Armenia’s geopolitical shift: navigating new alliances

OpinionArmenia’s geopolitical shift: navigating new alliances

The current diplomatic shift of Armenia is yet another threat to the Caucasus region

By Shazia Anwer Cheema

   

Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan announced on 22 Feb that Armenia has frozen its participation in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). It could be a hyper-coincidence that French Defense Minister Sebastian Lecornu visited Armenia on 23 Feb 2024 and signed extensive defense and arms deals with his Armenian counterpart, Suren Papikian. The deal includes procurements of French night-vision devices, air-defense radar systems and armoured personnel carriers. Additionally, Papikian and Lecornu signed a letter of intent on Armenia’s future acquisition of short-range surface-to-air missiles manufactured by a French company. It is pertinent to mention here that the Armenia-EU Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement aimed at enhancing bilateral political and economic ties already took effect in March 2021.

Last month, Pashinyan held talks with Javier Colomina, the NATO Secretary General’s special representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, and both agreed to work collaboratively in the Caucasus region. Consequently, Armenia’s extensive engagement with the West and its official statement on 31 January for collaborating with the International Criminal Court at The Hague have convinced the Russian regional experts that the ongoing nearness of the West should also be looked through another development.

Armenia is a historical member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) alliance of former Soviet satellites and hosts a Russian military base in its second largest city Gyumri which according to Armenian officials is still functional as being part of a different treaty. After regaining control over Karabagh, Azerbaijan, Armenia blames CSTO, especially Russia, for its defeat in 44 days against Azerbaijan. Despite that Kremlin rescued Armenia and played a pivotal role in inking a ceasefire deal with Baku.

Western think tanks are promoting the narrative that after losing the war with Azerbaijan, Armenia is now revisiting its strategic partnerships while the West wants to reach Russian borders. So the latest developments suit both of them. The Armenian media, conversely, is promoting the idea that Yerevan needs to strengthen its army and make it combat-ready to protect the country’s territorial sovereignty.

The current diplomatic shift of Armenia is yet another threat to the Caucasus region. Türkiye is a NATO member state while Azerbaijan is a non-NATO member; Georgia is part of the European Union now while Iran and Russia are considered the West’s preconceived enemies. Till now, Azerbaijan and Turkey have balanced power structure and maintained peace in the region while Russia, having a single agenda of keeping its buffer zones out of the reach of Western powers, can react sharply to the closeness of Armenia with the EU and the United States. Armenia’s love affair with the West is also frustrating Iran because the presence of Western warfare gadgets and experts in Armenia would threaten Iranian security infrastructure.

On the flip side, Armenia’s defense agreements with the US and France are paving the way for regional conflict. It is likely to invite Iran and Russia’s skepticism by giving the West direct access to Iranian borders. Iran, which always favours Armenia in the Caucasus region, will be pondering on shifting tides as a result of Armenia’s step. Although Iran has been a partner to the smuggling of Indian arms and ammunition to Armenia, it is high time for Iran and other regional players to stop this dangerous game, as now, Armenia is becoming a tool for the West and India to create unrest in the region. To Pakistan as well, it is a similar threat, as Armenia can be a proxy against Iran any time the West would feel appropriate.

Armenia’s geopolitical shift: navigating new alliancesThe writer is a PhD scholar of Semiotics and Philosophy of Communication at Charles University Prague. She can be reached at shaziaanwer@yahoo.com and tweets @ShaziaAnwerCh

 

 

Note: The above article was originally published by The Express Tribune on March 12, 2024.

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Mati-Ullah is the Online Editor For DND. He is the real man to handle the team around the Country and get news from them and provide to you instantly.

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