The sudden regime change in Armenia following the Velvet Revolution was speculated to have far-reaching effects on the security dynamics in the South Caucasus, particularly with Russia. The Velvet Revolution brought about the downfall of the pro-Russian autocratic leader of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan.
After Nikol Pashinyan joined the ranks of Prime Ministership in Armenia, he assured Moscow that there was no ‘geopolitical context’ to the revolution. The Russian President Vladimir Putin had been on the edge with neighbouring Yerevan by the potential diffusion of mass anti-dictatorial movements to his own country. Putin is known to have protected autocrats in the neighbourhood such as Ukraine, Belarus and Western Europe and more recently, the United States.
Although Moscow is keenly aware that the revolution in Armenia had domestic causes largely isolated from the geopolitical situation, it is not entirely sure that things will remain the same in the future. But Pashinyan’s reassurances about no major change in Armenia’s foreign policy do little to eliminate all the Kremlin’s doubts about the current government.
According to Euractiv Russia is worried about the influence of societal actors in Armenia’s foreign policy agenda after the revolution. “There is an alarming feeling in Armenia that strategic alignment with Russia did not live up to the expectations in the areas of security and economy.” Moreover, recent tensions in bilateral relations over the prosecution of former President Robert Kocharian and former Chief of the General Staff Yuri Khachaturov exemplifies Russia’s distrust in Pashinyan’s Armenia.
Furthermore, Armenian authorities raided the South Caucasian Railway Company (a subsidiary of Russian state-owned railroad company) offices in Yerevan in August for widespread irregularities amounting to $60 million.
And now Armenia is also looking for lower gas tariffs with Russia even though it’s substantially lower than what Moscow chargers European consumers. And Armenia is also pressing for closer ties with west governments. For the time being, Russia is treading cautiously in Armenia.
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