Since Nikol Pashinian came to power, the issue of relations with Russia has been a permanent and main agenda of Armenia’s foreign policy. The new authorities have been very careful with this sensitive issue, very well aware of the great influence that Russia has, not only on Armenia’s foreign policy, but also in internal, military and economic matters.
Even prior to the final victory of the velvet Revolution, Pashinian publicly stated that Armenia’s foreign policy orientation is not subject to change and the country will continue to remain faithful to all its alliances.
In spite of these assurances, it is obvious that Russia is not very enthusiastic about the changes which are taking place in Armenia. On different occasions and in many ways Moscow expresses its inclinations. On the other hand, Yerevan spares no effort to alleviate and dispel all concerns.
There are also obstacle which are created by circles within Armenia itself. The Pashinian government is under constant criticism from different sides. Politicians who are sympathetic to the former regime, as well as pro-revolution commentators and the media are trying to infuriate the Armenian-Russian relations. The pro-Russian forces are accusing Pashinian in jeopardizing the ties with Russia and undermining the trust between the two countries. On the other hand, the pro-Western forces are attacking Russia regularly, sometimes without justification.
Examples are many and wide-ranging. In the last days, both sides of the spectrum have equally exploited the absence of congratulations from the Russian president Putin to Pashinian on his victory in the recent parliamentary elections.
While public discussions on these issues continue, the position of the citizens of Armenia was remarkable. The forces which were advocating an anti-Russian policy, received less votes than expected during December 9th elections. The “Us” alliance and the “Sasna Zerer” party were two such forces who underperformed and were left out of the new National Assembly, although many thought that these two forces will be represented in the next Parliament. The same was true with the forces that are accusing Pashinian in endangering Armenia’s relations with Russia.
Regardless of the concerns that Armenia has with the issue of Russia selling large quantities of modern weapons to Azerbaijan and Russia’s unhappiness with the political processes in Armenia, the strategic interests of both sides require that these relations not be subject to any major disturbance.
As it is often said, there are no permanent friendships in politics but there are mutual interests. Today, as well as for the foreseeable future, the interests of both Armenia and Russia coincide in the Caucasus region.