Review period: February 24 – May 31, 2022
See also the 50th publication which reviews the developments from February 21 to March 3 as well as the 51st publication which recounts Moldova’s response and the 52nd publication which covers the response of the Central Asian countries to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
UN Resolution - Refusal to Participate in the Voting
On February 28, at an emergency special session, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The resolution, entitled Aggression against Ukraine, was supported by 141 (including Georgia, Moldova and the Baltic states) and opposed by five countries (including Belarus and Russia). The Central Asian countries, Armenia and Azerbaijan did not take part in the voting. A similar result was observed at a session of the UN General Assembly on March 24 which adopted the second resolution on Ukraine. The resolution was supported by 140 countries (including Georgia, Moldova and the Baltic states) and five opposed (including Belarus and Russia). A total of 38 members did not attend the meeting. The Central Asian countries, Armenia and Azerbaijan still did not participate in the voting.
Celebrating May 9 with Russia
On May 5, Permanent Representatives of several countries to the OSCE (including Russia, Belarus, all five Central Asian countries, Armenia and Azerbaijan) issued a statement on the 77th anniversary of the victory in World War II. The statement also says that falsification of history and attempts to reconsider the consequences of the war are not allowed. It condemns the destruction and desecration of monuments of the liberation fighters, heroization and attempts to rehabilitate Nazi criminals.
Will the OSCE Fromat Still Exist?
On April 14, the spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, answered a journalist's question about the OSCE Minsk Group. Ms. Zakharova said that since February 24, Washington and Paris have cut off all contacts with Moscow in the format of co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (which has been involved in the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict since 1992). “Given that the situation in the South Caucasus cannot allow a pause in the negotiation process, the Russian Foreign Ministry will involve its special representative to support the normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia,” she said.
On April 8, the Armenian Foreign Minister, Ararat Mirzoyan, who was visiting Moscow, said that according to his information, despite the current geopolitical situation which complicates activities of the OSCE Minsk Group, the international community sees the settlement of the conflict within the mandate of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs. Mr. Mirzoyan's statement indicates that Yerevan is not interested in relying only on Russian assistance in the ongoing processes after the second Nagorno-Karabakh war.
The EU has become more active in normalizing Armenia-Azerbaijan relations amid the weakening role of the OSCE Minsk Group and Russia's military aggression in Ukraine. Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, took the responsibility to broker. On April 6 in Brussels, the presidents of the two countries, with the mediation of Charles Michel, agreed to draft a bilateral peace agreement and establish a joint commission on border demarcation. According to the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, the five principles proposed by Baku are acceptable for Yerevan, one of which is the recognition of each other's territorial integrity. It is this principle which causes the dissatisfaction of the Armenian opposition. According to Pashinyan's opposition, Armenia is ready to recognize Azerbaijan's sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh. On May 22, the leaders of the two countries met again in Brussels. The main topic of the meeting was drafting of a peace agreement.
On March 24, an incident took place near the village of Farukh and its vicinity in the area under the responsibility of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh; Namely, Azerbaijani troops entered the village. The Russian Foreign Ministry also issued a statement on the incident, calling on the parties to exercise restraint and abide by the agreements reached. The Russian Defense Ministry accused Azerbaijan of deploying armed forces in the area under the responsibility of Russian peacekeepers and violating the ceasefire agreement. This was the first case since the end of the hostilities in November 2022 when Russia accused one of the parties of the conflict of violating the ceasefire agreement. For its part, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said that Russia's statement was one-sided and did not reflect the reality.
The Armenian side fears that Azerbaijan could use the war in Ukraine to occupy new territories. On April 8, Ararat Mirzoyn raised the issue of the Farukh incident at a meeting with the Secretary-General of the CSTO, Stanislav Zas, in Moscow. At the same time, on April 12, the Armenian Foreign Ministry expressed concern that Russian peacekeepers did not allow a group of Armenian parliamentarians into Nagorno-Karabakh.
More Azerbaijani Gas
Sanctions imposed on Russia also include restrictions on the import of energy resources from Russia. Western countries are going to gradually quit Russian gas and oil at different times. Before the war, the EU’s dependence on Russian gas was 40% and the transfer to alternative sources is a difficult task in the short run. However, in the wake of the prolongation of the war, Western countries are taking increasingly radical steps and are rapidly trying to relinquish imports from Russia. For its part, Moscow also cuts off supplies to some European countries. In these conditions, the increase of imports of Azerbaijani resources to Europe gains importance, which can technically supply gas through the European pipeline, including those countries with high reliance on Russian gas such as Bulgaria. Since 2020, gas has been supplied from Azerbaijan directly to Italy via Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea.
