenians, especially in the Diaspora, only nominally knew who Pashinyan was. They either overlooked or ignored the fact that Pashinyan had made a career of printing occasionally fake and often grossly misleading news for his family newspaper, which was funded for years by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a CIA front.
 
For years many unsuspecting Armenians had heard (and repeated) tales of how bad Armenia’s corruption was, without bothering to verify many unsubstantiated, and ultimately false claims. Many Armenians had heard that former President Robert Kocharyan supposedly had a net worth of $6 billion and owned a private island and that former President Serzh Sargsyan had lost millions of dollars in a Montecarlo casino. However, very few knew that many of these fables originated in Pashinyan’s “Armenian Times” newspaper. Even fewer knew that Pashinyan’s annual grants from the CIA front NED were actually to “expand its coverage of corruption, poverty, and regional issues.”

 
In 2016 alone, Pashinyan’s newspaper “Armenian Times” received $40,785 from the NED to “expand” coverage of “corruption” and “poverty”

And so, Pashinyan, who had made a career out of exaggerated and fake news, had a steady source of funding for his newspaper. All he had to do was “expand” coverage of “corruption” and “poverty” in Armenia and so that’s exactly what he did. For years, Armenians were spoon-fed a steady source of tales about “corruption” and how poor and unfortunate they were. Never mind the fact that Armenia was, relatively-speaking, no more corrupt or poor than its neighbors or other former Soviet republics. Years of propaganda about their “corruption” and “poverty” from Pashinyan’s and other similarly foreign funded media outlets made Armenians one of the most unhappy people in the world. The “World Happiness Report 2018”, compiled by an international group of UN researchers, ranked Armenia 129th among 156 countries.

This despite the fact, that Armenia and Armenians had lived through perhaps the best two decades in their modern history. For two decades, Armenia had managed to avert large scale war, had retained control of not only its Soviet-era borders but also territories (Artsakh) it had liberated after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Armenia’s GDP and standard of living had improved dramatically over the same two decades, emigration had slowed, Armenia was enjoying international prominence, relative to its size, with successes in sports, culture, technology, and entertainment and, albeit slowly, programs were in place that were gradually improving Armenia’s democratic, societal, and economic standards.

Fast forward 4 years after Pashinyan’s “velvet revolution” and Armenia has gone through perhaps the worst period of its history since the Armenian Genocide. In the last few years, Armenia has effectively lost control over not just Artsakh, but parts of Armenia-proper. Over 5,000 Armenian soldiers perished in a matter of a few weeks in a “war” that Pashinyan himself admitted could have been averted. Corruption is as rampant as ever. Democracy, freedom-of-speech, and opposition rights have been rolled back to days not seen since the early years of independence or the Soviet era. And Armenia is capitulating more and more on a daily basis to Russia’s, and even more concerning, Turkey’s demands.
 
“But It’s Not Pashinyan’s Fault“

Since the disastrous war in 2020 and Pashinyan’s capitulation, after what some claim was a fabricated war to hand over Artsakh, several rounds of apologetic narratives have sprouted up trying to defend Pashinyan. One of the first apologetic narratives was that Armenia was bound to lose the war because Turkey supported Azerbaijan, and there was no way Armenia could stand up against a regional power like Turkey. This narrative was quickly put to bed when it was revealed that Russia had offered to stop the war in its first weeks by sending in Russian troops to Artsakh, but Pashinyan had refused. Furthermore, if Armenia’s traditional allies Russia and Iran were lukewarm in their support of Armenia, that was actually Pashinyan’s fault too, because he was the one who damaged relations with the two countries immediately after coming to power.

Another narrative was that Pashinyan should not be blamed for the losses, and it was really the former authorities who were to blame, for not keeping the Armenian military strong enough to defend Armenia and Artsakh. This narrative is also easily dismissed. Afterall, the former authorities had managed to defend Artsakh for 20 years before Pashinyan came to power. What’s more, Pashinyan was already in charge for two years before Azerbaijan attacked, and if there were any gaps in Armenia’s defenses, it was Pashinyan’s responsibility to close them. Instead, Pashinyan had wasted hundreds of millions of dollars buying fighter jets that Armenia could not use, because the missiles for them were not also purchased. He had also replaced dozens of top military officials with people perceived more loyal to him. The apologisms trying to blame everyone and everything else besides Pashinyan are too numerous to list here, but the one getting airtime recently, especially among Russophobe circles, is that while Pashinyan may be incompetent, the real reasons for Armenia’s troubles are shifting geopolitical realities.

“Aligned Russian and Turkish Interests Are To Blame”

To be more specific, these pundits, who either suffer from Dunning Kruger cognitive biases or are paid anti-Russian operatives, claim that Armenia is in its current bind not because of Pashinyan but rather because Russia and Turkey have aligned regional interests that are not currently favorable to Armenia. What they fail to realize, or mention is that, even if Russia and Turkey have come to some sort of an agreement by which they are rhetorically “slicing” Armenia up between them, it is only because Pashinyan’s government itself has embraced a multipolar foreign policy where it is trying to balance its relations, unnecessarily, between the two regional powers.

Small countries such as Armenia do not get to play multipolar politics. In the case of Armenia, it is even more ridiculous, and outright treasonous, to try to balance your relations between your historical ally and the country whose troops defend your borders with a historical enemy, who in the last century tried to wipe you off the face of the world and still denies it, and only a couple years ago, armed Azerbaijan with drones and other military support that killed thousands of your soldiers.

Can anyone imagine Israel trying to “balance” its international relations between the United States and Iran? Even when the United States doesn’t go squarely along with all of Israel’s wishes, on thorny topics such as Iran or Palestine, the Israelis do not shift away from their unipolar relationship with the United States. Regardless of whether a leftist, rightist, liberal or conservative government comes to power, Israel understands that it is too small and too surrounded by enemies to have the luxury of a multipolar foreign policy.

The reality is that Turkey, Russia, and Iran, the region’s powers, have always had matters between them in which their interests align, and others in which their interests clash. This has been the case for centuries. What’s also obvious is that each of these regional powers has drifted further away from the West in the past few decades. Armenia, on the other hand, with its 2018 “velvet revolution”, decided to go the very opposite direction. W
hat we have as a result today is an Armenian government that is no longer trusted by its historical partners, Russia and Iran and one that Turkey has succeeded in turning into a bargaining chip between the three. Basically, if Armenia is being “sliced” up between its powerful neighbors, it is only because Pashinyan and his government are continuing to allow it, if not outright encouraging it. Whether it is because they are incompetent or traitorous is largely irrelevant. Pashinyan, not a new geopolitical reality, is Armenia’s primary problem.

Source: https://www.oragark.com/pashinyan-not-a-new-geopolitical-reality-is-armenias-primary-problem/

The Prague Statement: Implications and Possible Developments


On October 6, 2022, within the framework of the first meeting of the European Political Community in Prague, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev held a meeting at the initiative of the president of France and the president of the European Council. After an hours-long discussion, they adopted a joint statement, according to which Armenia and Azerbaijan confirmed their commitment to the UN Charter and the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1991, through which both sides recognized each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. They confirmed that this would serve as the basis for the work of the commissions on delimitation. Armenia agreed to facilitate the European Union (EU) civilian mission along the border with Azerbaijan. The mission will start work in October for a maximum period of two months.

The implications of this statement should be divided into two parts — implications for the Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) Republic and implications for Armenia. The reference to the Alma-Ata declaration of 1991 sent a clear message to all external players involved in South Caucasus geopolitics that the Armenian government recognizes Nagorno Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan.

It should be noted that this is not something new for the current government. In his press conference on December 24, 2021, the Armenian prime minister stated that Nagorno Karabakh had no chance to be outside Azerbaijan. The same ideas were circulated during his January 2022 press conference, and his speech in parliament in April 2022, when he spoke about lowering the bar on Karabakh’s status. There was much domestic political infighting, as Pashinyan sought to prove that all previous Armenian leaders recognized Nagorno Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan, in this way trying to justify his current position.

The recognition by Armenia of Nagorno Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan provides Baku with opportunities to reject any notion of independent Nagorno Karabakh. When Pashinyan hinted in April 2022 that Armenia was ready to discuss autonomy for Nagorno Karabakh within Azerbaijan, he hoped that President Aliyev would abandon his claim that no Nagorno Karabakh existed after the second Karabakh war. However, Azerbaijan continued in its claims that there was no Nagorno Karabakh, and it was not going to discuss that issue with anyone.

Meanwhile, suppose Armenia and Azerbaijan will sign a peace agreement within the Prague statement’s framework with no mention of Nagorno Karabakh. In that case, it will mean that Armenia accepts Azerbaijan’s position that there is no Nagorno Karabakh as a territorial administrative unit. Recently, the Armenian government has spoken about the necessity of Azerbaijan – Nagorno Karabakh or Baku – Stepanakert talks within some special international mechanisms. However, if the Armenia – Azerbaijan peace treaty does not mention Nagorno Karabakh, it is implausible that Azerbaijan will agree to talk with Nagorno Karabakh as a political entity.

Azerbaijan may talk with Armenians living in Nagorno Karabakh, but only as representatives of ethnic minorities living in Azerbaijan. These so-called talks will probably be conducted by state bodies, which are responsible for domestic political issues, or for dealing with ethnic minorities in Azerbaijan. Neither EU nor the US, France, or any other Western player will force Azerbaijan to start negotiations with Nagorno Karabakh as a de facto independent entity.


Armenia Is Ready to Relinquish Nagorno-Karabakh: What Next?


