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Armenia Looks to Iran for Energy to Lessen Dependence on Russia

Armenia Looks to Iran for Energy to Lessen Dependence on Russia

Armenia is redefining its alliances, looking beyond its traditional partnership with Russia to explore closer ties with countries like France, the United States, and notably, Iran. This shift is aimed at boosting Armenia's strategic position and promoting economic growth.

The warm relations between Tehran and Yerevan, dating back to the 1990s, are evolving, but navigating geopolitics complicates further expansion.

A surge in trade between Armenia and Iran signifies their growing economic collaboration. Armenian Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan has highlighted a significant increase in trade, expected to jump from $350 million in 2021 to a projected $1 billion next year. Grigoryan has emphasized how crucial these economic ties are for Armenia's national security.

Iran's recent efforts, indicated by Ambassador Mehdi Sobhani, hint at reducing Armenia's reliance on Russian energy. An agreement extension between the two nations allows Armenia to supply electricity to Iran in exchange for natural gas until at least 2030, potentially leading to substantial energy exchanges.

However, Russia's control over the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline, through Gazprom since 2015, remains a significant challenge, limiting Armenia's efforts to reduce dependence on Russian gas imports.

Apart from energy, both nations are collaborating on infrastructural development. A significant upgrade to a cross-border highway in Armenia's southern Syunik region, undertaken by Iranian firms with a $215 million contract, signifies efforts to enhance connectivity.

Geopolitical complexities arise due to differing approaches to regional dynamics. Iran's opposition to the so-called “Zangezur Corridor” proposed by Azerbaijan reflects its strategic interests in maintaining access to Armenia and northern routes.

Differences also persist regarding external involvement in the recent forced mass exodus of Armenians from their indigenous homeland of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) by Azerbaijan. While Armenia prefers U.S. and EU mediation, Iran advocates for exclusive regional involvement, despite limited progress in initiatives like the 3+3 format involving regional powers.

Ambassador Sobhani's comments on displaced ethnic Armenians from Azerbaijan's offensive drew criticism, highlighting the sensitivity surrounding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Armenia's shifting alliances reflect the intricate interplay of interests and historical ties in the region. As Armenia explores closer bonds with Iran, it marks a significant move toward reshaping regional dynamics, potentially shaping the future of the area.


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