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Russia Is Betraying Former Allies. Joe Biden Must Take Advantage

Presidents Obama, Trump, and Biden each have failed to stand by American allies, allowing first Russia and then China to pluck them out of the Western camp. It is time to return the favor.

Su-30. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Russia is betraying former Allies: Time for the US to Seize Advantage: In 2018, India purchased Russia’s S-400 Triumf air defense system for $5.4 billion, a contract Russia promised to fulfill in five deliveries. India also relies on Russia for spare parts and other support for its Sukhoi Su-30MKI and MiG-29 fighter jets, which are the mainstays of the Indian Air Force. Yet, last month, the Indian Air Force acknowledged to India’s parliament that Russia had informed it that it would be unable to fulfill its contracts because of Russia’s military needs in Ukraine.

The U.S.-India renaissance is over two decades old and transcends both Democratic and Republic administrations. Still, essential obstacles remain. The Pentagon remains uncomfortable with India’s Russian contracts because they impact interoperability as the United States and India grow more strategically aligned and because Washington remains concerned about technology leakage, though India compartmentalizes such systems strictly and has never made any platform available to the rivals of its origin country.

At the same time, India’s military continues to suffer specific deficits that Russia cannot address, especially concerning gas turbines and jet engines. Should the United States provide India with substitutions for Russian platforms, it might not only help fill an immediate strategic need for a country on the frontline with China, but also enable a generational partnership.

The same is also true with Armenia. Since its independence in 1991 until now, the tiny country has been under persistent threat from Turkey and Azerbaijan. Both countries have blockaded their tiny neighbor. Even prior to the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War, Azerbaijani snipers launched hundreds of attacks across the international border. President Ilham Aliyev, who rules Azerbaijan with an iron fist and as a family enterprise, has repeatedly threatened to conquer Armenia in its entirety.

Because of this threat, Armenia has generally welcomed a Russian troop presence in Gyumri, a town about 75 miles north of capital. Russian forces provided a tripwire to deter external aggression, much like U.S. forces in Poland or Romania. While culturally Armenians orient to the West, a sense of necessity and national survival shaped Yerevan’s ties to Moscow.

Whether or not Russia (or, for that matter, the United States) was aware in advance of Azerbaijan’s September 2020 attack on Nagorno-Karabakh remains a subject for speculation across the South Caucasus. What was certain was that Russian President Vladimir Putin enhanced Russia’s strategic position by imposing a ceasefire that inserted Russian peacekeeping into the region. 

Those Russian peacekeepers now fail at their jobs. As Russia diverts men and munitions to Ukraine, Azerbaijan has increased both the quantity and quality of its challenges to the peacekeepers. For five months, it has blockaded a corridor meant to be a lifeline to the self-declared ethnic Armenian republic in Nagorno-Karabakh, putting more than 115,000 ethnic Armenians at risk of starvation. On April 23, 2023, an increasingly exacerbated Armenian Foreign Ministry called on Russia to fulfill its responsibility under the trilateral statement that ended the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war to keep the Lachin corridor open.

While some in Washington argue that Armenia and the ethnic Armenian “Artsakh Republic” in Nagorno-Karabakh are Russian satrapies, such an accusation is simplistic and inaccurate. Even if it were true, however, there is a difference between strategy and twitter polemics. If Russian peacekeeping fails, why not send in Western peacekeepers?

The Kremlin could complain little about unilateralism, given the unilateralism of their own mission. As Minsk Group co-chairs, both the United States and France have as much legitimacy as Russia did. Azerbaijan would not fire on American forces. 

A better alternative might be Sweden, a country from which the Minsk Group was considering soliciting peacekeepers prior to the Azerbaijani invasion. Indeed, a Swedish deployment to protect Armenians against Turkish and Azerbaijani efforts at Genocide version 2.0 could be the ultimate retort to Turkey’s veto of Sweden’s NATO membership. Certainly, it would be better than Sweden’s cringe-worthy efforts to appease Turkey by deporting asylum-seekers to rape and torture if not death in a Turkish prison.

Most important, however, is such a mission would show Armenia that they have alternatives to Russia’s security umbrella. Just as President Richard Nixon flipped Egypt from the Soviet camp to the Western one during the Cold War, so too is Armenia ripe for flipping, if only the White House and State Department were more strategically minded.

Presidents Obama, Trump, and Biden each have failed to stand by American allies, allowing first Russia and then China to pluck them out of the Western camp. It is time to return the favor. As Russia betrays its former allies, it is time for the United States to make its move and stand more firmly behind both the world’s largest democracy and, since Armenia’s 2018 revolution, one of its newest.