A turning point has been reached in the long-running conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Last week, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced that Armenia could only achieve peace on one condition: that it limit its territorial ambitions to the borders of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. In other words, it must relinquish its claim to Nagorno-Karabakh, having fought multiple wars with Azerbaijan for control of the mountainous region.

A few days later, on April 23, Azerbaijan set up a checkpoint in the Lachin Corridor, the so-called “road of life” between Armenia and the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. It seems that Yerevan is ready to decisively surrender Karabakh. Pashinyan’s announcement was widely publicized and stunned many with its bluntness, though in essence there was nothing new in it. For several years, beginning with defeat in the 2020 war, the Armenian government has tried to find a formula for Karabakh’s future that would satisfy Baku and wouldn’t result in widespread dissatisfaction in Armenia.

As early as April of last year, Pashinyan spoke of a change in priorities. The key issue for Yerevan was not Karabakh’s status, but “security and rights guarantees” for those living there. In other words, Karabakh would be a part of Azerbaijan, but there would be tough negotiations on specific issues such as the status of the Armenian language. The prime minister also tried to avoid responsibility by saying that Yerevan’s decision had been made at the request of international partners “near and far.”

In September, Pashinyan announced that he was ready to sign a peace deal with Baku: and yes, many Armenians would regard him as a traitor, but the main thing was “long-term peace and security for Armenia, with a territory of 29,800 square kilometers”—i.e., the borders of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, without Karabakh. Against the backdrop of these statements, Baku has been gradually expanding the area it controls in Karabakh. Yerevan’s international partners didn’t get involved, and the Armenian government decided not to respond, as it would have inevitably angered not only Baku but also international mediators.

Azerbaijan didn’t even face any consequences when it blockaded the Lachin Corridor linking Armenia and Karabakh in December 2022 (Baku maintained that there was no blockade on its part). Armenia’s response was limited to using an alternative route that had opened up in the spring: a dirt track that even off-road vehicles could barely navigate. Even that was soon off limits, however, with the Azerbaijanis shooting at Armenian police using this route and later setting up a checkpoint.

After that, it was only a matter of time before Azerbaijan set up a checkpoint on the main road to Stepanakert, the capital of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. That happened on April 23. Russian peacekeepers didn’t get involved, even though according to the tripartite agreements of 2020, the Lachin Corridor was supposed to be under their control. The checkpoint poses numerous new and difficult problems for the Armenians. What documents will Azeri border guards demand? Can they detain Armenians for simply looking suspicious? Will they only allow entry into Armenia, but maintain that there are no grounds to return to Karabakh?

The answers to these questions largely depend on whether the Armenians will accept this new reality. Right now, it seems they already have. Yerevan has realized that, ultimately, neither mass protests nor international partners who do nothing except “express concern” can make a difference to the fate of Karabakh. Last summer, the Karabakh Armenians agreed to direct talks with Baku. Officially, the aim of the negotiations is merely to provide electricity and gas to the unrecognized republic, but it’s clear that the talks are covering more than that. Yerevan agrees that the Karabakh Armenians have to make their own deals: this is a concession to Baku that also allows Yerevan to avoid responsibility.

So what lies ahead for Karabakh? There are no grounds to expect the ethnic cleansing that has been spoken of in Yerevan or the partisan war that Baku could fear. Judging by the comments of the Azerbaijani authorities, they intend to treat the Karabakh Armenians as they do other national minorities, such as the Lezgins, the Talysh, and the Tats. There will be no special autonomous areas or adaptation programs. Still, it won’t be easy for the remaining Armenians in Karabakh to get an Azerbaijani passport. Confronted with the new, brutal reality, they may decide after all to move to Armenia.

That will give rise to another question: whether ethnic Armenians will be able to sell their property in Karabakh, or whether it will be appropriated. The Azerbaijani authorities will likely take different approaches to the region’s native inhabitants and settlers from Armenia. Given these circumstances, the most realistic outcome appears to be the mass emigration of Karabakh Armenians. Only elderly residents with strong attachments to their homes will remain. They don’t take part in political life or create problems for the authorities.

All of this will no doubt anger Armenian society. It’s not just a matter of national pride, but also of material difficulties: it won’t be easy to house around 100,000 immigrants in a country of under 3 million. But these problems are nothing compared with the threat of a permanent, low-level war along the entire length of its border. A recent event in the village of Tegh in the Armenian border region of Syunik was a sobering reminder of the reality of that threat. The Azerbaijanis took offense to the fact that the Armenians were building a new guard post there. There was a shootout, and soldiers on both sides—seven in total—were killed.

The Armenian authorities now know that the EU observation mission that they invited in for the next two years won’t miraculously save them. When the shooting began, the European observers weren’t on site. Their report merely noted that “in the absence of a demarcated border, the border of 1991 should be observed and the forces of both parties should move back to a safe distance from that line.” Yerevan was so disappointed that Pashinyan again spoke of a readiness to place a competing mission from the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization on the border.

There are fears in Yerevan that tensions on the border could continue even after the conclusion of the Karabakh conflict. There is also, for example, the issue of the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan, which according to the 2020 tripartite agreement should be linked by road to the rest of Azerbaijan. Disputes on its status risk new escalations.

The Armenians have already been through the denial and anger stages of grief, and now they are in the process of bargaining. Before they can reach the final stage of acceptance, they will have to go through depression, which will be softened by talk in Yerevan of peaceful development through, for example, the opening of a land border with Turkey and revitalizing economic ties with it. Statements on the widening of cooperation with the United States and EU further the same ends.

Relations with Russia, meanwhile, will have to be overhauled, since the main subject of discussion—Karabakh—will disappear. For the majority of Armenians, the Kremlin will be seen as an unreliable ally that abandoned them in their hour of need. Only a few opposition figures from the old elites will maintain that this is all Pashinyan’s fault, and that if he had only recognized Crimea as Russian territory, everything would have been different. In all other respects, Moscow’s influence will be on par with that of Ankara, Brussels, and Washington.

Source: https://carnegieendowment.org/politika/89635

 Scott Ritter - The Zangezur Corridor: A Pathway for Prosperity or to War?

Iran,map

In a remote corner of southern Armenia, along a 40-mile border with Iran, is a patch of land largely unknown to the rest of the world — the Syunik/Zangezur region. From a resource perspective, it offers little. But from a geopolitical perspective, it could become the trigger for a conflict between Turkey and Iran that would resonate across global energy markets. Ostensibly the byproduct of a centuries-old territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Syunik/Zangezur region — currently under Armenian control — has become attractive to both Azerbaijan and Turkey for economic purposes. Iran, however, has indicated that any effort by Azerbaijan to take over the region would trigger an Iranian military response, a conflict that would likely draw in Azerbaijan’s ally, Turkey.

The name of the Syunik/Zangezur region in itself reflects controversy that dates back to the Russian Empire and its collapse in 1917 — which gave birth to the then briefly independent republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Known by its Armenian name, Syunik, since antiquity, Russian authorities renamed the territory Zangezur in the 19th century, reflecting the Azeri majority population at the time. Britain — which intervened in the region at the end of World War I — sustained that practice when it approved Azerbaijan’s administration of the territory. Armenian forces, however, seized control of the Zangezur region in November 1919, and when Soviet control was asserted over both Azerbaijan and Armenia in 1920, the region was formally transferred to Armenian sovereignty as the Syunik Province.

The First and Second Nagorno-Karabakh Wars between Armenia and Azerbaijan, fought in 1993-94 and 2020, respectively, resulted in turmoil that saw the political map of the region drastically changed. A decisive Armenian victory in the first war resulted in the loss of significant territory by Azerbaijan, as Armenia created a land bridge between Armenia proper and the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. A similarly decisive Azerbaijani victory in 2020 erased these Armenian gains, and Azerbaijan won control over part of Nagorno-Karabakh. After renewed fighting in September 2023, Azerbaijan gained control over the rest of the break-away region, resulting in an exodus of Armenians, and raising the specter of Azerbaijan trying to seize control of the nearby Syunik/Zangezur region as well.

Pan-Turkic Dreams

The importance of the Syunik/Zangezur region goes beyond the assertion of historic territorial claims. A mutual blockade between Armenia and Azerbaijan, instituted in 1989, resulted in the economic isolation of the Nakhichivan enclave, an Azerbaijani-controlled territory wedged between Turkey, Armenia and Iran. During Soviet times, Nakhchivan was connected to Azerbaijan proper by a railroad that ran through the Syunik/Zangezur region. The 2020 ceasefire agreement that brought an end to the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War mandated that the 1989 blockade be terminated, and that Armenia facilitate the opening of so-called “transport connections” between Nakhchivan and Azerbaijan that would permit the “unobstructed movement of persons, vehicles and cargo in both directions.”

Initial discussions about the reopening of the Soviet-era rail link, however, soon got bogged down over the concept of a more expansive “Zangezur corridor” introduced into the diplomatic mix by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. In 2021, during meetings with Turkish President Recep Erdogan, Aliyev stated that a Zangezur corridor would “unite the whole Turkic world.” Aliyev was playing on a long-held Turkish desire for a direct link between it and Azerbaijan that would eliminate Iran’s physical access to Armenia, while opening a direct land route from Turkey, through Azerbaijan, to northern Iran, where there is a majority Azeri population, and Central Asia. Aliyev outlined this vision in November 2021 at a meeting of the Organization of Turkic States. The subversive aspects of this campaign were reflected in the recent appearances of posters in the Iranian city of Tabriz, home to a sizeable Azeri population, proclaiming that “Zangezur is Azerbaijani” and promoting the creation of a Baku-Tabriz-Ankara axis.

