George Friedman

The former Soviet republics in the Caucasus -- Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan -- have very different attitudes toward Russia's resurgence. Armenia depends on Russia for its security and is one of Moscow's most loyal allies. Georgia bore the brunt of Russia's resurgence in 2008, when Russia invaded two breakaway Georgian republics (where Russian troops remain stationed), and is likely to resist any further encroachment of Russian influence. Azerbaijan is cooperative with Russia but uses its energy wealth and support for pipeline projects that would not serve Moscow's interests as leverage against its large neighbor.

Armenia

Armenia, located in the South Caucasus, serves as a territorial buffer for Russia to the south. It also gives Moscow a strategic foothold in the center of the Caucasus because it borders both Georgia and Azerbaijan, as well as Turkey and Iran.

Russia's Levers

  • Political: Russia supports and is allied with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and his Republican Party of Armenia. Moscow also has ties to former presidents Levon Ter Petrosian and Robert Kocharian.
  • Social: Armenia represents an Orthodox Christian foothold in the predominantly Muslim Caucasus. Also, a large Armenian diaspora of 1.5 million to 2.5 million people lives in Russia.
  • Security: Russia is Armenia's security guarantor against Azerbaijan in the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. More than 5,000 Russian troops are stationed in Armenia in Russia's 102nd Military Base in Gyumri, and Russia has extended its lease of military facilities to 2044. Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Rapid Reaction Force.
  • Economic: Russia owns most of the pipeline, energy, rail and telecommunications assets in Armenia. Remittances from Armenians working in Russia amount to around 10 percent of Armenia's gross domestic product.

Russia's Successes, Obstacles and Ambitions

During the past two years, Russia strengthened its military presence in Armenia by extending its lease of military facilities to 2044 and getting permission to move Russian troops throughout the country. Russia also manipulated normalization talks between Armenia and Turkey in order to strengthen its relationships with Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Russia's goals for Armenia for 2012 and beyond include maintaining its current levers in Armenia and preparing Armenia for possible integration into the Common Economic Space and Eurasian Union. Russia also wants to sustain the divisions between Armenia and Azerbaijan (and Baku's ally, Turkey).

Armenia's Position and Strategy


George Friedman

George Friedman is the CEO and chief intelligence officer of Stratfor, a private intelligence company located in Austin, TX.