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Armenia’s Three Latest Anti-Russian Provocations Risk Sparking Another Karabakh Conflict
Pashinyan is dangerously gambling that Russia will either swoop in to protect Armenia despite all of his provocations against it or NATO will deter his neighbors from attacking, but there are reasons to expect that neither will materialize and Armenia might thus be left alone to fight Azerbaijan and possibly also Turkiye.
Russian-Armenian ties are rapidly deteriorating in the aftermath of Prime Minister Pashinyan’s interview late last week where he slammed his country’s CSTO mutual defense ally. It was analyzed here and also included links to several background briefings that readers who haven’t been following this situation would do well to review. Armenia then abruptly recalled its CSTO envoy, Russia asked why Yerevan plans to ratify the Rome Statute, and joint drills with the US were suddenly announced for 11-20 September.
The first of these three latest provocations suggests that Armenia is abandoning its commitment to this mutual defense alliance out of protest that Russia won’t wage war against Azerbaijan on its behalf. As for the second, it’ll obligate Yerevan to arrest President Putin if he ever visits this nominally allied nation that’s officially still in the same military (CSTO) and economic (Eurasian Union) blocs. The third takes the preceding two to their logical conclusion by hinting that Armenia is preparing to pivot to NATO.
All three of these anti-Russian moves are counterproductive to Armenia’s objective national interests. For as angry as that country is with the Kremlin for refusing to wage a war of aggression aimed at perpetuating the illegal occupation of Karabakh, Moscow still remains committed to guaranteeing the existence of the Armenian state. Signaling an intent to abandon the same pact that provides for its security is an emotional overreaction that risks backfiring in ways that’ll later be described.
The same goes for moving forward with Western-centric hyper-politicized legislation that’ll have the effect of neutralizing the strategic element of Russian-Armenian ties if the former’s leader is no longer able to visit the latter. It’s difficult to imagine Moscow remaining committed to its military and economic alliances with Yerevan if President Putin isn’t allowed to set foot in that country. This aggressive move is meant to trigger a response from Russia that Armenia can then spin as “further proof of its unreliability”.
The last of these three shows that Pashinyan is recklessly raising the stakes in his feud with Russia by taking tangible steps to needlessly manufacture a regional security dilemma. He’s wrong if he thinks that this will make Moscow “geostrategically jealous” enough that it’ll secretly promise to wage war against Azerbaijan in exchange for Armenia distancing itself from the Pentagon. America is actually setting Armenia up to provoke another Karabakh Conflict for divide-and-rule purposes.
This insight segues into the real reason behind these rapidly evolving regional dynamics that Armenia is unilaterally setting into motion after Pashinyan capitulated to pressure from the French- and US-based radical pro-Western ultra-nationalist diaspora who tacitly function as those two’s “agents of influence”. Observers shouldn’t forget that he swept into power through a Color Revolution that exploited anti-Russian and irredentist sentiment that this same diaspora’s “NGOs” cultivated from 1991 onward.
Many in the non-Mainstream Media community refused to recognize this because they’re sympathetic to the Armenian diaspora’s information warfare narrative falsely framing their irredentist cause against Azerbaijan as an “existential struggle for the survival of the world’s oldest Christian community”. Moreover, these same people tend to be critical of Turkiye if not outright Turkophobic, and this was maximally exploited by the diaspora after they also misportrayed Azerbaijan as a “Turkish puppet”.
The effect of this years-long perception management operation was that those who sincerely consider themselves to be supporters of the global systemic transition to multipolarity were duped into becoming the West’s “useful idiots” for dividing-and-ruling the South Caucasus via Armenian irredentism. This nefarious objective is being advanced by Pashinyan refusing to comply with the same Russian-mediated obligations that he agreed to in November 2020 and instead seeking to provoke another conflict.
His French- and US-based diaspora overlords, who tacitly function as those two’s “agents of influence”, expect that this scenario could inflict unparalleled strategic damage to Russia. If Azerbaijan feels forced to launch a peace enforcement mission against Armenia modeled off of the one that Russia successfully carried out against Georgia 15 years ago, then it could set into motion a fast-moving sequence of developments that could be very difficult for Moscow to control, let alone escape from unscathed.
The Kremlin might feel that it’ll “lose face” if it doesn’t stop any large-scale Azerbaijani incursions into nominal CSTO ally Armenia’s universally recognized territory, which could lead to a war with Azerbaijan and/or its Turkish NATO ally by miscalculation, or at least ruin newly strategic relations with both. In either case, Pashinyan’s ominous prediction in his latest interview that Russian influence in the region might suddenly disappear one day could become a self-fulfilling prophecy, albeit one that he wants.
He's dangerously gambling that Russia will either swoop in to protect Armenia despite all of his provocations against it or NATO will deter his neighbors from attacking, but there are reasons to expect that neither will materialize. The first might consider the abrupt recalling of his CSTO envoy and upcoming joint drills with the US as nullifying its mutual defense commitments, while the second doesn’t have the arms, geographic access, or political will to wage another proxy war, let alone a direct one.
Elaborating on these points, Russia remained on the sidelines last September when Azerbaijan carried out its own “special military operation” against Armenia that was analyzed here and here at the time, so precedent suggests that it’ll likely repeat the same policy. Regarding the aforementioned criticisms of NATO, its stockpiles have been depleted supplying Ukraine, it can’t be taken for granted that Georgia will allow the alliance to transit to Armenia, and the Western public has become fatigued in recent months.
Considering this, if Pashinyan provokes another Karabakh Conflict but neither Russia nor NATO intervenes to stop Azerbaijan (and possibly also Turkiye), then Armenia risks being forcefully demilitarized in the interests of sustainably ensuring peace in the South Caucasus. The terms of its unconditional surrender in that scenario could result in the imposition of a pacifist constitution that also enshrines the right of its neighbors to trade across its territory with the aim of integrating the region.
The death and destruction that could precede this outcome obviously aren’t in Armenia’s objective national interests, though this could still be avoided if Pashinyan simply complies with the same Russian-mediated obligations that he agreed to in November 2020. All he has to do is withdraw his forces from Karabakh and unblock regional transport links through his country’s territory. In that event, Armenia would still retain its armed forces while also reaping the benefits of peace and development.
Time is running out to stop Azerbaijan’s seemingly impending peace enforcement mission against Armenia, but Pashinyan appears hellbent on doing everything possible to make it a fait accompli after following the advice of his radical pro-Western and ultra-nationalist diaspora. These French and US “agents of influence” want to provoke another conflict that they expect could inflict unparalleled strategic damage on Russia, but it risks backfiring by inflicting unparalleled strategic damage on Armenia.