West punishes Armenia to certain extent, but further sanctions are without exception, expert says
Although the war in Ukraine had a negative impact on the economies of some countries in the region, it became a great salvation for Armenia. Armenia has taken the lion's share of the Ukrainian war. The country races to cash in the sanctions imposed on Russia due to the ongoing conflict. On the one hand, Armenian public figures and politicians pretend to share the grief of Ukrainians caused by the war through mass media, on the other hand, the country continues to breach the sanction by re-exporting the components needed in the production of weapons. The government in Yerevan fakes out as though it shuns the Russian influence and approaches the West, but in reality it does not miss any opportunity to breach the sanctions on behalf of Russia.
Of course, Armenia refuses the accusations by offering some unimaginable excuses, but the facts and figures shed light on the issue. For example, money transfers from Russia to Armenia ramped up by 4 times and amounted to $3.6bn in 2022 according to the Central Bank of Armenia. The most important issue is that the increase started in the February of 2022, i.e. the start of the war. Besides, the World Bank says that the money transfer surged by sevenfold in January 2023 versus the same period in 2022. As for the trade turnover between the two countries, it has continued to increase since the inception of the war. The trade turnover between Russia and Armenia exceeded $5bn in 2022, hitting a record 91.7 percent growth year-on-year. Armenia's exports to Russia grew by 2.4 times in January-December 2022. The increase of export to Russia continues to increase in 2023. According to the World Bank Data in January 2023, Armenian export to Russia surged by ten folds. It is worth noting that the export has increased not due to the production, but re-export of sanctioned items. The US Bureau of Industry and Security stated that between 2021 and 2022, Armenia’s imports of chips and microprocessors from the US shot up by 515%; from the EU it was 212%. The bureau estimated that nearly all the imports, 97% of them, were re-exported to Russia.
Speaking to Azernews on the issue, the economist Eldaniz Amirov noted that it is normal in terms of Armenia since it has been used as a tool by foreign forces.
“It is impossible for Armenia to change itself at the moment. Because foreign forces use Armenia against other countries. Since Armenia is under the influence of different forces, the contradictory decisions and the contradictory speeches of policymakers are understandable,” the economist noted.
Amirov said that any strict sanction can cripple the Armenian economy. However, he does not expect that the West will impose sanctions on Armenia, because Armenia is controlled not only by Russia but also by the West.
“As for sanctions, they have been applied against several Armenian companies. The continuation of these sanctions is expected. It is clear that in this situation, sanctions will not be applied to Armenia because the West has interests in the country, as well. In other words, Armenia is not completely controlled by Russia. Armenia is controlled by four different forces - Russia, Europe, the USA, and Iran. Therefore any strict sanction is not expected. Of course, if any serious sanctions are imposed, then the situation in Armenia will worsen. It will have negative effects. However, as I mentioned, these sanctions are not expected to be massive for the time being,” the expert said.
The expert said that it is the tradition of Armenia to always act on its own decisions outside the framework of international laws, adding that Armenia has been helping Iran in this case for many years.
“We should note that Armenia assists Iran more than Russia which is totally against the sanctions. As is known, strict sanctions on Russia have been imposed since 2022, but Iran has been subject to these sanctions for many years. Iran circumvents these sanctions with the help of Armenia. The country also provided a corridor for transit cargo to Iran through the then-occupied Azerbaijani territories. Iran used this area to carry out its illegal activities. Armenia has always helped sanctioned countries to avoid sanctions. The reason for this is not due to love for those countries. In return for this help, Armenia sought certain economic benefits. Because Armenia is in a turbulent economic situation,” the expert added.
Qabil Ashirov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @g_Ashirov
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