Against the backdrop of the new escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia, which has oriented itself towards Russia for the past ten years, is increasingly turning towards the West. Moreover, Yerevan has recently begun to harshly and openly criticize Moscow for "failure to fulfill its obligations", and the recent events - the visit of the wife of Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to Kyiv, the provision of assistance to Ukraine, and military exercises with the United States - have caused a stir in the Kremlin.
On September 6, Armenia's First Lady, Anna Hakobyan, attended a summit of first ladies and gentlemen in Kyiv, organized by the wife of the Ukrainian President, Olena Zelenska. Hakobyan also wrote on her Facebook page that she took part in an exhibition dedicated to the memory of Ukrainian children who died as a result of Russian aggression. "Today we learned that the youngest of them was only two days old, and the oldest was 17 years old. Children dying in wars are a failure of all of us adults, an unforgivable and irreparable failure," she wrote.
Many in Russia interpreted Hakobyan's visit to Ukraine as a blatant provocation, as she not only participated in the celebrations but also brought a batch of humanitarian aid with her. It should be noted that, for the first time during the war in Ukraine, Armenia took such a step.
On the same day, a representative of the Armenian parliament, Alen Simonyan, stated that Yerevan is likely to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. "We will discuss and understand the benefits, of which there are many since our country has been and continues to be subjected to war crimes. We need this, our country needs this," said Simonyan.
When the Rome Statute is ratified, the country will be obliged to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin. The International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for him on March 17.
In response, Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative Maria Zakharova demanded that the authorities of Armenia explain the desire to ratify the Rome Statute.
By Anna Hakobyan’s visit to Kyiv and ratifying the Rome Statute, Armenia openly signals to both the Kremlin and the West that its orientation towards Moscow was a strategic mistake. This thesis was previously articulated directly by the country's prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Republica.
"Armenia's security architecture was 99.999% linked to Russia, including in the field of acquiring weapons and ammunition. But today, when Russia needs weapons and ammunition itself, it is clear that even if it wanted to, Russia would not be able to guarantee Armenia's security needs," the prime minister said.
According to him, this example should demonstrate that dependence or attachment to a single center in the field of security is itself a "strategic mistake."
"Only after we have experienced the bitter consequences of this mistake do we make rather vague attempts to diversify our security policy," emphasized Pashinyan.
He also stated that "the peacekeeping forces of the Russian Federation are not fulfilling their mission as stipulated in the tripartite statement (on the cessation of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh)".
The Kremlin reacted strongly to such frankness from Pashinyan.
"The Prime Minister of Armenia has made quite a few statements in recent days. I think that, summarizing all these statements, one can say that one must be able to be accountable for one's own actions, rather than constantly searching for someone to blame in every situation," said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zakharova.
And to top it all off, Armenian-American military exercises have added to the situation. In particular, from September 11 to 20, Yerevan will conduct joint military exercises with the United States called Eagle Partner 2023, which will take place at the peacekeeping brigade training center of the Armenian Ministry of Defense, Zar.
The training will include stabilization tasks between the conflicting parties during peacekeeping missions, and the aim of the exercises is to enhance the readiness of the Armenian unit for the planned assessments of the NATO Partnership for Peace Operational Capability Concept.
This news shocked the Kremlin. Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for the Russian President, stated, "This raises concerns, especially in the current situation. Therefore, we will deeply analyze this news and monitor the situation."