Putin eyes up Armenia as next target as hes interested in overthrowing regime

Armenia: Activists protest outside Russian base in Gyumri

As Azerbaijan halted its assault on the majority-Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh, Vladimir Putin would have been eyeing Armenia up given its recent pro-Western sentiments, Express.co.uk has been told.

Tensions reignited in the region after the Azeris fired missiles on the breakaway state earlier this week.

Azerbaijan quickly established a victory in the disputed territory, with President Ilham Aliyev declaring his country’s sovereignty over it.

Russian peacekeepers have been stationed in the region on behalf of Armenia for years – a legacy from a previous ceasefire — but Armenian President Nikol Pashinyan’s call for help from the Kremlin fell on deaf ears.

Some experts, like Natia Seskuria, now claim that Vladimir Putin would be exceedingly “interested” in overthrowing Mr Pashinyan’s regime, which in recent years has turned its attention away from Russia and to the West.

READ MORE Putin loses top sub commander along with three soldiers in Nagorno Karabakh

“The Kremlin will definitely be interested in weakening and overthrowing the Pashinyan regime,” Ms Seskuria told Express.co.uk.

The founder and director of the Georgia-based Regional Institute for Security Studies (RISS) said the Kremlin would have noted Mr Pashinyan’s recent move to become “more pro-Western rather than pro-Russian”.

She continued: “He’s not now somebody who is seen as an ally from the Russian perspective, so they would much rather have someone heading the state who is in line with the Kremlin’s politics, who would emphasise and stress that Russia is the only option for Armenia.

“In that sense, it is highly plausible that Russians will at least help support this anti-Pashinyan sentiment and derive it even more in Armenia because I don’t see how they can turn the situation in their favour otherwise.”

Many Armenians became angry when Mr Pashinyan failed to send any Armenian military into Nagorno-Karabakh to protect the largely ethnically Armenian population.

On the evening of Monday, September 19, large crowds gathered outside the country’s parliament in Yerevan, the capital, shouting “shame” and “traitor”, aimed at Mr Pashinyan.

His popularity has in recent months seriously declined, with many of the opinion that he has taken the country in the wrong direction.

Armenia has traditionally had a tight relationship with Russia, but since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Yerevan has looked to cut ties with the former imperial power and move West.

This month, Pashinyan said Armenia could no longer depend on Russia for protection, especially given that it has increased its strategic partnership with Turkey and Azerbaijan, both historical adversaries of Armenia.

Recognising the risk of relying on Russia, he told Politico: “The model by which we have problems with our neighbours and we have to invite others to protect us — it doesn’t matter who these others are — is a very vulnerable model.”

His words rang true after Russia failed to come to its defence during the most recent skirmishes in Nagorno-Karabakh.

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Some believe the restraint from Moscow to offer help was a reaction to Armenia’s support for Ukraine. It recently sent humanitarian aid to the country which was delivered personally by Pashinyan’s wife, Anna Hakobyan.

Russian officials appeared to gloat in the wake of the skirmishes, like Dmitry Medvedev, the chair of Russia’s security council and Russia’s former president, who hit out at Pashinyan on Telegram for “flirting with NATO” and providing aid to Ukraine. “Guess what fate awaits him…” he said.

Similar rhetoric was aired by Russia Today’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, who wrote that while Pashinyan was demanding Russian peacekeepers protect Nagorno-Karabakh, he should expect NATO’s help.

Nagorno-Karabakh has long been disputed but the international community recognises it as part of Azerbaijan — although it has largely been governed by the unrecognised Republic of Artsakh (also known as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic [NKR]) since the first Nagorno-Karabakh War which ended in 1994.

Modern-day Armenia and Azerbaijan became part of the Soviet Union in the 1920s, and when the union began to collapse in the late-80s, Nagorno-Karabakh’s regional parliament voted to become part of Armenia.

Azerbaijan sought to stamp out any separatist movement while Armenia backed it, ultimately leading to ethnic clashes and later a full-scale war.

Armenian forces drove out Azeri troops from Nagorno-Karabakh in the Nineties, with atrocities carried out by Armenia back then.

One event, in February 1992, saw residents of the Azerbaijani town Khojaly, situated in the Nagorno-Karabakh area, killed by Armenian forces with help from the Russian military.

Azerbaijan records say more than 600 people died, but Armenia disputes the number.

Tens of thousands of people were killed over the following years, with more than a million displaced alongside widespread reports of ethnic cleansing.

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