Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 166

While still in Baku, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov sought to reassure Armenia of continued Russian support. He justified Russia’s military alliance with and arming of Armenia, and the deployment of Russian troops there, by claiming that those are CIS arrangements and that they predate the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Such claims, however, are neither accurate nor relevant to Azerbaijan’s–or Turkey’s and Georgia’s–concerns.

Ivanov promised that Moscow would host yet another session of the Russian-Azerbaijani-Armenian commission to investigate the 1994-97 Russian arms deliveries to Armenia, which were illegal under Russian law and are valued at more than US$1 billion in Russian Defense Ministry records. The tripartite commission’s sessions, however, have led nowhere in the last two years while the arms deliveries have continued in legally authorized fashion.

In Armenia, Ivanov sought to mitigate the fallout from the statements he had made in Baku. Addressing the faculty and students of Yerevan State University and the Russian-Armenian University, Ivanov pledged that Russia would seek to harmonize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity with “firm security guarantees” for Karabakh’s population and a permanent overland link between Karabakh and Armenia proper. Those two points are usually taken to entail, respectively, legalization of the Karabakh-Armenian army and of the Karabakh-Armenian control over the Lachin corridor seized from Azerbaijan.

Such reassurances notwithstanding, the atmosphere of Ivanov’s visit to Yerevan was chilly. His meeting with President Robert Kocharian and his media briefing were short and prompted expressions of Armenian concern. Local observers seemed taken aback by Ivanov’s remarks to the effect that Moscow is interested in good relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Some wondered aloud how Moscow can pursue equivalent relations with Russian-oriented Armenia and Western-oriented Azerbaijan. Others remarked that Moscow’s tactical zigzags should prompt Kocharian to draw closer to the West and to intensify the recently initiated negotiations toward a direct understanding with Azerbaijan (Noyan-Tapan, Snark, Itar-Tass, September 6-7; see the Monitor, August 24, 26).