Indeed, to say that the current “cuddles” of Brussels and Yerevan raise questions from the point of view of the interests of the European Union itself is to say nothing. They arrange a “love fest” with Armenia and even consider the possibility of expanding military cooperation with the country, without waiting for the Armenian authorities to move from scandalous posturing in relations with Russia to actually reducing their reliance on Moscow. Or at least stop giving Russia every opportunity to circumvent sanctions, where Armenia was and remains almost the main “black hub”. There is no need to hire agents at cargo terminals, crawl through container warehouses and so on to see that. Official export-import data provide enough food for thought.
For example, Armenia, whose economy was in bad shape already, increased its exports to Russia by 90% in 2022 compared to 2021! How? Has all of Russia suddenly switched to Armenian brandy? Or to Sevan crayfish from Rostov ones?
Joking aside, the trade turnover between Armenia and Russia exceeded 5 billion dollars in 2022, reached 3 billion dollars by August of this year, and continues to grow. Moreover, for the first time, small and weak Armenia without a sound economy and competitive industry sold more goods to Russia than it purchased—and this is while Armenia receives oil, gas and rough diamonds from Russia!
Another remarkable thing is that imports to Armenia from Vietnam suddenly skyrocketed, increasing by 380%, i.e., it almost quadrupled. Imports from Mexico have grown by 324% in recent years. And it is hardly sombreros and ponchos. Finally, imports from Japan have increased by 252%. Import to Armenia from Germany has doubled, and, judging by indirect data, a significant part of it is machine tools, machine parts, etc.
Finally, the “magic of numbers” in Armenia’s relations with the Persian Gulf countries, primarily the UAE, deserves most serious attention. According to official statistics, the trade turnover between Armenia and the UAE in 2022 increased 5.3 times, reaching $593.2 million! The growth continued this year. In January-August 2023, Armenia’s trade turnover with the UAE amounted to $642,502.51, which is almost two and a half times more than in the same period last year. Armenian Minister of Economy Vahan Kerobyan happily reports: trade with the United Arab Emirates has grown tenfold over the past two or three years. In the past two or three years—that is, since the beginning of the Ukrainian war and sanctions against the Russian Federation. At the same time, there is no noticeable demand for industrial production either in Armenia or in the UAE. The UAE’s main exports are oil and gas, but Armenia receives hydrocarbons from Russia. What then is the reason for this growth in trade turnover, if it is not sanctions circumvention?
And now, a little on what happens behind the scenes. The UAE talks a lot about the development of the non-oil sector of the economy, but the country was and remains an “oil monarchy”. It simply has no appreciable industry that could become a substrate and a basis for such an upsurge in trade turnover. But it has something else. Dubai is the capital of shopping.
It is also a well-known regional center of export-import operations, including, to put it mildly, not quite legal ones. Moreover, this is not something they like to say out loud on the Arab street, but in Arab countries the position of Armenian business in the finance is very serious: a Muslim has no right to engage in usury, and over the years when Islamic banking has not yet gained its current position, the banking sector in the Gulf countries was essentially in the hands of Armenian money. Now that Armenia, as befits an outpost of Russia, has taken up the task of providing its master with a “sanctions circumvention”, the Gulf countries, more specifically, the UAE, are of course at the top of the list.
Moreover, Kyiv is well aware of the fact that it is through the UAE that billions of dollars worth of “parallel import” operations are being carried out. About a month ago, in the first half of November 2023, the UAE authorities decided to restrict the re-export of dual-use goods from the European Union to Russia. But it is easy to guess that only “direct” re-exports will be affected, when a local firm buys, say, engines for drones in France, and then resells them to Russia. But the emergence of a “cushion country” such as Armenia changes things. Especially in view of the EU’s “cuddles” with Yerevan. Back in April, according to Bloomberg, during Pashinyan’s visit to Germany, he was “persistently advised” to comply with the sanctions.
But today, against the background of the current “cuddles” with Armenia, the topic of sanctions circumvention through it is no longer in fashion.
Now Ukraine has to pay for this “fashion” with blood, while EU officials continue to express their solidarity with it in words.
Translated from Minval.az