“We need to speak of serious integration,” Kocharian told the Russian Sputnik news agency in an interview published over the weekend. “A regionalization of the world is underway. Global processes are giving way to some regional integration processes.”
“In this regard, I believe that Armenia should very seriously think about deeper interaction with Russia. A much deeper one that exists now,” he said without elaborating.
Kocharian already made a case for closer ties with Russia in early December. He insisted that only Moscow can help Armenia rebuild its armed forces and confront new security challenges in the aftermath of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian announced on New Year’s Eve plans to further deepen the Russian-Armenian relationship, saying that his country needs “new security guarantees” now. Pashinian reaffirmed those plans at a January 11 meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Similar statements have also been made by other Armenian politicians. Edmon Marukian, who leads one of the two opposition parties represented in the Armenian parliament, called in late December for the opening of a second Russian military base in the South Caucasus state.
On February 6 a group of fringe parties and politicians held in Yerevan the founding congress of a new movement that will campaign for a “new union” of Armenia and Russia.
Commenting on these developments, Hakob Badalian, a political analyst, suggested that Armenian political actors are increasingly vying for Moscow’s support in their domestic political struggle. He noted a lack of specifics in their pro-Russian discourse.
“One gets the impression that they are offering their services to Russia,” Badalian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “Namely, [they are competing to demonstrate] who will better serve Russia and who will offer Armenia’s deeper subordination to Russia, and in return for that expect Russian support in terms of solving Armenia’s political issues.”
Badalian said that Kocharian is particularly keen to secure such support for his bid to return to power. He said Russian influence in Armenia has grown significantly since the Karabakh war and Moscow is not averse to expanding it further.