Armenia’s Ambassador-designate to the European Union said his countrymen are questioning their belief in Russian support.
Tigran Balayan said Russia’s failure to back Armenia against Azerbaijan has left many doubting the nation’s historical alliance with Moscow.
In an interview with Brussels Signal, Balayan said that, as a result, Armenia is pursuing a new foreign policy to defend itself.
Quoting the famous Russian writer Nikolai Gogol, “who said that ‘you cannot understand Russia, you cannot measure Russia, you have to believe in Russia’”, Balayan said that for Armenians “this very belief in Russia is under question”.
“I mean, Russia for us is something very close, but the sentiments we have now with Russian inaction … is hurting us. That is hurting [the] Armenian collective mind, Armenian mentality and Armenian trust [with regard] to Russia.”
His comments come as Armenia faces a crisis over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, the ethnic Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the enclave was ruled by the Armenia-backed breakaway Republic of Artsakh. The Azerbaijani army forced the region to capitulate in September 2023.
This led to virtually the entire Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh fleeing into Armenia itself, in what Armenian officials have described as an act of “ethnic cleansing”, something the Azerbaijanis strongly deny.
In addition, Armenia now fears Azerbaijan will invade its internationally recognised territory.
VIDEO: Armenia’s ambassador-designate to the EU, Tigran Balayan, says his country fears an ‘imminent’ invasion by Azerbaijan and feels let down by the lack of Russian support following tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh.@tbalayan | #NagornoKarabakh https://t.co/MU39Pq3qy0
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) October 9, 2023
Russia, which has long been an ally of Armenia in the South Caucasus region, appeared to do little to prevent the Azerbaijani action.
“Russians … with their inaction facilitated the complete ethnic cleansing of Nagorno-Karabakh, including members of my family,” said Balayan.
Russian peacekeepers were based in the region after the second Nagorno-Karabakh war ended in 2020 with a Russian-mediated ceasefire, which saw the enclave being surrounded by Azerbaijani forces.
“I would compare the presence of the Russian forces … to the international presence during Srebrenica,” said Balayan, alluding to UN forces that failed to prevent the genocidal massacre of Bosniaks by Serb forces in 1995 during the break-up of Yugoslavia.
The Ambassador-designate added that Russia has also failed to deliver arms to Armenia despite the fact they have already been paid for. In addition, he said a Russian-Armenian air defence system “was not switched on” when Azerbaijan attacked Armenian territory.
Being a small country of only 3 million, Armenians fearing for their nation’s security given Azerbaijan’s actions. Observers say that officials in the Armenian capital Yerevan are now looking to the West.
France recently approved supplying Armenia with weapons but Balayan was sceptical, suggesting that the process may take too long to put into effect.