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Armenia Pivoting To West And Distancing From Eurasia, Enhancing Military Ties With France

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Armenia Pivoting To West And Distancing From Eurasia, Enhancing Military Ties With France

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Written by Uriel Araujo, researcher with a focus on international and ethnic conflicts

The Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, has announced his country is “freezing” cooperation with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which may be a step towards leaving the Eurasian bloc altogether. According to Igor Korotchenko, director general of the Caspian Institute for Strategic Studies, this development is a direct result of recent agreements between the Caucasus nation and France, after Pashinyan discussed the matter earlier this month with French President Emmanuel Macron. Paris and Yerevan signed a weapons contract amid a general boost in their military and defense ties, with France having agreed to sell the Thales GM 200 (an advanced air defense system) to Armenia.

France’s agenda does not always align with that of the US-led NATO, as we can see in the Indo-Pacific itself, for example. Paris has of course its own traditional aspirations in the South Caucasus, pertaining to its competition with Britain (the so-called “Fashoda Syndrome”), and also its complex relationship with Turkey, as Paris has long sought to contain Turkish ambitions in the East Mediterranean and beyond. Be it as it may, the French clearly aspires to “replace” Russia’s position in Armenia and the European power is now promising to provide Armenians with short-range surface-to-air missiles, among other things.

Besides that, since 2022, Armenia has also signed various defense contracts worth $400 million with India, and the Caucasus nation also made a deal to buy PINAKA multi-barrel rocket launchers (MBRL), and anti-tank munitions from India. This has led some observers to talk about an emerging Euro-Asian strategic alliance, with a focus on the Indo-Pacific strategy. I have written elsewhere about the paradoxes of India’s “balancing” role between the West and Eurasia, both in the Pacific and in Central Asia – with India, member of both the Quad and the SCO, pushing for the former to engage in Afghanistan.

In any case, the complexities of France’s agenda apart, the overall Armenian pivoting to the West (through Paris in this case) fits into the larger context of NATO and Western “expansion” and the “encircling” of Russia. As POLITICO described it, France has just “planted its flag” in “Russia’s backyard” with the Armenian weapons’ deals. However, Pashinyan has also said there is no intention to shut a Russia military base in his country, at Gyumri.

For Korotchenko, the Armenian authorities in Yerevan  are gradually pivoting to NATO and Western structures, and “the only thing” keeping the country from “a final break” with the CSTO and Moscow is the economy, for “Armenia enjoys a number of serious preferences from Russia, and also enjoys all the advantages of membership in the Eurasian Economic Union, a regional economic bloc.” Some Western analysts are in fact talking about Armenia joining the EU and NATO, which thus far remains pure wishful thinking also due to the economic factor mentioned by Korotchenko. According to Robert M. Cutler (a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of European, Russian & Eurasian Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa), the bilateral agreement regarding the Russian troops in Armenia runs until 2044, and this certainly hampers wider French or NATO ambitions in terms of “Westernizing” that Caucasus nation.

The CSTO, a Russia-led intergovernmental military alliance, consists of Russia and five other post-soviet states, namely, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Armenia. Albeit formally formed in 2002, the Treaty’s roots can be traced back to the short-lived United Armed Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (1992-1993), which in turn were preceded by the Soviet Armed forces. The Tashkent Treaty was signed in 1993 to create the  Collective Security Treaty (CST), taking effect in 1994, and lasting a 5-year period. Its goal was to become a legal framework for guaranteeing military security throughout the post-Soviet area, specifically in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In 1999, the Treaty was renewed for five more years – then, in the context of military conflicts with Islamic fundamentalists in Kyrgyzstan, CST signatories agreed on joint military action, and such a development paved the way for the CST to finally become the CSTO in 2002.

Soviet collapse, ideological aspects apart, has in a way left a geopolitical and power vacuum in Eurasia, with security concerns pertaining to Central Asian ethno-political destabilization while US-led NATO in turn never ceased to expand. In this context, regional players and Moscow particularly have been seeking to promote mechanisms towards regional integration and collective security.

Russia has thus been pursuing to strengthen the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) alongside the CSTO itself and the BRICS group. The EEU has been focusing on Eurasian development and economic integration, whereas the CSTO, for its part, has been mostly tasked with security issues pertaining to member states’ territorial sovereignty. From an American perspective, such groupings threaten US unipolar hegemony and are thus met with hostility.

