Eurasia News Online

Armenia – Eurasia and the US nuclear energy

Armenia is under constant pressure from the US and “Collective West” to join sanctions against Russia

Armenia is a member of the EAEU. From June 7 to 9, important events occurred in Sochi within the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) framework and the CIS. Among them is the Eurasian Congress organized by the Eurasian Development Bank (June 8-9), Eurasian Intergovernmental Council (EEMC) meetings and the Council of CIS Heads of Government. The exhibition “Eurasia – our home” that is.

The delegation of Armenia, headed by Prime Minister Nikolai Pashinyan, took part in all events. And, on the final day of his stay in Sochi, the Prime Minister met with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The day before the start of events in Sochi, Armenian Deputy Minister of Economy Narek Teryan in the country’s parliament said, that the volume of exports from Armenia to the EAEU countries last year amounted to $ 2.5 billion (an increase of 2.8 times in the annual dimension), imports – 2.7 billion dollars. (+ 49%).  Total trade with the EAEU countries amounted to $ 5.2 billion. The total volume of foreign trade turnover for January-December 2022 was more than $ 14.1 billion.  Thus, the trade turnover of Armenia with the EAEU countries amounted to 36.8% of its total trade. This is a kind of record for Armenia. It was never before higher than 30%. At the time of joining the Customs Union, it was significantly lower.

In January-April 2023, Russian-Armenian trade grew by 96% and amounted to almost 140 billion rubles. More than 4.5 thousand Russian companies are successfully operating in Armenia. Their accumulated investments exceed 46% of the total foreign investment in the Armenian economy.

Nuclear brinkmanship between the US and Russia in Armenia

During a visit by the heads of government of the EAEU to the exhibition “Eurasia – our home”, Mishustin drew attention to Pashinyan for the financing system for projects for constructing new nuclear power units. “Russia is ready to discuss with its colleagues in the EAEU financial issues of building nuclear power plants in their territories, as well as parameters related to the power of blocks“.

These proposals of the Russian side were made against the backdrop of a recent statement by the coordinator of the State Department’s assistance programs for Europe and Eurasia, Maria Longogio, about the possibility of Westinghouse “building small modular nuclear reactors” in several countries of Eurasia, including Armenia. The goal of the project is not particularly hidden. It is to strengthen the energy independence of these states from Russia and China.

Speaking in Sochi, Pashinyan announced ambitious plans to turn Armenia into a regional electric power hub. “Based on current geopolitical realities, we need a new approach to the energy agenda. Armenia is currently undergoing a phased transition to liberalisation of the energy market. Armenia develops production facilities and carries out large-scale reconstruction of power lines. Construction of the Armenia – Iran and Armenia – Georgia will create new opportunities for increasing exports, imports, transit or seasonal exchange of electricity. From this point of view, Armenia can become a regional electric power hub”.

US State Department Sanctions Coordinator James O’Brien stated that Turkey, Kazakhstan, Georgia, the United Arab Emirates and Armenia are helping Russia circumvent existing prohibitions. According to an American official, by the beginning of this year, Moscow was able to import certain key categories of electronics at approximately the pre-war level – we are talking about chips, processors and integrated circuits.

How to get “freedom” from Russian technology?

The risk of pressure on Armenia from the West in the context of anti-Russian sanctions existed and continues to exist. Tigran Sargsyan reminded us that such a risk existed at the peak of anti-Iranian sanctions. Despite obstacles, Iran is Armenia’s closest neighbour and never interrupted its economic ties. The development of economic cooperation is based on the interests of the republic. The same is true now, in light of the restructuring of the Russian economy.

Armenia must do everything to maximize the benefits of this situation. And the benefits are there. At the same time, it is necessary to maintain relations with countries applying sanctions, demonstrating that Armenia defends its interests. For better or worse, this is the inevitable fate of small countries during the geopolitical storms started by large transnational players. 

Armenia needs to consider how “successful” the US was in freeing Germany and some other countries in the EU from dependence on Russian gas. Now they are happily dependent on US gas which is multiple times more expensive. Armenia and not only Armenia should also consider the US and Western excessive use of sanctions as a political weapon. How reliable would the US be as a supplier of technology and fuel?

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