Lavrov Warned Armenia Against Ceding Its National Security To NATO

The parallels between pre-2022 Ukraine and modern-day Armenia are a lot closer than casual observers might have realized, which is why Lavrov ominously compared the two in his latest interview when discussing NATO’s plans in that South Caucasus country.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov gave an interview to TASS that touched on the latest developments in the South Caucasus among other subjects like arms control and Ukraine. He warned his country’s CSTO mutual defense ally against ceding its national security to NATO, which he said is luring Yerevan away from its time-tested ally with only vague promises instead of concrete help. They’ve thus far made tangible progress in this direction by falsely blaming Russia for Armenia’s defeat to Azerbaijan.

Russian-Armenian economic and military cooperation have been integral to safeguarding this South Caucasus country’s security by improving its people’s lives and ensuring the defense of its borders. Lavrov reminded his interlocutors that while Russia aims to bring peace, stability, and prosperity to the region, the West solely wants to oust Russia from there in order to divide-and-rule this part of the world. He ominously compared its plans to those that it already applied in the Balkans, Ukraine, and West Asia.

Just as concerning is the speculation about the future of Russia’s military base in Armenia, which Lavrov said is very harmful and could lead to regional instability in the event that it’s removed. Reading between the lines, this top diplomat is hinting that his traditional ally’s newfound NATO partners might be encouraging these discussions for the purpose of accelerating its pro-Western pivot. He still hopes that Russian-Armenian relations will remain stable, but his worries about their future are palpable.

Lavrov’s latest interview represents Russia’s most direct and detailed response to Armenia’s spree of unfriendly moves since its defeat to Azerbaijan in mid-September. With the notable exception of Prime Minister Pashinyan’s in-person participation in this week’s informal CIS heads of state meeting in St. Petersburg, everything that this country has done over the past one-quarter of a year has been hostile. From embracing NATO to smearing Russia, Armenia appears hellbent on reshaping its grand strategy.

All countries have the right to formulate policy however they deem to be in their respective national interests, but Armenia is flirting with danger by trusting the West in spite of all the evidence over the decades that this is one of the most epic mistakes that any non-Western country can ever make. Even Ukraine is quickly learning its lesson after Politico reported that “The Biden Administration Is Quietly Shifting Its Strategy in Ukraine” from supporting Ukraine “for as long as it takes” to “as long as we can”.

That article dropped the same day as the New York Times’ opinion piece by member of the editorial board Serge Schhemann, who boldly declared that “Ukraine Doesn’t Need All Its Territory to Defeat Putin”. This volte face is relevant for Armenia due to the fact that the West’s luring of that country is predicated on blaming Russia for its defeat to Azerbaijan and fearmongering that Moscow won’t protect it from Baku’s alleged plans to annex the southern part of Syunik Province for the Zangezur Corridor.

The Washington Post made a big fuss about that scenario in fall, which CNN just revived in their piece earlier this week about “Why the Armenian exodus from Nagorno-Karabakh may not end Azerbaijan’s ambitions”. The West’s gradual policy recalibration towards Ukraine after the counteroffensive failed and the conflict subsequently wound down suggests that this New Cold War bloc might also hang Armenia out to dry if Yerevan follows Kiev’s lead and ends up provoking something similar in its own region.

If Armenia ceded its national security to NATO, kicked out Russia’s base, and posed such threats to Azerbaijan that it launched its own special operation in response, then the West will likely also settle for a compromise whereby Yerevan considers ceding some of its land too. That’s not to say that NATO wouldn’t back Armenia in a proxy war against Azerbaijan just like it backed Ukraine against Russia, but Armenia would also lose a similarly large chunk of its territory once it’s defeated by Baku yet again.

Its last two defeats in 2020 and just several months ago earlier this year were only within Azerbaijan’s universally recognized Karabakh region over which Russia’s CSTO-mandated mutual defense obligations to Armenia didn’t legally extend. The next time that these two neighbors enter into large-scale hostilities, however, it would almost certainly be on Armenia’s universally recognized soil and predictably lead to an equally large percentage of its territory being lost to Azerbaijan as Ukraine lost to Russia.

Russia controls approximately 16% of Ukraine’s pre-2014 borders while Azerbaijan’s control over the entirety of Syunik Province as geopolitical reparations for any forthcoming war that Armenia might provoke at NATO’s divide-and-rule behest would amount to around 15% of that country’s total land. Just like Russia reunified with its historical Novorossiya region, which also serves as a buffer zone of sorts, so too could Azerbaijan reunify with its historical Western Zangezur region for the same reason.

Russia didn’t want to launch its special operation in Ukraine but was compelled to do so after that former Soviet Republic crossed its national security red lines upon surrendering its own such policy to NATO, after which it reunified with its historical region in order to sustainably ensure its security. Similarly, Azerbaijan doesn’t want to launch such an operation against Armenia, but it might be compelled to if that former Soviet Republic follows in Ukraine’s footsteps with all that could entail.

All that Russia wanted prior to the onset of its special operation was for Ukraine to implement the UNSC-approved Minsk Accords, restore mutually beneficial relations, and then utilize that country as a bridge between the Eurasian Economic Union and the EU. Likewise, all that Azerbaijan wants is for Armenia to recognize its territorial integrity, restore mutually beneficial relations, and then utilize that country as a bridge between its two constituent parts in order to streamline broader East-West Eurasian connectivity.

The parallels between pre-2022 Ukraine and modern-day Armenia are therefore a lot closer than casual observers might have realized, which is why Lavrov ominously compared the two in his latest interview when discussing NATO’s plans in that South Caucasus country. It’s not too late for Armenia to reverse its pro-Western pivot or at least attempt to balance between that New Cold War bloc and Russia, but time is rapidly running out and disaster might soon be inevitable unless its present trajectory soon changes.

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