It is time to show the world beyond India and Armenia that an alliance with the United States means something, as Russia shows its partners that it cannot be trusted.

Author Biography and Expertise 

Dr. Michael Rubin is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he specializes in Iran, Turkey, and the broader Middle East. A former Pentagon official, Dr. Rubin has lived in post-revolution Iran, Yemen, and both pre- and postwar Iraq. He also spent time with the Taliban before 9/11. For more than a decade, he taught classes at sea about the Horn of Africa and Middle East conflicts, culture, and terrorism, to deployed US Navy and Marine units.

Written By

Now a 1945 Contributing Editor, Dr. Michael Rubin is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Dr. Rubin is the author, coauthor, and coeditor of several books exploring diplomacy, Iranian history, Arab culture, Kurdish studies, and Shi’ite politics, including “Seven Pillars: What Really Causes Instability in the Middle East?” (AEI Press, 2019); “Kurdistan Rising” (AEI Press, 2016); “Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes” (Encounter Books, 2014); and “Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos” (Palgrave, 2005).



  1. 403Forbidden

    April 24, 2023 at 9:15 am

    Totally false statement.

    Russia has enough problems emanating from the globalist fascist bloc (which is now growing visibly more powerful by the day), it has very little precious resorces to divert eleswhere.

    The global fascists have never done ANYTHING useful or concrete over the cyprus dilemma or the palestinian issue, both long-running problems or troubles that have their origins in europe.

    The only useful thing, or most practical thing, for russia is to employ tactical nukes against the ukro foot soldiers serving the self-sanctimonious interests of the US-NATO-EU global conglomerate.

    Nukes against the ukro forces will stop the rampaging globalists-fascists in their tracks AND bring a measure of order to the global chaos created by the unrestrained globalists.

    Down with US-NATO-EU !

  2. Commentar

    April 24, 2023 at 9:45 am

    Today, the very deadly fascist threat that was once the primary domain of the Tripartite Pact has been completely replaced by one that comes straight from the western nations, in particular the anglosphere bloc.

    In summer of 1941, fascist germany in europe smashed across the USSR, strongly aided by finnish, romanian, italian, spanish, slovakian and hungarian allies. All totalling over 163 divisions.

    Over 27 million people perished including 5 million jewish people.

    In asia, fascist japan smashed east asia, aided by vital american exports such as fuel oil, scrap metal, aircraft and lubricants from US companies and industrialists.

    The death toll was over 35 million including at least 30,000 POWs murdered by beatings, starvation, torture, summary execution, experimentation, overwork, sinkings and disease.

    Today, the western nations are proudly inheriting the monstrously evil legacy of the dreaded ww2 fascists and it is now left to countries like russia to stop them.

  3. Gary Jacobs

    April 24, 2023 at 9:49 am

    Decent article, but you are thinking too small.

    As Western leaders deliberate over the future of the European security order in the wake of Russia’s naked imperialist aggression in Ukraine, efforts at peace keeping in the South Caucasus can help achieve broader goals.

    Peace between Turkey and Armenia would also help limit the Russian sphere of influence on NATO’s eastern flank by creating direct links and commercial ties between the two countries.
    Connections that could eventually extend to Azerbaijan.

    Armenia has been on the path to normalising relations with Turkey. Following an exchange of positive public statements by Turkish Pres. Erdogan and Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan in 2021, regional diplomacy returned; and with it the idea of normalisation between Armenia and Turkey.

    In what was the first high level pronouncement of their desire to mend fences, Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu and his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan, met on March 12, 2022 in Antalya – smiling for the cameras and talking about ‘normalisation without preconditions’.

    Turkey and Armenia have increased the pace of this normalisation by opening air corridors, appointing special representatives, and initiating direct bilateral negotiations over the reestablishment of diplomatic relations and reopening the border.

    There have been fits and starts, along with flare ups in fighting between Armenia and Azeris. But no one said solving such long standing problems would be easy.

    Bringing calm to this region and a sense of normalization between long warring parties would be good for them, good for NATO to peel away Russia’s sphere of influence, and eventually bring a pipeline of NatGas from the Caspian region to the EU through Turkey. Further weakening Russia, and helping all parties involved.

    Much of this is made possible by the Ukrainians grinding down the Russian military and economy.

    Remember that the next time someone like Tamerlane, Jim, or any of the other pseudo intellectual Putinistas who troll around this site try to apply their spin on the broader implications of grinding down Russia’s imperialist dreams.

