As the war in Ukraine continues, the relationship between the European Union and Russia continues to deteriorate. In recent days, the German authorities raided firms suspected of violating anti-Russian sanctions. About a week ago, the European Union banned Russian diesel and oil products. Around the same period of time, the European Union launched a public relations campaign against Russia.
And several weeks ago, the European Union decided to establish a mission in Armenia: “The objective of the Mission is to contribute to stability in the border areas of Armenia,building confidence on the ground, and ensuring an environment conducive to normalization efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan supported by the EU. The establishment of an EU Mission in Armenia launches a new phase in the EU’s engagement in the South Caucasus. The EU will continue to support de-escalation efforts and is committed to work closely with both sides towards the ultimate goal of sustainable peace in the region.”
Although the EU’s website states the contrary, the EU mission to Armenia has absolutely nothing to do with building a peaceful relationship between Azerbaijan and Armenia. In fact, the Azerbaijanis are ideologically opposed to this mission, claiming that it violates a previous agreement in Prague that any EU mission would only be temporary and last a couple of months. Furthermore, they stand opposed to the EU sending a force of 2,000 people to Armenia, claiming that the move is designed more to squeeze out Russia from the region rather than solve the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. In other words, Azerbaijanis and Armenians are merely serving as pawns in an EU ploy to weaken Russian influence.
I understand Europe’s desire to weaken Russia. What Russia has done in Syria, Ukraine and other places constitutes grave crimes against humanity. However, at the same time, the situation in Karabakh is already very delicate and liable to explode at any moment, thus making it risky for the EU to use Armenia as its pawn to weaken Russian influence. It is true that Russia has more than one military base inside of Armenia and mans a peace-keeping force in Karabakh, thus making the Russian influence in the region quite great. It is also true that Russia uses Armenia in order to bypass sanctions. However, increasing European influence to counterbalance Russian influence will do nothing but inflame an already delicate situation.
As we speak, Azerbaijanis are protesting along the Lachin Corridor against Armenia’s ecocide and this has made the region quite tense. Having the EU come to back up one side, even if it is merely to counterbalance Russian influence, will do nothing but make these tensions worse, thus increasing the risk that the conflict can be reignited and break out into war once again. If this were to happen, this would be against the interests not only of Armenia and Azerbaijan, but also of Europe, who seeks for there to be a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
For this reason, Europe should not be adding flames to the fire. Instead, they should find other ways to counter Russian influence rather than utilizing the Azerbaijanis and Armenians as pawns in their big power game. For this reason, the EU made a mistake in establishing a mission to Armenia, as it goes against all of the understandings reached between Azerbaijan and Armenia, who agreed to the establishment of a Russian Peacekeeping Mission, not an EU one. While the Russian Peacekeeping Mission is flawed, unless both sides agree to an EU mission replacing it, having one with only the consent of one side just to weaken Russia does not contribute to peace and stability in the region. To the contrary, it serves as a security risk for the entire free world. Therefore, I call upon the EU to reconsider having this mission.