Tevan Poghosyan | Catastrophic Accident in Military Barrack | New EU Civilian Mission to Armenia | Armenia-Russia Relations | Ruben Vardanyan on BBC HARDtalk | Ep 217 - Jan 22, 2023 [EP217]

Posted on Tuesday, Jan 24, 2023 | Category: Armenia, Artsakh, Politics | Series: wir



  • Catastrophic Accident in Military Barrack
  • New EU Civilian Mission to Armenia
  • Armenia-Russia Relations
  • Ruben Vardanyan on BBC HARDtalk

Episode 217 | Recorded: January 24, 2023

Show Notes

Catastrophic Accident Kills 15 Soldiers

What happened

Some time between 00:30 and 1:00 am on January 19th a fire broke out in the military barracks housing a company of sappers in the Armenian Army, in Gegharkunik province. The fire quickly spread and as a result 15 men died, and 3 who escaped were severely injured.

Let’s discuss the social and political aspects. What this event means for the Pashinyan government, and also how the Armenian population is dealing with this loss.


The first theories came from Pashinyan and defense minister Suren Papkiyan in the morning of the 19th. Investigations had barely started, let alone completed yet.

The main theory provided by the government is that the captain of the company set his hands on fire as he poured gasoline from a 5-liter canister into the heater. He dropped the canister, setting the barracks on fire. The door got jammed, preventing people from fleeing.

The government, including representatives of the investigative committee say that there are other theories also being investigated, yet, for some reason this gasoline theory is being broadcasted loudly before the investigation is complete.


  • Does this main working theory sound plausible to you? Why announce about it confidently if the investigation is still ongoing?


Almost the entire leadership of the 2nd Corps was removed by the time we heard the news.


  • Was this a good idea?
  • Why is there no official list of the casualties?
  • Why is there no public mourning or commemoration?

EU Unarmed Monitors to Armenia

The EU Council yesterday, January 23, approved a new mission to Armenia. The new mission will be for 2 years and will include 100 unarmed monitors.

What is the EU doing in Armenia?


  • What is the purpose of this missing?
  • We haven’t seen any public reports from the previous 2 month temporary mission that included 40 people, despite a number of violations. How do we measure the success of such a mission without any metrics?

Russian Response

New EU monitoring mission to come to Armenia. Lavrov expressed caution about this, saying that if Azerbaijan is against this mission, then it may create problems.

  • How could the EUMM mission may affect Armenia’s relations with Iran and Russia.

Armenia - Russia relations

Lavrov/Zakharova statements

Both Lavrov and Zakharova have recently dropped hints in their public statements that the Armenian side is not being honest with its public about previously made agreements.

For instance, Zakharova, in a Q/A session on January 12, said that there are “principled positions, not tactical, not even strategic, but a matter of principles” about which the Armenian side should be honest about. Zakharova further expanded that “… there are agreements, that people either observe or if they don’t observe them, then they need to say that approaches have changed. This needs to be discussed honestly and publicly with one’s own people.”

Certain analysts have interpreted this to be a reference to yet undisclosed verbal agreements by Pashinyan from Nov 9/10.


  • What agreements is the Russian side referring to?

Vahagn Khachaturyan in Estonia

Armenia president Vahagn Khachaturyan visited Estonia and said something like: Estonia as a small country is in NATO and they’re able to gain protection from the alliances with Russia and CSTO. He further complained that Armenia has not been able to get help from its military allies adding an ominous note that “nothing stays the same forever and throughout time, there always is a necessity to change something”


  • What was Khachaturyan alluding to? Is this a further confirmation that current leadership intends to part ways with Russia?

Ruben Vardanyan on BBC HARDtalk

Artsakh State Minister Ruben Vardanyan was interviewed by Stephen Sackur on BBC’s Hardtalk show.


  • What was your overall impression of the conversation?

Sackur was clearly fishing for pro-Western declarations on the part of Vardanyan, but Vardanyan didn’t get drawn into commenting on conflicts that are completely out of scope and interest for an embattled leader in a small country in deep crisis.

Sackur tried to fish for anti-Putin comments in the context of Ukraine, and in the lack of support Russia has provided for Armenia, and so on.


  • What did you think of Vardanyan’s responses to Sackur?
  • What was Sackur fishing for?


We hope you found our Week in Review helpful. We invite your feedback and your suggestions. You can find us on most social media and podcast platforms. Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts.


Tevan Poghosyan

Tevan Poghosyan

Tevan Poghosyan is president of the International Center for Human Development. Mr. Poghosyan was an MP in the National Assembly between 2012 and 2017 from the Heritage party. From 1997 to 1999 he served as the Nagorno-Karabakh Public Affairs Office Director in Washington, D.C.


Hovik Manucharyan

Hovik Manucharyan

Hovik Manucharyan is an information security engineer who moved from Seattle to Armenia in 2022. He co-founded the ANN/Groong podcast in 2020 and has been a contributor to Groong News since the late 1990s.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by Hovik Manucharyan on the ANN/Groong podcast are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of his employer or any other organization.

Asbed Bedrossian

Asbed Bedrossian

Asbed is founder of the Armenian News Network Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.

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