March 29
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Russia has reacted sharply negatively to the dispatch of the EU mission to Armenia. Moscow is more zealous of the actions of the West, suspecting that it wants to withdraw Russia from South Caucasus region amid the confrontation between Russia and the EU, Arman Grigoryan, political analyst and professor at American Lehigh University, told Armenian on The Power Factor program.

Despite this reaction, he believes that Russia is also interested in the deployment of this mission, because it is not capable of deterring certain actions by Azerbaijan alone, given that the mission is quite limited in its functions and it would be an exaggeration to think that this could be a serious blow to Russia's strategic interests. Therefore, Moscow will not go for escalation or rude actions because of that.

The expert described his expectations from the EU mission with the aphorism "a fish out of water".

"Although it does not have a clear mandate, nevertheless, any deterrent factor in our conditions, as well as against the background of Russia's employment, with its either inability or unwillingness as a peacemaking factor, can have a positive impact," Grigoryan noted.

In Ukraine the escalation is increasing, in the West there is concern about the changes on the front. Under these conditions, small countries are forced to make an unambiguous choice. The expert reckons that Armenia can face such a choice, and there are already prerequisites for that.

If Armenia crosses out its allied relations with Russia and tries to withdraw the Russian base from Gyumri in order to change its strategic orientation, this, according to Grigoryan, may lead to a harsher reaction from Moscow.

There is a discourse in the Armenian public about the possibility of changing the foreign policy course promoted by the authorities and pro-government actors. The Armenian authorities do not have a clear, consistent position or a decision made. It seems that they run to Moscow to sign a paper, or go to the West and make some promises.  

Certain expectations of the Armenian public from Russia during the war in 2020 were unjustified, unlike the situation after the September escalation and the blockade of the Lachin corridor. In the latter case, these expectations were justified, but did not materialize. Azerbaijani troops have established themselves on Armenian territory, besides, the Russians have been unable to unblock the Lachin corridor for more than 50 days, and the discontent in society is understandable, as is the desire to look for alternatives.

Another question is whether there are these alternative forces that are willing to do as much as Russia, or more than Russia. I haven't heard or seen any guarantees from any countries that are willing to take us into a military alliance, replace Russia, and send this coalition against Turkey and Azerbaijan.

"I know there are no such guarantees, for the West Armenia is not of such strategic value to go out against Turkey or Azerbaijan.

There are serious encouragements by the statements of France, but if they are not backed up by real support, they actually give nothing.

Due to the lack of a real alternative, the bargaining power is limited, and Russia takes advantage of this. Russia believes that Armenia has nowhere to go. With this approach, Russia has created problems for itself, since the current atmosphere in Armenia clearly does not stem from its interests. This is a consequence of Russia's failed PR," says the political analyst.

He believes that Russia will protect our interests as long as these interests allow. "We should understand Russia's interests, understand in which issues we can expect support from Moscow and in which issues we cannot. We also need to understand if there are alternatives and how they are dangerous. We can unwittingly create problems for Russia in search of protection from our neighbors," Grigoryan concluded.

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