Our Frenemy

  Editorial, 31 October 2014

In the 400-year-history of Armenian/Russian relations, the two nations have frequently helped each other and in countless ways. But unlike Russia, Armenia has not betrayed its friend. Moscow betrayed the Armenians as soon as the Tsarist armies marched into Armenia, in the 1820s, and drove out the Persians. The Russian “liberators” then proceeded to oppress Armenians and  attempted to assimilate them. In the 1890s Russia’s foreign minister said his country preferred an Armenia without Armenians. Three decades later the Soviets gave Kars and Ardahan to Turkey, and Nakhichevan/Karapagh to Azerbaijan. Despite the huge sacrifices Armenians made during WWII, soon after the war Stalin had designs to take away Armenia’s status as a republic. During the Azeri pogroms Moscow didn’t lift a finger to assist the Armenians. Instead, its soldiers rescued the Azeri armed forces thus guaranteeing that Getashen, Shahumyan and portions of Mardagerd would become part of Azerbaijan.

  Editorial, 31 October 2014

In the 400-year-history of Armenian/Russian relations, the two nations have frequently helped each other and in countless ways. But unlike Russia, Armenia has not betrayed its friend. Moscow betrayed the Armenians as soon as the Tsarist armies marched into Armenia, in the 1820s, and drove out the Persians. The Russian “liberators” then proceeded to oppress Armenians and  attempted to assimilate them. In the 1890s Russia’s foreign minister said his country preferred an Armenia without Armenians. Three decades later the Soviets gave Kars and Ardahan to Turkey, and Nakhichevan/Karapagh to Azerbaijan. Despite the huge sacrifices Armenians made during WWII, soon after the war Stalin had designs to take away Armenia’s status as a republic. During the Azeri pogroms Moscow didn’t lift a finger to assist the Armenians. Instead, its soldiers rescued the Azeri armed forces thus guaranteeing that Getashen, Shahumyan and portions of Mardagerd would become part of Azerbaijan.

Despite Russia’s long “rap sheet”, Armenia hugged the bear and put aside the memories of the bad Soviet periods when the USSR collapsed. Since then Armenia has signed various military, political, economic, and cultural agreements with Russia.

Yet every other week Russia seems to announce further weapons sales to Azerbaijan. And although Azerbaijan is armed to the teeth (Baku has a $4 billion defense budget per annum or equal to the total budget of Armenia), Russia keeps selling more sophisticated arms to Baby Aliev’s fiefdom. The latter already buys weapons from 18 countries, especially high-tech equipment from Israel. In early September it was announced that Russia will probably deliver more than 100 T-90S tanks to Azerbaijan, although Moscow just completed the delivery of 100 T-90S tanks in April. One wonders what else Russia is selling in secret to the Baku petroclan.

The Kremlin policy of arming his ally’s enemy is stunning and unprecedented in the annals of history. It’s breathtaking in its treachery. To arm your ally’s aggressive enemy is a new one in diplomatic and military history. Even cynical Nicolo Machiavelli would have blanched at Moscow’s blithe perfidy.

Does President Vladimir Putin reside in parallel worlds where he can be a friend of Armenia in one and foe in the other?

What’s Moscow’s explanation for its egregious sale of arms to Baku? The two-timing is “just business,” the Kremlin says. Even Mafia hoods, who say “it’s just business” when they kill, don’t slay their partners.

Moscow claims it needs the money. Yes, it needs the few billion Azeri petrodollars when it forgave Cuba’s $32 billion debt a few months ago. Yes, it needs the money when it spent close to $60 billion on the Sochi Olympics extravaganza.

Moscow says it sells weapons to Armenia at low prices, although it knows full well that even at those so-called low prices impoverished Armenia has a hard time coming up with the cash.

Perhaps taking advantage of the distance from Moscow, a few months ago President Serge Sarkissian finally blurted to “La Nacion” newspaper in far away Argentina: “It is a very painful subject and our people are worried that our strategic ally sells weapons to Azerbaijan.”

Rather than stop the arms exports to Azerbaijan, Russia is now selling strategic and offensive rockets the equivalent of which Armenia doesn’t have. Some 80% of the Azeri arsenal comes from Russia.

Why the blatant Russian treachery?

Russia wants to keep Armenia in a state of arrested development, and dependent on Moscow.

Although Azerbaijan is not a member of Russia’s Collective Security Treaty Organization (Armenia is), Russia considers Azerbaijan a potential strategic ally.

Russia believes that as far as Armenia is concerned, Moscow is the only game in town.

Russia believes the million-plus Armenians living in Russia (some send remittances to Armenia) are handy hostages if Armenia doesn’t behave.

