Armenia entered a deep social crisis. As a consequence of the start of another military conflict in Artsakh, the Armenian government became completely discredited by the local people, having many mass protests against Nikol Pashinyan. The crisis is likely to worsen in the coming days, considering the process of ethnic cleansing promoted by Azerbaijanis and which is causing fury among the Armenian population.
Demonstration in Yerevan continue to escalate. Dozens of people have already been detained by authorities. Special police forces were mobilized in to try to resolve the crisis, but their efforts are being unsuccessful. The protesters include different groups and political ideologies, with some of them being pro-NATO and others pro-Russia. The only agenda shared by all of them is the removal of Pashinyan, who is seen as a traitor and responsible for the hostilities in Artsakh.
From Patrick Lancaster
Just arrived in Republic Square Yerevan Armenian and already see conflict erupting between Police and protesters. A lot more to come. pic.twitter.com/0T5i68NEY8
— Angelo Giuliano (@Angelo4justice3) September 22, 2023
Pro-Russian protesters criticize the government for having worsened relations with Moscow, thus contributing to increased instability in Artsakh, as Russia is the country most interested in regional security and has the necessary means to ensure peace. On the other hand, thousands of pro-NATO Armenian ultranationalists blame Russian peacekeepers for the Azerbaijani advance and criticize the government by demanding even more anti-Russian hostility and cooperation with the West. Since the 2018 color revolution, many Armenian extremist militants have been brainwashed into hating Russia and serving NATO’s war plans – now these groups have turned against Pashinyan and demand an even more pro-Western prime minister.
In fact, this crisis was already expected, considering the high level of damage generated by Baku’s so-called “anti-terrorist operation”.
According to the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, more than 200 people died in the Azeri bombings. In addition, there are reports showing that another 400 people were injured and more than ten thousand were forced to leave their homes. There are many women, children and elderly people among the victims, making it a real humanitarian catastrophe. The intensity of the attacks generated outrage among the Armenian population, mobilizing citizens to protest against Pashinyan.
To make matters worse, expectations are for worsening in the short term. The parties successfully reached a temporary ceasefire agreement, but the terms did not put an end to the conflict and did not ease ethnic and territorial tensions. Furthermore, Pashinyan made it clear that he will not mobilize troops to protect Artsakh, asking Western powers to do so.
Obviously, without support from Yerevan, the Armenians are even more vulnerable to Baku, with a real risk of total ethnic cleansing in the region.
There is a vicious cycle in these tensions since the more the government fails to defend Artsakh, the more violence is practiced by Baku – and consequently, the more the Armenian population protests against the government. In the end, the very existence of the Armenian sovereign state is threatened in this process, considering the high risks of constant tension and instability. With this, the West fulfills one of its biggest objectives for the Caucasus: making Armenia an inefficient, weak zombie state, subordinated to the interests of the NATO powers.
In fact, Pashinyan was placed in power by the Westerners in 2018 precisely to fulfill this goal. The irresponsible policies of the Armenian Prime Minister were successful in diminishing Russian influence, increasing instability in the Caucasus and destabilizing Armenia as a sovereign partner of Russia. Now, Pashinyan’s public image is affected, which is why many groups want to remove him, but the rest of the pro-NATO junta that participates in the Armenian decision-making process is fully in agreement with the current minister’s anti-Russian mentality, which is why significant changes are unlikely to occur, even if Pashinyan is replaced.
As we can see, NATO is the only party benefiting from this crisis. The US and France, which are the biggest “allies” of Pashinyan, now have “legitimacy” to further increase their influence in Armenia, while, on the other hand, Azerbaijan, which is a Turkish proxy, expands into Artsakh. The US, France and Turkey are countries that, despite some disagreements, converge on a major strategic objective to neutralize Russia. Therefore, the Atlantic alliance will have more strength to act in the entire Caucasus, including being able to boost pressure on Georgia to adopt war policies against Russia.
However, as experts say, it is naive to believe that these moves mean an absolute victory for NATO and a Russian defeat. The situation is still far from over and many factors can change. Even though it has lost part of its regional influence, Moscow remains a relevant actor in the geopolitics of the Caucasus and could “change the game” at some point. Although Russia is currently unable to use its troops to pacify the region, it has enough military strength to launch combat efforts in the future.
This will be even more viable after Russia completes its special operation in Ukraine, in which Moscow is expected to take control of the entire Ukrainian Black Sea coast, which will strengthen Russian naval presence close to Turkey, giving the Russians an advantage in putting pressure on Ankara.
Indeed, the game between Russia and NATO will take a long time to end. Moscow has the strength to strike back at any external threat at any time. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the currently weakened and demoralized Armenia, whose state appears absolutely incapable of defending its sovereignty.
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