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An Unequal Relationship: Armenia and Russia

When Armenians ask me what relationship I think Armenia needs to have with Russia, I answer with a variation of the following:

Armenia’s population: 3 million
Russia’s population: 144 million (48x larger)

Armenia’s landmass: 31,201 km2 (41,201-10,000 km2 gifted to Azerbaijan by Traitor Nikol)
Russia’s landmass: 17,100,000 km2 (548x larger)

The pink is Russia, the purple is Armenia.

Armenia’s time zones: 1
Russia’s time zones: 12

Armenia’s GDP: $12.4 billion
Russia’s GDP: $1.65 trillion (133x larger)

Armenia’s army: 46,000 active personnel (not like it matters, apparently)
Russia’s army: 900,000 active personnel (19x larger)

Armenia’s nuclear warheads: 0
Russia’s nuclear warheads: 6,800 (∞x larger)

Armenia’s natural gas reserves: 0
Russia’s natural gas reserves: 1.68 trillion cubic feet (∞x larger)

Armenia’s oil reserves: 0
Russia’s oil reserves: 80 billion barrels (∞x larger)

The distance from Armenia’s northern border to Russia’s southern border is about 100 miles, which is about the same distance as from Los Angeles to San Diego.

You get the point.

During the past decade, people within Armenia – locals, Diasporans who moved there, or foreigners living in the country – worked diligently, funded by foreign money, to convince Armenia’s population and government to shift Armenia away from Russia and toward Europe and, more generally, the West. Many of these people currently serve or previously served in Traitor Nikol Pashinyan’s government.

For years, they did anything and everything to sell Armenians on the idea of the Russian boogeyman, despite the fact that Russia was our biggest trading partner, our main supplier of arms by a mile, and the source of most of our foreign direct investment.

Babken Der Grigorian, Sara Anjargolian
Anti-Russia Protestors Babken Der Grigorian, former deputy Diaspora minister, and Sara Anjargolian, Diaspora Commissioner Zareh Sinanyan’s secretary

The framing of the issues was that Armenia was selling off its sovereignty to Russia. The commonly used example was the sale of strategic assets like the energy network and gas distribution system to Russia. This, of course, was without concern for the counterfactual question: who else was going to buy, refurbish, and operate an aging gas and energy distribution system of an impoverished country with an impoverished customer base? There was never any answer because there was no one.

What’s more, Russia, which controls the gas supply and distribution networks of most of eastern Europe, was supposed to be replaced in Armenia by Iran, according to the ridiculous idealists who would prefer to exchange the relationship with one of the most powerful countries in the world with one of the world’s greatest pariahs, thus threatening the well-being of the country just to say they were “free” of Russia. Or perhaps it was Azerbaijani gas they wanted? One step closer, it seems.

Once Traitor Nikol came to power, he wasted no time spitting in Russia’s face in every way possible. He appointed an anti-Russian CivilNet columnist and activist Armen Grigoryan as the secretary of the National Security Council, one of the highest civilian positions that has to deal with the Russian military and security services; he recalled Artsakh Hero Yuri Khachaturov from the Russian-led CSTO and arrested him without informing Russia; and, he appointed known anti-Russian activists to minister and deputy minister positions whose previous years’ work was significantly informed by anti-Russian activities. These are people who organized and participated in anti-Russia protests, made anti-Russia placards, wrote anti-Russia articles, gave anti-Russia interviews.

Superpowers have long memories. They watch, they wait, they know a time will come. And this isn’t Russia’s first rodeo.

War came. Russia was…reserved. Then, Russia stepped in. It saved Armenia – but at great cost.

Now, and don’t delude yourselves, whatever is left of Artsakh is a Russian protectorate.

We as Armenians have idealistic fantasies of what and where we are. Western-minded Armenians from Armenia and the Diaspora have an especially hard time understanding or refuse to accept the realities of Armenia’s relationship with Russia and what it needs to be.

