Does the Kremlin prepare a coup d'état in Armenia with the help of the remnants of the PMC "Wagner"?

11.09.23 11:00

As if on cue, almost all Russian and pro-Russian media began to promote the theme of the "threat of an imminent war" by Azerbaijan against Armenia, in which "due to the betrayal of Russia by Nikol Pashinyan" Russia will not be able to come to the aid of the Armenians and they are threatened with a new "genocide". To prevent this "genocide", they say, it is necessary to urgently overthrow the Pashinyan government and also urgently ask Russia for help "to save Armenia and Artsakh".


But there is no organised political force capable of carrying out a coup in Armenia itself, and none is foreseen. The remnants of the radical pro-Russian opposition are being 'purged' by the Pashinyan regime, which in recent days has even begun to imprison pro-Russian bloggers and journalists. Therefore, the coup d'état in Armenia is most likely being prepared "from the outside" with the help of the PMC "Wagner", which is quite "saturated" with people of Armenian nationality.


In principle, there is no doubt that the "Wagner" PMC began preparing for participation in the coup in Armenia and the subsequent war for "Artsakh" in advance. At least several months before. Perhaps it was "with a view" to future operations in Armenia in the South Caucasus that PMC Wagner was withdrawn from the Ukrainian front in the spring of this year.


But the rebellion of PMC "Wagner" on 23-24 June 2023, instead of "moving" to Armenia and "Artsakh", PMC "Wagner" organised a march to Moscow, which brought the Russian vertical of power to the brink of disaster. The mutiny was miraculously "extinguished" with the "mediation" of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Two months later, "forgiven" and even "favoured" by the Kremlin, the leadership of the PMC "Wagner" was liquidated after organising a plane crash over the Tver region. 


According to the @bagramyan26 telegram channel, at the time of Prigozhin's death there were about 3,000 PMC "Wagner" fighters in Armenia. Recently (mostly from Rostov) they have been joined by about 2,000 more contract workers (mostly ethnic Armenians). In other words, Prigozhin himself and the Wagner leadership were clearly involved in this transfer.


In this context, the question arises again about the main organisers of Prigozhin's death, as well as why the Kremlin or its French "partners" (who had "questions" for Eugene Prigozhin about "African affairs") waited for time and did not rush to organise "accidental plane crashes".


The media have talked a lot in these two months about the camps of the PMC "Wagner" in Belarus. Also about the fact that they will "cut through the Suvalki corridor" and other fantasies. In fact, the Suvalki corridor between Belarus and the Kaliningrad region of Russia runs through the territory of NATO countries. The operation to "penetrate" it is, in principle, impossible for the forces of a PMC. But the PMC "Wagner" could be used to remove the issue of another corridor - the Zangezur corridor - from the agenda.  Therefore, the "demonstrative activity" of the PMC "Wagner" in Belarus was probably only an "information veil". And all these two months there was probably a purposeful transfer of fighters of PMC "Wagner" to Armenia and organisation of management of future "operations" in this country.


It is clear that the interests of Russia and France with regard to Armenia do not coincide in all respects. Both Russia and France support Armenian nationalism and Armenian claims to foreign territories. But Pashinyan is oriented towards France and his overthrow is definitely not satisfactory for Paris. However, the French special services definitely had information about the deployment of "Wagnerites" in Armenia. Therefore, there is still no clear answer to the question: who was the initiator of Prigozhin's liquidation? And in whose interest and how "timely" was it done?


Of course, this does not mean that the Kremlin's rather vindictive leadership was not interested in liquidating Yevgeny Prigozhin. But they could have done it "somewhere in Africa" to avoid suspicion. And, most importantly, after the "Armenian special operation" had been carried out with Prigozhin's help. After all, it is much easier and more effective to manage the PMC through its authoritative leader among the militants than to try to intercept the leadership of the "decapitated" structure.


The @bagramyan26 Telegram channel also reports that, given Pashinyan's recent statements about the mistake of choosing Russia as a strategic partner and accusing the Russian leadership of failing to honour agreements on the Karabakh issue, the Kremlin has, by all indications, sanctioned a coup scenario in Armenia. The aim of this plot is to remove Pashinyan and his team from power with the help of the Wagnerian forces available in the country. The "last straw" for Putin was the joint Armenian-American military exercises.


"Currently the number of "Wagnerites" in Armenia has increased to 12,000. The order to act was given 'the day before yesterday'. The Russians' main bet is on the top leadership of the military, special services and the police, where there are enough Russian agents. In the middle and lower ranks, the Russians have much less support. Russia has no worthy candidates to replace Pashinyan (Kocharyan and Sarkisian are also in the running...) and is going all out. The probability of success is extremely low, given the presence of numerous military formations in and around Yerevan. But the bet is on destabilisation along the Nagorno-Karabakh line of contact and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. In the continuation of the process, the cards of the pro-Russian candidates for the mayor of Yerevan will be played (Tandilyan - candidate of Ruben Vardanyan, Marutyan - candidate of Patrushev, Tevanyan - candidate of Kocharyan)". - reports the telegram channel @bagramyan26.


The "underdevelopment" of the Kremlin's operation and its "emergency nature" can also be seen in the elections in Yerevan. Yes, since there is no reason to change the current government in Armenia in the form of national elections, it was decided to use municipal elections, namely the elections to the Council of Elders of Yerevan, scheduled for 17 September 2023. In principle, the outcome of these elections can be predicted in advance - the favourite is Tigran Avinyan, the candidate of the "Civil Pact" government.


 But as we can see, the pro-Russian forces are going to the elections in Yerevan in "three separate columns". In other words, if the pro-Kremlin forces in Armenia could not even unite in the local elections, how are they going to take power in the country together?


The threat of Kremlin interference in Armenian affairs and a possible coup attempt with the help of PMCs should not be underestimated. On 22 February 2022, Western military analysts considering the prospects of a Russian war against Ukraine did not believe in an invasion. They pointed to the apparent inadequacy of Russian forces for the success of the "special operation". Nevertheless, the invasion took place and turned into a bloody war that has lasted for a year and a half. It is quite possible that the Kremlin will opt for a similar failed adventure in the South Caucasus.




Alexandre Zakhariadze

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