John Bolton’s Trip to Armenia Draws Strong Reactions

A high level visit to Yerevan from U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton has raised some eyebrows, offering controversial solutions to sensitive issues like weapon sales and an end to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In what is being referred to as “geopolitical wreckage,” Bolton’s tour of the Southern Caucasus has had an underlying agenda: to isolate Iran, a strategic border ally of Armenia.


In one of several provocative statements, Bolton suggested a significant change to Armenia’s foreign policy—that Armenia purchase arms from the United States instead of Russia. “We think our equipment is better than the Russians’…it increases Armenia’s options when it’s not entirely dependent on one major power.”

Responses across Armenia’s political spectrum have been varied. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, for example, seems intrigued. “The [Armenian] government is not constrained by anything. If there is an offer from the United States that is good for us, we will discuss it,” he told journalists at a recent press conference.

Russia has long been beefing up the weapons supply of Armenia and Azerbaijan, despite criticism that this type of support increases the risk of fighting in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. An indignant Russia says Armenia would be renouncing ‘historical clichés’ and damaging a ‘traditional friendship’ if it ever chose that route; the spokesperson even holding Bolton accountable from an October 25 interview with Radio Liberty in which he said, “I think that’s really fundamental to Armenia exercising its full sovereignty and not being dependent on or subject to excessive foreign influence.” Russia responded, “It would be good if John Bolton thinks over the meaning of his own words.”

The Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), which has a history of close ties with Russia, staunchly opposes Bolton’s suggestion. The leader of the former ruling parliamentary faction Vahram Baghdasarian believed such action would “escalate the situation and aggravate the negotiating process.”

Meantime the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) welcomed the idea. Armen Rustamyan, the leader of the ARF’s parliamentary faction, believes that Armenia today is behind Azerbaijan in its military buildup. “Aggressions and hostilities start when the balance is disturbed,” explained Rustamyan, who would be open to America sharing its arsenal.

The largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots organization, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), is also not opposed to U.S sales of arms to Armenia, but not if that means Azerbaijan gets a cut, too. That’s part of the group’s enforcement of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which restricts U.S. aid—including military assistance—to Azerbaijan. In a statement, the ANCA said, “The danger here is that Azerbaijan, given the size of its military budget, can afford significantly more advanced U.S. arms than Armenia – leading to imbalances both on the battlefield and in terms of political relationships.”

As for Bolton’s suggestion on taking “decisive action” toward a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, PM Pashinyan emphasized, “John Bolton, or anyone for that matter, cannot speak on my behalf…there cannot be a resolution if it is not acceptable to the people of Armenia, Artsakh and the government of Artsakh.” Pashinyan said he’s striving for transparency during this Pan-Armenian issue; he said the Armenian people will resolve the conflict. In reference to Bolton and the Trump administration, Pashinyan said, “They are moving forward with the logic that they have some kind of ownership of the Karabakh issue. They are attempting to sell it to me without asking my opinion.”

14 Comments

  1. American weapons are grossly over priced, very difficult to operate and maintain and they work best only against enemies that wear sandals and turbans. American officials are war criminals and they only serve the interests of the Zionist state. Therefore, American officials and their war toys are not welcome in Armenia. No one, including Nikol and his Western funded cohorts, will be able to drive a wedge between Russia and Armenia. Russia and Armenia are locked in an embrace no one can break for the following reason. No Russia in Armenia = no Armenia in the south Caucasus. No Armenia in the south Caucasus = no Russia in the strategic south Caucasus. Russians and Armenians have been natural allies for two hundred-plus years and will remain allies for well into the foreseeable future. God bless Russia. God bless Armenia. And may God help protect Russo-Armenian friendship from all enemies both foreign and domestic.

  2. I am done with the so-called Armenian “government”. That was the result of April 2016. Armenian “government” has nothing to do with the Armenian nation or the Armenian people or all of our interests. Those pawns are there for the stability and interests of Russia, not the prosperity or viability of Armenia as a sovereign nation.

    Bolton may be a war hawk, but so what? He is looking out for the interests of HIS country the USA, unlike pathetic, incompetent Armenian “government” of the past 30 years looking out for the interests of… who else, Russia. And of course Putin is also looking out for the interests of Russia, now there is a commonality with the Armenian “government” and Putin. In fact any second now our local apparatchiks will show up talking about how “overpriced” and “inferior” American arms are compared to Mother Russia’s. Yeah keep dreaming. But I guess Russia really needs the cash, every ruble it can get, even from a poor nation like Armenia. The truth is, American weapons are in EVERY WAY superior to anything coming out of Russia. In fact the difference is so great, it is downright pathetic. The idea that “Russia is Armenia’s friend” is a sack of bullsh–t. If there was such a “friendship” Russia would be busy correcting all the damage it caused Armenia for the past century. Instead, what Russia does is sell arms to Azerbaijan so that Armenia can stay put, landlocked and in danger at ALL times so that it can rely on “Russian protection” – a condition that RUSSIA CREATED FOR ARMENIA SINCE 1922. And of course, isn’t “Russian charity” great? Set up an anti-Nato base in Gyumri to protect RUSSIAN INTERESTS, and make ARMENIA pay for it under the principle of protecting Armenia from Turkey – of course another condition that Russia itself created by gifting all kinds of Armenian lands away to both Turkey, and its favorite cash cow, Azerbaijan.