An Armenian from America – and his/her acolytes in Armenia – doesn’t look at the Armenia-Russia relationship as an Armenian from Armenia but as an American. They can’t understand – or, don’t want to understand – that Armenia is and must be dependent on Russia. The American parallel would be to look at the Armenia-Russia relationship not as one would the America-Russia relationship but as the relationship between Cuba and the United States. We, as Armenians, are not America, we’re Cuba. In fact, we’re in a much worse place than Cuba, which is an island and has no immediate enemies. Nevertheless, when Cuba decided that it was going to try to remove itself from the American yoke 60 (!) years ago, America made it pay a dear price – and continues to do so to this day. You know why? Because America rules that roost; the Western Hemisphere is America’s neighborhood. You may not like it but international politics and guns don’t care about what you like and don’t like and what you learned in your human rights class at UCLA.

Havana, Cuba, 2016.

America decides what happens in its neighborhood, not Cuba, not Guatemala, not Nicaragua, not Bolivia. Russia decides what happens in its neighborhood, not Georgia, not Belarus, not Ukraine, not Armenia. And if it’s not Russia, it’s going to be Turkey, so take your pick.

Yes, you can continue to live in the fantasyland of your textbook democracy and independence and sovereignty or you can enter the real world and understand that Armenia has an issue with surviving as an entity and the only country with the resources and a modicum of willingness to help in the ways that we need help is Russia. Nobody else. If it wasn’t clear before, it should be clear now. We’ll see.

So, those people protesting Russia all those years, those Traitor Nikol officials and supporters who were groveling on their knees for Russia’s help during the war but who have hardly made a peep about their past indiscretions or issued apologies for bringing Armenia to the brink of extinction through their anti-Russia adventurism over the past decade, not only didn’t get what they wanted – the removal of Russia from the Armenian homeland – they ushered the Russians in. Whatever is left of Artsakh is no longer sovereign, it exists at the pleasure of Russia. It exists because Russia protects it, not Armenia, which refused to protect it under Traitor Nikol’s rule (yet he continues to rule).

Russian peacekeepers, Artsakh, 2020.

This is what happens when you spit in the face of your local superpower. This is what happens when you’re the neighborhood runt but before you’ve done anything to strengthen yourself, to learn, to get bigger, you pick fights with the alpha dog instead of making friends with him and hoping that he’ll help you and protect you.

We can learn to manage the relationship with Russia well, as was done in the past, and be able to maintain our sovereignty, which is what I and others have argued for years, or we can pretend that Russia isn’t there and suffer greater consequences because of it. The choice isn’t between submission and submission, the choice is between reality and fantasy.

If we as a people are not honest about the geopolitical reality of Armenia, we will continue to threaten its existence and our very existence as a people. This choice, at least, is ours.


  1. Hovsep Avagyan Hovsep Avagyan Nov 23, 2020

    No doubt regarding Russias weight and the fact that we have/had to accurately manage relations with Russia. It’s the easy part. This is though not enough in order to have Russians on your side when it comes to a war on a territory that Russians have always acknowledged as Azerbaijan. Good relations are not enough to secure a support against Azerbaijan who is an important partner of Russia (leaving out for simplicity Turkey). Also in the future it will be necessary but will not be enough.

  2. Sevan Sevan Nov 25, 2020

    I have always seen Russia as a brotherly country but Russia with its choices is doomed to collapse again. U.S examples are not only about Cuba.There are many positive examples as well. Bulgaria is a Slavic, Orthodox former Warsaw Pact country. It was mostly undevelopped with nothing functional. Today ıt has a certain standard. I will not even mention various examples like South Korea and so on. So for Russia we should have Kocharyan or Serzh forever but if somebody else comes we are doomed. Yes Russia is a world power but after seeing the pr0gress made by Maoist hardline communist China, Russia’s choices seem as very bad and doomed to fail again
    Russians never show a good example of their own among countries under their patronage. Let them stay in Armenia but let them make their allies thrive a bit too. With Russians I am affraid that Armenia will.never make a step forward in anything. Brains go outside. Country gets depopulated. If Belarus and Armenia are the good examples of Russia then being under Russia will.never seem to be a good thing for anybody. They should also learn from their past mistakes and not invest too much in individuals. People will stay individuals will go.

