United States-Armenia Relations and Regional Dynamics: Report from Yerevan

United States and Armenia Flags
United States and Armenia flags (Credits: Yerevanci, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Kavkaz Files ISSN 2975-0474 Volume 24 Issue 2
SpecialEurasia OSINT Unit

Executive Summary

This report, written during SpecialEurasia’s visit to Yerevan, examines the recent diplomatic engagements between the United States and Armenia, contextualised within the broader geopolitical dynamics of the South Caucasus.

The visit of James O’Brien, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, to Armenia shows a crucial moment in US-Armenia relations, especially considering the ongoing confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The discussions aim to bolster bilateral ties and support Yerevan in its peace negotiations with Baku, with the Alma-Ata Declaration proposed as a basis for border delimitation. The visit occurs against a backdrop of intricate regional dynamics, as Armenia’s strategic alignment moves from Russia towards the West, mirroring wider geopolitical trends in the region.

Background Information

On June 10th, 2024, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, James O’Brien, began a three-day visit to Armenia. According to the US State Department, the visit primarily focuses on discussing US support for a lasting peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, leveraging the Alma-Ata Declaration as a foundational framework for border delimitation.

Besides that, O’Brien’s agenda encompasses overseeing the US-Armenia Strategic Dialogue, which aims to assess the progress made in bilateral relations and identify potential avenues for future cooperation.

Simultaneously, the Armenian Foreign Ministry announced its readiness to work intensively on a draft peace treaty with Azerbaijan, targeting a signing within the coming month. On the same day, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan engaged with leaders from the Armenian Assembly of the United States of America, exchanging views on Washington-Yerevan’s political dialogue and regional developments, with particular emphasis on normalising relations with Baku.

Always on June 10th, 2024, the US Ambassador to Armenia, Christina Quinn, also met with the Speaker of the Armenian Parliament, Alen Simonyan, following a rally in Yerevan on June 9th, 2024,  in support of the “Tavush for the Motherland” movement. Their discussions addressed the security situation in the South Caucasus, Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations, and Armenian prisoners of war in Azerbaijan. They explored bilateral cooperation and reforms in democracy, freedom of speech, and human rights.

Geopolitical Scenario

Significant internal and external challenges characterise Armenia’s current geopolitical situation. The September 2023 Azerbaijani military offensive, which resulted in the capture of Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh, has profoundly affected Yerevan’s political landscape.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan administration has faced mounting domestic criticism following the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which ended unfavourably for Armenia, leading to significant territorial losses and heightened instability.

Historically, Armenia has relied heavily on Russia for security guarantees. However, since Pashinyan’s rise to power post-2018 ‘colour revolution’, relations with Moscow have deteriorated. Pashinyan’s criticism of Armenia’s over-reliance on Russia for security, especially considering Moscow’s developing strategic priorities influenced by the Ukraine conflict, has strained bilateral ties.

Russia’s recalibrated approach in the South Caucasus, marked by strengthened alliances with Azerbaijan and Turkey, underscores its broader strategic realignment. The February 2022 declaration of allied interaction between Russia and Azerbaijan and the ‘Green Corridor’ project highlight deepening economic and logistical cooperation. Additionally, Russia’s offer to Turkey to become a natural gas hub further shows Moscow’s strategy to counter Western sanctions and diversify its economic partnerships.

In this shifting landscape, Armenia has increasingly looked to the West for support. The United States has been actively working to improve its relationship with Armenia, with the goal of reducing Russian influence in the region. This strategic pivot is evident in recent diplomatic engagements and the heightened US involvement in Armenian affairs, despite the inherent risks associated with Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO).

Recent events, such as the Armenian delegation’s visit to Bucha, Ukraine, which drew a sharp rebuke from Russia, further illustrate the growing rift between Yerevan and Moscow. The Russian Foreign Ministry perceived this visit as an unfriendly act, exacerbating tensions and underscoring the fragile nature of Armenia’s current geopolitical posture.

"Tavush for the Motherland" movement's rally in Yerevan
“Tavush for the Motherland” movement’s rally in Yerevan – June 9th, 2024 (Credits: SpecialEurasia)


The developing US-Armenia relationship is emblematic of the broader geopolitical contest in the South Caucasus.

Armenia’s domestic political instability, highlighted by the “Tavush for the Motherland” movement, poses significant questions about the wisdom of distancing itself from Russia in favour of closer ties with the West. While the United States seeks to capitalise on the current rift between Yerevan and Moscow, the sustainability of this strategic shift remains uncertain.

Armenia’s reliance on Western support in the face of potential Azerbaijani aggression is a critical concern. Given Azerbaijan’s strategic importance to the EU’s energy diversification efforts post-Ukraine conflict, there is a risk that Armenia may find itself isolated, without substantial Western or Russian backing in future conflicts.

Local sources and social media channels have reported the presence of US military personnel and advisors in the hotels of Yerevan, indicating a significant development in US-Armenia military cooperation. This collaboration underscores efforts to enhance the compatibility of the Armenian army with US armed forces. Some local analysts have described this initiative as a deliberate strategy aimed at “de-Russification” of the Armenian military apparatus, suggesting a shift in Armenia’s geopolitical alignment.

In contrast, Russia’s substantial military presence in Armenia, exemplified by the Russian 102nd Military Base in Gyumri, where the Kremlin has stationed approximately 3,000 soldiers, highlights the enduring influence of Russia in the South Caucasus republic.

The strategic choices facing Armenia are fraught with complexity, balancing the need for security, sovereignty, and regional stability against the backdrop of shifting alliances and geopolitical interests. The outcome of the current diplomatic efforts and Armenia’s ability to navigate this challenging landscape will significantly influence the future of the South Caucasus region.

If you require additional information, reports, or consulting regarding Armenia, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@specialeurasia.com.

Related Posts