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 Thursday, December 3 2015

Степанян Դավիթ Stepanyan Ստեփանյան David Давид

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Russia's build-up on Armenian-Turkish border became a necessity long ago

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Russia

The downing of the Su-24 plane in the course of anti-terrorism operation in Armenia has considerably deteriorated the Russian-Turkish relations. Experts say that Ankara may even block the Turkish Straits for Russian ships. Do you think there is a red line in this confrontation?     

 

The terror attack on the Russian plane will consistently deteriorate the Russia-Turkey relations. There is no room for doubt. Actually, the relations are already deteriorating and the process will be continuous. Moscow has already taken and keeps taking military-political decisions that Ankara obviously dislikes. Vacation tours to Turkey are no longer sold and the Turkish trucks are standing on the Turkish-Russian border. Moreover, the Russian public is speaking about the Straits, Ararat, Kurdistan, etc. This demonstrates that the entire traditional complex of problems in the Russian-Turkish relations has cropped up again. However, it is hard to forecast the further developments.

 

Armenia, the strategic ally of Russia, is Turkey’s neighbor. In this light, reinforcing of the 102nd Russian military base in Gyumri is much spoken about…   

 

I think the downing of the Russian Su-24 aircraft by Turkish forces has stepped up the enhancement of the Armenia-Russia relations. I have recently returned from Yerevan and everything I heard there comes down to the phrase: 'what did you expect from Turkey?' In this light, the deteriorating relations with Turkey, cynical as it may seem, will encourage our Armenian partners and friends to enhance the relations with Russia even more. I think first of all this will result in Russia's build-up on the Armenian-Turkish border, and if Yerevan agrees, strengthening of the 102nd military base in Gyumri. Such build-up became a necessity long ago.

 

It is natural that the CSTO countries make combined efforts to strengthen their position in the South Caucasus in view of the evident terror threat to the region. Turkey is part of that threat, as it comes out as an air defense force for ISIL. I think such a new situation makes Moscow draw conclusions and speed up efforts to increase the Russian-Armenian cooperation not only to fight terrorism but also to develop the Eurasian Economic Union.

 

Won’t the tension in the Russian-Turkish relations make Moscow toughen its stand on the Karabakh conflict settlement given the Turkey-Azerbaijan tandem?   

 

I do not think the new situation will have any effect on the Karabakh peace process.  Turkey's stand on the Karabakh process may toughen, not else. Russia, in turn, is unlikely to abandon its balanced policy that prevents the Karabakh conflict from thawing.

 

The terror attacks in Paris and Egypt demonstrate the expansion of the ISIS threat geography. The latest steps of Turkey have shown that the ISIS may just as well threaten Armenia… 

 

The threats to the national security of Armenia are growing along with the increase of the so-called Islamic State's influence. First of all, the aggravation of the situation around the activities of the ISIS terrorists creates new threats and challenges for Armenia and other countries adjacent to the war-struck region. The threats are not only geopolitical or political but also religious and even civilizational given the extermination of all Christians in the ISIS-controlled territories regardless of the Christians' nationality.

 

Given the sharp growth of threat to the security of almost all the countries of the region, Armenia also faces a serious challenge, because it is Turkey's neighbor. The terrorist organizations almost openly function in the territory of Turkey. No one can rule out the terrorists’ future actions against Armenia.

 

In this light, Russia should pay more attention to the security of its strategic ally Armenia and continue the process of strengthening of the allied relations. Certainly, Armenia's accession to the Eurasian Economic Union has reaffirmed the level of relations between Moscow and Yerevan. I think this step of the Armenian leadership is of big economic and naturally geopolitical importance to Russia. Nevertheless, I am convinced that we should promote the cooperation with Armenia with due regard for the need to ensure the security of both the region and the CSTO space.

 

Should one promote and strengthen the “Russkiy Mir” (Russian world) through soft power given that Russia has already quitted the hard power in Armenia’s neighbor country Georgia?  

 

There is no need to use soft power in Armenia. I do not think we need to use soft power tools with respect to the brotherly people. The Armenian and Russian nations co-existed in the former USSR for a long time and this could not help leaving positive background in these relations. The large Armenian community in Russia also creates good ties with Russian people. Rather influential forces, which are in geopolitical rivalry with Russia, are trying to destroy these ties. In this light, these ties should be raised to a higher level, but not by soft or hard power. They should simply be developed with due regard for mutual benefit and common interests. Armenia has quite a good image in Russia not least because our country lacks people who can spoil that image. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about Russia’s image in Armenia. The matter concerns Permyakov’s crime, the conflicts in Russia, which are presented as inter-ethnic conflicts, the Russian business in Armenia, which is far from being effective and other cases. We should join efforts to overcome this situation because it serves the interests of our nations. 

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