The last time Armenia negotiated closer ties with the European Union, in 2013, Russia swooped in at the last minute with a better offer to join the rival Customs Union and persuaded President Serzh Sargsyan to abandon the EU deal. The affair dealt a seemingly fatal blow to Yerevan’s hopes for substantive integration with the EU and cemented Russia’s position as the dominant player in Armenia.
But now Brussels and Yerevan have gone back to the drawing board and worked out a new deal. And by all accounts, this new agreement is likely to be signed without the drama seen four years ago, primarily because the deal is watered-down enough to not threaten Russia’s position in the country.
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Joshua Kucera is the Turkey/Caucasus editor at EurasiaNet, and author of The Bug Pit.