Zangezur Corridor


The Iran Factor

Iran’s 40-mile border with Armenia has become one of the most strategically important pieces of terrain when it comes to Iran’s perceptions of its national security interests. Iran deployed some 50,000 troops to the border zone in 2022 in a signal to both Turkey — a Nato member — and Azerbaijan that it would not tolerate any change in international borders in the region and that the territorial integrity of Armenia must be preserved. Those troops remain at a high state of readiness. This isn’t simple posturing by Iran. Indeed, Iran has made it clear that any redrawing of borders that removes Armenia as a neighbor represents a red line. The opening by Iran, in August 2022, of a consulate in Syunik/Zangezur has been seen by many regional analysts as a clear sign of Iran’s commitment to the territorial integrity of Armenia.

For the moment, Iran appears to be seeking a diplomatic resolution to the crisis. In separate meetings on Oct. 4 with the secretary of the Armenian Security Council, Armen Grigorian, and the president of Azerbaijan’s representative for special assignments, Khalaf Khalafov, Iranian President Ebraham Raisi warned both men that Iran viewed the Zangezur Corridor concept as a “springboard for Nato in the region,” and that Iran was “resolutely opposed” to all efforts to facilitate its creation, according to Mohammad Jamshidi, the deputy head of the Iranian Presidential Administration. Instead, Raisi emphasized the need for all parties to make use of the so-called “3 plus 3 format” — which brings together Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia on the one hand, and Turkey, Iran and Russia on the other — when it comes to resolving disputes.

The war now between Hamas and Israel has added a new, extremely dangerous geopolitical twist to an already complex drama. Israel is very concerned about the war with Hamas expanding to include Hezbollah in Lebanon, and perhaps Iran. Armenian politicians, such as the former deputy of the national assembly, Arman Abovyan, have expressed concern that, given the history of close cooperation between Israel and Azerbaijan regarding both the Azeri-Armenian conflict and in containing Iran regionally, the Zangezur Corridor crisis could be elevated and accelerated in an effort to divert Iranian resources away from a potential conflict with Israel — either by proxy via Hezbollah or directly — by having Azerbaijan position itself to seize control of the Syunik/Zangezur region by force.

Global Uncertainty

At a time when the world is consumed by conflict (the ongoing Ukrainian-Russian, the still simmering Armenian-Azerbaijani and the freshly erupted Hamas-Israeli wars, to name three), the last thing needed now is a new round of conflict between two regional powers, Turkey and Iran. That would have an undeniably detrimental impact on global energy security. While the Iranian preference for the “3 plus 3” format might bode well for a political solution if the issues were limited to those of the region, the Nato “springboard” dimension and possible desire to create a distraction for Iran complicate any formula for a negotiated settlement. Today, the term “Zangezur Corridor” is known to only a handful of regional specialists. However, if war breaks out, it is a term that will become a household word, given the scope and scale of the global consequence such a conflict could have.

Paul Goble: Zangezur Emerges From the Shadows as a Dangerous New Hotspot

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The violence in the Middle East has overshadowed the rise of a potentially explosive hot spot in the South Caucasus following Azerbaijan’s re-assertion of control over the Karabakh region. That is the Zangezur Corridor, a narrow strip of land inside Armenia (known as the Syunik Oblast) between metropolitan Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan’s non-contiguous autonomy of Nakhchevan. The region has become so explosive due to the developments over the past few weeks that it now threatens to trigger a much broader conflict. One Russian commentator, Vladimir Prokhvatilov, even compared the situation to the Danzig corridor crisis, which contributed to the outbreak of World War II when Hitler demanded that Poland yield the territory to Berlin (Vpoanalytics.com, September 27). Whether that comparison will hold remains to be seen. That fact that it can be made at all highlights just how dangerous the situation in the region may become.

With the departure of the Armenian community from Karabakh, the situation is now fraught with danger. Prokhvatilov says, “It cannot be completely ruled out that Azerbaijan will occupy the current Syunik Oblast of Armenia by force, as the Third Reich ‘solved the question’ of the Danzig corridor in their own time.” The Russian commentator stresses that he is not comparing the current leaders of Turkey and Azerbaijan to Hitler. He explains, “At the same time, the road through Zangezur to Turkey is like air to both countries; and for the achievement of their goals, they can apply a classical operation under a false flag or by force, of which” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has reportedly spoken on.

Current movements indicate that the situation may be rapidly moving in the direction of force. Aliyev and Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan met in Nakhchivan on September 25. There, they discussed plans to press for expanded links between both countries and the exclave. The two leaders talked about opening connections to the region and between themselves as well as creating a transit corridor through Iran if Armenia opposed having one run through Syunik-Zangezur. However, Iran would be unlikely to agree, and both Azerbaijan and Turkey would be skeptical of Tehran’s reliability in keeping it open (Trend.az, September 26; Vestikavkaza.ru, September 26; Trtrussian.com, September 28; Report.az, September 29; Sovsekretno.ru, October 3; Vpoanalytics.com, October 5; Ritmeurasia.ru, October 7).

Today’s Zangezur problem arose a century ago when Stalin drew borders in the South Caucasus, but it has been exacerbated in recent weeks. This is due to Azerbaijan eliminating the balancing arrangement Stalin put in place: the de facto Armenian exclave of “Nagorno-Karabakh” inside Azerbaijan. Stalin imposed this asymmetrical geography to ensure several situations. First, so that tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan would remain high, allowing Moscow to use its time-tested approach of divide and rule. Second, this arrangement would deprive Turkey of a direct land bridge to Azerbaijan and Turkic Central Asia while giving Armenia an external Soviet border to Iran. Turkey did gain a 13-kilometer connection with Nakhchivan but could reach Azerbaijan only by passing through Armenian or Iranian territory (see EDM, June 12, 2018).

Before this asymmetrical situation was ended last month by Azerbaijan’s recovery of Karabakh, some analysts, including this author, had earlier proposed swapping the two, with Karabakh (Artsakh) going to Armenia and Zangezur going to Azerbaijan (Goble, 1992; Rferl.org, June 8, 2000). Azerbaijan and Turkey were interested, but Armenia, Russia and Iran were opposed. Thus, nothing came of it. Now, Armenia has lost Karabakh and may be threatened in Zangezur with the two Turkic countries in a position to potentially sweep the board.

The Zangezur Corridor had been growing prominence on the agendas of Azerbaijan and Turkey even before Baku’s recent “anti-terrorist” operation. After the Second Karabakh War in 2020, Armenia agreed to reopen transit across the region, including between Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan. Yerevan feared that its control over Syunik-Zangezur was its advantage in a situation where neither Moscow, Tehran, nor anyone else would do much to interfere. Thus, the Armenian side, supported at least publicly by Russia and Iran, dragged its feet, infuriating Baku and Ankara. This caused the two powers to talk ever-more openly about the need to push through a corridor, with or without Armenia’s agreement (see EDM April 21, 2021, August 10, 2021, and May 5, 2022; Ng.ru, December 8, 2021; Windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com, January 28, 2022). In the wake of the successful use of force in Karabakh and at a time when Moscow is distracted by its aggression in Ukraine, some in Baku and Ankara are clearly thinking about using force to take Zangezur.

Armenia and Russia are rather concerned with the prospect of fighting over Zangezur (Windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com, June 28, 2022; Vpoanalytics.com, October 10). However, they are far from the only countries that have an interest in what happens in the region and who may be dragged into any future conflict. Iran is the country most obviously worried, as this would expand Turkish influence across its northern border and reduce its ability to influence the South Caucasus. In recent months, it has shown its willingness to deploy its forces near the Azerbaijani border to underscore these concerns (see EDM November 1, 2022, February 10, and March 30). Georgia is also worried, as any change in the status of Zangezur would have implications for its links to the outside world (see EDM, January 25, 2021). At the same time, the countries of Central Asia would become more closely integrated with Ankara if Zangezur passed over to Azerbaijani control, boosting the importance of the Turkic world as Erdogan has promoted (EDM, September 19).

As a shift in the control of Zangezur would affect the wider geopolitics of Central Asia and the South Caucasus, it would also have an impact on the regional influences of China, the European Union, and the West. China would face a much stronger Turkey, limiting its expansion of influence into these regions. The European Union would be troubled by how such a change would threaten Armenia’s security. And the United States, while undoubtedly welcoming the decline in Russian and Iranian influence of Iran and Russia, would be compelled to think about protecting Armenia from any further Turkic advances. Consequently, even if a Turkish military move is not as imminent as some fear, the Zangezur Corridor is becoming a hotspot that all major powers must closely watch.


The Coming War in the Caucasus


Atop a high hill, just west of Yerevan’s old city, stands a stark, deeply affecting monument marking the Ottoman Empire’s 1915 genocide of 1.5 million Armenians. The world Armenia inhabits is once again taking on a tragic color: Last month, to what might charitably described as a muted international response, Azerbaijan, Turkey’s closest ally in the region, achieved its long-cherished goal of ridding the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave of its ancient Christian community after a 9-month blockade that deprived its 120,000 residents of food, fuel, and medical supplies.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, Raphael Lemkin, a law professor and refugee from Nazi-occupied Europe, through a tremendous force of will, conceived, wrote, and lobbied the United Nations to adopt the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Lemkin, who invented the term genocide, defined it as “a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves.”

What happened to the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh is undoubtedly then a case of genocide by the longtime Islamist dictator of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. And while pushed from the minds of policymakers in Washington thanks to recent events in Gaza, last week GOP hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy was one of the few candidates running for president to acknowledge that what happened in Nagorno-Karabakh is “probably the most under-appreciated atrocity in the world.”