The challenge for countries such as Armenia involves precisely “balancing” their bilateral relations with both  their Eurasian partners and with an increasingly “cold war mentality”-driven West. As I wrote a year ago, Eurasian countries have been increasing trade with Russia in the aftermath of the Western sanctions against Moscow (which have largely backfired), with exports to Russia surging in Armenia. Such trade trends provided new opportunities for countries such as Armenia itself, a nation which has long envisioned itself as a potential bridge between the Eurasian Union and the European Union (EU).

In October 2023 I wrote on how the Western presence in Armenia was expanding – in spite of its failure. The ongoing and unchallenged Turkey-backed ethnic cleansing campaign in Nagorno-Karabakh (also known as Artsakh), conducted by Azerbaijan (also with the support if Israel) is an eloquent sign of the failure of Yerevan’s turn to the West. Much of the world is in fact increasingly alienated by Western “alignmentism” and its new Cold War mentality. Any Armenian “Western shift” will run contrary to the current trends of non-alignment, multi-alignment, and “strategic autonomy” that even France and Germany themselves have been proposing. “Decoupling” from Russia (and Eurasia) would be detrimental to Armenia’s own interests – but that is precisely what the West will most likely demand from it.

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Janne Kankaanpää

i dont understand why russia still keeps pampering armenia. russia should give go-ahead for aliyev to build zangezur corridor. armenia should see how fast france and usa will come to their aid.

this article gets it wrong. armenia keeps gyumri base and some connection for russia because they get protection for free.

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Last edited 1 month ago by Janne Kankaanpää
huh

my doubts about russian foreign politics are so deep that i wouldn’t rule out that putin&lavrov have some shadow deals with rothsch&rockefell families. maybe they promised russian “elites” some role in the upcoming nwo. maybe they will allow putin to lick their as*. or putin has the same “kremlin” dissease as stalin and he likes his power so much that he can’t focus on anything else then grabbing golden phones and ordering diamonds and jewels for young russian figure skater girls.

kotromanic

you do realise that the only reason aliev/ erdogan got green light for this from the usa is to push nato to the caspian and then start using terror attacks on the russian/ iranian trade under nato umbrella. russia and iran should cooperate and make sure that if aliev attacks armenia proper in order to try to unite his country with nato-turkey then there will be nothing left intact of the azeri coast. no ports no oil/ gas infrastructure.

Lance Ripplinger

this could mean the eventual withdrawal of all russian forces from armenia. russia maintains an air force grouping there, which is part of protecting aremenia from invasion. if russia completely leaves armenia, they are toast. france won’t be able to defend armenia from an azerbaijani incursion.

hash
hashed
huh

i will not miss them . i think i don’t like the erdogan guy too much but i like armenia even less.

kotromanic

say you are a turk without saying you are a turk. not a single country in the world has any problems with armenia besides turks / azeris.

The Crunge

for a nation of chess masters, this joining the west seems like a blunder.

hash
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huhu

chess masters and corruption masters. focus on the corruption.

kotromanic

aliev and erdogan can’t grasp their luck. they get will get a permission to finish what the ottomans started unopposed. is pashinjan really armenian to expose them so much?

hash
hashed
huh

betrayal of his own nation for 30 silver coins ? why not ? judas was maybe his grand-grand-grand-grandpa. and even judas and his betrayal of jesus was not the first case of corruption among jews – you know. why are you concerning about that so much ? let armenia burn if they wish.

kotromanic

i am christian and i do not like seeing muslims and jews cheer the death of christians. you seem to cant wait to see them die.

A.H.

armenia will become the next “ukraine”. the zionist macaron the first will open the door to the yankees there bases. iran has bin stupid.

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kotromanic

well that is not possible since their enemy is in nato and they drive nonnato forces away. so they will be slaughtered unopposed. cause they do not want help from nonnato and natomember turkey who wants them dead has a higher priority to the usa.

huhu

i don’t care about people with big noses and tiny hats. if they want to be decimated by turkey because of some geopolitics, it is their choice. on the other hand, russia is maybe strong, but their foreign politics is the weakest one among superpowers. if russia is a superpower at all.

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huhu

for example russia is “protecting” syria to that point that israel bombs it anytime, anywhere with impunity. nobody likes russia and for a reason. they talk in un and addressing “issues” but doing sh* on military grounds. their foreign politics sucks, they are castrated crybullies and even north korea is laughing on them. lavrov is a perfect example of 1st class idiot.

huh

so from that perspective if armenia tells russians to fuc* off, it is quite easy to explain.

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