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_ Apparently Russia and Iran are using Armenia as a logistical base against Ukraine
Apparently Russia and Iran are using Armenia as a logistical base against Ukraine
Iran's participation to the war in Ukraine as Russia’s ally came as no surprise to the public opinion, given the hostility shown by Tehran towards the West and its values.
Surprising, however, is Iran's closeness to Armenia. Since the war started in Ukraine, Iranian President Raisi made numerous statements regarding the importance of his country’s relations with Armenia, advocating for their strengthening. As an echo of the Iranian interest, there are mirroring statements of friendship made by the Armenian Prime Minister, Nicol Pashinyan, as well as shifting the discussions to the topic of security in the two countries. "The security of Armenia is the security of Iran", announced the head of the Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Republic, and the next day, his Armenian counterpart emphasized that the relations between the two countries are based "on a deep understanding of our common natural interests".
After President Khachatryan confirmed earlier this year that Armenia wishes to expand and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with Iran, the Armenian Defense Ministry admitted that Iran had supplied them with attack drones, the Iranians donating 600 missiles to the Armenians.
Moreover, Nicol Pashinyan made an official visit to Tehran where a memorandum of understanding and cooperation in the energy sector was signed. Another relevant signal is the fact that, during the war in Ukraine, trade between the two countries has increased sharply: in 2022, exports from Armenia to Iran reached $111.2 million, which is 70% more than the previous year. Iranian imports to Armenia amounted to $599.7 million, an increase of 37%.
The intensity of Yerevan's official support for the regime in Tehran is highlighted by a fact that barely noticed in the West: shortly after the brutal suppression of women's rights protests in Iran, the Prime Minister of Armenia’s wife, Hakobyan, visited Tehran to take part in a soft power movement organized by the authorities - the First International Congress of Influential Women.
On November 23, 2022, the Russians fired rockets at several civilian targets - the maternity in Volnyansk, Zaporozhye region (one newborn died), a block of flats and a polyclinic in Kupyansk, Kharkiv region (two dead), buildings in residential areas in Kyiv and Vyshgorod, Kyiv Region (7 dead), as well as in Poltava, Vinnytsia, Lviv Region, Odesa, Dnipro and Mariupol. Ironically, the same day, Prime Minister Pashinyan received the visit of Vladimir Putin in Yerevan, addressed him as "Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich" and shook his hand.
This gesture comes as no surrise because Pashinyan previously stated: "... The successful partnership in the economic and military fields fully meets the interests of the development of relations between Armenia and Russia." "Russia is a strategic partner and ally of Armenia", the Armenian Prime Minister emphasized two days later. "The positions of our countries on fundamental international issues are close or coincide," said Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Arshakyan. "Russia is the closest partner and strategic ally of the Republic of Armenia" repeated the head of government. And the Speaker of the Parliament, Simonyan, proudly admitted: "I can say with confidence that the current government of Armenia is one of the most pro-Russians".
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Pashinyan has visited Russia no less than 5 times, met with Putin 6 times and had 18 phone calls.
Since the beginning of the invasion in Ukraine, the military partnership has intensively strengthened: the Armenian Minister of Defense visited Moscow 4 times, and the Secretary of the Security Council, twice. And the Chief of the General Staff visited Moscow. Joint military exercises were held in September, a military cooperation agreement for 2023 was signed in December. In February 2023, the Defense and Security Committee of the Armenian Parliament ratified a cooperation agreement between the special services of the two countries in the field of information security, after Ukraine did the same with Western partners in the field to counter threats from Russia.
It's not just a question of increasing Armenian exports to Russia: According to Western officials, government agencies and think tanks, Armenia serves as one of Russia's main hubs for purchasing products in the EU and East Asia to circumvent international sanctions imposed on Russia. Parallel imports of microchips, smartphones and cars are particularly active through Armenia. "New supply chains through Armenia were created within days of sanctions and took months to expand," a February 2023 report by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development stated.
Latvian Prime Minister Karins announced that Yerevan is not complying with the sanctions regime. On March 2 this year, in a joint document of the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Commerce and the US Treasury, Armenia is called one of the "transshipment points commonly used for the illegal transfer of (sanctioned) restricted goods to the Russian Federation and Belarus".
There are clear indications of Armenia’s active involvement in supporting Russia to evade international sanctions, not just for the import of civilian use goods. Thus, it became obvious that Armenia plays an important role as a logistics center and technical and military supply for the Putin regime, especially since international sanctions were imposed on Russia in an attempt to stop the aggression against Ukraine.
On November 28, 2022, New Eastern Europe, a Polish news magazine specializing in former Warsaw Pact countries noted: "Iran’s support for the Russian war against Ukraine is being undertaken with the support of Armenia, which is helping Moscow evade sanctions through the supply of Iranian drones and missiles via Armenian air space and airports. Iran Air Cargo, a subsidiary of Iran Air, flew from Yerevan’s Zvartnots International, a civilian airport, to Moscow on September 4th and 5th, following two earlier flights on August 21st and 29th. Iran Air Cargo, Safiran Airport Services and their parent company Iran Air are under US sanctions for transferring, with the help of Armenia, Iranian drones to Russia. Russian Air Force Ilyushin II-76MD planes have also been used to transport the Iranian drones via Yerevan. Russia has used these Iranian drones and missiles to launch terrorist attacks against Ukrainian infrastructure that constitute war crimes. (…) The US has warned Armenia about its close relations with Iran and Russia, including during the head of the CIA’s visit to Armenia in the summer of 2022. He warned, but Armenia ignored, to stay away from the close military alliance between Iran and Russia."
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