Can Armenia, governed by Russophobes, remain the Kremlin strategic ally?

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 4 June 2018
Can Armenia, governed by Russophobes, remain the Kremlin strategic ally?

Or will Yerevan’s cat-and-mouse game with the Kremlin be long?

The Kremlin treatment of the developments in Ukraine and Armenia remains in the spotlight of both the Russian and international media outlets with diametrically opposite interpretations. The Russian expert circles have approached the events of late April and May 2018 in Armenia in a balanced way, unlike the one in Ukraine, and even unexpected resignation of short-lived Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian – Moscow key puppet in Armenia - did not add insult to Russia’s injury.

Those pro-Kremlin and independent political experts, who rushed to condemn in chorus the power change in Ukraine, are now maintaining unanimously that the events in Yerevan cannot in any way be compared to the Maidan events. Anyway, they either hide their heads in the sand, or just do not understand Armenians and minimum Armenia of recent years, and missed the chance to properly assess the impact of Western-sponsored projects on the poverty-stricken tiny Caucasus nation.

We are absolutely not against such a turn of events in Russia’s “strategic ally” in the South Caucasus, which actually has been serving the Kremlin ambitions to restore the Soviet empire’s former might in a new shape. What pro-Russian experts after all stick to are that the protests across Armenia were peaceful and the revolution irrespective of its color claimed no victims, or no-one was killed and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan vowed to remain loyal to Russia.

So, Moscow can sleep easily as the power change in Armenia does not in any way threaten the Kremlin interests.

Moscow, of course, can sleep easily and cherish a dream that Armenia cannot do anything without it, or Moscow has two military bases there and Russia can threaten Armenians with Turkey or Azerbaijan.

However, in years to come the Kremlin risks waking up in a completely different geopolitical reality. Although Armenia is not Ukraine for Moscow in all the circumstances and the velvet revolution in Armenia claimed no victims, it would by all means make the new Armenian government to gradually chill relations with Russia, paving the way for official Yerevan to find a new boss instead of the Kremlin at the moment of final divorce.

True, the Armenian revolution claimed no victim and it happened for the reason that disintegration trends from Russia started long ago and society had been through heavy brainwashing processes. The pattern of the Armenian revolution repeats that of all the "color revolutions" and of Georgian. Like Serzh Sarkisian, the former Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze stepped down completely voluntarily and without delaying the process and shedding blood. Like him, Serzh Sarkisian also realized that forced marriage with the Kremlin produce nothing but catalepsy.

Since Putin’s Russia has focused its attention on rebuilding a Moscow-cantered bloc in order to return Russia to global superpower status and to compete geopolitically with the West. As a result of the Kremlin’s expansionist objectives, the security of several regions that border the Russian Federation has been undermined and, in some cases, the national independence and territorial integrity of nearby states has been violated.

Many Armenian and Russian experts today are trying to present new Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan if not as pro-Russian, then as an alright bloke who, at least, is a pragmatist and understands full well that Armenia cannot move away from Russia. And this is why in foreign policy he will still inevitably stick to the previous line of strategic partnership with the Russian Federation.

Pashinyan himself declared this during a meeting with the Russian president in Sochi on 14 May. Were he to say that he would immediately alter Armenia’s post-Soviet pro-Russian policy? Sure, not. The prime minister, who used to issue anti-Russian statements in the past as a member of parliament and was against Moscow’s presence in post-Soviet Armenia and Yerevan’s involvement in the Russian-led blocs, cannot easily minimize the Kremlin clout and pressure with guarantees for all-out Wester backing with the help of his cabinet members with backgrounds from Soros-sponsored organizations.

Now a handful of people remember that after former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili came to power, his first visit was to Moscow, where first in front of a large audience and then also during a face-to-face meeting with Putin, he swore to religiously maintain the tradition of Russian-Georgian friendship, and its outcome is obvious now.

Now let’s have a look at the composition of Pashinyan's government as it holds a key to most of the future developments vis-à-vis Russia. The new cabinet of ministers has been shaped and other important appointments have been made. With whom is the new Armenian prime minister going to honor his pledges, made to the protesters on the street when they were demanding Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation for poverty, tribalism, corruption, cronyism, poor economy, lack of respect for human rights and so on?

Take, for instance, Labor Minister Mane Tandilyan from the Yelk bloc in parliament. She graduated from the American University of Armenia, where she studied management. From 2009, she worked as finance director in the U.S. Company Synopsys Armenia.

Education and Science Minister Araik Arutyunyan was an employee of the Helsinki Association and from 2014, he worked for Transparency International, classified as a "foreign agent" in Russia.

New Security Council chief Armen Grigoryan held the post of election programs coordinator in the same Transparency International. It is open secret that Transparency International is funded by the Soros Foundation.

Yet another interesting figure is David Sanasaryan - chief of the State Supervisory Service. Previously, he was a member of the Heritage party, led by U.S.-born ethnic Armenian, Raffi Hovhannisyan. In Armenia, Sanasaryan has a strong reputation for being a Russophobe: He regularly took part in anti-Russian protests outside the Russian embassy in Yerevan, demanding the withdrawal of Russian military bases from the country.

Former Emergency Situations Minister David Tonoyan returned to power as Armenia’s new defense minister. He is a man with an exceptionally colorful biography: From 1998, "he held various posts at NATO's Allied Command Operations headquarters". From 2004 through 2007, he worked as Armenia's armed forces representative to NATO.

On the eve of the "velvet revolution" in Armenia, a number of Russian websites with links to the intelligence agencies claimed that at NATO in 2005, Tonoyan was recruited by the US special services, after which his career took off rapidly. They also named his overseer – U.S defense attaché officer Maj Erik Larsen. It was also confirmed that the current minister is the coordinator of the project to set up a network of U.S. biological laboratories in Armenia, like those already "successfully" operating in Georgia and Ukraine, working on the creation of biological weapons, according to some reports.

Perhaps the most scandalous appointment is that of Deputy Diaspora Minister Babken Ter-Grigoryan, a native of Paris, who spent his early years in America, where he also studied. In Armenia, Ter-Grigoryan was the coordinator of Soros foundation programs, worked for Transparency International, and the HALO Trust demining organization.

The Russian special services have accused this organization of espionage. However, Ter-Grigoryan is better known for the photograph in which he holds a placard carrying an obscene message addressed to Putin. This is a good start to relations with the leader of the country, which Pashinyan declares to be Armenia's strategic partner.

Pashinyan has ordered that work on the new Electoral Code be led by Daniel Ioannisyan, coordinator of the Union of Informed Citizens NGO. This organization's work is funded by the Soros foundation and a series of other U.S. foundations, such as the National Endowment for Democracy, well-known for its "sponsorship assistance" to the "color revolutions" in Georgia, Ukraine, and other countries, which resulted in anti-Russian forces coming to power.

Ioannisyan's NGO worked actively against Armenia's participation in the Eurasian Economic Union and for closer integration with the EU. A wonderful team and, most importantly, ideally suited to building partnerships with Armenia's main geopolitical ally - Russia.