ON RUSSIAN-ARMENIAN RELATIONSHIP
Gagik Ter-Harutyunyan

http://noravank.am/eng/articles/detail.php?ELEMENT_ID=5049
28.09.2010

The August visit of the RF president D.Medvedev to Yerevan, during
which a treaty on Russian military base was prolonged and got new
content (it will also provide the security of the RA), draw a wide
response in political circles. Alongside with the positive response,
negative opinions can also be found, according to which this treaty
not only contradicts to our national interests but it restricts the
sovereignty of the RA. In this regard let's try to present some expert
considerations which will promote more complex perception of the issue.

Turkey: the issue of top priority for the national security of the RA.

The main purpose of the 102nd Russian military base dislocated in the
RA is the provision of the security of the RA in case of possible
Turkish aggression - a powerful in a military aspect state, which
possesses modern weapon and large army. The strength of land forces
only (the biggest in NATO) is about 450 thousand soldiers, not taking
into account the gendarmerie. So, one should state that the potential
of the RA Armed Forces in the foreseeable future is incomparable with
the armed forces of Turkey.

At the same time, the military issues are considered mainly in
political context and the probability of the threat by Turkish armed
forces to the security of the RA should be assessed. In this aspect,
let us consider the period which is characterized by the developments
round the NKR, without going back to the earlier historical precedents.

It is known that Turkey de-facto is a party to the conflict round the
NKR and from the very beginning and up till now it supplied Azerbaijan
with military technology and "advisers" (as well as "volunteers"
who took part in the military operations on the earlier stages). But
Turkish assistance was not restricted only to that. In spring 1992
when the situation on Karabakh front was changing not in favour of
Azerbaijani side (particularly Shushi was freed and Lachin corridor was
opened), Turkey decided to interfere directly into the unfavourable
developments and attack militarily the RA. Ankara stated that the
RA prepares aggression against Nakhichevan, meanwhile, according to
the 1921 Kars Treaty Turkey is acting as a guarantor of the security
of Nakhichevan. The units of the 3rd Field Army, a big amount of
armor and aviation were dislocated at the Armenian-Turkish boarder
(especially at the Nakichevan-RA line), and the RA Armed Forces were
in standby. The collision would have been inevitable if the Commander
in Chief of the Armed Forces of the CIS, Air Marshal Y.

Shaposhnikov did not state on May 20 in "Zvatnots" airport that "if
the third party joins it (Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict) we will be
on the threshold of the World War III".

Armenia and Turkey were at the threshold of war in 1993 too, when
Ankara, in the hope that the domestic political crisis in Russia
("parliamentary disturbance") would not allow that country interfering
into the Armenian-Turkish problems, blamed the RA that there Kurdish
fighters' bases on its territory and concentrated its troops on the
boarder. The events developed in accordance with the 1992 scenario
(by the way, those developments are comprehensively represented in the
memories of Leonidas Khrizantopulos, the then ambassador of Greece to
the RA). But Russia's tough interference averted the war this time too.

As we can see, our security in recent times was provided by the
allied and strategic relations formed with Russia. It is also known
that political stance of today's Turkey in regard to Armenia,
as the recent development came to prove, has not changed and it
is conditioned by the Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijani factors. At
the same time, as a result of the processes going on on the global
plane, this country is less controlled by the United States than
it was before. This circumstance, as well as the development of the
militaristic-religious and nationalist ideological trends in domestic
political field, makes Turkey an aggressive and unpredictable country
which, at least in the foreseeable future, will remain a primary
threat to our national security.

It should also be taken into consideration that the observed "retreat"
of the US from the region may cause chaos in the Bigger Middle East and
Armenian-Russian strategic partnership in this context will contribute
to Armenia avoiding undesirable scenarios as far as it is possible.

The issue of sovereignty. In the discussions held the thesis that the
presence of the 102nd military base restricts sovereignty of the RA
is speculated on. In this regard let us mention that the presence of
foreign military bases in different countries, as a rule, presuppose
mutual interests. For example, today the US has 600-800 military
bases in different parts of the world (depending of the criteria of
estimation), about half of which is situated in Europe. In particular
more than 70 thousand American militaries are dislocated in Germany,
12 thousand in Great Britain and in Italy. There are also American
military bases in Belgium, Spain, Poland and other European countries.

But the public in those countries does not consider that the presence
of those bases restricts their sovereignty to some extent.

