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8 Feb, 2021 14:29

Ex-president says Armenia should join with Russia as soul searching continues following ‘disastrous defeat’ in Azerbaijan war

Ex-president says Armenia should join with Russia as soul searching continues following ‘disastrous defeat’ in Azerbaijan war

Armenia could once again be ruled from Moscow if one politician gets his way. Former President Robert Kocharyan is pitching unification with Russia as an antidote to recent political turbulence and armed regional conflict.

In an interview with Sputnik Armenia published on Saturday, the former leader said that his country “should very seriously think about deeper interaction with Russia – much deeper than it is now.” He pointed to international blocs like the Eurasian Union as examples for how closer ties with its vast northern neighbor might work.

However, Kocharyan played down suggestions that the USSR itself could make a comeback under his proposals. “It is better to talk not about the restoration of the Soviet Union, but about full-fledged modern integration,” he said. “The global marketplace is being replaced by regional unification.”

It is unclear what kind of formal partnership he would seek with Russia – a union state like Belarus, or as a constituent member of the Russian Federation.

Also on rt.com Fresh fears of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh as Azerbaijan accuses Armenia of violating ceasefire with machine gun volley

Armenia has been rocked by waves of protest and political strife in the wake of territorial losses in the war over the disputed province of Nagorno-Karabakh. A Moscow-brokered ceasefire paused the fighting, but thousands took to the streets to rally against the terms of the deal, which formally conceded swathes of territory previously under Yerevan’s control to Azerbaijan.

Kocharyan claims that, were he still president, he would not just have avoided a “planned defeat,” but that the war would never have happened in the first place. He left the office after a controversial election, with international observers issuing warnings over transparency and fairness. He was later arrested by the country’s Special Investigative Service and charged with “overthrowing constitutional order” for the crackdown that ensued.

Unlike other former Soviet republics, Armenia had not pushed for a breakaway from the USSR throughout the 1980s. Instead, its differences with the beleaguered union came to a head because of Moscow’s insistence on maintaining the status quo under which Nagorno-Karabakh remained a de facto part of Azerbaijan. It had also previously been ruled from Moscow in the 1800s, under the Russian Empire.

However, a 2013 Gallup poll found that Armenians had become overwhelmingly nostalgic for the Soviet Union. While 12 percent said that the breakup of the bloc was beneficial, two-thirds said it did more harm than good.

Also on rt.com Both Armenia & Azerbaijan deliberately launched ‘indiscriminate attacks’ on civilians during Nagorno-Karabakh war - Amnesty report

In 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin named the collapse of the USSR as the historical event he would most like to go back in time to change. The president, who served in the Soviet-era KGB in East Germany, had previously said that its fall was the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century.

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