Russia takes Armenia for granted as it woos unreliable but petrorich Azerbaijan.

Stepan Seferian, who leads a newly established think-tank in Armenia, said of Russia’s arming of Azerbaijan: “This is inadmissible. Armenia must hold Russia-Armenia consultations and demand explanation because in essence Russia is acting against the strategic partnership [with Armenia] and the principles of conflict mediation.”

But there isn’t much to talk about. The Kremlin doesn’t hide its treachery. Its two-timing is brazen and above board.

But there’s the Israeli September Surprise which should make Kremlin think twice about continuing to arm Azerbaijan. In mid-September Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon met Aliyev at the Baku ADEX defense industry exhibition and demonstrated how the Iron Dome air defense system operates. The electronic system can intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from a distance of 4 kilometer to 70 kilometer. It’s possible that Baku would buy the Iron Dome. The Israeli system has twice shown its effectiveness against rockets (some of them Grad) launched from Gaza. It’s possible that Baku would buy the Iron Dome. How long after that before Baku says “No, thank you” to Moscow? Israel, backed by the US, would meet Baku’s voracious appetite for armaments and without strings. Baku would then do the Kiev-Tbilisi Trot and gaze west.         

Finally, Moscow must consider the crazed ambitions of the Aliyevians. Frequently in the past year Baku mediacrats, bureaucrooks and assorted hired buffoons have declared that Armenia is part of historic Azerbaijan. If Azerbaijan beats Armenia Baku would establish a land bridge to Turkey, join NATO, and tighten even harder the choke-hold on Russia’s southern “area of influence”.

7 comments
  1. Extravagant Putin

    Further to your comment about Putin's generosity, except when it pertains to its ally Armenia, "Russia Direct" website announced today that Russia plans to spend over $15 billion on the 2018 FIFA World Cup. If the Sochi Olympics is an indication, that figure should balloon to $25 billion plus. Putin is hard up for cash when it comes to selling weapons to ally Armenia but generous when it comes to hosting wealthy athletes who are adept at kicking balls.

  2. Consistency Needed

    This article is confusing, or better to say it is confused. First the title: "Our Frenemy". It is time we learn not to look for friends or enemies in politics. They do not exist. Everyone acts from their interests or imaginative interests, but nevertheless, pure interests. 

    Russia never was a friend of Armenia and never will be. It will use Armenia in its own interests, and if that "protects" Armenia from "enemies" then it is fine. But it does not, because when you rely on someone else for protection and that protection disappears one day, like it happened in the beginning of 20th century or in the late '80s- early '90s, then you suffer. In the current complicated situation of world affairs, relying solely on Russians is a very dangerous game. Which, I understand, is the main message of this article. However, by the end of it the author pleads to Russia to stop selling arms to Azerbaijan and stick to our friendship. That Aliev is crazy and the Azeris will betray Russia.

    It doesn't work like that! You can not prevent Russians from selling arms to anyone (and they, as well as Americans would sell it to anyone who is willing to pay). And you can not prevent Azeris to buy arms from anyone, since they got money. Stop begging Russians or trying to convince them that we are eternal friends. 

    Armenia matters, that is why it still exists. The more we matter, the better we would be protected. Armenia should be preoccupied with increasing its economic, political relevance and weight. Being a protégé is no guarantee for survival. 

  3. Our Frenemy

    I am very upset about your anti-Russian article "Our Frenemy".

    As you know, historical Armenia was part of the Ottoman Empire for many centuries. Between 1828-1829, when Russia was fighting against the Ottoman Empire to defend Christian countries,
    thousands of Armenian young men were serving in the Ottoman army and fighting against the Russian army. Fortunately, the Ottoman Empire lost the war and was forced to sign the "Treaty of Adrianople" on Sept. 14, 1829. Under the treaty, the Russians gained sovereignty over parts of northeastern Ottoman Empire which was part of historical Armenia. It was liberated by the Russian Army.
    Russians liberated Armenia also from Persian occupation.

    You understand that selling arms to Azerbaijan is pure business and that Azerbaijan is buying the most destructive weapons from other countries. Excuse me for not mentioning the name of the country because of the sensitivity of the country. Let me give you the example of the Armenian weapons merchant Shoghanalian. He was an American but he was selling all kind of weapons, including tanks and combat suits to the Iraqi Army while United State was at war with Iraq. I am sure you understand how this kind of thing works.

    I prefer to see Azerbaijan buy arms from our best friend Russia rather than from Turkey or somewhere else. First, because then we can control the information about the quantity and quality that Azerbaijan possesses and second, a big amount of money will go into the account of the government of our best and only friend–Russia.

    About the question whether the Armenians ever betrayed Russia: I am not going to answer this question just to save your honor and the honor of the entire Armenian nation.

