by David Boyajian, for VT
President Putin has been making some astonishing demands, including:
- NATO mustn’t admit additional countries near Russia, such as Ukraine and Georgia.
- NATO must cease military activity in non-NATO territories: Georgia, Ukraine, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and parts of eastern Europe.
Yet, incredibly, Putin has himself been enabling a NATO member’s aggression bordering Russia. In 2020, the Kremlin embraced Turkey’s sending American-designed/equipped F-16s and Bayraktar drones containing NATO components into Azerbaijan.
Turkey and Azerbaijan (“one nation, two states”) subsequently defeated the Armenian populated Artsakh Republic/Nagorno-Karabagh and Russia’s longtime ally, Armenia. Israel and Pakistan backed Azerbaijan militarily.
The brutal 44-day war ended with a so-called peace agreement on November 9, 2020. Russia facilitated Turkey’s (and, de facto, NATO’s) participation in Putin’s self-defeating grudge war against Armenians:
- Putin stood aside as Turkey openly deployed troops, weapons, and thousands of Russian-hating international terrorists into Azerbaijan.
- Turkey and Azerbaijan struck parts of Armenia, not just Artsakh. Yet Russia and the Russian-led CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) patently ignored their defense pacts with Armenia.
- For decades, Russia had stopped battles over Artsakh between Azerbaijan and Armenians at an early stage despite Artsakh’s lacking a defense treaty with Russia. This time, though, Moscow intervened only belatedly (November 2020) as it posted Russian “peacekeeping” troops in parts of Artsakh.
- Moscow welcomed Turkish soldiers to partner with Russians in “monitoring” the peace agreement.
- Since the war ended, Putin and the CSTO (Azerbaijan isn’t a member) have shamelessly humiliated their Armenian ally. For instance, Russia is permitting Azeri troops — unquestionably at Turkey’s urging — to invade southern Armenia, seize highways, kill civilians, and attack Armenia’s diminished military.
- Russia and the CSTO continue to rebuff Yerevan’s legitimate requests for assistance.
- In January, Putin promptly dispatched CSTO troops into member Kazakhstan to subdue violent protests.
- NATO never signed a formal agreement barring eastward expansion. Therefore, despite the Kremlin’s contention, NATO isn’t legally required to bar Ukraine’s possible membership. Russia and the CSTO are, however, legally required to adhere to their signed, formal defense pacts with Armenia but aren’t doing so.
Russia’s Angry President
Elected on an anti-corruption platform in 2018’s democratic “Velvet Revolution,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was reelected in 2021.
Russia dislikes democratic leaders. They’re harder to arm-twist and bribe. True, Pashinyan has been somewhat friendlier to Western nations than Armenia’s earlier leaders.
Yet, post-independence (1991), Yerevan has maintained excellent political and economic relations with the EU, U.S., and NATO. In 2005, America built one of its largest embassies in the world under President Robert Kocharyan, a Putin favorite.