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Putin snubbed as ally turns to US

 September 8, 2023

Amid growing strains with Russia, Armenia is turning towards the U.S. for military collaboration.

In a recent show of solidarity with the West, Armenia has partnered with the United States for a joint military exercise. Named "Eagle Partner 2023," the exercise aims to ready Armenian forces for their role in global peacekeeping operations, as MSN reported.

US and Armenia: New allies on the block

From Sept. 11-20, the collaboration will bring together 85 US soldiers and 175 Armenian troops.

This partnership has attracted significant attention, given Armenia's historically close ties with Russia, both as a former Soviet state and as a participant in multiple Russia-led international collaborations.

Interestingly, Armenia also hosts a Russian military base, further underscoring the depth of their association. But this connection, once strong, has shown cracks in recent years.

Strains in Armenia-Russia relations

One significant point of stress was the Collective Security Treaty Organization's (CSTO) apparent hesitation in assisting Armenia during its border disputes with Azerbaijan.

The CSTO, commonly viewed as Russia's counterpart to NATO, failed to meet Armenia's expectations.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan voiced his disappointment regarding the CSTO's inaction.

He felt that such a response jeopardized the organization's domestic and global image.

Highlighting his discontent, Pashinyan notably distanced himself from Putin during a summit. He even refrained from supporting a draft declaration.

Pashinyan's escalating discontent with Russia

This dissatisfaction didn’t end with the CSTO issue. Earlier this year, Pashinyan hinted at Armenia's potential exit from the alliance if it failed to deliver clear benefits.

Further deepening the rift, Armenia cancelled planned military exercises with Russia.

He also made it clear that Armenia did not align itself with Russia in the ongoing conflict with Ukraine. This stance points towards Armenia's dilemma, caught between Russian and Western interests.

Geopolitical shifts influence Armenia's stance

Recent events have shaken the confidence of many former Soviet nations in Russia as a trustworthy ally.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine created apprehension among these states about Russia's reliability as a protective ally, with some fearing potential aggression towards them.

Such actions have inadvertently reduced Russia's stronghold on the region.

As a result, other global powers like China and Turkey are looking to enhance their influence in this geopolitical vacuum.

Experts weigh in on Russia's declining influence

Thomas Graham of Yale University opined that the frustrations of former Soviet countries have intensified due to Russia's activities in Ukraine.

Adding to the sentiment, Jaroslava Barbieri, an expert in Russian and post-Soviet affairs at the University of Birmingham, suggested that Russia's standing as a regional security provider has deteriorated.

As expected, the Kremlin is wary of these shifts. Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, stressed the importance of analyzing the current situation carefully, given the evolving geopolitical landscape.

Conclusion

  • Armenia is increasingly leaning towards the US, signifying a possible move away from Russia.
  • The CSTO's reluctance has played a role in this shift, leading to public criticism from Pashinyan.
  • Recent events like Russia's actions in Ukraine have intensified the concerns of former Soviet states about Russia's reliability.
  • Experts believe that Russia's influence in the region is waning, opening opportunities for other global powers.
  • The Kremlin, naturally, is concerned and calls for a thorough assessment of the changing dynamics.