Hello, and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong, Week in Review. This show was recorded on Monday, May 30, 2022. This week we’re going to talk about the following major topics:
● Russia’s Geopolitics
● Armenia-Russia Relations
● Israeli Interests and Armenia
Today we have with us:
Dr. Sergei Melkonian, who is an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), He has worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, and has served as assistant to President of Armenia, Armen Sarkissian, on Russia and Middle East politics. He is CEO and Chief Editor of the Analytical Portal «International Studies», and a co-founder of the “Armenian Project” NGO.
The war in Ukraine has been going on now for 3 months, it started on February 24. With a quarter of a year into it, it’s very difficult to understand from the press of either side of the Russia-West divide what’s going on, and reading both sides leaves one confused.
● What is going on in the war in Ukraine?
● What surprises did Russia encounter after the war started?
● At this point in time, what is Russia’s objective in Ukraine? Has it shifted from the time it started the war?
● Can Russia “win”? When? What is Russia’s definition of “winning”?
Russia’s attention on the South Caucasus has been diverted. Now most analysts think that Russia is spending the bare minimum of effort on the South Caucasus to prevent the region from flaring up into military conflict, while it tries to solve its Ukraine crisis.
Many analysts say that much of how Russia proceeds in the South Caucasus, and indeed the whole world, depends on how the war in Ukraine ultimately resolves.
● What does this mean? Are the possible scenarios “if Russia wins” or “if Russia loses”? Or is it much more gradated, nuanced?
While Russia’s attention is diverted over to Ukraine, the EU seems to have taken the lead in the Armenia-Azerbaijan so-called “Peace” Negotiations.
● How do you assess Armenia’s current relationship with Russia?
So far it seems like Russia has mostly ignored the EU’s efforts, trusting that their boots on the ground in Artsakh are a guarantee of the protection of their interests.
● Is this a valid view?
● Are the EU’s efforts in the peace negotiations a threat to Russian national security? How will Russia respond, or take back the lead?
Let’s talk about how this geopolitical storm is affecting Armenia. The immediate effect on the country has been economic, with a huge influx of Russian and some Ukrainian nationals moving to Armenia on a temporary, semi-temporary, or semi-permanent basis, and in many cases registering and moving their businesses to Armenia. So the very short term effect on the economy has been somewhat of a “war dividend” for Armenia.
● Do you think this dividend can last?
Russia has said that the current domestic crisis in Yerevan is Armenia’s internal problem, and that they can work with whoever represents the people.
● Beneath all the political correct-speak, what would Russia like to see happen in Armenia?
● What are Russia’s key and global interests in Armenia and the South Caucasus?
○ Benyamin Poghosyan, who is a frequent guest on our show, once said that Russia is not so much trying to get Turkey out of the South Caucasus, as it is trying to connect to it more directly than through Georgia alone. What are your thoughts about this?
● Is it succeeding in achieving its results?
We don’t often get to touch upon Israel-Armenia relations, yet this is an important vector. In fact Armenian thinks so as well, because it has re-opened its embassy in Israel which it closed after the 44-day war.
In 2020 the Pashinyan government went against all of the signals of its Iranian neighbor to go ahead and open an embassy in Israel. Then when it became evident that Israel was providing a lot of the lethal weapons being used to kill Armenians in Artsakh in the war, and Armenia asked Israel to stop it, and Israel responded with a flat negative, - and we mean not even a denial, but a “No, we we’re not going to stop selling arms to Azerbaijan”, Pashinyan recalled his ambassador “for consultations”.
The emotional and popular Armenian belief is that Armenia and Israel are very similar, as two nations and states that have arisen from the ashes of genocide.
● Can you explain for us the geopolitics of why Israel and Armenia are so far apart, that Israel is public and proud about selling arms to kill Armenians? How is it that they view their national interests to be so orthogonally opposed to Armenia’s?
● On the surface there is a lot of tension and negative rhetoric between Turkey and Israel, but under the surface there are a lot of ties. Can you explore the dynamics between these two countries, especially from the angle of how it affects Armenia?
● What are the regional and global relations that Armenia needs to cultivate in the middle east to mitigate Israel’s negative politics towards it?
● On what common grounds can Armenia and Israel cultivate a positive relationship based on mutual interests?
That was our Week in Review show, and we hope it helped you catch up with some of the issues in and around Armenia from this past week. As always, we invite your feedback and your suggestions. You can find us on most social media and podcast platforms, or our website Groong.org.
Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel on YouTube, Like our pages and follow us on social media. On behalf of everyone in this episode, we wish you a good week, thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you next week.
Sergei Melkonian, Armenia, Artsakh, Nagorno Karabakh, Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Armen Sarkisian, Nikol Pashinyan, Geopolitics, Redlines, Ukraine Crisis, Ukraine War,