Armenia’s Prime Minister has expressed his view that relying solely on Russia to ensure his country’s security was a strategic mistake. He asserted that Moscow has been unable to fulfill this role and is gradually reducing its involvement in the broader region. In an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Nikol Pashinyan criticized Russia for not effectively safeguarding Armenia’s security amid what he described as aggression from neighboring Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Pashinyan suggested that Russia, despite having a defense pact with Armenia and maintaining a military base there, did not perceive his country as adequately pro-Russian. He also speculated that Russia was in the process of withdrawing from the wider South Caucasus region. Despite Armenia’s membership in the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), an intergovernmental military alliance in Eurasia, Moscow has recently publicly supported Azerbaijan’s claims to Nagorno-Karabakh and held Yerevan responsible for the ongoing blockade of the region.
Consequently, Yerevan is now seeking to diversify its security arrangements, likely referring to its relationships with the European Union, the United States, and efforts to strengthen ties with other regional countries. Pashinyan stated, “Armenia’s security architecture was 99.999% linked to Russia, including the procurement of arms and ammunition.” He emphasized that Russia’s own need for weapons, arms, and ammunition for the conflict in Ukraine has made it clear that even if it desired to, the Russian Federation cannot meet Armenia’s security requirements. He pointed out that depending solely on one partner for security matters is a strategic error.
Pashinyan’s comments highlight the frustration within Armenia regarding what many perceive as Russia’s failure to protect their interests. There has been no immediate response to the interview from Moscow, which has been facilitating talks between Yerevan and Baku in pursuit of a peace agreement.
Moscow has previously reacted defensively to such criticism, defending its actions and refuting the notion that it has diminished its foreign policy priorities due to events in Ukraine.
Nagorno-Karabakh is officially recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but its population of around 120,000 is predominantly ethnic Armenians. It broke away from Azerbaijani control during a conflict in the early 1990s. Heavy fighting erupted once again in 2020 until Russia brokered a ceasefire.
Pashinyan also accused Russian peacekeepers, deployed to uphold the ceasefire agreement, of failing in their duties.