Suren Sargsyan

Can Countries Survive without a Protector?

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When following current geopolitical processes, one can come to the conclusion that there are almost no states in the world that do not have a so-called “big brother” or protector that ensures the inviolability of the economic or political system or physical security of that specific state.

Obviously, in the current system of international relations the main political giants or patrons are the USA, China and Russia and this can be considered the top league of international politics. It is really hard to imagine, for example, how Israel would have ensured its security without continued US support, what would have happened to Belarus without Russian support as a Union state, or what would have happened to North Korea without Chinese support. This does not mean that there would not have been an Israel or North Korea, but these states would not have been what they are today with their impact on the security of their own regions.

Taking a broader perspective, we can see that even neutral states such as Austria and Switzerland are largely under the umbrella of NATO and the pan-European security system, which in turn is secured by the United States. At the same time, there are certain states, such as India, Iran or Turkey, which act more or less independently. Then again, they all have their place in the general security system created and maintained by the main players of the top league. Even if we look at India, Iran and Turkey as exceptions, they are essentially exceptions that confirm the general rule.

In other words, all states in the world either have their own “big brother” or find themselves in the middle of the balance of power formed by the club of patrons. Interestingly, Iran, India, Turkey and some other lookalikes are not in the club of the “big brothers,” but they, in turn, have their own “little brothers” to take care of. Yet again, those “little brothers” are still in the general system of international affairs.

The South Caucasus is no exception. The USA can be considered Georgia’s big brother. Of course, Azerbaijan’s big brother is Turkey, but Azerbaijan is doing everything to maintain balanced relations with Russia as well, basically trying to have two “big brothers” at the same time. As for Armenia, after the 2018 revolution, and especially after the 2020 war, it is unclear whether Armenia has a “big brother” or is in search of one.

The reversion to the USA and Europe and the tension with Russia are proof of this, that Armenia cannot find its place in the environment in which it appeared. It seems Yerevan has found itself in a dilemma. It is absolutely not important who was responsible for Armenian-Russian strategic relations reaching this point. It is a fact that Armenia does not have a geopolitical patron who will provide it with security guarantees. Of course, this vacuum cannot continue for long and Armenia will be forced to make a choice between geopolitical centers, or, what is worse, a ready-made decision will be imposed on Armenia, which Yerevan cannot avoid. And again, this decision will be very painful to accept. Armenia’s only chance is to orient as quickly as possible and take clear steps towards this geopolitical center, whether this is Washington, Moscow or Beijing to escape a total collapse.

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