October 12, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8963

Russian Newspaper 'Vzglyad': Russia May Fail to Protect Armenia, Because Georgia Will Not Allow Russian Reinforcements To Pass Through Its Territory

October 12, 2020
Russia, South Caucasus | Special Dispatch No. 8963

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that Moscow, if necessary, will use troops to ensure Armenia's security. However, the Russian newspaper Vzglyad wrote that a build-up of the Russian military presence in Armenia may prove complicated due to Georgia's position. Tbilisi won't allow the transit of military cargo from Russia to Armenia via its territory, and the alternative route for troop and equipment transfer via Iranian territory and the Caspian Sea is quite difficult and cannot be conducted on a large scale. Hence, Armenia may become completely isolated, due to Georgia's stance.

Below are excerpts from the Vzglyad article:[1]


'Considering Turkey's Aggressiveness, It Is Necessary To Strengthen Our Russian Military Presence In Eastern Armenia'

"… Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that Russia will fulfill its contractual obligations and protect Armenia 'in an emergency', which Yerevan understands as direct aggression by Azerbaijan and Turkey. Pashinyan pointed out that according to the bilateral agreements between Russia and Armenia signed in the early 1990's, the 102nd Russian Military base of the Alexander Nevsky Order is located in Armenian Gyumri, and a unified air defense system is in operation.

"'The agreements clearly define the conditions under which these troops can be used to ensure, inter alia, the security of Armenia. I am sure that if a need related to contractual obligations arises, Russia will fulfill them under certain conditions,' said Pashinyan in an interview with the German 'Bild' newspaper.

"Meanwhile, Baku and Ankara remain bellicose. In particular, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that 28 years of negotiations on resolving the conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh were useless. Now, 'if the international community cannot enforce the implementation of international resolutions, [then] Azerbaijan will do it itself,' said Aliyev, with a military solution to the problem in mind.

"Earlier, similar statements were made by Turkey, as the [Turkish] Republic's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Azerbaijan not to cease hostilities until the entire territory of Karabakh is 'liberated from the Armenian occupation.'

"In this regard, the question arises how Russia will be able to protect its ally in the event that hostilities will spread to the internationally recognized territory of Armenia?

"'Today, considering Turkey's aggressiveness, there is a problem with the need to strengthen our Russian military presence in Eastern Armenia. This should be in the form of several military bases, military airfields and strategic aviation, from which strikes [can be launched] at targets in the Middle East,' Semyon Bagdasarov, director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Central Asia, told  the 'VZGLYAD' newspaper.

"According to the expert, the need to 'increase the military presence' in Armenia' results from the situation that currently, the 102nd base, located in Gyumri, has a contingent of 'a maximum of five thousand people' and 'it has several times less tanks and armored vehicles than the Turkish 3rd Field Army,' which is located near the borders of Georgia and Armenia."

'Georgia Will Never Allow [The Transit] Of A Military Cargo From Russia To Armenia'

"At the same time, the build-up of the Russian military presence in Armenia may be complicated due to Tbilisi's position. 'Georgia will never allow [the transit] of a military cargo from Russia to Armenia for obvious reasons, and the transfer of troops and equipment through the territory of Iran and the Caspian Sea is quite difficult and cannot be conducted on a large scale,' said Bagdasarov.

"Let us recall that earlier, Internet reports appeared about Georgia allowing Turkish military equipment and troops, allegedly heading in the direction of Azerbaijan, to pass through its territory. However, Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Lashi Darsalia called such intel 'disinformation' and 'lies', because Georgia had stopped issuing permits for the transportation of military cargo to Armenia and Azerbaijan through its territory. But, according to Konstantin Sivkov, a doctor of military sciences, 'Due to Georgia's actions, Armenia became completely isolated. The blockading of a state, according to international law, is an act of military aggression.'

"'In addition, according to the CSTO charter, Russia and other member states of the organization should take part in lifting the blockade of another member state - Armenia. The only way to really lift the blockade goes via Georgia, either by land or by air. Of course, we could transfer some troops and equipment by air, but by doing so we would violate Georgian airspace, and Tbilisi would oppose this,' the expert told to the 'VZGLYAD' newspaper.

"'In this case, we would have to ensure the safety of the transport corridor by attacking Georgia's air defenses. Essentially, this would mean the beginning of a new war. However, I think that diplomatic efforts and our contingent in Gyumri should be enough to resolve the Karabakh conflict,' Sivkov assumes.

"Andrey Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, shares a similar point of view. According to him, in order to resolve the conflict in Karabakh, it is necessary to change the attitude of the Azerbaijani President to the terms of the truce with Armenia with the help of 'positive and negative factors.'

"'Among the positive factors, one can note a need to show Baku that the tactical successes of the Azerbaijani armed forces achieved on the battlefield will be kept by them,' Kortunov told the 'VZGLYAD' newspaper.

"'If we talk about negative factors, [then] it is primarily the international community's pressure on Baku in order to raise the costs of a further continuation of the conflict. If the discussion of this issue is transferred to the UN Security Council against the background of civilian deaths, - Azerbaijan will suffer great reputational losses. Sanctions pressure on its strategic ally, represented by Turkey, may also be exerted,' Kortunov suggested.

"'As for the possibility of bringing in Russian peacekeepers, there are no conditions for this, no peace agreements, no new lines of demarcation. But if such conditions are created and the conflict ends with the introduction of Russian peacekeepers, this will be a big win for Russian foreign policy. Our country would show once again that it is the main factor in stabilizing the situation and maintaining of the balance of power in Nagorno-Karabakh,' Kortunov summed up."


[1], October 5, 2020. The article was written by Irina Yarovaya and Natalia Makarova

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