And he’s not wrong: the Biden administration, distracted by its various and sundry overseas projects, including funding and overseeing a war against nuclear-armed Russia in Ukraine and now aiding and abetting the Israeli war on Gaza, met the news with a few strong statements and not much else. Yet there seems more to come for Armenia—and little interest in the West in doing anything to prevent it. The next target of Aliyev’s is likely the southern Armenian province of Syunik, which, if taken by force, as seems to be the plan, would create a land corridor (also known as the Zangezur Corridor) that would connect Azerbaijan proper to its western Nakhchivan enclave. Nakhchivan borders Turkey, and thus would create a profitable connection between the two allies.

It isn’t as if Azerbaijan and its powerful Turkish patron are making any secret of their plan to invade and annex sovereign Armenian territory. In December 2022, Aliyev flatly proclaimed that “present-day Armenia is our land.” The months that followed he went on to declare that “we are implementing the Zangezur corridor, whether Armenia likes it or not.” For his part, Aliyev’s patron, the Islamist Erdogan, praised the ethnic cleansing, describing it as “an operation” that was “completed in a short period of time, with utmost sensitivity to the rights of civilians.”

Things are already underway. Riding a wave of oil revenue, Azerbaijan, which has boosted defense spending to $3.1 billion, is steadily and not-so-stealthily advancing across Armenia's eastern border. In any case, it seems likely they’ll get away with it when the time comes. Why? As Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the first chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, recently explained, Azerbaijan is an ally with the West against Iran; it provides energy to Europe and it spends millions on sophisticated Israeli weapons. But such exigencies must not get in the way of the world’s responsibility to stop what is happening before its very eyes: the Armenian genocide of 2023.

As if that weren’t enough, Armenia has been cursed with pusillanimous leadership in the form of a Soros-backed politician named Nikol Pashinyan. Pashinyan, who has served as prime minister since 2018, has what might be described as an almost “Anti-Midas” touch. In the space of five years he has managed to alienate his country’s principal great power supporter, Russia, all the while signaling weakness towards Armenia’s revanchist neighbors, resulting in the loss of Nagorno-Karabakh and very likely, more to come. Dr. Pietro Sharakrian, a postdoctoral fellow at the Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg, put it starkly: “Pashinyan’s premiership has been a disaster for the Armenian people.”

There exists, more worryingly still, the possibility of a wider regional war should Azerbaijan roll into Syunik. For one, Iran has expressed opposition to such a move and if Russia wraps up its war in Ukraine, the possibility exists that they will be freed up to step in as well. So one shouldn’t rule out a collision involving the major players in the region: Russia, Iran and Turkey. Sadly, the cruel vicissitudes of history and politics are not yet finished with Armenia.

Data analysis shows a major victory for Azerbaijan’s digital army


Last week the Swedish news agency TT reported that Azerbaijan had discovered what it claimed to be mass graves from prior conflicts in the disputed Nagorno-Karabach region. At the time, TT was unaware that the social media campaign surrounding this news was well planned by the Azerbaijanis. Blankspot has analyzed how the Azerbaijani regime uses bots and troll factories to propagate sympathetic views towards the country. On October 5, the Swedish TT news agency put out an article that Azerbaijan had found mass graves in Nagorno-Karabakh. The story got republished in about fifteen major Swedish media outlets, among some of the largest in Sweden. The article’s primary source was Hikmet Hajiyev, personal adviser on foreign affairs to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who wrote a tweet. The content of his tweet was shared over a short period on September 19 thousands of times on Twitter, both from Hajiyev’s account and others with similar content.

After criticism from many people, the Swedish-Armenian historian and peace and conflict researcher Vahagn Avedian about the factuality of the text and whether Hikmet Hajiyev is a credible source, consequnetly the appointed head of news for foreign affairs at TT, Pontus Ahlmqvist, regretted the mistake. On Twitter, he wrote: “We generally try to include context and caveats when we quote information from authoritarian regimes that we have not been able to verify ourselves. The Armenian information on war crimes could, for example, have been included here. We take the criticism to heart.” The news came just days after top diplomats from several countries, including the US, France and Norway, condemned Azerbaijan for gross war crimes during the September 13-14 invasion of Armenia. There is no TT article about this.

The question of how a tweet from an authoritarian regime could go through TT’s fact-checking can say something about the Azerbaijani regime’s tactics on social media. With the help of Twitter user @Bedig_A , who developed software that utilizes Twitter’s publicly available APIs, we provide insight into how the Azerbaijani regime’s propaganda operates on Twitter. The data Blankspot investigated the source of a tweet, the number of interactions, engagements and connections between different accounts. For example, whether one account interacts with another and at what times this happens.

In other words, the software can produce statistical analysis about different users’ behaviour on Twitter. Based on the data provided, we looked into different areas: 1) signs are showing how professional “troll factories control the accounts”. 2) Signs that there are bots and 3) Indication of state-coordinated information campaigns. This has been done by partly focusing on particular #hashtags with many apparent tweets in a short time intervals, accounts that tweet a lot without getting much interaction, and tweets from regime representatives that get rapid non-organic spread. The analysis has been based on periods when there was war or conflict and just before and after. For example, when Azerbaijan attacked Armenia on September 13-14.

Signs of troll factories

One purpose of troll factories is to make particular #hashtags and messages trend. One such example is #ArmenianVandalism, which was the main message on October 5 when TT picked up the news about mass graves. Our analysis shows that the tag #ArmenianVandalism, which normally occurs about ten times a day, started to increase on September 27. This was the same day the EU condemned Azerbaijan for the war crimes. Activity then increased to approximately 300 occurrences per day and remained there until October 5, when it suddenly spiked to almost 2000 posts, only to sink to 300 again the following day.

The top accounts spreading this hashtag shared some characteristics: they had generic Azeri names, followed by numbers. They either had no profile picture or a profile picture of a young male person; some had the ruling party logo. Almost all had relatively few followers, but enough to not seem like a startup. Most were started between one and six months ago. Between the hours of 16:50-17:37, #ArmenianVandalism increased through 261 individual accounts, with several of the accounts we looked at tweeting the message upwards of 20 times within the time span. Soon after, it was picked up by the news agency TT.

Another example is the user @LiyevAqsin, who has occasionally been banned from Twitter. Since its creation during the Nagorno-Karabakh war in October 2020, the account has tweeted no less than 58,200 times. As a rule, the tweets are brief and exclusively praise the Azerbaijani regime. Almost all tweets are posted between 09:00 in the morning and 18:00 local time, i.e. a normal working day by Baku standards. On average, the account is spent on Twitter about four hours per day spread over 7 days a week, but the figure is higher if you start from working days when it is actually active.

The third example is the campaign against US Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who, on September 28, presented a proposal to ban US money supporting the Azerbaijani defence. During #CorruptPolitician, 7,246 likes and 22,504 tweets were generated from 1,514 accounts, of which 1,452 were unique. The average time between each tweet was 2 seconds. Several regime representatives attended. A fourth example is the hashtag #NoPelosi, which was established on September 19 when US Congress Speaker Nancy Pelosi was on a state visit to Armenia. In connection with that, she made unusually strong statements against Azerbaijan as a result of the invasion a couple of days earlier.

The analysis shows that on September 18, #NoPelosi began to be used. Then it was tweeted 205 times with seven minutes between each tweet – on average. On September 19, it increased to 2,370 tweets, with 27 seconds between each tweet. One account, @Darya111991 tweeted #NoPelosi 519 times, which equates to an average of three tweets per minute on September 19 in the 24 hours.

Signs of bots

The case with @Darya111991 shows signs of the use of bots. Azerbaijani bots typically have generic usernames which often include many numbers. They tweet a lot and for a long time and their tweets are typically not elaborate in content – in other words, they do not appear unique. Bots were involved in propagating both the #ArmenianVandalism and #NoPelosi hashtags, but they are generally used for a longer period of time. One example, the user @NarnialsFree tweeted 24 hours a day for 170 days. For 510 days this account tweeted mainly during working hours. A total of 24,498 tweets. There are many more examples. However, the intensity of tweeting increases when special messages are to be communicated in times of crisis and conflict.

Signs of coordinated information campaigns

In addition to the use of bots and troll factories, ‘real people’ with accounts are also needed to make a substantial impact. In the case of the TT article, it was Hikmet Hajiyev who was the source, but his is just one of many Azerbaijani accounts. The information campaigns that have had the greatest impact are where bots, troll factories and accounts run by real people all cooperate, as was the case in #ArmenianVandalism, #CorruptPolitician and #NoPelosi. On the other hand, there is coordinated cooperation without the other components as well. The dividing line between organic and artificial propagation in such cases is possibly not great.

One example of this is from December 2021 when the Azerbaijani Ambassador to Sweden, Zaur Ahmadov, (a known critic of Blankspot) tweeted a video by Cawa Media which – according to Azerbaijani rhetoric – showed Armenian war crimes in Nagorno-Karabakh. Only one day earlier, Blankspot had published an article about Cawa Media participating in an invitational trip to Azerbaijan which was followed up with an article about a seminar at an Azerbaijani propaganda conference in Brussels.

Zaur Ahmadov’s tweet received 130 shares and 227 likes. According to our analysis, 83 of these occurred within 58 seconds. Unlike the previous examples in the article, the vast majority of participating accounts here appear to be genuine, i.e. run by real people. Among those who shared the video in those 58 seconds are Fuad Muradov (Azerbaijan’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs), a number of ambassadors, the PR manager of the state oil company SOCAR and several government employees in Baku. What is striking is that all shares originated from Zaur Ahmadov’s account. Thus there were no retweets from those who had shared it. Normally, tweets are shared by one person sharing something which leads to a new follower sharing it further and so on.

