Armenian News Network / Groong


Conversations on Groong

Armenia, Superpowers, and the New Cold War



June 8, 2021


     Pietro Shakarian


     Asbed Bedrossian

     Hovik Manucharyan



Hello and welcome to Armenian News Network, Groong. I’m Hovik Manucharyan and together with Asbed Bedrossian, we’re talking with our guest today about the foreign policy prospects for Armenia in the aftermath of the Second War in Artsakh (aka Nagorno-Karabakh).



This episode was recorded on Friday, June 4, 2021.


Armenia, Superpowers, and The New Cold War


On November 9, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia signed “The Statement” stopping the war in Karabakh. Since then, the harsh terms of the agreement have catapulted Armenia and Artsakh into an ongoing political crisis. However, amid the focus on Armenian domestic political developments, the larger regional context is often absent or misunderstood.


To help us delve deeper into the broader regional context of recent developments in Armenia and Artsakh, we are joined by:



Dr. Pietro Shakarian, who is a Cleveland-based historian of Russia and the Soviet Union, with a focus on Soviet Armenia and the Caucasus during the era of Nikita Khrushchev’s Thaw.

Hello and welcome, Pietro!


Last time when you were on the podcast, you mentioned the idea of a “New Cold War.” This is an important idea because the entire post-Soviet era has been a new cold war, since the west essentially failed to bring Russia into its fold and expand what we call “The West”. How do you define your notion of “the new cold war”?


How do you view NATO in the post-Soviet era? Is it an anachronism? What do you think is its impact all along the perimeter of Russia, or the former Soviet Union, but perhaps more specifically on the Caucasus region?

  1. Why does NATO make Russia so angry?
  2. Is it true that Mikhail Gorbachev was promised by Washington that NATO would not expand if Moscow agreed to the reunification of East Germany?
  3. As you know, Georgia and Ukraine have stated that membership in NATO is a national strategic goal for them. What would happen if the Armenian government decided to pursue NATO membership?
  4. What role does the EU’s Eastern partnership program play in this context?


Armenia has been trying to rebuild the country, its form of government, and its society, in the image of the admired, “democratic West”. As a result, like many independent post-Soviet republics, for example Georgia, Ukraine, and Belarus, our society is full of these “democracy-building” Non-Government Organizations, commonly known as NGOs. Now all of the republics I just mentioned went through so-called “Color Revolutions” in the past 15 years. In the cases of Georgia, Ukraine, and Armenia, they succeeded in bringing Western-oriented, or Western-friendly regimes to power. People who previously were often members of leaders of these democracy building NGOs. So our society is rife with conspiracy theories about the goals and agendas of these organizations, as well as the “colorful” regimes that came to power; you know for example about Soros-types, etc.

  1. Does “democracy building” in countries like Armenia, Ukraine, Georgia, and Belarus help or hurt US national security? Or anyone’s security?
  2. These colored revolutions have significantly destabilized the countries, so can you discuss how you view the West’s policy towards many of these former Soviet republics?
  3. In one of his recent interviews, former Armenian president Serge Sargsyan referred to “more powerful forces” in the post-Soviet space. Do you think he was referring to these NGOs when he said that?

Last time, you discussed an op-ed in Foreign Affairs by former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.  Could you tell us a bit more about that?  Why is it important?


Let’s talk about China. Obviously, a rising economic superpower and 1.5 billion people too! China is using its economic might to fund global-scale projects like its Belt and Road Initiative, which is connecting countries along the old Silk Road in ways that tie everyone into China’s economic engine, while providing them with carrots to do so. Very close to our home, China is ready and willing to invest between 4 and $800 Billion in Iran in the coming 25 years.


From an Armenian perspective


  1. Where should China fit in our plans?
  2. How does Beijing view the US-Russia conflict for influence in the post-Soviet space?
  3. Recently, in an interview with Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif, there was evidence of a divergence between the way Iran and Russia want to handle relations with the west. Can you talk about where Russia’s interests are, and where the gaps are with Iran? How do you think they will handle this?
  4. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is basically the new Silk Road. One of the paths that it takes through the Caucasus is the so-called North-South Corridor which connects the Persian Gulf with the Black Sea, through Iran, Armenia, and Georgia. Interestingly, Georgia already has flourishing ties directly with China. Can you talk about this?
  5. How does Armenia’s patron saint, Russia, plan to compete in a world of economic superpowers who are 10 times its population size? What does the future hold for Russia?



Does Armenia have a bright future? What do you see happening, moving forward?



That concludes this week’s Conversation On Groong on Armenia’s debate on Armenia’s IT Industry. We’ll continue following this discussion and keep you abreast on the topic as it progresses.


We hope this Conversation has helped your understanding of some of the issues involved. We look forward to your feedback, including your suggestions for Conversation topics in the future. Contact us on our website, at, or on our Facebook PageANN - Groong”, or in our Facebook Group “Groong - Armenian News Network.


Special thanks to Laura Osborn for providing the music for our podcast. I’m Hovik Manucharyan, and on behalf of everyone in this episode, I wish you a good week. Thank you for listening and we’ll talk to you next week.


Subscribe and Listen to us on...


Pietro Shakarian, Armenia, Russia, Foreign Policy, Moscow, Kremlin, Nagorno Karabakh, Artsakh, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Caucasus, NATO, CSTO, EU, China, India, Belt and Road,