NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets today in Brussels with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan.
The visit comes amid a flare-up in tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. Since a Moscow-brokered peace agreement in 2020 ended weeks of fighting between the two countries, a Russian peacekeeping contingent has stationed itself in the Lachin corridor, a narrow land route connecting the largely ethnically Armenian enclave to Armenia proper. Since mid-December, a blockade of Baku-backed environmental activists has joined the Russians, protesting the alleged illegal Armenian expropriation of natural resources in the region.
NATO’s policy on Nagorno-Karabakh has been to encourage a peaceful resolution to the longstanding dispute without directly involving itself in negotiations. Despite the urgings of Yerevan that the blockade is cutting off food supplies to the region, Moscow has yet to disburse the protesters or take any substantive action. This is likely due to its concern that its military resources—directed now in significant numbers to waging war against Ukraine—are running thin.
In short, expect Stoltenberg to exploit Russia’s dilemma and encourage Armenia to turn to NATO for diplomatic support, and potentially humanitarian support, in exchange for a less-neutral Armenian position on the Ukraine war. NATO will have to carefully balance pulling Armenia away from its historic supporter on Nagorno-Karabakh with the threat that the peace agreement will collapse in the absence of Russia’s influence.
Nick is the Director of the Daily Brief and a contributing Senior Analyst to it. An attorney, his areas of expertise include international law, international and domestic criminal law, security affairs in Europe and the Middle East, and human rights.