It is therefore likely that the sharing of the tweet was planned through internal channels. Since then, Cawa Media has frequently published articles about Azerbaijan, and despite there being a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the organization has also managed to be event photographers for the Armenian embassy in Stockholm. The fact indicates that through well-planned coordination on social media, Azerbaijan can get away with its tactics without any criticism from the Swedish news outlets due to the lack of attention and interest the Caucasus region gets. Ambassador Zaur Ahmadov used the article from TT as an indication that Swedish media are covering what is happening in Azerbaijan at all. One reason for TT’s lack of source criticism by other newsrooms is that the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is considered a peripheral part of Europe. It often falls outside the sphere of interest of the Western media.


Turkish Internet Bots Incite Armenians Against Russia; The Information War Is Just Beginning

 
According to the Russian media outlet Vz.ru, thousands of fake accounts, created for waging an information war against Russia's role in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict, have been identified on the social networks. The bots' main purpose bots is to discredit Russia in Armenia and Armenians in Russia; “threads” from these bots lead to Azerbaijan, Turkey and Britain. According to Vz.ru, this is the first sign of a new political reality, in which the military-political alliance between Moscow and Yerevan will undergo a stress test.
 
6,500 Fake Accounts Were Identified

Edgar Grigoryan, head of the 'DataLocator' project for monitoring, analyzing and processing information on the Internet, reported in an interview with RT that his team had managed to identify about 6,500 accounts on various social networks, in which fake Armenian [users] were spreading deception about the course of the conflict and driving wedges into relations between Armenia and Russia. In 31% of the cases the IP addresses led to Azerbaijan, in 21% of cases to Turkey, and in 19% of cases to the UK. Grigoryan believes that the activity was under centralized management.
 
From the first day [of the conflict], the idea that Armenia does not need Russia was introduced, that the Armenian army is inherently strong, that it is necessary to refuse Russia's help, and that Russia is an occupier. The main goal was to present Russia as a sort of tyrant,' said the expert. By now, the war is over, but the activity of the bots continues: they explain to real people that Armenia was 'deceived and betrayed' and that 'Russia orchestrated everything to expand its own influence in the Caucasus.'

On the whole, the cocky sentiments in part of Armenian society, as well as the grievances against Russia within it, can hardly be attributed to bots alone. Real persons, such as comedian Sarik Andreasyan, have also made statements of this kind. At the same time, armies of bots engaged in propaganda and disinformation have become constant participants in the information wars, accompanying real ones. Since Baku made such excellent preparations for the offensive on Artsakh in terms of renting Turkish drones and hiring Turkish specialists, then it would be strange if Baku did not make provisions for hostilities in the Internet and did not target them on the Russian-Armenian military alliance, or rather - on the mutual understanding between peoples. At the same time, Russian users are being used without their knowledge, provoking a negative reaction towards Armenians. And Armenians themselves are taught to think about the unreliability of Russia - the culprit behind their current troubles.

Armenia Became Russia's 'Hostage'

Regardless of what would happen to the army of identified bots… the information war around Armenia is just beginning. "After the Russian peacekeepers were brought into the Karabakh conflict zone, Moscow's of influence on Yerevan has increased significantly. Fate has made Armenia our 'hostage': its dependence on the Russian army in this case is voluntary, but also forced. "From a security point of view, to have a hostage is even more secure than just having an ally. But the rapidity and the quality of changes [in the region] became a challenge for Russia's competitors in the area - both for Turkey, which counted on a different outcome of the war, and for the Western countries, especially the United States and France.

Vladimir Putin has already called on Washington and Paris not to hold grudges, but they still are going to sulk, since a lot of funds were invested in the slow drift of Armenia towards the West. There are a huge number of Western NGOs in Armenia - much more than Russian ones. Not all of them are agents of political influence, the situation is largely explained by the status of Armenians as a transatlantic nation, that is, through NGOs, the Armenian diaspora participates in the life of the homeland. But it is difficult to find a harmless explanation for the fact that the American legation in Yerevan is one of the largest in the world – two thousand employees for a country of three million. In the Russian one, by comparison, there are less than a hundred employees.

The results of these peoples' activities are much more modest than, for example, in Georgia. Although Nikol Pashinyan came to power as the result of another 'color revolution,' as prime minister he revised his anti-Russian attitudes - geography cannot be changed, and it is a harsh mistress: Armenia is surrounded by enemies and can count only on the help of Russia. Now this dependence has become even stronger, but the political crisis in Armenia and the general disappointment in Armenian society open a wide window of opportunities for Western agents of influence.
 
International Players Hope To Increase Their Influence In Armenia And Push Russia Out Of There

Before the implementation of the Karabakh agreement, Russia was interested in keeping Pashinyan at the head of Armenia's vertical power – the Kremlin still doesn't trust him, but all other options are much worse. Logically, after [the peace agreement] the prime minister should leave - like the 'Moor who has done his work' and turned to be politically bankrupt. But there is no idea of who can replace him. The Russian authorities have a long and fruitful history of relations with the Republican Party of Armenia, one of the oldest in the country. However, after the resignation of its leader [former PM] Serzh Sargsyan from all government posts, under pressure from the street, Pashinyan, who took power, practically destroyed this structure. In the new elections, the previously dominant force in Armenian politics was unable even to surmount the electoral threshold and was left without representation in parliament.

Now two-thirds of the National Assembly is dominated by Pashinyan's people - the 'My Step Alliance', and almost all of them are quasi 'wooden soldiers,' devoid of political will and individuality. The opposition is represented by two parties – Edmon Marukyan's 'Enlightened Armenia' and Gagik Tsarukyan's 'Prosperous Armenia.' Marukyan is a former associate of Pashinyan, who broke with him after the 'love revolution.' He and his people are rigidly oriented towards Washington and Brussels, and their platform includes such topics as Armenia's withdrawal from the CSTO and joining NATO. Prosperous Armenia' stands for an Alliance with Russia, but the problem is that ideology does not play any role in its case. This is not even a party, but an asset of Tsarukyan, who is considered to be the richest man in the country. The picture will not be complete if we do not specify that the 63 year-old oligarch is a wrestling coach, and that he served a prison term during the Soviet era for robbery and gang rape.

In other words, under certain circumstances, the power in Armenia can go to such people, compared to whom, even the leader of the local Maidan, Pashinyan, is the best figure in Russia's eyes. The fact that he is responsible for the current crisis with unpredictable consequences, and for such an ugly party balance, is a different matter. In the coming months, the pack of Armenian politics will be reshuffled under a new historical reality, where most of Karabakh has been lost, and Turkey and Azerbaijan use the territory of Armenia, which was previously closed to them, for trading with each other. But now comes the time when international players will be investing in the redistribution of forces, hoping to increase their influence in Armenia and push Russia out of there.

The army of bots described above is just one [example] in a series of many, through which [international players] will try to play on public opinion within both countries. Speculating on the Armenians' national distress has not yet proved its effectiveness, but one would not like to learn about it retroactively, when a Russophobic core has already formed within Armenian society."

The Story of Foreign Money in Armenia

This is a story about money. Lots and lots of money. Money that most people in Armenia have never seen but which has affected every last Armenian life. This is a story of millions upon millions of dollars, thousands of foreign-funded activists and the hundreds of organizations that usurped power in Armenia and led the country to the edge of the abyss.

At the end of the Soviet Union, Francis Fukuyama claimed that with the fall of Soviet communism, liberal democracy had won, calling it “the end of history.” Fukuyama and others believed that liberal democracy was the last remaining option believing that liberal democracy would naturally take over the world. It did not take long for people, including Fukuyama himself, to realize that this was a pipe dream and that liberal democracy could not be considered an eventuality. Thus was born the goal of imposing liberal democracy on the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc.

But there was one distinction. During the Cold War, the West, led by the United States, had actively armed local subversives and even executed coup d’etats through the coordination of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). However, with the revelations of the Pentagon Papers, the Iran-Contra affair, and other subversive covert activities around the world, public opinion of the US government was severely damaged. So, a shift occurred, where guns and cover operations were replaced with mass communications technology and the open financing of local groups.

Nobody stopped to ask one very important question: what business does any foreign government or any international organization or any private foundation have participating in the domestic affairs of a sovereign country? The short answer is that they do not.
The Empire of Democracy

International politics is ultimately about power. One must understand this in order to understand the motivation behind countries involving themselves in the affairs of other countries. While guns and spies took a backseat to computers and activists, the goal remained the same: power. There have been many euphemisms to describe this new mode of operations but the two most common are soft power and public diplomacy. Media outlets, civil society organizations, movies, and directed investments are vehicles through which soft power is exercised.

Among the largest elements of these public diplomacy efforts to shift countries in the direction of liberal democracy is a multibillion dollar international grant industry that funds thousands of NGOs throughout the world. While it is cloaked in deceptively innocuous phraseology, the liberal democratic grant industry led by the United States, the European Union, and certain private foundations is effectively a modern rendition of imperialism.

The catchphrases “democracy,” “human rights,” and “corruption” are the updated reflections of haughty imperial contempt previously represented by the white man’s burden and the mission civilisatrice; the private foundations are the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company, trafficking in their wares abroad, setting up outposts, and depending on the support of their home governments – and now international institutions like the United Nations. Locals are recruited to perform certain tasks, like the sepoy in India, but, instead of guns, they are given computers to carry out their missions. And, in 2018, Armenia was converted into a full-fledged vassal, much like the princely states of the British Raj, one with a local leader but subject to the British Empire.

