Lt. General Hayk Kotanjian

By Lt. Gen. Hayk Kotanjian

Special to the Mirror-Spectator

Given the growing threat of the ouster of Russia from the South Caucasus, I would like to focus on large-scale and at the same time practically realizable possibilities of overcoming existential threats towards the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh.

Under current conditions, the realization of the projects elaborated by the Armenian Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) of the Armenian Ministry of Defense in 2016-2017, which were prepared taking into account the allied interaction between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Armenia — a relationship which has no alternative — has a special significance.

Armenia, using the advantages of the US – Russia “restart,” enjoyed the status of a participant at the intersection of the security interests of the Russian Federation and the US, through the strategic scientific-expert platform operating in Yerevan. Armenia’s INSS, as a sister organization of the National Defense University of the US, acquired the privilege of continuously updating the strategic consulting tools of the top leadership of partner and ally states for a 20-25-year perspective. In particular, our INSS was conceived as a state think tank unique in the entire post-Soviet space with continuously innovative research and expert tools in the system of building bridges between the strategic interests of the Russian Federation and the US in the South Caucasus.

I would like to present two projects elaborated respectively 5 and 6 years ago for a medium-term perspective of 20-25 years. The projects were reviewed at the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Expert Research Council under the chairmanship of Colonel General, Ambassador Nikolay Bordyuzha, at the MGIMO University, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of the Russian Federation, China Institute of International Strategic Studies, MFA of the People’s Republic of China, and Kennedy School of Government of the Harvard University.

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Project I

The first project is to establish joint ventures in the military-industrial complex for the modernization of the 102nd military base in Gyumri, approved in 2017 by President Vladimir Putin. The origins of this idea were formulated by Armenian and Russian experts following the joint visit of the presidents of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Armenia to the 102nd military base in 2013 during the regional Russian-Armenian business forum in Gyumri. A group of highly qualified young researchers of the Armenian INSS and Russian colleagues, involved under the auspices of the Research-Expert Council of the CSTO, developed a project based on agreements on friendship and cooperation between the Shirak Province and its partners, the Ulyanovsk and Rostov Provinces. Taking into account the modernization of the armed forces of states that challenge Russian strategic interests in the South Caucasus, including Turkey, the launch of the joint Russian-Armenian military-industrial complex in Gyumri is urgently needed as never before.

Project II

In the conditions of a hybrid war against the Russian Federation, Russian-Chinese strategic interaction gains special importance, for which Armenia can serve as a convenient alternative platform. In particular, INSS proposed the geo-economic-geostrategic project of the synthesis of two integration initiatives – “Belt and Road” of China and the multimodal international transport corridor “Persian Gulf – Black Sea” with the land-sea transit route China – India – Iran – Armenia – Georgia – Southern Europe. The project was developed as a result of multi-stage joint discussions during mutual working visits to Armenia and China by Armenian and Chinese strategic analysts. In the process of developing this geo-economic project, it was reviewed by experts of INSS and China Institute of International Strategic Studies at international scientific conferences in Xi’an, Shanghai, Beijing, Tehran and Yerevan.

The idea of ​​reflecting the interests of the Russia was considered at the meetings of the inter-parliamentary commissions of the Russian Federation Council and the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia from the point of view of Russia’s participation in transcontinental transit.

It is important to note that the Armenian-Chinese project “Strategic orientations for the involvement of the Republic of Armenia in the Chinese initiative Belt and Road” was submitted to the Central Military Commission of the People’s Republic of China, headed by the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping.

I strongly believe that after relevant updates, these two projects may serve as a sound basis for fostering the Armenia–Russia strategic alliance and eliminate the threat of genocide against Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh.

(Lt. Gen. Hayk Kotanjian (retired) is a Doctor of Political Science, Professor in State Security and Strategic Studies (Russian Academy of Public Administration to the President of the Russian Federation) and International Counterterrorism Fellow (US National Defense University).

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