Suren Sargsyan

Before the Armenian authorities announced the transfer of four Tavush villages to Azerbaijan, causing a significant commotion, a major point of discussion in Armenia was whether Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan would participate in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration ceremony on May 7 in Moscow. The probable answer is yes. Since Pashinyan attended Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inauguration, it would be quite challenging to skip Putin’s inauguration. Not going would raise numerous questions in Armenia and internationally. Of course this assumption follows a normal logical chain, not the unpredictability that often guides the Armenian leader.

It’s worth noting that Pashinyan is likely invited to the May 9 parade in Moscow commemorating the 79th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War (what in the West is called World War II). In the context of outside sanctions, only leaders from friendly countries are typically invited to the Russian president’s inauguration, with many likely participating in the victory parade a couple of days later. This serves as a message from Russia to the West, especially given recent events like the US Congress approving additional aid to Ukraine days before. Interestingly, the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, will visit Moscow on April 22 for a meeting with Putin, suggesting that he may not return for the inauguration and parade in Moscow, although it remains a possibility.

After recent meetings with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Armenia received financial support but no commitments regarding EU or NATO membership or any type of security guarantees. This indicates Armenia may shift away from the West, leaving Yerevan without security assurances from anyone. This is creating a significant security gap that contributes to issues like those in Tavush region of Armenia. With the West unable to offer security guarantees, Armenia must seek such assurances elsewhere.

However, finding a sponsor state willing to support Armenia amid its challenges is very difficult. If we take the example of Iran and Russia as regional players, they are currently facing their own challenges, making it difficult for them to take on additional burdens. Pashinyan’s upcoming visit to Russia could be crucial for Armenia, given the country’s lack of security guarantees, which potentially necessitates a reestablishment of ties with Moscow. Taking into consideration the upcoming Putin-Aliyev and Putin-Pashinyan meetings, it may seem that Russia is attempting to assume the role of a mediator by establishing a trilateral platform similar to the one following the 2020 war.

Furthermore, Secretary Blinken recently approved the agreement between parties on the transfer of four Armenian villages to Azerbaijan, indicating that the US is endorsing the process despite it being outside American mediation as these agreements were reached between two parties. The US ambassador to Armenia also mentioned that Armenia is open to any mediator for the peace process, which could benefit Washington even if the mediator is not the United States.

This move may indicate that Washington believes Armenia’s best option for security guarantees is to turn to Moscow, as suggested in a recent article by the RAND Corporation. Everybody understands that the absence of security assurances compels Armenia to make unilateral concessions rather than addressing internal issues, as Armenia is consistently required to relinquish something to prevent a war. And as this reality is widely understood, everyone acts based on their national interests, without accepting any obligation towards Armenia or evincing the desire to assist it.

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