Gas Pipeline Connecting Azerbaijan-Europe. Source: bankwatch.org
Russian Migrants in Armenia
After the start of the Russian military aggression in Ukraine, thousands of Russians are trying to emigrate from Russia. Choices for emigration are limited, hence Russian migrants seek refuge in Russia's neighborhood. In this regard, Armenia, a strategic ally of Russia, looks attractive where the Russian language is well spoken, there is a visa-free entry and Russian migrants can stay in the country for 180 days with a Russian ID card. Armenia is especially attractive for those people who are working in the field of information technology. According to the Armenian government, the number of people employed in the information technology sector has increased by almost 50%. At the same time, cases of the registration of companies and opening of bank accounts by Russian citizens increased.
Bilateral Relations Between Azerbaijan and Russia
Undoubtedly, the success in the second Nagorno-Karabakh war in 2020 was also a result of the policy to which Ilham Aliyev has been adhering in recent years. It provided for the development of relations with Russia. Although Azerbaijan is not a member of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, unlike Armenia, the quality of cooperation between the country and Russia is still quite high. The Azerbaijani president manages to maintain relations with Moscow and receive gratitude from the leaders of Ukraine at this critical moment. Baku was also considered as one of the venues for talks between Kyiv and Moscow while Baku neither joined the anti-Russian sanctions nor overtly condemned Moscow's actions.
Meetings and Conversations of the President
On February 22, the second day after Russia's recognition of Ukraine's separatist regions, Ilham Aliyev visited Russia. He was hosted by the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. During the meeting, the parties signed a declaration on Allied Cooperation. According to Mr. Putin, the signing of the declaration marks the transition of relations between the two countries to a qualitatively new level. “This strategic document has become the central element and the key outcome of the ongoing negotiations,” he said. The declaration provides for the possibility to consider provision of military assistance to each other. The parties also agree on cooperation in the military-technical field. They also refrain from economic activities that directly or indirectly harm the interests of the other party. Summarizing the results of the meeting, the two presidents focused on bilateral relations and developments in the aftermath of the second Nagorno-Karabakh war.
At the signing ceremony, Vladimir Putin also spoke with his Azerbaijani counterpart about the recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk and tried to convince his guest that speculations about Russia’s plans to restore the empire within its imperial borders were untrue. Interestingly, Ilham Aliyev was the only one of the leaders of the post-Soviet countries who visited Kyiv on January 14 during the crisis and declared his support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Since the start of the war, the first telephone conversation between the Russian and Azerbaijani presidents was held on February 26 which also discussed the developments in Ukraine. This was confirmed by the information published on the web-page of the President of Azerbaijan. The same day, Ilham Aliyev wrote on his official Twitter page that Volodymyr Zelensky thanked him for humanitarian and medical assistance. Mr. Zelensky wrote on his Twitter page that the Azerbaijani energy company SOCAR will provide fuel for ambulances and fire-rescue vehicles in Ukraine for free. At the same time, the Ukrainian president welcomed an offer of Azerbaijan and Turkey to organize talks with Moscow.
On March 28, on the initiative of Volodymyr Zelensky, a telephone conversation took place between the presidents of Ukraine and Azerbaijan. According to the web-page of the President of Azerbaijan, Mr. Zelensky informed his Azerbaijani counterpart about the situation in Ukraine. The Ukrainian president thanked Azerbaijan for the humanitarian aid provided, including medical assistance. According to Mr. Aliyev, Azerbaijan always attaches great importance and pays special attention to humanitarian issues.
On March 31, Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan. The main topic of the conversation was the implementation of the Russian-mediated agreements between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
On April 9, on the initiative of the Azerbaijani side, Ilham Aliyev spoke with Vladimir Putin. The main topic of discussion was the outcome of the talks between Aliyev and Pashinyan in Brussels on April 6 as well as the implementation of the Russian-mediated agreements between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Mr. Pashinyan also spoke with the Russian president on the same day.
