Official Yerevan has reacted very cautiously to the dramatic developments in Ukraine, with President Serzh Sarkisian expressing serious concern and calling for dialogue between conflicting parties.
“The Ukrainian events are a matter of serious concern to all of us. We regret profoundly that numerous losses of human lives’ were registered in Kiev,” he said at a European People’s Party summit in Dublin late on Thursday. “Under the existing circumstances it is necessary to take all possible measures in order to ease the tension and find reasonable solutions by means of a dialogue.”
Sarkisian did not comment further, avoiding any mention of Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine’s autonomous republic of Crimea that has been strongly condemned by the West.
Other Armenian government officials have made no public statements on the crisis so far, prompting criticism from pro-Western opposition politicians, civil society activists and some retired diplomats. The extremely cautious stance reflects Armenia’s close ties with Russia that will deepen further after it joins a Russian-led customs union later this year.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry has declined to clarify whether Yerevan recognizes Ukraine’s new interim government formed after President Viktor Yanukovich fled the country in the face of mounting street protests against his regime. Moscow still considers Yanukovich Ukraine’s legitimate president.
Armenia will find itself in an even more delicate position if Crimea is unilaterally incorporated into Russia or declares independence in the coming weeks. It remains to be seen whether the Armenian government will come under Russian pressure to recognize the Black Sea peninsula’s secession from Ukraine.
The United States and the European Union strongly support continued Ukrainian sovereignty over Crimea.