9:48 am - Wednesday August 27, 2014

Chatham House: Russia purchased Armenia

chatham house 300x237 Chatham House: Russia purchased ArmeniaRussia’s influence in the South Caucasus  and Central Asia is in decline but it keeps pushing against the tide,  Chatham House says in its report “The Long Goodbye: Waning Russian  Influence in the South Caucasus and Central Asia.”

“The South Caucasus, with its potential interstate conflict, presents  a complex arena for Russian soft power. The levers of Russian  influence here vary. They are economic and military in Armenia,  scarcely present in Azerbaijan, and essentially related to negative  publicity as well as economics with regard to Georgia,” the reports  says, adding that Russian influence in Armenia is so great that lack  of sovereignty should be Armenia’s number one concern. The  governments in Azerbaijan and especially Georgia, where there is less  Russian soft power at work, have more traditional security concerns  about Russia. Armenia does not share these concerns (at least

openly).

Concerning Russia’s influence on Armenia’s energy market, the report  says: “In 2003, the CEO of United Energy Systems (UES), Anatoliy  Chubais, outlined plans to integrate the South Caucasus into a  Russia- led energy-supply network through ten former Soviet  republics, as well as plans to ensure electricity outflows from  Armenia to Turkey and Azerbaijan. Chubais denied that UES sought  political gains but he has been a leading proponent of the concept of  a Eurasian ‘liberal empire’ and his actions gave Russia almost total control of Armenia’s energy market. It was Robert Kocharian,  Armenia’s president from 1998 to 2008, who effectively sold off  Armenia to Chubais and other Russian commercial and political  interests. Through Gazprom’s ownership of its Armenian subsidiary,  ArmRosGazprom, 80% of Armenia’s energy structure is  Russian-controlled, including the majority of the Iran–Armenia gas  pipeline, thus ensuring that Armenia cannot become an independent  transit country should Iranian gas ever reach European markets.

Russia has also bought up all but two of Armenia’s hydroelectric and  nuclear power stations, in exchange for writing off Armenian debt.”

Regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the reports says: “Russia’s  support of Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute has been based on  several interests: limiting Turkish influence, countering a  Russophobic Azerbaijan in the early years of independence, and  long-standing cultural ties reflected in the large Armenian diaspora  in Russia.  Russia’s positioning has given it a powerful lever of  influence over Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as external parties.

However, its backing of Armenia’s stance has changed in recent years: during his presidency, Medvedev invested more effort in mediation  than his predecessors and the Azerbaijani first family has strong interests in Russia. But there are forces deriving financial profit  and political leverage from continued tension and the status quo.

Russia sees its mediation over Nagorno-Karabakh in terms of its influence and may not be genuinely interested in a resolution. This is shown by Russian objections to an international peacekeeping force and to changes in the make-up of the Minsk Group, which has been mediating on the conflict since 1992. Russia has proposed deploying its own troops instead. This would strengthen its position, but seems unlikely to be accepted by Azerbaijan. It is an open question whether Russia would support Armenia militarily should Azerbaijan decide to retake the territory by force.”

http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/public/Research/Russia%20and%20Eurasia/0612bp_nixey.pdf

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