On April 26, Ilham Aliyev hosted the Russian Vice Prime Minister, Alexei Overchuk. Trade-economic relations and issues related to the restoration of transport and economic ties in the region were also discussed at the meeting.
On May 31, on the initiative of the Azerbaijani side, Ilham Aliyev spoke with Vladimir Putin. The main topic of discussion was the outcome of the talks between Aliyev and Pashinyan in Brussels on May 22 as well as the implementation of the Russian-mediated agreements between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Meetings and Conversations of Political Leaders
On March 21, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, had a telephone conversation with the Azerbaijan Foreign Minister, Jeihun Bairamov. A statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry succinctly says that the ministers also discussed the situation in Ukraine. A statement issued by the Azerbaijani side reports the same information.
On April 8, another telephone conversation was held between Sergey Lavrov and Jeihun Bairamov which discussed the issues related to the Declaration on Allied Cooperation and the implementation of the Armenia-Azerbaijan agreements. A statement issued by the Azerbaijani side says that the ongoing developments around Ukraine were also discussed.
On April 15, Andrey Rudenko, Sergey Lavrov’s deputy and who oversees relations with post-Soviet countries, hosted the Azerbaijani Ambassador to Russia, Polad Bulbul Ogly. The meeting discussed the issues of the declaration and the implementation of the Armenia-Azerbaijan agreements.
On April 25, Jeihun Bairamov hosted Igor Khovayev, the Special Representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry for the normalization of Azerbaijan-Armenia relations. On the same day, Mr. Khovayev also met with Ilham Aliyev. The main topic of discussion was the delimitation and demarcation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
On April 28, Jeihun Bairamov received the Special Envoy of the Russian President, Mikhail Petrakov, who is in charge of the delimitation/demarcation of Russia's borders with neighboring countries and the issues of the Caspian Sea. Earlier, Mr. Petrakov was hosted by Khalaf Khalafov, Jeihun Bairamov’s deputy, who is the Special Envoy of the President of Azerbaijan for Border and Caspian Sea issues.
On May 23, Sergey Lavrov had a telephone conversation with Jeihun Bairamov. The parties discussed the declaration and the implementation of the Armenia-Azerbaijan agreements.
Bilateral Relations Between Armenia and Russia
Armenia is a strategic partner for Russia in the South Caucasus as well as being a member of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization. It should be noted that the Armenian authorities did not make any open statements regarding the Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Although it is not yet on the agenda, Russia may request military assistance from Armenia, a member of the CSTO, to support its military aggression on the territory of Ukraine. This will be a severe blow to the country which was defeated in the second Nagorno-Karabakh war and faces daily security challenges.
Domestic Political Context
On March 13, the inauguration of the fifth president of Armenia, Vahagn Khachaturyan, took place after the early resignation of his predecessor, Armen Sarkissian, on January 23. Mr. Sarkissian was critical of some of Pashinyan's moves in the aftermath of the second Nagorno-Karabakh war and decided to leave the post of president which has a more symbolic role. The Armenian opposition suspects that Pashinyan’s government intends to hand over Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan which is why the protests against it have not stopped.
Meetings and Conversations of the Prime Minister
During the crisis, a telephone conversation between Vladimir Putin and Nikol Pashinyan took place on February 21. The parties also touched upon the current developments in Ukraine.
A meeting of the Intergovernmental Council of the Eurasian Economic Union was held in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan, on February 25. The meeting was attended by the Russian Prime Minister, Mikhail Mushustin, and his Armenian counterpart, Nikol Pashinyan.
Armenia made its first official statement on Russia's military aggression in Ukraine on March 2 when Nikol Pashinyan said that he was “deeply saddened” by the war in Ukraine and hoped that the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian talks would “produce results.”
On March 16, Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Nikol Pashinyan. The main topic of the conversation was the implementation of the agreements reached on Nagorno-Karabakh. A statement issued by the Armenian side succinctly mentions that the sides exchanged views on “the situation around Ukraine.”
On March 25, Nikol Pashinyan had a telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin. The main topic of the conversation was the implementation of the agreements reached on Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenian side also touched upon the issue of invasion of Azerbaijani units in the area under the responsibility of Russian peacekeepers.
On March 31, Vladimir Putin held a telephone conversation with Nikol Pashinyan and Ilham Aliyev. The main topic of the conversation was the implementation of the agreements reached. A statement issued by Pashinyan's office also referred to the incursion of Azerbaijani units into the area of responsibility of Russian peacekeepers.
