PRAGUE — A NATO general says he’s surprised that Russia is not more openly involved in Armenia’s recent tumultuous events that led to longtime leader Serzh Sarkisian being pushed from power.
General Petr Pavel, the chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, told RFE/RL on May 3 that he was surprised at the lack of Russian “interference” because of the close ties between Moscow and Yerevan and because of Russia’s “significant” military presence in Armenia.
“Armenia is one of the countries which Russia sees as their near neighborhood and their justified sphere of influence,” said Pavel, the third-highest-ranking NATO official behind Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Supreme Allied Commander Curtis Scaparrotti.
“Russia identified so-called ‘colored revolutions’ as one of [its] major security challenges,” Pavel said. “To some extent I am surprised there is not so much visible Russian interference, but I believe there is a lot going on beneath the surface.”
Pavel noted that NATO has an Individual Partnership Action Plan with Armenia. But he said that “obviously, if a new government is in favor of more links with NATO, we are ready for it.”
The Armenian parliament is scheduled to vote on opposition leader Nikol Pashinian’s candidacy for prime minister on May 8.
Pashinian led nationwide protests that have forced Sarkisian to give up power, and that has pressured his ruling Republican Party. The events are reminiscent of so-called “colored revolutions” from 2003 to 2005 in Georgia and Ukraine.
Pashinian has said there will be no geopolitical changes as a result of the upheaval.