Armenia’s geopolitical turning point: Ruslan Pukhov on Armenian-Russian relations

Source: Time News
Armenian-Russian relations are going through a difficult phase. Recently, Yerevan and Moscow have accused each other of actions that appear to be violations of both bilateral and multilateral agreements, such as the CSTO. It should be noted that such accusations and tensions in relations have increased against the backdrop of the global confrontation between Russia and the West, especially in light of the Ukrainian crisis.

The director of the Center for Strategy and Technology Analysis, member of the Public Council of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Ruslan Pukhov sees in Yerevan’s actions the signs of a geopolitical turn from Russia towards the West. In an interview with VERELQ, he explained why he thinks so.

The text of the interview can be read on the portal page Russian VERELQ

Interview with Director of the Center for Strategy and Technology Analysis Ruslan Pukhov

Request – After the 2020 war, army reform according to Russian models began in Armenia. High-ranking military personnel of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces have visited Yerevan many times. But over time the situation has changed. Now the Russian side de facto does not participate in the reform of the Armenian army. Additionally, Armenia is conducting exercises with the United States on its territory. Can this be considered a sign of Armenia’s geopolitical distancing from Russia or is it still negotiating with Russia?

Ruslan Pukhov – Most likely yes, this is a sign of a turning point in Armenian politics, and a rather logical turning point. Even if we ignore pure geopolitics and look almost exclusively at the military aspects of this turning point. On the one hand, after the establishment of the Northern Military District, the Russian army no longer cared about Armenia, and obviously Moscow is now unable to provide Armenia with serious military assistance or even weapons supplies. But the most important thing is that the Russian Armed Forces did not shine at all during the Ukrainian events, and for the Armenian side it became clear that focusing on the Russian military system and Russian models of military development had little prospect. Overall, as is obvious, the Russian Armed Forces themselves need radical reforms. Another thing is that, apparently, even Western military systems, in general, do not quite correspond to the trend that we saw on the battlefield in Ukraine. That is, everyone will have to learn and adapt.

Request – In general, what model of army should Armenia build, how to rebuild the army after the war, taking into account the lessons learned from the war and the country’s growing security challenges in the region?

Ruslan Pukhov – It is quite obvious that for Armenia, taking into account its position and the obvious demographic and resource superiority of its opponents (Azerbaijan and Turkey), only a defense system with “total” mass mobilization on the Israeli model is suitable or Singaporean (well, you can also remember Finland, for example). In principle, the main factors favor the creation of such a system in Armenia: an ethnically homogeneous population with a highly developed national identity, small size and compactness of the territory. That is, it should be a total defense system, which apparently also includes women, as in Israel, with rapid mass mobilization at the first sign.

Request – Iran has repeatedly warned Azerbaijan against war, warning that it will not tolerate border changes in the region. Can Iran really intervene in the situation and project its military power into the region?

Ruslan Pukhov – This is most likely unlikely, since Iran has no real interest in carrying out a direct military intervention in the region with rather vague objectives and with the risk of a military clash with Turkey. Moreover, for Armenia, communication with Iran is extremely unprofitable in light of Yerevan’s need to fight for the favor of the West, therefore, on the whole, Armenia is unlikely to be interested in the military involvement of Iran.

Request – We see Azerbaijan’s interest in Russian peacekeepers leaving Nagorno-Karabakh in 2025. Will it be possible to extend the presence of the RCC in Artsakh for another 5 years or should we prepare for unpredictable consequences?

Ruslan Pukhov – Most likely, Azerbaijan, seeing Russia’s weakness, aimed to resolve the Karabakh issue before 2025, so there are great doubts that the RMK contingent in Karabakh will remain until then.

Request – And another question. Armenia began purchasing weapons from India. What is attractive about the products of the Indian military-industrial complex?

Ruslan Pukhov – Nothing is attractive in any way. India has so far been a third-tier player in the global defense market and its weapons have a rather dubious reputation in terms of quality. For the Indian military-industrial complex, the sale of weapons to Armenia has become a kind of turning point. Armenia turned to India as the only “neutral” supplier available to Yerevan, as Russia is unable to supply modern systems, and the West severely limits military supplies to Armenia due to its membership to the CSTO and involvement in the Karabakh conflict. Israel is already firmly connected to Azerbaijan. That leaves India and China, but China above all appears to be cautious in its military ties with Armenia. It is not yet known how Indian weapons will perform in real combat.