On April 1, a telephone conversation was held between Nikol Pashinyan and Vladimir Putin. The main topic of the conversation was the developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. A statement issued by Pashinyan's office also confirms above.
On April 9, on the initiative of the Armenian side, Nikol Pashinyan spoke with Vladimir Putin. The main topic of discussion was the outcome of the talks between Aliyev and Pashinyan in Brussels on April 6 as well as the implementation of the Russian-brokered agreements between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Mr. Pashinyan also spoke with Vladimir Putin about the invasion of Azerbaijani units in the area of responsibility of Russian peacekeepers. Ilham Aliyev also had talks with the Russian president on the same day.
On April 19, Vladimir Putin hosted Nikol Pashinyan in Moscow. Mr. Pashinyan was in Russia as part of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and this was his first official visit to Russia. A statement issued by the Kremlin reads that the talks focused on bilateral relations and the second Nagorno-Karabakh war. At the end of the meeting, a joint statement was issued by Nikol Pashinyan and Vladimir Putin which did not directly address the issue of Ukraine and a large part of which relates to bilateral relations and the agreements reached after the second Nagorno-Karabakh war. Several issues were indirectly related to the current international topic.
Meeting Between Vladimir Putin and Nikol Pashinyan. Source: kremlin.ru
On April 20, Nikol Pashinyan also met with the Russian Prime Minister, Mikhail Mishustin. Bilateral trade and economic issues were mainly discussed at the meeting. Mr. Pashinyan also met with Valentina Matviyenko, the Spokeswoman of the Council of the Russian Federation, and Vyacheslav Volodin, the Speaker of the State Duma. This was Pashinyan's first visit to the State Duma. On April 20, during his two-day stay, Nikol Pashinyan also visited Nizhny Novgorod.
On May 12, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Alexei Overchuk, visited Armenia and met with Nikol Pashinyan. The conversation focused on the activities of the tripartite working group which discusses the prospects for the restoration of economic and transport communications in the region. Andrey Rudenko also attended the meeting. On May 13, Mr. Pashinyan met with the Russian Sports Minister, Oleg Matytsin. On May 14, the Armenian Prime Minister hosted the Chairman of the Russian Accounts Chamber, Alexei Kudrin. President Vahagn Khachaturyan also received Mr. Matytsin and Mr. Kudrin.
On May 16, a jubilee meeting of the CSTO was held in Moscow. Members of the organization celebrated the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Collective Security Treaty and the 20th anniversary of the founding of the organization. Nikol Pashinyan chaired the CSTO anniversary session in the rank of organization’s chair country. The President of Belarus, Aleksander Lukashenko, delivered the most politicized speech at the session. He spoke about the threats posed by the West and NATO and the role of the CSTO. Mr. Lukashenko reiterated the Russian narrative about the Russian military aggression in Ukraine. According to him, Belarus supported Russia within the alliance agreement due to threats to their national security. Mr. Lukashenko overtly spoke about the lack of solidarity within the CSTO amid solidarity in the West. He directly rebuked CSTO members, including Armenia, for not expressing their support for Russia while international organizations made decisions against Russia. Also, without naming countries, he said that some members of the CSTO banned flights of national airlines of other member states to their countries due to sanctions. Mr. Pashinyan responded to Lukashenko’s reprimand on non-synchronized voting in international organizations, saying that such a problem indeed exists and it has long been this way. For his part, Mr. Pashinyan did not hesitate to accuse some member countries of the CSTO (meaning Russia) of arming countries hostile to Armenia (meaning Azerbaijan) which was directed against Armenia and the Armenian people. Nikol Pashinyan did also not approve of the reaction of some CSTO member states to the 44-day war of 2020. Similar information was circulated on the web-page of Pashinyan's office.
CSTO Summit. Source: primeminister.am
On May 16, after the CSTO summit, Vladimir Putin and Nikol Pashinyan met in Moscow. An official statement about the meeting issued by the Kremlin reads that the meeting focused on bilateral relations and the developments in the aftermath of the second Nagorno-Karabakh war. Pashinyan's office also posted similar information.
On May 27, Nikol Pashinyan hosted the Russian Ambassador to Armenia, Sergey Kopirkin. The meeting discussed bilateral relations and the resolution of the conflict.
