The US Embassy in Yerevan does not deny that in case of engaging in "significant deals" with Russian military industry complex companies, Armenia or any other country may be targeted by the new sanctions.

Such risks are also seen by the Armenian government as Russia is the main arms supplier to the Armenian army.

However, experts have a different opinion. “Such sanctions have no high risks for Armenia”, they mentioned at the discussion on "Possible Impact of US Sanctions on Armenia for Engaging in Military Deals with Russia’ hosted by Media Center on February 14.

The press outlets shared information that the United States had notified the Armenian government and governments of other countries of the risk of becoming the target of possible sanctions in case of engaging in “significant deals” with Russian military industry complex companies. “It was only a notification and not a discussion”, stated the US Embassy in Yerevan in response to ‘Haykakan Zhamanak’ newspaper’s inquiry.

The Congress granted the US President the possibility to impose new sanctions through CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) signed by Donald Trump on August 2, 2017. According to RBC, the US authorities confirmed that the new sanctions may target the Russian arms exports.

As it became known before, starting from January 29, 2018, the US President may impose new sanctions on any physical person, organization or company from every country in the world engaged in “significant” military deals with the Russian military industry complex companies. This list includes 39 Russian defense enterprises and intelligence agency.

Half of the list is filled with the enterprises covered by Rostech company, including state-owned armament import and export monopolist Rosoboronexport. The list also covers the Russian Federal Security Service, the Foreign Intelligence Service and the General Department of the Armed Forces General Staff.

It is noteworthy that Armenia and Azerbaijan in conflict with each other, are among the buyers of the Russian armament. Over the past few years, Azerbaijan signed a military deal of about $5 billion with Russian companies, and Armenia gets Russian armament at the domestic prices as a party to the CSTO. Over the past 2 years, Armenia got from the Russian Federation a military loan of about $ 250 million to purchase the newest arms produced by that country.

Also, according to the Special Protocol attached to the Treaty on the Military Base № 102 deployed in Gyumri signed by Armenia and Russia in 2010 extending the base deployment date till 2044, Moscow not only takes on the ensuring the security of the entire Armenian territory but also undertakes to provide the Armenian army with modern weapons.

Besides, many years ago, Armenia and Russia signed a treaty of military and technical cooperation; accordingly, Armenia was entitled to make direct purchases from Russian military industry complex companies bypassing the state-owned monopolist Rosoboronexport red tape.

“To tell the truth, I don’t think that those sanctions targeted the Russian Federation in that case; as for Armenia, I don’t even see what they have to do with Armenia”, said Stepan Grigoryan, Political Scientist and Chairman of the Analytical Center for Globalization and Regional Studies, at the discussion hosted by the Media Center.

According to him, of course, Armenia should think on how such sanctions might affect its cooperation with Russia, but on the other hand, "we signed a Collective Security Treaty with Russia, it’s not a sort of unlawful cooperation and I don’t think the US is unaware of it". "Of course, they are well aware of it. In other words, it is an open cooperation, an official cooperation. We also cooperate with NATO; to be more accurate, we should say that we are trying to complement to such policy; so, frankly speaking, I don’t think those sanctions make a super urgent issue" , Stepan Grigoryan believes.

According to him, such sanctions will be imposed to some extent; possibly, some of them will not be imposed at all. According to the political scientist, such sanctions should not be linked with Armenia and considered an urgent matter.

Military expert Karen Vrtanesyan, in his turn, noted that regardless of the sanctions, given the tense relations between the United States and Russia, Armenia should any time wait for some sanctions from the US. "However, now this scenario appears not much likely," the expert said. According to him, on the other hand, the same can not hold true for the US-Azerbaijani relations. "Of course, there is some tension in US-Azerbaijani relations, especially in the field of human rights and freedom of speech, but their business relations are good; US will hardly impose any sanctions on Aliyev's regime."

Vladimir Evseyev, Russian Military Expert and Head of the CIS countries Caucasian Division, who joined the discussion from Moscow through a video call, also finds such scenario quite unlikely. “I think it’s unlikely that the United States may impose any sanctions on Armenia for engaging in “significant deals" with the Russian military industry complex companies," he said and added that the note on such possibility given to the Armenian government is political pressure on official Yerevan.

"To tell the truth, I can’t even understand why the United States put political pressure on Armenia given that they want to gain control over this region, including Armenia. But if they impose sanctions on Armenia, they will alienate Armenia rather than bring it closer, and the United States will not wish Armenia to alienate from them," Vladimir Evseyev said.

Arshaluis Mghdesyan, Media Center Project Coordinator/Editor

To contact the author, please write to: [email protected]

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