Recently, the Armenian Prime Minister has refused to host military drills planned by a Russia-led Defense Alliance, scheduled to be held later this year. Armenian leader also criticized the Russian peacekeepers for their failure to secure free transit along the Lachin corridor which connects mainland Armerina with the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Reports suggest that the Armenian government is upset with the CSTO arrangement to defend its member nations thus Yerevan seriously considering altering its relationship with Moscow vis-a-vis Europe.
Armenia had been a close ally of the Russian Federation and a founding member of the Moscow-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) over the past decades. Moscow and Yerevan are linked with multiple trade, economic, and security pacts, and both nations are active members of the Eurasian Economic Union. Armenia hosts a permanent Russian military base on its territory, while Russia resolutely backed Armenia’s claim over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, and played a crucial role in reaching a peace deal with Azerbaijan in 2020. Currently, over 2000 Russian peacekeepers are deployed in the Lachin corridor to maintain peace and ensure the safe passage of travelers along a corridor linking Armenia and the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh that Azerbaijani activists have blocked since last month.
The recent statement of the Armenian government clearly reflects a growing tension between Yerevan and Moscow as the Russian government did not act sufficiently on repeated requests of Armenian authorities for removing the blockade and restoring normal transit through the Lachin corridor being the peacekeeper and guarantor of the 2020 treaty. But Moscow maintained a low profile by adopting a wait-and-see strategy amid the ongoing war in Ukraine, while the Azeri government also accused Russia of supporting Armenia and threatened to involve the United Nations and Western countries in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. Currently, Putin had been caught between the two stones of a watermill, as his close ally expressed annoyance and sought assistance from the western nations to help restore peace in its highly contested region while at the same time, a displeased neighbour also has similar thoughts which can facilitate western alliance to land easily in Kremlin’s backyard to create a worst nightmare for Putin.
Interestingly, Armenian moves come after the regional alliance held a moot in Yerevan about two weeks ago in a bid to satisfy an estranged member and restore its belief in the effectiveness and functionality of the politico-security mechanism of regional nations. The disagreements between the two sides are deeper than the mere issue of military drill, as earlier Armenian government declared a Russian politician and Deputy Chair of the Doma’s Committee on Post-Soviet Affairs and Eurasian Integration as persona non grata due to his comments against Arminian Prime Minister and alleged interference in Armenia’s domestic politics. Meanwhile, there had been growing anti-Russia sentiments in the Arminian public over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a rising consensus among the Arminian government to quit the CSTO alliance and link the country’s future with the west.
Apparently, another Ukraine is in making in the Caucasian nation which is purely in sight of the western bloc, as multiple high-level American and European delegations visited Yerevan in recent months that not only widening the gap between the two allies but also rapidly bridging gaps and strengthening ties between Armenia and Europe. Apparently, NATO has successfully broken away a CSTO’s confederate and now sprawling in Moscow’s backyard, however, Putin’s response to the latest development is unclear so far.