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Score One for Putin: Tiny Armenia to Join Russia's Economic Union


Russia and the EU have been waging a shadow war against each other’s economic union for quite awhile now, with Moscow’s Eurasian Customs Union on one side and the European Union free trade zone on the other. Moscow has had some trouble competing: so far, the only countries with Russia in the ECU are Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. But Putin may be about to add another notch to his belt: yesterday Armenia signaled its intention to join Russia’s trade bloc.

This is good news for Russia in more ways than one, considering how sour relations with Armenia have been recently. Activists staged a multi-day sit-in outside the Russian embassy in Yerevan to protest the poor treatment of an Armenian truck driver arrested in Russia and charged with the murder of more than a dozen people in a horrific crash. The protestors also showed their displeasure with Russia’s decision to raise the price of gas and ship $1 billion worth of weapons to Armenia’s rival, Azerbaijan. And it’s not over: after the ECU announcement yesterday, nine people were arrested when new protests erupted outside the presidential palace in Yerevan.

Putin understandably claimed this as an important diplomatic victory over his European rivals. “The Russian side supports the decision by Armenia to enter the customs union….  We will fully work for this to happen,” he cheered. But Armenia is a small prize. Its economy is “much” smaller than its energy rich neighbors in the Caucasus, Reuters reports, and Ukraine, a much bigger prize, is leaning toward the EU. And the decision to join the ECU won’t stop Armenia’s discussions with the EU over an association agreement, the President announced.

[Putin photo courtesy of Getty Images]

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  • USNK2

    Turkey has long had an illegal blockade on it’s border with Armenia. Not a murmur from the EU on that violation of international law.
    Where else is Armenia going to turn except to their historical protector, Russia?

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