This situation is what makes the supposedly countercultural recipients of the funds all the more ironic and risible: those who receive money from foreign governments are the local agents of neo-imperial powers who are determined to promote their political agendas abroad.

The elephant in the room that undergirds the problem of foreign funding is whether the funding is provided to address issues of local interest or if foreign interests determine the direction of the local actors. In case the adage that “money isn’t free” is insufficient to prove that it is the foreign organizations and governments providing the funding that determine the course, we can look at calls for grant proposals.

Let us consider how the United States or the European Union would react if a theoretically super-wealthy Armenia decided that it wanted to influence American and European society by funding media and civil society organizations there that promoted the values of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Nzhdeh’s Tseghakronism, and traditional family values. Would this be acceptable in places that have values opposed to those Armenian national values? Certainly not. So why is it acceptable to allow unhindered access to foreign patrons and their local proxies to promote political agendas and values that are largely incongruous with the interests of the Armenian state and its society?

If you are having trouble viewing the map above or would like to explore it in greater depth, you can follow the link here.

The Patrons

Any research into the funding sources of NGOs in Armenia and elsewhere in the developing world will reveal that there are hundreds of funding organizations, large and small. The benefactors can be split into three broad categories: international and supranational organizations and governments, national governments, and private foundations.

The United Nations and its subsidiary organizations – UNDP – UN Development Program, UNICEF – UN Children’s Fund, UNFPA – UN Population Fund, and others – and the European Union and its affiliates like the European Endowment for Democracy are examples of international and supranational organizations, respectively. National governments like the United States and its administrative offices like the US Department of State and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and its affiliates, the National Endowment for Democracy and the National Democratic Institute and, in Armenia’s case, the governments of the United Kingdom.

Indeed, the role that NGOs were to play in this replacement of the imposition of political will through physical force was foreshadowed by United States Secretary of State Colin Powell when, in remarks to the National Foreign Policy Conference for Leaders of Nongovernmental Organizations in 2001, he said, “And I want you to know that I have made it clear to my staff here and to all of our ambassadors around the world that I am serious about making sure we have the best relationship with the NGOs who are such a force multiplier for us, such an important part of our combat team.”

NGOs are a combat team in what war, exactly?

The Democracy Promotion Network

John Fonte, a fellow at the Hudson Institute, has coined the term “Democracy Promotion Network” to describe the international organizations, governments, and private foundations that work in conjunction with each other to promote a transnational progressive, or globalist, vision of the world in a way that, paradoxically, undermines democracy and threatens the sovereignty of independent nation-states. In an essay titled “Sovereignty and Its Enemies,” Fonte writes:

“Transnational progressives, or globalists, represent a major challenge to democratic nation-states because they seek to transfer political decision-making from democratic nations to supranational authorities and institutions. The decades-long trajectory of the European Union is an example of this phenomenon.

These globalists include the leadership of the United Nations and the European Union; bureaucrats from the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund; judges from the European Court of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court; career officials in the U.S. State Department, the British Foreign Office, and the German Foreign Ministry; American CEOs of major global corporations; employees of NGOs such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Greenpeace; and prominent American international relations specialists and international lawyers, including the leadership of the American Bar Association.

But another anti-sovereignty force is simultaneously at work: the American democracy promotion network. What role, if any, do the promoters of democracy play in the worldwide ideological conflict between democratic sovereigntists and globalists? The American democracy promotion network is based in organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Freedom House and includes an array of prominent writers.”

The National Endowment for Democracy, one of the largest foreign grantees in Armenia, makes no secret about its intention of using its funding to influence the political actors in foreign countries. Indeed, its leaders have admitted that the NED effectively continued the work of “democracy promotion” that was previously done covertly by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Carl Gershman, who has been president of the NED since 1984 – an incredibly long time for one man at the helm of an organization promoting democracy – was quoted in a 1986 New York Times article as having stated that, ”It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the C.I.A.” (Missionaries for Democracy: US Aid for Global Pluralism, New York Times). Gershman’s sentiments were echoed by Allen Weinstein, acting president of the NED in 1991 when, in an interview in the Washington Post with David Ignatius, said, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

While the NED claims that it does not work with the CIA, there is no secret about its intentions in affecting the political landscape of foreign countries, including Armenia. Putting aside the egregious but oft-ignored revelation that a foreign government-backed organization is actively funding politically-motivated groups across the world, it is important to note that the NED is less a tool for positive political change in sovereign countries than it is a way to pressure governments and exert influence on them.

One of the problems with the National Endowment for Democracy is that it is not terribly concerned with democracy or the principles it purportedly supports. One of the most succinct criticisms of the NED’s activities was offered by former Texas congressman Ron Paul in rejecting a proposal to increase the NED’s funding in Congress in 2005.

“This bill continues to fund organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy, which as I have written before has very little to do with democracy. It is an organization that uses U.S. tax money to actually subvert democracy, by showering funding on favored political parties or movements overseas. It underwrites color-coded “people’s revolutions” overseas that look more like pages out of Lenin’s writings on stealing power than genuine indigenous democratic movements. The NED used American taxpayer dollars to attempt to guarantee that certain candidates overseas are winners and others are losers in the electoral processes overseas. What kind of message do we think this sends to foreign states? The National Endowment for Democracy should receive no funding at all, but this bill continues to funnel tens of millions of dollars to that unaccountable organization.“

Sound familiar?

The “Soros Conspiracy” Canard

A favorite retort by those who receive their funding from foreign sources is to refer to those drawing attention to the copious amounts of money flooding into developing countries as “the Soros conspiracy.” This is in reference to the understandably repetitive referencing of George Soros and his Open Society Foundations which play an outsized role in funding the activities of local NGOs.

What is curious about this accusation of conspiracy theorizing is that Soros and his Open Society Foundations make absolutely no secret about their association with the billionaire who named his notorious money granting organization in honor of the idea proposed by the political philosopher Karl Popper. In fact, all the criticisms of Soros and OSF notwithstanding, they are relatively forthcoming about their activities in Armenia, offering a comprehensive – though difficult to search – list of all the grants they have provided, during which years, the amounts, and the purposes, on their website.


The fact is that pretending that the millions of dollars that Soros, through the Open Society Foundations, has injected into Armenia to reshape the political environment and society itself is nothing but a canard meant to distract from the very real problem of a billionaire setting a vision for the world he wants to see.

Otherwise, the implication is that it is acceptable to flood a poor and developing country like Armenia with a billionaire’s money to realize his own personal vision, with little to no regard for the needs and norms of the country and its people. Besides approaching the heights of conceit, how is this anything but an infringement upon the sovereignty of Armenia to set its own course?

Lies, Myths, and More Lies

One might ask why there is so much foreign money in Armenia specifically targeting the media. An anachronistic myth persists that the Armenian media landscape is overwhelmingly controlled by government “oligarchs,” a favorite term of liberals across the post-Soviet world which is simply an epithet for local businessmen that they dislike. Based on this mythical premise, activists and NGOs rationalize applying to and receiving foreign funds.

First, it is extremely unlikely that Armenia’s local economy could support so many media outlets, even if the assets of local business owners were evenly distributed in media across the political spectrum.

The greater problem, however, is that the foreign-funded media outlets engage in highly politicized reporting that can be frequently described as dishonest, selective, omissive, and based on half-truths. One example is Hetq, which, August 2018, printed a call to action supposedly meant to uncover the assets of Robert Kocharyan and his family.

Hetq did no actual reporting for the piece. It just reprinted a list compiled by a shady Russian website, versia.ru. With absolutely no evidence, Hetq reprinted the list that suggested the Kocharyan family owned Zvartnots Airport, the national postal carrier Hay Post, no less than four banks, at least two mines, and dozens of other properties. Not a single piece of evidence, not a single citation.

There was never any follow-up. That was it. This recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars from foreign governments and organizations was actively engaged in the defamation of a former president of Armenia and national hero without any substantiation. This piece of cheap yellow journalism has been repeatedly used as “proof” by fleeceable readers to continue damaging Kocharyan’s reputation despite the lack of any evidence of wrongdoing.

This unethical behavior not only did not have a pejorative effect on the funding Hetq received, it was correlated with a marked increase in the funding it received in 2019: $378,916, a 690% increase in the funding it received from the year before from the National Endowment for Democracy and the Soros’ Open Society Foundations.

Hetq is not the only outlet that engaged in this questionable behavior. For example, MediaLab, which received over $146,000 from NED between 2017 and 2019, and over $157,000 from OSF during the same period, was actively involved in propagating the myth that Armenian soldiers were ill-equipped, even going so far as repeating the pedestrian lie in a political cartoon that frontline soldiers were fighting the enemy with shovels.
The Proxies

According to a 2019 report by USAID, there are over 4,794 public organizations (also known as non-governmental organizations, or NGOs) and 1,212 foundations in Armenia. This makes over 6,000 civil society organizations (CSOs) which, assuming a population of 3 million people, means there is one CSO for every 500 people.

For the past thirty years, Armenia has been a developing country but it has registered considerable growth, achieving upper middle income status according to the World Bank. However, there remain many societal, economic, and political issues in the country, including unemployment among young men, the presence of serious health issues like cardiovascular disease and cancer, problems with the quality of education, a wide structural skills gap since the collapse of the Soviet Union and, of course, the ongoing war with Azerbaijan. Despite these pressing problems which have wrought havoc on Armenian society including by creating massive flows of temporary migrants to Russia that disrupted and decimated whole communities in Armenia, causing irreparable damage to thousands of families, these local NGOs, due to funding that they received from foreign actors, developed programs that seem as if they were dreamt up in an alternate universe.

