Karen Vrtanesyan - Armenia, Azerbaijan at NATO, Border Talks, Srbazan Movement, Arms or Alms for Rearming | Ep 342 - July 7, 2024 [EP342]

Posted on Wednesday, Jul 10, 2024 | Category: Armenia, Artsakh, Politics | Series: wir



  • Armenia, Azerbaijan, at NATO Summit
  • Border Talks Still in Chaos
    • Srbazan in Syunik
    • Pashinyan in Syunik
  • Srbazan Movement
  • Arms, or Alms for Armenia?
    • Orban, Aliyev’s Man inside the EU
    • Eagle Partner 2024 in Armenia

Episode 342 | Recorded: July 8, 2024

Show Notes

Armenia, Azerbaijan, at NATO Summit

Last weekend we heard initially from Azeri sources that James O’Brien had extended invitations to Armenia and Azerbaijan to attend the 75th Anniversary NATO summit in Washington DC. Immediately thereafter Armenia confirmed and accepted the offer to attend as a “partner”. There are expectations that Pashinyan and Aliyev will meet on the sidelines of the summit in mid-July, and we know that the US has stated one thousand times that they’re ready to help Armenia and Azerbaijan sign an agreement. I guess any agreement, which could serve as an excuse for Erdogan to take a step towards Armenia.

Moscow slammed the invitation and effectively rejected western meddling in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, saying that Russia’s 2020 and 2022 solutions are the best way forward.


  • This summit is coming up, what outcomes can be expected from Armenia and Azerbaijan attending?
  • Moscow’s reaction was to be expected. What consequences could result from attending the NATO summit?

Hovik - peace forum - pashinyan pouring cold water on peace agreement?

Moscow talks about the Nov. 2020 agreement still. Almost none of that so-called “agreement” has been implemented by Azerbaijan. Moscow has also failed to keep up its end of the bargain, regardless of who’s to blame for what. So that agreement just seems like a sham document.


  • What expectations does Moscow still have from it?

Andrey Nastasin, a spokesman for the Russian MFA, accused NATO of arming Armenia and helping it rebuild its defense sector, under the guise of “boosting Armenia’s resilience”.


  • Is this an implicit admission by the Russians that they were complicit in keeping Armenia disarmed and defenseless? And for what purpose?

Border Talks Still in Chaos

On April 19 the Armenian and Azerbaijani border commissions had declared that by July 1 there would be clear regulations with which demarcation and delimitation negotiations would proceed. Based on that statement Pashinyan went ahead and handed over 4 villages in Tavush to the Azeris.

July 1 has come and gone, and there are no regulations in sight, we do not know the basis for any so-called “agreements” for the border commissions, we do not know the maps based on which they conduct discussions, pretty much nothing is known of this so-called “process”, except that Pashinyan is making unilateral concessions, and getting nothing for it.


  • What’s the reason for not meeting the July 1 deadline?

There is pressure on Aliyev to sign something, anything, as the US hopes it will unblock the Turkish-Armenian gordian knot. But Aliyev made it clear this week that only some agreement on principles may be signed any time soon. He has also thrown in demands for changing the Armenian constitution, recognizing so-called “Khojali genocide”, allowing hundreds of thousands of Azeris to settle in Armenia, including Turkish forces to secure them, and on and on. Every day there’s something new.


  • Are these demands fake demands to put hurdles in the path of a real “peace agreement”, are these negotiation tactics, or are these real concerns?
  • Pashinyan sold people the idea that his unilateral concessions of Tavush villages will bring a real “peace agreement”. Now Aliyev has clearly contradicted this, how will Pashinyan spin it?
  • What’s the value, and also the risk, of any “framework” agreement if borders are not defined?

