CrisisWatch Armenia

Unchanged Situation

Efforts to advance peace deal with Azerbaijan continued amid tense debates about border villages; Yerevan sought closer ties with West as relations with Russia cooled.

Tensions over settlements erupted after border commission meeting. Amid stepped-up peace efforts in recent weeks, Azerbaijan and Armenia 7 March conducted seventh meeting of sides’ border delimitation commissions; parties agreed to finalise draft regulation for commissions’ activities and delimitation procedures “as soon as possible”. After meeting, Azerbaijani Deputy PM Shahin Mustafayev 9 March said Yerevan should return four non-enclave Azerbaijani villages it has held since early 1990s before sides start delimiting and demarcating border; villages are strategically positioned along highway leading to Georgia and near pipeline supplying Russian gas to Armenia. PM Pashinyan 18 March acknowledged govt had “decided to adjust the border”, warning of another war if sides refuse to compromise; issue set to fuel domestic discontent. Meanwhile, U.S. Senior Adviser for Caucasus Louis Bono and NATO Sec Gen Jens Stoltenberg visited Armenia and Azerbaijan separately during month to discuss peace agreement.

Armenia pivoted further away from Russia and towards West. Armenia-Russia relations continued to cool as former sought to reduce dependence on Russian security assistance. Notably, Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan 6 March said Armenian border guards should replace Russian guards at Yerevan’s Zvartnots International Airport; and Pashinyan 12 March floated leaving Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization. Meanwhile, Grigoryan 21 March announced Pashinyan will meet with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken in Brussels on 5 April. Meeting to focus on trilateral cooperation aimed at strengthening Armenia’s “economic resilience” and steps that lay groundwork for future EU integration; Azerbaijan 27 March criticised upcoming talks as “one-sided” and “biased”. 

Baku accused Yerevan of massing troops along border. Azerbaijan 31 March accused Armenia of troop build-up along border; Armenia same day denied allegation, while EU Border Observation Mission reported “no unusual movements”.

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