Why is Armenia Ukrainian? – OpEd – Eurasia Review


Historically, there has never been a conflict between Armenians and Ukrainians. Armenians have lived in Ukraine for centuries, and the Armenian Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, modeled after the ancient Armenian Cathedral of Ani in Yerevan and built in 1363-1370, is in Lviv, in the western Ukraine. Ukrainians commemorate Joseph Stalin’s ethnic cleansing of Crimean Tatars and other Crimean national minorities in 1944, an upheaval that included 10,000 Armenians.

Why then is Armenia following Russia’s shadow and adopting hostile policies towards Ukraine? Armenia’s Ukrainephobia is reflected in five key policies that show it acts, like Belarus, as a proxy state for Russia.

The first is that Armenia has consistently voted at the UN to support Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. It would appear that Armenian politicians and diplomats are not trained in international law and therefore do not understand that the concept of “self-determination” does not apply to state territories. In international law, “self-determination” only applies to the right of countries to secede from empires or multinational federations.

Armenia’s nationalist territorial claims to Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, have led to double standards in the country’s diplomacy. If “self-determination” was applied in the manner defined by Armenia. the Russian Federation would disintegrate as 21 autonomous republics, including Chechnya, would all have the right to secede. Similarly, the so-called “self-determination” of Crimea and Karabakh is not compatible with international law and the Charter of the United Nations.

Secondly, and in continuation of the first point, Armenia supports separatism in the Ukrainian region of Donbass, in eastern Ukraine, by supporting the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) controlled by the Kremlin and the People’s Republics of Lugansk (LNR). As with Crimea, Armenia provides “humanitarian” and military support to the DNR and LNR, including Karabakh mercenaries fighting against Ukraine. Armenian mercenaries from Karabakh joined mercenaries from the Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, both occupied by Russia since the early 1990s, fighting on behalf of Russian imperialism. Armenia has become a conduit for Syrian mercenaries to fight for Russia in Ukraine.

Within the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization), the Kremlin’s response to NATO, Armenia is firmly anchored with its hawks, Russia and Belarus. Three Central Asian members of the CSTO – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – do not support Russian-backed separatism in Eurasia. Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev clearly refused, in front of Russian President Vladimir Putin, to recognize the DNR and the LNR.

Third, with Armenia so tightly integrated into the warmongering wing of the CSTO, it is perhaps unsurprising that Yerevan never condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Armenia went a step further and not only did not impose sanctions but, together with Georgia, helped Russia to evade Western sanctions.

Margarita Simonyan, the Armenian head of the Kremlin RT and Sputnik propaganda channel, expressed strong support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She tweeted: ‘This is a standard parade rehearsal; it’s just that this year we decided to hold the parade in Kyiv. Simonyan regurgitated Kremlin propaganda, saying, “No one is fighting Ukrainians! We liberate Ukraine!’ Simonyan ridiculed anti-war protests in Russia, saying “if you’re ashamed of being Russian now, don’t worry, you’re not Russian”.

Simonyan shares the views of Russian fascists and White Russian imperialists who call on Russia to launch more deadly attacks on Ukraine. After the assassination of the daughter of fascist Alexander Dugin near Moscow, Simonyan called on Russia to bomb decision-making centers in Ukrainian cities.

Fourth, because Russia lost a large amount of military hardware in the war in Ukraine, it sought supplies from its proxy allies in Eurasia. China and Turkey have refused to supply military hardware to Russia, which embarrassingly, and as a supposed “great power”, has been forced to hand out a begging bowl.

Iran diplomatically supported Russia in the war, refusing to call Moscow the aggressor and blaming the United States and NATO for the war. Iran has denied the US claim that, along with the supply of drones, its military support for Russia “deepens an alliance with Iran to kill Ukrainians”. Iran’s military cooperation with Russia predated the current war in Ukraine and is said to have undergone no change.

Armenia has proven to be different from China, Turkey and Iran and is willing to help Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine. Armenia has donated Soviet and Russian military equipment to Russia which has never hidden its intention to use them in its genocidal war against Ukraine and the Ukrainians. Four Armenian SU-30 jet fighters were donated to Russia.

Finally, Armenia is a geopolitical base for Russian attempts to maintain its sphere of influence in Eurasia. The number of Russian military bases in Armenia continues to grow; a new base is being built in the Tuvash region, on the border with Azerbaijan. Acting as a proxy state of Russia, Armenia plays the same role in the South Caucasus as Belarus does in the western region of Eurasia.

Armenia’s deep military and intelligence ties with Russia are linked to the same close ties with Iran, a country designated by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism.

It is unclear against whom Armenia feels threatened for agreeing to act as a forward Russian military base and proxy state. After all, the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia would enter a “new phase” with progress recorded after four face-to-face meetings and hundreds of phone calls between representatives of the two countries. The EU is brokering negotiations for a post-conflict peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The normalization of Armenia’s relations with its two neighbours, Turkey and Azerbaijan, should cause Armenia to question why the country needs so many Russian military bases. If it is not a question of defending the country against neighbors with whom peace treaties will be signed, Russian military bases can fulfill only one function, that of being anti-Western outposts.

Ukraine has never adopted a policy hostile to Armenia’s national interests or a discriminatory policy towards Armenians living in Ukraine. Unfortunately, Armenia – acting as a proxy state for Russia – has pursued five policies hostile to Ukraine and Western interests in Eurasia and the Greater Middle East.

Taras Kuzio is Professor of Political Science at Kyiv Mohyla National Academy

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