While Armenian villagers were being shot upon by Azerbaijani snipers and drunk soldiers, foreign-funded NGOs like Media Initiatives Center were producing documentaries on the brief history of peaceful coexistence between Armenians and Azeris – on more than one occasion. While Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was saying that Turkey “backs Azerbaijan ‘to the end'” when the latter launched a war against Armenia in April of 2016, foreign-funded organizations like Civilitas/CivilNet, the Public Journalism Club, the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, and the Regional Studies Center were receiving money to participate in Turkish-Armenian reconciliation programs. When the Armenian government was trying to reform the military and concurrently create a fund to help the families of injured and killed Armenian soldiers, foreign-funded organizations like Armenian Progressive Youth were producing reports titled Radicalization and Culture of Violence Among Youth in Armenia, somehow tying the $2 tax to “further radicalization” and supposed “military rhetoric” that purportedly threatened “LGBT people, feminists and peacemakers” in Armenia.


Obfuscated “Open” Information

The organizations and their mission statements are dressed up with an innocuous and laudable vocabulary that seems to have been taken from a common grab bag used by all aspiring NGOs: “rights,” “transparency,” “equality,” “civil society,” “democracy,” “progress,” “civic engagement,” “accountability.” This is a preventative measure developed by activist organizations. After all, it is easier to criticize an organization named “Abolish the Military” in a country at war than it is any number of organizations and individual activists that work on weakening the military under the guise of “transparency” or “democratic values.” It also obfuscates what the organization actually works on. Indeed, obfuscation through tangled networks, opaque sources of funding, and euphemistic descriptions of their work have gone a long way in making it extremely difficult to keep track of the organizations and their activities. It is important to keep in mind that the funding sources described here and in the graphical representation are just the sources of funding and support that are publicly available.

For example, many organizations make it difficult to know where exactly they get their financing. One common tactic that is employed is simply not listing the sources of funding. Another is to refer to funding organizations under the general term “partners,” which does not necessarily denote a financial partner. At that point, the only hope of knowing whether there was an exchange of funds is to inquire with the partner organization to see whether they have reported providing funds to the Armenian NGO.

Often, the funding for the organization is done indirectly, so as to obfuscate the source. For example, the Women’s Resource Center receives funding from Kvinna till Kvinna, a Swedish funding organization, which in turn gets its funding primarily, but not solely, from Sida, the Swedish aid agency, which is in turn funded by the Swedish government.

However, Women’s Resource Center Armenia is also one of the sister organizations of Human Rights House Yerevan, itself a subsidiary of Human Rights House Foundation, based out of Norway, and which receives funding from the Norwegian, Czech, and Swiss foreign ministries, as well as from the European Union.

As to what amounts are provided to either the Women’s Resource Center Armenia or any other Armenian organization through this complex web of governments, foundations, subsidiaries, and re-granting organizations is anyone’s guess.

Another example of this is the media-related NGO Media Initiatives Center. Established in 1995 as part of a US-based network called Internews, Media Initiatives Center partners with a long list of foreign governments like the United States, British, European, Swedish, and other governments, and private foundations like the Open Society Foundations, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Eurasia Partnership Foundation, and other institutions like the US-based and government-funded National Endowment for Democracy, as well as the European Endowment for Democracy.

Sometimes the original funding organization itself makes it impossible to know how much money was provided to the recipient. For example, the European Endowment for Democracy, which describes its missions as providing “flexible support to democracy activists, complementing other EU and EU member state democracy support programmes. EED is demand-driven and responds to the needs of local democracy actors, who may not be able to obtain funding otherwise.” However, one of its grant recipients in Armenia, the Union of Informed Citizens NGO, founded and operated by Daniel Ioannisyan, has no trouble finding grants elsewhere: is also one the top grant recipients of the Armenia branch of Open Society Foundations, received over $1,000,000 in funding only from the NED and OSF between 2016 and 2020. Nevertheless, the European Endowment for Democracy does not list the grant amounts so it is not possible to know how much was provided to Ioannisyan’s group.

European Endowment for Democracy support for Union of Informed Citizens, amount unknown.

In 2016, Media Initiatives Center reported on its balance sheet assets of over $2 million, 88% of which were listed as “Other Accounts Receivable.” However, there was no information available about where they expected to receive those funds. That aside, Media Initiatives Center is an organization that offers support to others in the country.

One such case of support provided by the Media Initiatives Center is CivilNet, one of the most well-known media platforms in Armenia and the Diaspora. If you were looking to find what funding CivilNet receives, you would be disappointed because CivilNet itself does not receive funding – not directly, at least. That is because CivilNet is a project of Civilitas Foundation, founded by former foreign minister Vartan Oskanian and his special assistant, Salpi Ghazarian, the same team behind Armenia International Magazine (AIM) in the early 1990s.

CivilNet is a project of the Civilitas Foundation which itself receives support from a long list of sources including the governments of the UK, Norway, the European Union, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, the US Embassy in Yerevan, USAID, Media Initiatives Center, Internews, Eurasia Partnership Foundation, and the UN Development Program.

With Ghazarian at the helm, CivilNet was one of the foreign-funded outlets that spent the ten years of the Serzh Sargsyan administration creating an environment of disgust and rage in Armenian society, precipitating the April 2018 rebellion by Nikol Pashinyan. It is thus no surprise that it has been one of the few media outlets afforded interviews by Pashinyan’s government, especially since the November 9 capitulation agreement.

CivilNet is not the only media outlet that does not receive foreign funding directly under its own name. In fact, many media outlets receive grants under names completely unrelated to those the public knows them by. For example, Hetq receives many of its grants under the shell name Investigative Journalists NGO, MediaLab under the name Umbrella Journalists’ International Network NGO, Pashinyan’s Armenian Times/Haykakan Zhamanak under the name Dareskizb Ltd., A1+ under the name Meltex Ltd., 1in.am, owned by parliamentarian and Pashinyan ally Arman Babajanyan, under the name Skizb Media Kentron LLC, and ePress under the name Independent Journalists’ Network.

As one might imagine, the shell names under which many of these foreign-funded entities receive their funds makes it difficult to trace where they are getting their money and how much money they are getting. This map offers a more comprehensive look at the major news outlets and their relationships with foreign patrons.

Twisted Armenian Dream

When looking at the sums of money provided by the organizations, governments, and foundations to activists and organizations in Armenia, one might not think much of it. Sometimes the sums seem rather small – $5,000 or $10,000 – and, even with the larger sums that go into the six-figures, it is easy to forget the context.

For reference, it would be helpful to compare the amounts of money received by these foreign-funded NGOs to the amount spent by political parties in the most recent election in 2018: Republican Party (HHK) spent $235,051, Pashinyan’s My Step spent $193,814, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation spent $59,793, the Prosperous Armenia (BHK) party of Gagik Tsarukyan spent $144,329, and the Bright Armenia party of Edmon Marukyan spent $35,051. This was the money spent to plan and execute a nationwide parliamentary election campaign. The total spent was $668,038. By contrast, the NED alone spent $1,762,992 in Armenia in 2018.

Armenia is a developing country. The average gross national income per capita (GNI/capita, World Bank Atlas Method) between 2015 and 2019 was $4,130. The minimum wage in Armenia from 2015 to 2019 was 55,000 AMD/month, approximately $113/month (not including taxes), which makes $1,356 annually. Before 2015 the minimum wage was even lower.

Minimum Wage in Armenia source: tradingeconomics.com

In 2017, Hetq received from the National Endowment for Democracy and Open Society Foundations only $305,965. In November of 2017, it listed on its website 21 employees that included the editors, journalists, and director of the organization, meaning that based only on publicly available funding information, Hetq’s income per capita was $14,569, or 3.6 times the per capita income of Armenia in 2017. However, considering that most journalists in Armenia are paid minimum wage – or less because they get paid on a per-article basis – that means that Hetq’s income per capita was over 10 times what a person getting paid minimum wage would receive in Armenia in 2017.


Another pro-Pashinyan foreign-funded outlet is Factor TV which, between 2016 and 2019, received $513,905 from Open Society Foundations alone. Before 2018, Factor TV was an opposition outlet working actively to present a distorted view of Armenia to the local population but, after April 2018 and the usurpation of power by Nikol Pashinyan, became a strongly pro-government outlet. Indeed, it received even more money in 2019 – almost $224,000 – than it did before.


In a country like Armenia, the money injected into society by foreign actors creates a huge imbalance between locally-funded jobs and jobs funded by foreign money. As a result, many individuals that might be attracted into other industries that would serve to strengthen the state – government, military, or private industry – end up working in the NGO sector. This results in handicapping the country not once, but twice: first, individuals who could otherwise serve their country in a much more productive capacity instead work for NGOs and, second, these individuals effectively become representatives of foreign governments and organizations whose interests are frequently at odds – if not diametrically opposed – to the interests of the Armenian state, thus further debilitating its ability to function properly.

What’s more, many NGOs, especially the larger ones, offer perks that are unavailable to most other workplaces in Armenia, including all-expenses-paid travel abroad, as well as the accompanying visas, sponsored by the NGO, which allow the person to travel more freely in their own capacity, as well. This may not seem like much to the holder of an American or European passport but for an Armenian citizen, for whom it is not always easy to get a travel visa, it is an enticement.

