Official Yerevan has not responded at any level to the statement of Major General Novikov, one of the officials of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces that Armenia is ready to join the humanitarian mine clearing mission in Syria. He said they have turned to the defense agencies of Iran, Egypt, Serbia, Armenia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates and Serbia and Armenia have given their consent to participate in the coalition initiated by Russia.
The Armenian minister of defense Vigen Sargsyan announced a few months ago that Armenia is discussing this issue with Russia. In addition, some time later Vigen Sargsyan announced in a press conference that the participation of the Armenian armed forces in Syria is not being considered. He said that if Armenia decides to participate, participation will be voluntary.
Of course, a question occurs if Armenia will give up on it if nobody in Armenia wishes to leave for Syria to clear minefields, explaining that nobody in the armed forces volunteered for such secondment.
On the other hand, it is interesting that the Russian General Staff official announces about the participation of Armenia and official Yerevan remains silent for several days. The impression is that Russia rather than Armenia decided to participate. Meanwhile, a highly important issue is raised, and it turns out that Armenia’s decision is revealed by the head of some department of the General Staff of a third country. Meanwhile, Armenia’s involvement in Syria should be at least a parliament resolution.
In terms of risks everything is clear: both direct involvement in human terms and country’s involvement in terms of becoming a target for terrorists is risky.
Of course, it is not about a military action against ISIS but humanitarian mine clearance in liberated territories to help people return to their peaceful lives In other words, there is a different, of course, and even terrorists can feel this. However, they may also not feel this because you never know what is on the mind of terrorists.
On the other hand, it is beyond doubt that being a subject of international politics requires involvement in such risky missions. For example, there were similar concerns and risks when Armenia was involved in NATO mission in Afghanistan or earlier in Iraq. The question is what Armenia will get if it joins a Russian initiative? Or have we received that when Putin refrained from putting forth the Azerbaijani proposal on peacekeepers and peace for territories. Of course, one should not rule out that a decision on the participation of Armenia or such intention is determined by the Armenian community in Syria and in this region in general, with a view to preserving the Armenian factor in this important crater.
It is not rational to divide the problem into Russia and West, i.e. one should participate in a Western mission and reject a Russian mission. The issue should be considered in terms of real politics, and through the prism of the interests and security of Armenia.
The question is, however, whether the Armenian government will not mistake its own interest for public interest and will not put the first on the table for discussion.
The fact that official Yerevan has not been able to give any explanation on the statement of an official of another country’s General Staff on an important issue causes concerns that one day Serzh Sargsyan will announce that he could not learn the public opinion on Syria in a night.