    Bottom line is, the Russia-Armenia relations are ONE SIDED, as they have always been. And of course, the apparatchik claim is “Armenia wouldn’t exist without Mother Russia”. Yeah that’s an easy claim when Mother Russia destroyed any chance of Armenian sovereignty by gifting lands to Turkey and Azerbaijan and arming them both, creating a threat to Armenia. Your ex post facto arguments do not fly with me. This is like someone opens up a tire repair shop in a city and at night goes around slashing tires. Oh that was such a hard one to figure out, apparatchiks. That is what “Mother Russia” is all about, a bunch of phonies who want to make it ook like they are heroes.

    That’s also what Russia did in Syria, not much different than in Armenia. In fact we can set Syria as an example of what happens when a country places complete trust in Russia. Russia is in Syria for one reason only: Russian interests in the Middle East. And of course the desperate, sold-out Syrians who are in an existential threat can only see how “Russia saved them”. Yeah only to the extent that it serves Russian interests, not Syrian ones. That’s why the USA has a base in Syria now, and so do the Turks, and Russia can’t do a damn thing about it, not that it ever wanted to: Russia can’t afford it.

    • Bolton the White Trash US National needs to watch it’s mouth.

      Piece of shit USA has been denying the genocide with Evil Turkey and Piece of shit Israel all these years.

      Know all the sudden since USA is losing the war on the middle East it wants to be friends.Fuck That.

      Tell USA to bomb Turkey and Azerbaijan and give back All of Azerbaijan Land and Turkeys land back to its true and original owners Armenia.

      Besides admitting the genocide.

      Armenia will deny September 11 ever ha open for 103 years.As well as the holocaust never happened for 103 years.

      Because we can not admit that for are Allies Iran and Germany.

      Armenia Need a to treat U.S., Turkey and Is real like shit and backstab the US they same way or worse.

    • Zartir lao,
      I know you mean well but it’s really amazing how out of touch with reality you are. You seem to be living in a world turned on its head. Please stop watching Fox or CNN or whatever you are watching because it’s making you ill my friend. I have one thing to say to you: Zartir Lao!

  3. USA can not be trusted.

    It has backstabbed Armenia for 103 years by supplying Turkey an Enemy of Armenia and denying the genocide for 103 years for its not longer friend and enemy Turkey

    Kniw that Turkey and USA ate enemies it’s trying to kiss Armenia ass.But before supplying its enemies and funding teriosts in the region.

    Once USA starts funding Armenia with lots of money, businesses, weapons, and bombing Turkey and not supporting Armenias enemies.Maybe we can trust evil back stabber USA again.

    Until then USA has to prove its loyolaty and watch it’s mouth.

    Armenia is going to become a Superpower in the region.

    • That’s funny Vartan. How do you propose that Armenia becomes a regional super power when they can’t even protect villages in Armenia proper and not Karabakh? What kind of a regional super power gets shot at by an enemy nation in an act and declaration of war and sits back and does nothing? And don’t tell me “they are doing a lot we just don’t know it” – if they had been doing anything that was meaningful in the past 30 years, Azerbaijan would be scared shitless to even think about firing at Armenian villages and making life a living hell for Armenia’s border villages as recently as this year. Armenia is ruled by half a dozen overweight lazy generals along with the Russia puppets in the rest of the “government”. Armenia can’t and won’t do anything until the Russian overlords give the OK. Armenia = puppet of Russia, that’s why firing at Armenian civilians by Turks/Azeris is of no consequence: the ones being fired at are not Russians.

  4. Guys, you are both wrong. Why ? Because there couldn’t be easy answer on multi-layered decades old conflict and hundreds of years of relationship. First of all, Russia give weapons discounted and for credit. To Azerbaijan weapons sold for hard cash by market price. Second point: as in most post-soviet countries Armenian army equipped mostly with soviet era equipment. Even deployment of such NATO staples as M-16 rifles would be problematic as it uses ammo incompatible with AK-74. You can’t change one component and be done, you need to change everything starting with military education of generals and to down to conscripted private basic training. Third point: Russia has significant cultural ties with Armenia, prominent Armenians well embedded in Russian society (including foreign minister on his father side). Armenia sandwiched between hostile nations and that will not change in observable future. Maybe some weapon systems like F-22 or F-35 could be deployed in the long run, but as addition to existing hardware, not as permanent replacement.

  5. Turkey is benefiting from both US and Russia. Armenia needs to implement a multi-vector diplomacy and pursue Armenia’s interests. If Armenia can benefit from US, so be it. Armenia is surrounded with enemies from east to west. Iran is very important to Armenia and borders should always be open for mutual Armenia-Iran interests.

  6. A fairly objective and impartial reporting.
    Other than the brief public statements made, we really do not know what was discussed behind closed doors. We should recognize that politicians/diplomats make selective statements and do not disclose all the details of their discussions.
    It is a reality that Armenia has and continues to have strong economic, military and to a degree cultural ties with Russia. Because of many historical developments this is inevitable and cannot be changed abruptly or drastically.
    However, for Armenia, it is critically important to have relations with other countries, including the US. It is wise and prudent to keep this dialogue and communications lines open. It is beneficial economically and politically to counter the threats, animosity, aggression of our primary enemies; Turkey and Azerbaijan.

    Right now, PM Pashinian is walking a fine line and is doing well.

    Vart Adjemian

  7. Armenia needs to be careful. We are not in a position to blindly trust this US government. The US, frankly, needs to do more to earn the trust of Armenia before telling them who they should buy arms from. How about recognizing the Armenian Genocide, pushing turkey to normalize relations, and actually working on helping to resolve the Artsakh crises and not play the status quo game.

  8. First and the most USA must recognize the Armenian Genocide officially, like most civilized nations of the world, before playing politically motivated games with Armenia!

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