The benefits of the Russian-Armenian alliance are largely borne by Armenia, not Russia
If the worst comes to worse in Armenia it won’t be a big deal for Russia.
Now to be sure, I still think my analysis here stands – Armenians genuinely do approve of Russia, and even if they didn’t, they certainly approve of Azerbaijan and Turkey far less, and with good reason – but if we do get an anti-Russian Armenian government…
OTOH, Saakashvili also started off by saying he wanted better relations with Russia.
What will happen if Armenia tells the moskal occupants to go home is that while the Starikovs and the Dugins and the Western Russophiles will throw a hissy fit, Russian nationalists will be quite platonic about it.
1. Armenia benefits from its Russia relationship far more than does Russia. The Armenian Lobby is the most powerful ethnic lobby in Russian politics, and probably the only one that makes a discernible impact on Russian foreign policy.
2. Armenia was a real geostrategic asset for the Russian Empire before World War I, when ethnic Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were a potential dagger in the backs of the Turks. Their desire to create a Greater Armenia tallied well with Russia’s centuries-long project to dismantle the Ottoman Empire, and it was their consequent loyalty to Petrograd that more than anything else spurred on the Armenian Genocide. Had Russia won the war, a Greater Armenia would have stretched deep into Anatolia, creating an Orthodox landbridge to Lebanon and the Holy Land. With Russia in control of Tsargrad, and the Greeks recreating Magna Graecia, the Turks would have been bottled up in the Anatolian highlands (perhaps no other nation was spared so catastrophic a 20th century fate as Turkey by the Russian Revolution). Russia, not Britain or the US, would have ruled over the Mediterranean.
Today, these are all ancient pipedreams. The Mediterranean is an American lake and will remain so regardless of what happens in Syria. Turkey dominates the region, economically and demographically; if a century ago there around about as many Greeks and Armenians as there were Turks (!), today there are 80 million Turks to 10 million Greeks and 3 million Armenians. In this context, Armenia is strategically overrated. It is landlocked. It is surrounded by hostile and far more powerful states. It locks Russia into military commitments via the CSTO alliance – for instance, if the Turks were to open up a second front in support of an Azeri invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh. And Iran, a genuinely useful if prickly partner, is accessible via the Caspian anyway.
3. There are negligible numbers of ethnic Russians in Armenia. An anti-Russian turn in Armenia will not impact on the welfare of ethnic Russians. Neither will Armenia reaping the results of its folly.
4. Armenia’s friendship is highly situational. To be sure, it supports Russia today. And Jews also support the US. That doesn’t necessarily imply deep loyalty – just that both states advance their respective peoples’ ethnic genetic interests. When they perceived things were otherwise, they made that known. Obscure historical note: The “tradition” of terrorist bombings of the Moscow Metro began with Armenian nationalists in the 1970s.
This is not surprising because Russia have any deep cultural, linguistic, or genetic links to Armenia. Is is its own ancient civilization that is highly distinct from Russia’s.
Now ditching allies just because you know they aren’t that genuine in their love for you, or because they’re not not pulling their weight, doesn’t look good from the side. It’s not just bad from an ethical perspective, but a reputational one as well. Who’d want to be allies with a blackguard, anyway? This is why, unlike some Russian nationalists, I don’t support unilaterally dissolving the special relationship with Armenia. It’s dishonorable, and won’t bring obvious benefits anyway – for instance, it’s not like it will make Turkey into a genuine friend. However, this is not an excuse for allowing oneself to be cucked and enjoying it, so if the initiative comes from the Armenians themselves – well, no reason why Russia shouldn’t take them up on it.
In this scenario, Azerbaijan will probably take the opportunity to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh issue by force in the next few years. At least seeing the color revolutionaries vainly beseeching their Euro-Atlantic sponsors for help will be amusing. At this point, a rump Armenia terminally disillusioned with the West may go back to Russia anyway. But if it doesn’t, who cares, anyway. By then will be even more irrelevant than it is today.
Main downside for Russia, apart from the obvious one of losing its last major (but isolated) military base in the South Caucasus, is hundreds of thousands of Armenian refugees, as the Azeris proceed to ethnically cleanse that region.
Just to clarify. I don’t want Armenia to turn anti-Russian, nor – more importantly – do I think it will turn anti-Russian. Considering that both Foreign Policy magazineand the Kremlin agree, this is hardly a controversial perspective.
However, if I and Foreign Policy and the Kremlin are all wrong, and the people who see an anti-Russian conspiracy underneath every color revolution are correct after all, it will, at least, not be Russians who will bear the brunt of the ensuing suffering, as happened in the Ukraine.
Source: The Unz Review