Let us also mention that the level of sovereignty of Armenia, which
is now a subject to discuss, due to its multi-vector foreign policy,
is rather high. In particular, the dependence of the RA on the
"interference of other countries" and "external factors", according
to the rating data published in 2009 by the authoritative "Foreign
Policy Magazine" and "The Fund for Peace", is much lower than the one
of our regional neigbours1. The index of the RA, calculated by the
aforementioned criteria, is 5.9, meanwhile, the index of Turkey is
6.3, and Azerbaijan (where, by the way, the Russian military base
- Gabalin's Radar System - is still working) - 7.0. The highest
index has Georgia - 9.5: this country can be reckoned among the
"failed" countries which are "managed from abroad". Let us mention
for comparison, that the corresponding index of Germany (where about
70 thousand American soldiers are dislocated) is 2.4.

Thus, the issues of military base deployment and the level of
sovereignty of the RA, as well as of other countries, are not
interrelated.

Azerbaijani factor. While discussing Armenian-Russian relations one
can often hear the idea that the presence of Russian military base
does not provide security of the NKR in case of probable war with
Azerbaijan. Undoubtedly, from the legal point of view the NKR is not
a subject of Armenian-Russian relations and the 102nd military base
has no authority to interfere in the conflict between the NKR and
Azerbaijan. But in this case the following circumstances should be
taken into consideration:

in contrast to Turkey, military possibilities of Azerbaijan and RA-NKR
are comparable, i.e. Armenian side may, at least, respond adequately to
the encroachments of Azerbaijan; in case of possible military collision
between the NKR and Azerbaijan the guarantees of the security of the
RA by the Russian Federation will mostly contribute to concentrating
all the powers of the RA to the protection of security of the NKR
(the guarantor of which de-facto it is), because it will notably rid
itself from the duty of protecting the borders between the RA and
Turkey and the RA and Azerbaijan.

The treaty between the RA and RF is of political importance and the
availability of such a treaty reduces the probability of war against
the NKR. In Baku they are well aware of this circumstance and they
state on the official level that the treaty signed by the president
of country, which is Minsk group member, advantages Armenia too much
and such a step proves the partial stance of Russia.

It is also remarkable that the treaty on military base was signed only
in two months after Sargsyan-Aliyev meeting which took place in June
2010 through intermediary of D. Medvedev. As it is known Aliyev left
Saint-Petersburg demonstratively which allowed experts to suppose
that at the meeting the president of the RF offered Azerbaijani
party new and not very advantageous approaches (some called it the
"Petersburg principles"). In this context one should not exclude
that the conclusion of Yerevan treaty was a kind of response to the
president of Azerbaijan in order to make him more tolerant.

It is not a mere chance that on the eve of the RF president's visit
to Yerevan Turkish president Abdulla Gul arrived to Baku and signed
a treaty "On Strategic Partnership and Mutual Assistance"2. It is
characteristic that on those days the reports about the deployment
of the Turkish bases in Nakhichevan in the information field became
more frequent.

Comparing Armenian-Russian and Turkish-Azerbaijani treaties one may
come to a conclusion that, according to traditional geopolitics (it is
suffice to remember that since the 18th century Russia has conducted
wars against Turkey for 12 times), in our region distinct tendencies on
singling out two political poles - the RF-RA and Turkey-Azerbaijan -
can be observed. This is an important circumstance in the aspect of
further developments and, perhaps, it substantiates the analytical
forecasts, according to which the processes of "division" and
"splitting", which are characteristic for the stage of transition
from uni-polar world to multi-polar one, will be substituted by the
integration processes based on civilizational characteristics. In this
context the deepening of Turkey-Iran and Israel-US contradictions are
observed in the Middle East. Let us mention that the new political
logic formed within the region should soften the diametrical positions
of Russia, US and EU in regard to the formerly existing problems (such
tendencies can already be observed) and this regards to the NKR too.

Such a situation attaches a special value to the balanced relations
which are developed in the RF-US-NATO-EU plane as well.

Some conclusions. It is known that the advantageous treaties and strong
foreign military bases can only increase the level of the security
of the state but the main guaranty of the national security still
remains the necessary and suffice amount of military and political,
intellectual and spiritual and social-economic resources of your
own. In this aspect today a special importance is attached to the
intellectual resources, because in the future the outcome of the
conflicts will be conditioned first of all by quantity and quality of
such resources. The index of such resources is the capability of the
society to make forecasts on tactical and strategic prospects. This is
especially important on current transitional stage when geopolitical
shifts and abrupt changes of the notions and perceptions which seemed
to be invariable are taking place. Just due to the expected changes
today the number of the forecasting and scenario elaborations in the
leading countries has increased. It would also be useful to mention
that among one of the reasons of the collapse of the USSR the experts
call the lack of the leadership of the power to pay attention to the
sphere of forecast researches and that is why it was not ready to
respond adequately in new situations.

1
http://www.fundforpeace.org/web/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=391&Itemid=549

2 http://www.regnum.ru/news/armenia/1315425.html