A CFR article/interview claims that Armenia's 2017 Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with the EU is not perceived as threatening by Russia.

If this is correct, it is a bit unlike how Russia reacted to the EU Association Agreements with Ukraine or Moldova. E.g., Russia almost immediately sanctioned Moldova economically for signing their AA, which includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the EU.

Is this (Armenian) view correct in further hindsight? If so, what is sufficiently different between CEPA and the other AAs (in particular DCFTAs) that swayed Russia's position?

  • 2
    I don't have a definitive answer for you question but I would say yes, this CEPA can only be perceived as somewhat threatening for Russia. I can only guess that any reaction will be far more measured with Armenia than with Moldova because Moldova has had a very strong pro-EU stance for almost two decades and Russia did not have that much to loose. Furthermore Armenia neighbors are quite different from Moldova and it is likely to stand (no EU member in reach) far more isolated with an open pro-west stance.
    – armatita
    May 15, 2019 at 10:54

2 Answers 2


Differences between Armenia and Moldova

Given that nobody else has tried an answer until now, I'll speculate about possible differences:

  1. Neither Moldova nor Armenia is that important to Russia, but a Moldovan decision influences Ukraine. The strong reaction towards Moldova was a signal to Ukraine.
  2. Moldova is more important than Armenia:
    • Population: 4.1 per cent of Russian speakers (Armenia: 0.09); 150,000 Russian citizens (including dual citizens) (according to Wikipedia)
    • Engagement: Russia is militarily present in the Moldovan break-away republic Transdniestria (about 1,200 soldiers; according to Wikipedia )
  3. A closer association of Moldova with the EU destabilizes Transdniestria.
  4. Russia is not concerned about a privileged trade agreement, but about an eventual NATO membership. Moldova might have better chances than Armenia to join NATO in the short or medium term.
  5. Other:
    • Armenian politicians/diplomats have been more careful/capable.
    • Armenia is considered already lost.
    • Alternatively, Armenia is considered to remain closely attached to Russia, notwithstanding the agreement.
  • 1
    Russia also has a military base in Armenia. And supposedly even a integrated air defence system with Armenia.
    – Fizz
    May 15, 2019 at 21:14

Russia and Armenia are strategic military treaty allies.

Based on the provisions of the Treaty between the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation on the Status and Operating Conditions of the Border Troops of the Russian Federation on the territory of the Republic of Armenia of September 30, 1992, Border Control Department of the Russian Federal Security Service safeguards the state borders of Armenia with Iran and Turkey jointly with the Armenian border guards. The 13th session of the Intergovernmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation was held in Moscow on October 1-5, 2018 (the previous one took place in Yerevan on September 5-8, 2017)

Essentially, Armenia helps Russia project power beyond its borders and not limit it and in return Russia supports Armenia's strategic objectives.

Russia's objections to NATO expansion

The fight is between NATO (remember Turkey is a NATO member) and Russia for control over the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea.

Finland and Sweden

  • Russia shares the Baltic Sea with Finland and Sweden
  • If Finland and Sweden join NATO, Russia effectively loses control of the Baltic sea to NATO

Ukraine and Moldova

  • If Moldova joins NATO, Transdniestria, an exclave of Russia is in danger
  • If Moldova joins NATO, it is further impetus for Ukraine joining NATO
  • If Ukraine joins NATO, Russia effectively loses control of the Black Sea

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

The above countries are simply proxies between some NATO members and Russia. Not all NATO members are aligned against Russia, but the way the treaty operates, it only needs some members of NATO to start gnawing at Russia's interests to get everyone else involved.


Thus, Armenia's CEPA is not considered a threat by Russia, due to their integrated security infrastructure. While, Moldova and Ukrainian economic integration with EU is seen as the first step towards a security integration towards NATO, which Russia sees as a threat.

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