“Russia wants from Armenia almost what it wants from Ukraine: to become part of the Russia-Belarus union state or Russia,” the Haykakan Zhamanak daily said in an article by an anonymous author identified as “Reliable Source.” “And while in the case of Ukraine the Russian Federation uses Russian and perhaps Belarusian troops for such an outcome, in the case of Armenia it uses Azerbaijani troops and, to some extent, the Russian troops stationed in in Armenia.”
Russia is trying to make Armenia “as vulnerable as possible” so that the South Caucasus nation has no choice but to “embrace Russia as tightly as possible,” charged the article posted on the newspaper’s website.
The paper, which used to be edited by Pashinian and is still formally run by his wife, thus effectively blamed Moscow for last month’s heavy fighting on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border that left more than 200 Armenian soldiers dead.
The Armenian government appealed for Russian military assistance just hours after Azerbaijani forces reportedly went on the offensive at various sections of the border on the night from September 12-13.
Moscow avoided any military intervention. While describing Armenia as a “close friend and strategic ally” of his country on September 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin stopped short of voicing support for Yerevan and urged both sides to “show restraint.”
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, brushed aside the Haykakan Zhamanak allegations. “This is obvious nonsense,” he said, according to Russian news agencies.
Alen Simonian, the Armenian parliament speaker and a close Pashinian ally, likewise questioned the credibility of the report. He said he is unaware of any Russian attempts to incorporate Armenia into Russia or the Russia-Belarus bloc.
“I have not seen such conversations with my Russian partners,” Simonian told reporters. “There is no such talk. And you know what, for me Armenia’s independence and sovereignty cannot be a subject of discussions. There is no way this could have happened without my knowledge.”
In another article by “Reliable Source” published on Monday, the Pashinian-controlled publication listed what it described as Azerbaijan’s terms of a peace treaty with Armenia. It said they include Armenian recognition of Azerbaijani sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh, the dissolution of Karabakh’s armed forces and an exterritorial corridor for Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave.
Simonian said that he does not regard the articles’ author as a reliable source.
Armenian opposition lawmakers speculated, meanwhile, that Pashinian himself wrote those articles. One of them, Hayk Mamijanian, said the prime minister presented “the worst-case scenario” for Armenia to prepare the ground for far-reaching concessions to Baku.
“The whole point of this is to enable him to say months later, ‘But you knew what I am going to do,’” said Mamijanian.