  3. Arevordi Arevordi Dec 3, 2020

    Bravo once again, William.

    You will make many enemies in within the cesspool called the American-Armenian community because you speak truth, you have intellectual and spiritual depth and more importantly, unlike a vast majority of our dumbed-down compatriots, you actually understand how the game of geopolitics is played. Politics is not a street fight or a family dispute (how Armenians generally view politics) but rather a high stakes game of chess. Those who play the game well, live and prosper. Those who don’t play the game well, die or barely exist. Because we Armenians are politically-illiterate and self-destruction we are barely existing. In fact, we are always one bad incident away from disappearing from the world’s map once again.

    Your analogy about Cuba is spot on. That the United States exploited Cuba is altogether another topic of discussion. The American empire was the dominant force in Central America and the Caribbean. Relying on a faraway Soviet Union, Cuba chose to break away from the American empire which was essentially next door. Cuba therefore eventually broke-down when the Soviet Union disappeared. Moral of the story: It is wiser to stay close to a dominant power that is geographically close to you and try to work out any flaws that may exist in the relationship through dialogue and cooperation. Similarly, Armenia is in Russia’s political sphere. I would even take it one step further. I would even say Armenia was actually resurrected by the Russian Empire in the 19th century, and Armenia was made into a modern republic by Stalin’s Soviet Union in the 20th century. Therefore, besides being in the Bear’s sphere of influence, we are also a by-product of the Bear’s geostrategic wishes and desires. A wise nation would take all this into serious consideration.

    Armenia can survive breaking away from the Armenian Diaspora but it will never survive breaking away from Russia. Although there are some naturally occurring flaws in the relationship, Russia has actually been a good/reliable partner for us. For example: Russia is Armenia’s largest trade partner and investor. Armenians products are well known throughout the Russian Federation. Russians makeup the largest percentage of tourists in Armenia. The Russian-Armenian Diaspora is by-far the most affluent in the world. Large numbers of Armenians can be found in the highest levels of Russian society. Russia provides Armenia with low cost nuclear fuel, natural gas and oil. Russia provides Armenia will low cost modern weaponry and military raining. Russia protects Armenia’s western border with Turkey, giving Armenia the opportunity to concentrate its efforts on a more manageable Azerbaijan. That we were not able to properly deploy our military and protect Artsakh is nobody’s fault but ours. More specifically, the historic tragedy we have on our hands today is the fault of our NED (i.e. CIA) and Soros financed government in Yerevan.

    Which bring me to my final point: Although Armenia’s is desperately dependent on Russia for survival in a Turkic/Islamic region like the south Caucasus, large segments of Armenian society still look to the Anglo-American-Jewish world for salvation. We vividly saw this self-destructive behavior during this disastrous war. For 30 years our people has been brainwashed to see Russians – who actually make our existence in a very dangerous region of the world possible – as our enemies. Similarly, for 30 years we have been brainwashed to see Westerners – who at best would careless about us – as our friends. In this regard, Western financed NGOs and the North American-Armenian Diaspora have played a very toxic role in Armenia. Due to our people’s pride, political illiteracy, materialism, tribalism, shortsightedness, arrogance and love of all things Western – especially the toxic concept of “democracy” and “globalization” – we have utterly ruined Armenia economically, financially, politically and culturally. And now, we have also lost a very significant portion of our historic territory.

    Our landlocked Armenia is too small, too poor, too weak and too remote. The south Caucasus is too backward, too Islamic, too Turkic and therefore too dangerous. At this point, the safest thing we can do as a people is to seek a closer union with the Russian Federation. That is our only chance for survival. As long as we keep our language, our church and our military, I don’t care what the union looks like. Real Armenian patriots (i.e. those who actually think about the country’s long term health and well being) need to start thinking along these lines. The past 30 years have been too traumatic for us. I’m afraid, we Armenians are not ready for full independence. The safest bet for us is to find common language with our Russian partners and stick as close to the Bear as possible.

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