Seyed Mehdi Hosseini Taghiabadi, in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, pointed out the intensification of Pashinyan’s criticism of Moscow’s positions regarding the developments in the Caucasus and the holding of the joint military exercise between Armenia and the United States under the title “Eagle Partner 2023”, stated: Pashinyan came to power with the support of the West and during the April 2018 revolution, an essential part of his slogans were pro-Western and anti-Russian. His work record is full of Western orientations and positions.
He stated that Pashinyan, while distancing himself from Russia, had counted on the support of the West. Still, this support, like what Saakashvili experienced in Georgia, did not reach Armenia at the expected level, adding: In the four-day war of Karabakh in April 2016, signs of declining Russian support for Armenia and changes in Moscow’s stance regarding the Karabakh crisis emerged. These seemingly minor but significant changes are not overlooked by many.
Referring to the cooperation between Armenia and Russia, the analyst of the Caucasus affairs explained the reasons for the growth of relations between Baku and Moscow and said: The public opinion of Pashinyan’s supporters, who were dissatisfied with Moscow for some reasons, also affected the course of the upcoming events.
While reminding that Pashinyan came to power with the slogan “No” to the previous rulers and, of course relying on some foreign aid, he considered the inexperience of him and his team in governance as an obstacle to fulfilling many of their promises and, of course, their current failures and added: By turning his back to the Collective Security Treaty, Pashinyan has tense relations with it, because he believes that, contrary to the statute of the treaty, there was no deterrent reaction from its members against the threats that were made to the territorial integrity of Armenia after the ceasefire of the 2020 Karabakh war in a situation where the forces of the Collective Security Treaty under the command of Russia played a role in ending the January 2022 uprising in Kazakhstan.
Hosseini further added: Armenia’s maneuver with the US at this level and with the participation of a small number of troops, and according to some reports, 85 American soldiers, does not have a severe effect on the critical developments that the region is faced with, and will not help Yerevan effectively.
The former head of the Foundation for Caucasus Studies noted: Last year, during the advance of the forces of Azerbaijan in parts of the Armenian territory in the provinces of Syunik and Vayots Dzor, Nancy Pelosi, the then speaker of the US House of Representatives, made a trip to Armenia and also adopted mischievous positions against our country, but in the end, what prevented geopolitical changes in the region and the preservation of Armenia’s territorial integrity were Iran’s severe warnings and the IRGC’s exercise of authority in the Aras region. Now, we are witnessing more or less the same situation.
He pointed to the US desire to keep the practical part of activists known as the Armenian lobby in the US. He said: From the point of view of the Pashinyan government, holding a limited exercise with the US is a warning to Russia to show that Armenia will rely more on the United States. Moscow’s positions, including the reaction of the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, who called those maneuvers a threat to stability in the Caucasus, are an example of Russia’s public dissatisfaction with those movements.
Saying that in the current situation, the military presence of the United States in the South Caucasus, even with a small number in the form of conducting maneuvers and the messages sent before it is not pleasant for Iran and Russia, Hosseini noted: Although during the 2020 Karabakh war, it was expected that the Republic of Azerbaijan would seek to restore its territorial integrity, in the middle of the war, it became clear that Baku was pursuing a larger goal in the form of connecting Nakhchivan to the Republic of Azerbaijan through the territory of Armenia, an unacceptable issue that led to the cutting of the border between Iran and Armenia in Syunik.
While referring to the four axes explained by the Supreme Leader of the Revolution on 22 October 2020, known as the Rabi’ statement, during the 2020 Karabakh war, he noted: In the three years that have passed since the Karabakh war, on the anniversary of this war, we have witnessed the intensification of efforts to change the geopolitics of the region which, in the field area, Iran by holding two exercises, has prevented the changing of the geopolitics of the region and threatening of the national interests of our country. Of course, we have to be careful in this regard because various and complex movements are still going on to cut the borders of our country with Armenia.
Stating that part of the events in the region is a product of Russia’s focus on the war in Ukraine, the expert on Caucasus affairs noted: By examining Russia’s positions in the 2020 Karabakh war, it becomes clear that this country has also turned towards Baku at that time. In addition, the sensitivity and concern about the change of borders on the part of Iran is not seen on the Russian side.
Hosseini emphasized that although there is no doubt that the corridor desired by Azerbaijan and Turkey has the nature of NATO and is defined in the Western puzzle to limit Iran and Russia and even overshadow China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Russia, due to the war in Ukraine and the primary closure of that country’s routes to the West, tactically sees it as an opportunity. In addition, based on paragraph 9 of the Karabakh ceasefire agreement, monitoring transportation of goods in the routes that will connect Nakhchivan to the central part of Azerbaijan through Armenia will be carried out by the border agencies of the Federal Security Service of Russia, and this will provide a tool for Russia’s bargaining with Turkey, with which it has much trouble over the Straits issue under the Montreux Convention.
He considered the possibility of repeating the poor performance of the Russian forces in the Lachine Corridor against any other new corridors as worrying. He added: There is a possibility that this route will be given to NATO forces in the future, and it has risks for Iran and Russia and is worrisome.
According to Hosseini, in the current situation, some Russian analysts and decision-makers ignore long-term risks and focus on short-term benefits. But in this situation, as Iran has always supported the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan and proved its support in practice, now it also emphasizes the necessity of preserving the territorial integrity of another neighboring country, namely Armenia.