Srbazan Movement

Srbazan in Syunik

We mentioned Pashinyan’s concession of villages in Tavush to Azerbaijan. That action gave rise to a popular revolt led by Bagrat Srbazan, known as the Srbazan Movement, or Tavush for the Homeland movement. On June 12th the movement led large rallies in Yerevan which elicited a violent and brutal police response. Totally ignored by the western media and diplomatic corps, by the way.

Over the course of the past week Bagrat Srbazan visited many villages in Syunik, warning of the dangerous precedent that Pashinyan had set in Tavush.


  • After June 12, Bagrat Srbazan promised to regroup and restructure the movement, which has set regime change as a key goal. What do they need to do to set up for success?
  • Was the past week productive towards their goals?

Pashinyan in Syunik

Two weeks ago Pashinyan went to Syunik and also other regions, this past week he was again in Tavush, mainly socializing his infrastructure policies for new road networks in the country, but also doubling down on his border policies.


  • What was the aim of his visit? Did he achieve it?
  • Do the people of Syunik support Pashinyan’s policies towards signing whatever deal with Azerbaijan?
  • The road networks have needed serious work for years and decades. Is Pashinyan’s focus on this infrastructure purely functional, or political?

Arms, or Alms for Armenia?

Despite state laws on keeping military acquisitions a secret, we read a lot about French Armenian or Indian Armenian arms deals. Quite a lot!

For example, we read that Armenia will acquire 36 French CAESAR Howitzer systems; that Armenia is considering the Indian-Israeli Barak 8 SAM systems; and more.

We don’t hear much about any Russian deals these days, but we do hear Russia complaining about NATO arming Armenia. Azerbaijan also complains vehemently, but they put the blame on France, not NATO.


  • How significant are these acquisitions, or considerations, for western weaponry for Armenia?
  • What effect will they have on Armenia’s security in the short term, and also the long term?
  • Why do we hear so much about such acquisitions, when theoretically these deals should be a state secret? In fact the national assembly recently passed a law to keep such information as state secrets, yet the government is out screaming from rooftops not only what systems they’re acquiring or considering, but also the numbers! Is the messaging and PR more important than the weaponry itself?

Orban, Aliyev’s Man inside the EU

Last week Hungary’s Victor Orban, who is Aliyev’s mole inside the EU, reportedly dropped his veto against providing “military aid” to Armenia. We’re talking about $11 million dollars over 2.5 years, to set up a field hospital and some facilities for a battalion unit.

In the context of defense budgets, this amount is absolutely trivial. But Orban extracted concessions from the EU to also finance demining operations in Azerbaijan.

There is much more politics here than there is military aid or context.


  • Is this whole topic a red herring? 10 million euros over 2.5 years is not arms, it is alms. Yet on the flip side, does the EU’s funding for demining operations in Artsakh legitimize Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing?

Eagle Partner 2024 in Armenia

Later this month Armenia will host the Eagle Partner 2024 joint military drills with the US. The program trains the peacekeeping forces of the two militaries in their interoperability, and in 2023 about a hundred US, and 200 Armenian troops participated in the exercises.

Meanwhile the US has called off the Noble Partner 2024 drills in Georgia, following Georgia’s passing of the so-called “Foreign Agent” bill. The Pentagon said that holding the program in the current atmosphere in Georgia would be inappropriate.


  • Both Russia and Iran criticized the 2023 event. What is wrong with holding these exercises between Armenia and the US?
  • Given that the drills in Georgia were canceled over a law that the US objected to, are these “partner” programs mere political sticks and carrots, or do they offer a real military value and advantage?
  • Do the Armenian and Georgian militaries hold joint drills? Why or why not?

Thoughts from the Participants

  • Karen: Lack of organization and learning from past mistakes in Armenian movements
  • Hovik: Appreciating the Armenian Constitution on July 5, the national holiday


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.


Karen Vrtanesyan

Karen Vrtanesyan

Karen Vrtanesyan is an expert on military and warfare strategies with a focus on Armenia and its neighboring region. He is the former coordinator of the website razm.info.


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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