The combination of above average pay, job stability, and perks like travel and entertainment have created what can be called the Twisted Armenian Dream where a powerful monetary incentive is created for young Armenians to aspire to work at an NGO as a means of attaining a middle or middle-upper class lifestyle and, potentially, emigrating from the country eventually. So, instead of developing skills that might contribute to the betterment of the country, these youth will study English not to establish a business or serve the government but to be able to write grant proposals.

While many highly able individuals were attracted to the perks of being a grantee and NGO professional, with the gradual improvement of Armenia’s economy, there was a shift where the most qualified would enter the private sector where pay and benefits were better. This occurred with a corresponding increase in the amount of funds available as the initial conviction that liberal democracy was an inevitability faded and governments and wealthy liberal democrats like Soros realized that they could not leave it up to chance.

The gap between available manpower and increasing funds was neatly filled with individuals who had fewer moral or ethical reservations when it concerned the work that they were doing. The best example of this is Nikol Pashinyan, an unethical college dropout who, before he had turned 25 years old, had already established a reputation for being a libelous yellow journalist.

Besides the allegations that he received money to print favorable articles and blackmail to avoid writing slanderous articles in his newspapers, first Oragir, which went bankrupt and shut down because of libel lawsuits against him, and Haykakan Zhamanak (Armenian Times), Pashinyan’s ill-repute was recorded by the US Embassy in Yerevan. In a 2004 cable published by Wikileaks, Pashinyan is described as having a “reputation for publishing unfounded stories that tend not to be borne out.” The cable goes on to suggest that Pashinyan is lying about his car being blown up, implying that it may have been staged.
US State Department cable describing Pashinyan. (source: Wikileaks)

Curiously, the odium about Pashinyan was not enough to dissuade the National Endowment for Democracy from distributing a total of $81,265 to Haykakan Zhamanak between 2016 and 2017, the two years preceding Pashinyan’s usurpation of power. The NED only provides funding information for the past five years so it is impossible to know whether the paper received funding before 2016 unless it is reported elsewhere.

It is possible that Pashinyan did not receive as much money from foreign sources as other outlets because by the late 1990s he had already established himself as one of Levon Ter-Petrossian’s acolytes. As a result, he seems to have benefitted from the support of wealthy businessmen close to Ter-Petrossian like Alexander Sukiasyan. This is corroborated by a 2002 article in Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty where Pashinyan says that, “20 percent of the newspaper’s costs are covered by ‘business circles,’ which he refuses to name.”

The Diasporan Hazard

The NGO funding system has also created the hazard of Diaspora Armenians without any discernible skills temporarily or permanently moving to the country to establish NGOs based on their inherently foreign paradigms that are much more congruous with those of the foreign funding organizations and governments than those of the local society.

It is no surprise that some of the largest beneficiaries of foreign funding are Diaspora Armenians who moved to Armenia and now receive large sums of money to conduct their activities. These include Lara Aharonian of the Women’s Resource Center, Richard Giragosian of the Regional Studies Center, Maro Matossian of the Women’s Support Center, Salpi Ghazarian of Civilitas/CivilNet, and Maria Titizian of EVN Report.

The Auxiliaries
Democracy Peddlers

To grasp the totality of the control over the narrative about Armenia’s politics, we cannot limit ourselves to the funding of players solely on the Armenia domestic scene. In fact, these have always been supported by a cadre of individuals, organizations, and governments outside Armenia.

One common phenomenon is the employment of individuals with Armenian names who work in think tanks and academia, often in the United States. These include people like Anna Ohanyan of Stonehill College, Nerses Kopalyan of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), and Vicken Cheterian, a researcher from Switzerland. Then there are entirely non-Armenian individuals whose chosen area of interest is Armenia and who seem to invariably adopt an approach that aligns perfectly with the foreign policy interests of the United States and the European Union in Armenia. These are individuals like Thomas de Waal, currently at the Carnegie Endowment, and Laurence Broers, affiliated with Chatham House and Conciliation Resources, the latter being the organization that produced the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace film in which CivilNet journalist Tatul Hakobyan participated. As might be expected, each of these individuals is a fixture on foreign-funded outlets like CivilNet and EVN Report.

Cheterian, for example, was invited, and accepted an invitation, to speak at the state-sponsored Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy mere months after Azerbaijan was dropping cluster munitions on Armenian civilians in Artsakh. For her part, Ohanyan spills most of her ink on fear mongering about the threats to democracy in Armenia with titles “Is Democracy at Stake in Armenia?”, “Human Security Rests on Democracy,” “Security vs Democracy: A False Choice for Armenia.” This, like many a red herring, is primary concerned with distracting from the more important point: that the conversation must be about Armenia’s sovereignty, not the political system which it chooses, which may well be different than what academics in the US and think tank employees in New York City think it should be.

Poster advertising Cheterian’s talk at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy.

Kopalyan, on the other hand, an academic with astonishingly little information available about his academic background and who is an advisor to Pashinyan’s Diaspora Commissioner Zareh Sinanyan, writes regularly for EVN Report, which is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy and has received support from other foreign sources like the Germany-based Heinrich-Boll Foundation. EVN Report, like the others, has effectively acted as a wing of the pro-Pashinyan liberal democratic propaganda machine.


They also often appear in non-Armenian media outlets funded from the same international sources and which provide a similar service like Eurasianet (funded by Open Society Foundations and National Endowment for Democracy), OC Media (funded by OSF, NED, and the European Endowment for Democracy), JAM News (funded by the Open Information Partnership which is a project of the UK Foreign Office), and openDemocracy (funded by Open Society Foundations).

Glimmers of the collaboration between the various globalist forces working against Armenia’s national interests are visible in their occasional appearance together in the same forum. One example was the book Armenia’s Velvet Revolution: Authoritarian Decline and Civil Resistance in a Multipolar World (Bloomsbury, 2020) where the foreword was written by Salpi Ghazarian and a few chapters each by Anna Ohanyan and Laurence Broers. For his part, Broers was recently invited to – and participated in – an Azerbaijani whitewashing event with Ilham Aliyev.

A whole book about a major political event in a country and only two out of the twelve sections were written by local Armenians and one of those, Mikael Zolyan, is a member of the government who ascended to power. There is no interest, of course, in what the locals have to say: this is not a representation of local intellectual production but a presentation of the success of their efforts in influencing the minds and narrative of the Armenian Nation.
A Class of Its Own

The most popular news channel in Armenia, at least on YouTube, is Azatutyun, which is the sister outlet of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which is fully funded by the United States Congress. The vast resources of Azatutyun are reflected in the comprehensive coverage it provides in print and video and delivered with a quality hard to match in Armenia where most outlets have a fraction of the resources.

As with any media outlet, it takes lengthy observation to understand its biases. With Azatutyun, much of its bias is in what it chooses to cover and what not to cover, what it says and what it does not say. For example, with one of two media outlets which first had the ability to report live (the other was foreign-funded CivilNet), Azatutyun made a point of being present at nearly every protest, however seemingly insignificant. During the 2018 protests that led to the resignation of Serzh Sargsyan and the usurpation to power of Nikol Pashinyan, Azatutyun offered round-the-clock coverage from as many vantage points as was possible. The omnipresent coverage of seemingly every last protest was very much in line with the policy of Azatutyun and other foreign-funded media leading up to 2018.

One-man sideshow Vardes Gaspari’s “protests” were invariably deemed worthy of coverage. How Azatutyun, CivilNet, and Armenian Times (Pashinyan’s paper) always know where and when to be present to cover his histrionics remains unclear.

The effect of perpetual coverage is best grasped when viewed through the lens of mass psychology and the well-documented cognitive biases associated with it. When the news continuously covers a social event that is open to public participation, it generates a number of psychological triggers. Among these are the fear of missing out on a potentially momentous event, social pressure to be a part of the crowd, and the bandwagon effect. That is, when people see that there is a group of people doing something – anything – they have a tendency to want to join them. As people join the original group, even more are encouraged to participate in what they can see is a growing number of people. This phenomenon played out exactly according to the playbook in April of 2018 and the broad, round-the-clock, live coverage by Azatutyun and CivilNet exacerbated the internal political situation.

Arguing in Circles

The money in Armenia is not unidirectional. This means that it is not a one-way street where a funding government or organization provides money to a media outlet or NGO and that is the end of the story. What is especially deceptive about the foreign funding is that the reports produced by the media and NGO recipients of the foreign funding are then recycled and used in the meta-reports by these same governments and funding organizations to prove shortcomings in Armenian society.

The citations in many of the reports produced by the funding organizations and governments on questions of freedom, corruption, and other dubious measurement criteria that are themselves deemed by foreign governments and organizations as important are sourced from the very media outlets and NGOs they or their partner organizations fund. That is, they provide the funding for a certain objective, like “gender issues in Armenia,” which inevitably lead to an NGO or media outlet producing a report that determines that there is some gender-related issue in the country. The results of the report surprise no one because the grant proposal, while not explicitly seeking out a particular answer, often implies that the topic about which they are seeking a report is a problem.

The most pragmatic and forward-thinking NGOs also understand that their willingness and ability to provide the needed report behooves them because they can establish a reputation as a dependable local provider of “local perspectives.” The funding organization or government then uses these very reports or source that they paid for to conclude that there is a problem in the area that they had previously paid money to uncover. It is a win-win for the patron and the proxy because the patron affirms that there is a problem while the proxy enters the short list of “good” NGOs who provide the patron with the needed local cover to push their foreign agenda. This dynamic is reflected in the imbalance in funding between certain organizati