Armenia Should Decide If It Is Part If The West Or The Anti-Western Axis Of Evil – OpEd


The brutal terrorist attack on October 7 of last year by Hamas on Israel has shed a spotlight on the Russian-Iranian military alliance. Ten countries are now dragged into the fighting in the Middle East. Over the weekend the killing of three and wounding of 34 US servicemen in Jordan in an attack by an Iranian proxy group based in Syria has escalated the tension even more. 

Russia already had a close alliance with Syria, having militarily intervened and saved the Bashar al-Assad regime from being overthrown. The Russian-Iranian military alliance since summer 2022 has provided drones and missiles for use by the Kremlin’s in its war against Ukraine with Iran seeking SU-34 fighter jets and radar stations.  Russia is set to acquire the Iranian Shahed-107 drone with a range of 15000 kms.

In the aftermath of the Hamas terrorist attack, Russia ditched its partnership with Israel’s populist nationalist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in exchange for an expanded relationship with Iran and closer relationship with Hamas and other Iranian-funded terrorist proxies in the Middle East. The Kremlin has declined to condemn Hamas’s terrorism and a Hamas delegation led by one its leaders Moussa Abu Marzouk visited Moscow only a few weeks after the terrorist attack. 

Putin has returned Russia to the Soviet era of the 1960s to the 1980s. Then east European intelligence agencies under the Kremlin’s control and the KGB, and now its successors FSB and SVR, provided training, financial resources, arms, and intelligence to a myriad of Palestinian and pro-Palestinian West European terrorist groups.

The country that is a surprising ally of theocratic Iran is democratic Armenia. Armenian’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is attempting to sit on two chairs, one facing Europe and the other facing Iran, where he is a frequent visitor, in the pursuit of incompatible foreign policy vectors. This month Iran announced that Armenia could begin using Iranian ports for its trade with India. Iranian-Armenian trade is booming, tripling since 2021 to $1 billion this year. Iran’s exports of electricity from Armenia and Armenian imports of Iranian gas are growing.

Armenia has voted with Russia at the UN in support of Crimea’s annexation, seeing it as similar to its support for Karabakh’s ‘self-determination’, but abstained on votes condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Armenia has also become an intermediary for Iranian military supplies to Russia and, together with Georgia, assists Russia to evade Western sanctions.  Western imports into Armenia and Central Asia have massively grown since the imposition of Western sanctions on Russia with most of these goods re-exported to Russia.

Iranian drones and missiles are transported to Russia through Armenian air space and by using Armenian airports. Iran Air Cargo, a subsidiary of Iran Air, flies from Yerevan’s Zvartnots International, a civilian airport, to Moscow. Iran Air Cargo, Safiran Airport Services and their parent company Iran Air are under US sanctions for transferring Iranian drones to Russia. Russian Air Force Ilyushin II-76MD have also been used to transport Iranian drones through Yerevan. The Kremlin uses Iranian drones and missiles for what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy describes as terrorist attacks against Ukrainian civilians and utilities. Such attacks constitute war crimes as defined by the ICC (International Criminal Court).

The director of the CIA William Burns warned Yerevan about its close relations with Iran and Russia during a visit to Armenia in the summer of 2022. Some Armenian companies have been sanctioned by the US for assisting Russia to evade sanctions.

Iran officially supported Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity but unofficially backed Armenia’s occupation of Karabakh and Western Azerbaijan. Iran’s Foreign Minister told his Armenian counterpart, Ararat Mirzoyan, that ‘we consider Armenia’s security as the security of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the security of the region.’ Iran views Azerbaijan in a similarly negative manner as to how Russia views Ukraine, as rebellious and lost provinces. 

In pursuing a military relationship with Iran, Russia is following in the footsteps of the Soviet Union in claiming to be an ally of countries that were once were colonies of the West. Russia is seeking to increase its influence in the Global South as the leader of the ‘world majority’, in the words of Putin on the 80th anniversary of the breaking of the siege of Leningrad. Putin described this ‘civilizational and cultural community’ as one ‘that objectively opposes the West.’ 

The US is the main target of the anti-Western axis. The US is accused by Russia of a putsch that overthrew pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine’s Euromaidan Revolution and of transforming Ukraine into an ‘Anti-Russia’ that was committing ‘genocide’ against Russian speakers. Russia and Iran accuse Israel of suppressing the rights of the Palestinian people. Instigated by the US, Ukrainian and Israeli action forced Russia to launch its so-called SMO (Special Military Operation) and Hamas its terrorist attack.

The addition of North Korea to the Russian-Iranian anti-Western axis has led to the flow of artillery shells and missiles to Russia for use in the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine. North Korea’s dictatorship has long acted as a Chinese proxy against the West.

While China has not formally joined the Russian-Iranian-North Korean anti-Western axis, Beijing is assisting Russia by importing oil that is no longer used by Europe. China’s trade has massively grown, including becoming the biggest exporter of cars, to Russia. China is strategically important in keeping Russia’s economy afloat. 

Russia’s military alliance with Iran and North Korea, growing attacks by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels against Western shipping and attacks against US servicemen in Jordan are part of an anti-Western axis that has believes it is already at war with the US and Europe. 

The Kremlin is mobilizing the Russian people and the Global South to fight the West through proxy wars in Ukraine and Israel. Ukraine and Israel are described by the Kremlin and Tehran as interlopers in historically ‘Russian’ and ‘Arab’ lands.  Russia and Iran seek are pursuing the same goals of erasing Ukraine and Israel from the maps of Europe and the Middle East. 

Armenia is pursuing contradictory alliances with Europe and the US on the one hand and close relations with Iran and Russia on the other. In acting as a transit route for Iranian drones and missiles to Russia and assisting Russia to evade Western sanctions, Armenia is undermining its stated intention of integrating into Europe. 

The Russian-Belarusian-Iranian-North Korean anti-Western axis believes it is already at war with the West in Ukraine and Israel. This is a logical outcome of decades of the Kremlin’s anti-Western xenophobia and Putin’s deeply held belief in the West having destroyed the country he remains deeply nostalgic for – the USSR. The defeat of the so-called US-led unipolar world would return, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Iranian Armed Forces Logistics Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, to a ‘truly equal multipolar world’ that Putin associates with the Cold War when the USSR, now Russia, was equal with the US.

Dr. Taras Kuzio

Dr. Taras Kuzio is a professor of political science at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy and an associate research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. He is the author of Genocide and Fascism. Russia’s War Against Ukrainians.

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