Armenia will have to reconsider its ties with Russia if the latter is recognized as a terrorist state, a leading expert in Yerevan said on Monday, commenting on the deepening standoff between the West and Moscow over the recent plane crash in eastern Ukraine blamed on the region’s separatists.
The Ukrainian government, the United States and its international allies hold the Kremlin responsible for providing the pro-Russian forces in Donbas with the capability to shoot down planes flying at high altitudes.
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 298 people on board was brought down on July 17 by what appeared to be a surface-to-air missile allegedly launched by Russia-backed separatists. Moscow denies any involvement in the incident and the authorities of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics in eastern Ukraine accuse Ukraine of carrying out the deadly attack against the passenger plane.
Ruben Mehrabian, an expert at the Armenian Center for National and International Studies, expects that the West will fundamentally change its policies towards Russia and will start regarding Moscow as an opponent, ranking it among the states that support international terrorism. This, according to him, will certainly affect Armenia, which is seeking to become a member of an emerging Eurasian union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
“In fact, any economic cooperation with Russia is no longer legitimate. And Armenia should take dramatic steps as quickly as possible. That is, it should drastically reconsider its security policy, its regional policy and its vision connected with allies,” Mehrabian said.
At present, Russia is Armenia’s main political and military ally. Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian announced last week that Yerevan will formally complete its accession to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union in late October.
Richard Giragosian, director of the Regional Studies Center, believes that the new sanctions that the West will impose on Russia in the wake of the incident with the Malaysian plane in Ukraine and its tougher stance towards Moscow from now on should also be taken as steps aimed against the Eurasian Union.
Authorities in Yerevan acknowledge that the deepening West-Russia standoff over Ukraine will have a negative impact on Armenia’s security as it would make it harder for Yerevan to pursue a balanced foreign policy. At the same time, Armenian officials do not want new dividing lines to emerge in the world.
Artak Zakarian, the head of the Armenian parliament’s committee on foreign affairs, said: “We have repeatedly stated that we are not guided by the policy of conflicting interests, we are against all kinds of dividing lines and try to build our relations on combinations and long-term cooperation.”