On 27 May, an online meeting of the Supreme Economic Council of Eurasia was held with the participation of leaders of its member states. This was the first such meeting this year. The meeting was mainly about adapting to the new reality.
Meetings and Conversations of Political Leaders
On February 25, the Russian Defense Minister, Sergey Shoigu, hosted his Armenian counterpart, Suren Papikian. The topic of discussion was the prospects of bilateral cooperation in the military field.
On February 28, Yuri Vorobyov, the Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Russian Federation, had a telephone conversation with his Armenian colleague, Hakob Arshakyan.
On March 4, the Armenian Foreign Minister, Ararat Mirzoyan, had a telephone conversation with Sergey Lavrov. On March 21, the ministers held another telephone conversation which focused on the issues of bilateral and regional relations.
On April 8, Sergey Lavrov hosted Ararat Mirzoyan in Moscow. The sides discussed bilateral relations, cooperation within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the CSTO, the implementation of agreements reached after the second Nagorno-Karabakh war and the establishment of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border delimitation commission. Mr. Lavrov did not mention Ukraine in his speech; however, according to the web-page of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the meeting also touched upon the situation in Ukraine. Sergey Lavrov briefed his Armenian guest on “Russia's vision of Russia's special military operation (military aggression) in Ukraine, including the protection of the population in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the demilitarization of Ukraine and the restriction of the rights of the Russian-speaking population.” A statement issued by the Armenian Foreign Ministry mentions the issue of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, including the Farukh incident.
On April 19, in Moscow, the Russian Vice Prime Minister, Alexei Overchuk, met with the Armenian Deputy Prime Minister, Mher Grigoryan. Bilateral trade and economic relations and the restoration of transport links in the region were discussed at the meeting.
On April 22, the 34th meeting of the Intergovernmental, Interparliamentary Commission on Cooperation between the Russian Federation Council and the Parliament of Armenia was held in Armenia.
On May 5, the State Duma Speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, held a telephone conversation with the Speaker of the Armenian Parliament, Alen Simonyan. The conversation focused on the discussion of the agenda of the CSTO Parliamentary Assembly. The assembly is to be held in Yerevan.
Trilateral Meetings and Multilateral Formats
During the war, in addition to bilateral meetings, trilateral meetings were held in various formats with the participation of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. The main topic of discussion at such meetings was the normalization of the situation after the second Nagorno-Karabakh war and, to a lesser extent, the issues related to Ukraine.
On March 10, within the framework of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, Sergey Lavrov met with Ararat Mirzoyan. The meeting discussed traditional topics. On the same day, Mr. Lavrov met with Jeihun Bairamov. A statement issued by the Azerbaijani side reads that the sides exchanged views on the developments in Ukraine, the Russian-Ukrainian talks and ways to resolve the conflict.
On May 12, a trilateral meeting between Sergey Lavrov, Jeihun Bairamov and Ararat Mirzoyan took place at the CIS Foreign Ministers' Summit in Dushanbe. The main topic of discussion was the implementation of the agreements reached on Nagorno-Karabakh. During the assessment of the trilateral meeting, Mr. Lavrov focused on the implementation of the agreements. Yerevan’s statement also included the issues related to the Nagorno-Karabakh war. The Ministers’ Summit was held on May 13. The issue of Ukraine was not mentioned in a report issued by the Armenian Foreign Ministry. In Dushanbe, Mr. Mirzoyan and Mr. Lavrov met face-to-face. The issue of cooperation between the CSTO and the Eurasian Economic Union was also discussed at the meeting. Sergey Lavrov also focused on these topics in his speech. On the same day, he met face-to-face with Jeihun Bairamov. The parties discussed the implementation of the February 22 declaration. In his speech, Sergey Lavrov focused on these topics and issues of bilateral relations.
An online meeting of heads of government of the CIS member states was held on May 20. The meeting was attended by the Prime Minister, Ali Asadov, from the Azerbaijani side and the Acting Vice Prime Minister, Mher Grigoryan, from the Armenian side. In his speech, the Russian Prime Minister, Mikheil Mishustin, spoke about the sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus in the context of Ukraine and the economic war waged against them. Mr. Mishustin also stressed the importance of the development of cooperation mechanisms and joint struggle against the sanctions.
Summit of the Council of Heads of Government of the CIS Member States. Source: government.ru