    Spend your energy on the "Armenian Orphan Rug" and please never call our best friend, Russia, a frenemy, and don't mess up the minds of the Armenian people.

    Nicolai Romashuk Hairabedian
     

    1. Our Frenemy Editorial

      Among all the media outlets available to Armenians, there is no equivalent in forward thinking than Keghart. I, as well as many readers, feel offended that you patronize the site as only fit for "orphans" and "rugs". What the article contains is reality and apart from emotional outburst not one fact in the article can be denied. I, like many Armenians, love Russia and Putin because of the breath of fresh air and the good they do to mankind by challenging American hegemony. But I can also see that Russia gave away Javakh, Nagorno-Karapagh, and Nakhichevan to the enemies of Armenians and consequently these comments would not be appreciated by the relatives of the more than 25,000 Armenians who died recently in these conflicts, thanks to that Russian error. Their lives are worth reflections of worthiness.

      Moreover, Russia does not help the two separatist republics in the Ukraine as it should, leaving them to their destiny of bloodshed. Russia also could have participated in air strikes against ISIL, long before the US, and thus would have kept the Americans out of the area. But it did nothing. Hypocrites rarely come to the help of friends. And after asking the Armenians to ditch the EU, Russia treated them as beggars and left them out in the cold from the Eurasian Custom Union. We have to be truthful.

      The "orphans and rugs" comment mentions Armenians in the Ottoman army fighting the Russians. These poor souls were there not on their free will. What about the Armenians who died in WWII? More than any other nationality per capita.

      The world is full of racist hatred towards the Armenians, specially those hypocrites in NATO.   Recently, in Wales, they recognized the annexation of Nagorno-Karapagh by Azerbaijan (the gift of the Soviets) despite the historic facts. But the morons in NATO are barely educated in history. Yet they raised their hands to say (in the backdrop of columns of martyred Chaldeans) that they do not mind seeing Armenians massacred again. They don't care that the country is encircled and its enemies have vowed to cause its economic death. Yet, our demise is accentuated by what they say about us: When we protest they say: "These people are corrupt and therefore deserve what is coming to them." These very harsh and cruel thoughts are fuelled by the most unexplained racism and hatred towards the Armenians. 

      If we were Jews, maybe we would have had a better chance for sympathy. But unfortunately, we are Christians, abandoned to our cross like our Lord was to his. When we start to denounce this collective and unexplained hatred that we endure, when we stop being the foot-lickers of others, true to our honest selves, maybe then we would have a chance for justice and peace.

  4. Just an Ally

    I found none of the definitions in the dictionaries I checked fit to characterize Russia as an enemy of Armenia and I do not mean to imply that Russia is a friend.

    Russia and Armenia have strategic alliances for mutual benefit. What we expect is for Russia, the economically and militarily the much larger partner of the alliance, to abide by the spirit and the dictates of that alliance. Other than that, we cannot possibly have any say as to how Russia behaves and what it does.

    This editorial did not elaborate on the terms of that alliance for a reader to draw a conclusion whether Russia is not living up to the its terms.

  5. Rubbish Propaganda

    This is total rubbish and anti-Russian propaganda. The first two paragraphs are enough to betray the author as a rabid Russia hater and a shameless traitor. What's he doing in Keghart? Please stop w-mailing me such degenerate and repugnant nonsense.

    1. Not Rubbish, Not Propaganda

      I am at a loss to explain the allegations of several letter writers who condemned the "Frenemy" editorial as anti-Russian propaganda.

      I am familiar with the cliche that there are no friends in international politics; however, the Russian/Armenian relationship isn't just based on emotions. It's rooted in legal documents: it's rooted in alliance. As an ally, Russia is obliged not to support the enemy of its ally.

      Yes, America arms Israel and Egypt which have fought several wars against each other since 1948. However, the assistance Washington gives to Cairo is puny compared to what Tel Aviv gets in military, financial, diplomatic, etc. aid from Washington. America makes certain that Egypt is no threat to Israel and, for that matter, no combined Arab armies can beat Israel.

      By the way, on paper, America and Israel are not allies. And ironically, Egypt wouldn't get a single Jeep from America if Cairo failed to maintain peace with Israel. In other words, the big reason Cairo is getting anything from Washington is because Cairo is "behaving" towards America's friend Israel.

      I might be wrong, but I believe the editorial sounded like a letter from a jilted/disappointed lover. I think it was saying, "I love you… why are you two-timing me?" It's a legitimate complaint, especially when Moscow forcibly dragged Yerevan from a potential "liaison" with the West.

      I don't believe the writers who condemned the article provided facts which shot down the article's argument.

Comments are closed.

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