Sergei Melkonian - French Connection | Russian-Armenian Experts Dialog | Negotiations & Risk of War | Ep 311 - Feb 25, 2024 [EP311]

Posted on Tuesday, Feb 27, 2024 | Category: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Politics | Series: wir



  • French Connection
  • Russian-Armenian Dialog
  • Negotiations and Risk of War

Episode 311 | Recorded: February 27, 2024

Show Notes

French Connection

Missak Manouchian

On February 21, the French government held a historic ceremony where the remains of Missak Manouchian (and his wife Meline) were interred in the Panthéon in Paris. Manouchian was an Armenian genocide survivor who during the second world war joined the French resistance and led a number of daring operations that liquidated more than a 100 Nazis.

This is a pretty big honor. Manouchian is now in the company of the great Frenchmen like Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Marie Curie, Alexandre Dumas and others. This event was covered widely in the French press. Pashinyan was invited and attended.

The day before the Manouchian ceremony, France’s defense minister, Sébastien Lecornu, paid a visit to Armenia.

Lecornu confirmed that just the night before, Armenia had received a shipment of French night vision equipment. He also promised that soon they will deliver air defense radar systems and more of the Bastion APCs that Armenia had ordered last year. The French also promised training for the weapons and joint military exercises with Armenia.


  • Why did the French government decide to re-bury and honor Missak Manouchian now?
  • How is Russia reacting to these French weapon deliveries?
  • Is Iran uneasy about these weapons, especially radar systems? Do they worry that these weapons are essentially a “NATO eye” on the border of Iran?

There were also reports that Pashinyan and Macron inked an intelligence sharing deal between France’s Directorate-General for External Security and Armenia’s newly found External Intelligence Agency.


  • What’s known about this deal, considering Pashinyan appears to be in constant touch with the CIA and MI6?
  • Are the potential benefits of such a U-turn away from our traditional allies, Russia and Iran worth the benefits we may receive?

Military Supplies, Zelensky

While in Paris, Pashinyan gave an interview to France 24. We’ll skip the part of the interview where he praises Manouchian, a fighter against the Nazi occupation regime in France. Although we do ask, what would Manouchian do if he found himself in Armenia, today.

Anyway, Pashinyan as always made several controversial statements about geopolitics:

  • First, when asked about the Ukraine conflict, for the 2nd time he reiterated that on the matter of the Ukraine war, Armenia and Russia were not allies.
  • He went further, by saying that Russia is violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity defined by the 1991 Alma Ata declaration.
  • And lastly, he said that Armenia has frozen its participation in the CSTO alliance. A claim that was later denied by the CSTO, saying they’ve never received any request from Armenia to freeze its participation.

It is widely being reported that Vladimir Zelensky is planning a visit to Armenia in March.~~ ~~Other sources have reported that Zelensky will also visit Azerbaijan. With the exception of the Baltic countries, no post-Soviet country has hosted Zelensky since the beginning of the war, so this is a pretty big deal and will certainly raise the ire of Putin.

On one hand, as we reported last week, the Armenian authorities are not ruling out their intention to arrest Putin. On another hand, they’re inviting Putin’s enemy Zelensky to visit Armenia.


  • What could Pashinyan’s goal be in these unnecessary and provocative statements, culminating with the news about Zelensky’s visit?

Expert Discussions on Russian - Armenian Relations

Sergei, on Saturday February 24, there was a major discussion held between Russian and Armenian experts on the state of relations between the two countries. You and your colleagues from the Armenian project were in attendance.


  • What is your overall impression of the dialogue?

According to some Russian experts on the panel, Russia is currently conducting a “damage control” policy with regard to Armenia. In other words, a passive policy. At the same time, some of the experts blamed Armenia itself for worsening relations between two countries.


  • Were you able to detect any introspection by the Russians?
  • Do any of them accept that some of their policies have contributed to damaging the Armenian-Russian relationship?

Risk of New War

This week, Azerbaijan has again increased its fake reports that Armenians have been shooting at them, a common M.O. before Azerbaijan escalates the situation.

In Munich, Pashinyan said that with Aliyev they were able to re-establish all the previous commitments. Then in interviews with the media he goes to say that Azerbaijan wants to start a new war.


  • So which is it? Are we headed for peace or new military conflict? And if it’s the latter, how likely is a new war?


That’s our Week in Review, we hope you found it 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.


Sergei Melkonian

Sergei Melkonian

Dr. Sergei Melkonian is an Academic Director at the Armenian Research Foundation. He served as assistant to President of Armenia, Armen Sarkissian, on Russia and Middle East politics. Sergei is currently a Research Fellow at APRI Armenia and the Institute of Oriental Studies, and also Assistant Professor at Yerevan State University and the Russian-Armenian University. He is a co-founder of the Armenian Project NGO.


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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