  4. Jim

    April 24, 2023 at 10:30 am

    I can only say this article has the situation backwards, it’s the United States’ aggressiveness towards any & all countries in the world which defies the wishes of Washington… bullying & political pressure are applied to the offending nation, if that fails to bring obedience, economic sanctions are applied (in the physical world, naval blockades are considered Acts of War).

    In the case of India, the article fails to appreciate how much India, which sees itself as an independent civilization, doesn’t want to be in a close alliance with the United States… cordial diplomatic relations, yes, strong economic trade, yes.

    But not the type of diplomatic relationship the United States imposes on any country in the last 30 years.

    In other words, what the author decries as various diplomatic failures in the recent past (which I agree with, but for opposite reasons)… he wants to apply the same strategies (with more forcefulness?) which has already failed.

    Doubling down on failure?. No, you relieve it of command.

    I suspect the author hasn’t come to grips with the fact the “Unipolar” moment has passed, it’s a Multipolar World, and the past diplomatic & military practices will not work… in fact, those past practices are the reason why U. S. international diplomacy has been such a failure (with a small handful of accomplishments, such as the Abraham Accords).

    America can do so much better… but it has to correctly see itself in the World geopolitical landscape… not as the unquestioned hegemon, but as a Great Power, with the Yankee Spirit of cutting deals which both sides can live with.

    The Age of U. S. dictate is over.

    The faster we learn that reality, the better off the United States will be vis-a-vis the other countries of the World.

    Sadly, it seems many are in denial…

    (The same people who have been executing our present failed policy trajectory… no surprise.)

    Denial in the face of reality… is the worst strategy possible.

  5. Gary Jacobs

    April 24, 2023 at 11:24 am


    As usual your version of reality is bizarre inverted fantasy world.

    Nothing you ever post stands up to the slightest bit of basic research… or a basic eye test.

    Pretending it is the US bullying countries in the middle of Russia’s all out imperialist assault on its neighbor Ukraine is the height of hubris.

    but then again pretending that centuries of Russian aggression mean nothing is your MO.

    So few people are buying the BS you’re selling.

    Time for a new schtick.

    In the meantime, see my post above for the peace building measures that have become all the more possible as Russian power declines.

    And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

  6. Jim

    April 24, 2023 at 11:29 am

    Gary, you miss something regarding Turkey and Armenia.

    The United States is only peripherally involved.

    It’s Turkey and Armenian’s direct diplomatic efforts which are normalizing their geopolitical relationship.

    And, despite your omnipresent attempts to demonize Russia, it’s Russia playing a small, but helpful role in normalizing relationships in their borderland regions.

    Russia doesn’t want war on their border… it’s the United States who wants war or chaos on the Russian border… executing the classic “divide & rule” strategy adopted from the failed British Empire and/or sowing chaos on other countries’ borders… and if that doesn’t work, apply the “Color Revolution” tactic to get regime change to a more pliable government.

    (Or an outright coup, such as in the failed military coup against the Sudanese government.)

    The International Community of Nations is tired of that approach and is rejecting it.

    How long will the U. S. foreign policy establishment keep trying to jam a square peg down a round hole?

    I guess until splinters cover the floor… or they are removed from power.

    When nations feel they are losing their grip on power, they often have the impulse to redouble down on their efforts… but that often backfires and causes a further loss of power. (This is the present situation the United States finds itself in.)

    How much injury do the American People have to suffer before they FIRE the current foreign policy establishment?

    Hopefully it will happen before the American People find they are living in an international pariah state… its historic well of good will dried up… and most other countries of the world looking with disdain & contempt on the United States.

    A continuation of the present path will lead us to that end.

  7. Jim

    April 24, 2023 at 1:12 pm

    Gary, it’s the failure I object to.

    If the polices were successful, I’d likely not object like I do.

    When people are supposedly working on my behalf along with the rest of the American People, and all they do is fail and hurt American Interests… I gotta say, “Whoa! Stop right there!”

    Gary, you embrace failure because you can’t think beyond your own box.

    I get sick of failure… so I look in other directions for success… you should try it sometime.

    Then you wouldn’t repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

  8. mcswell

    April 24, 2023 at 3:56 pm

    “an increasingly exacerbated Armenian Foreign Ministry” –>
    “an increasingly exasperated Armenian Foreign Ministry”

  9. Webej

    April 24, 2023 at 5:48 pm

    Armenia & India would do well do ponder the ultimate end of any US client regime. They even attacked Germany and the EU.

    It’s always attractive to believe in magic vistas.

  10. Tamerlane

    April 24, 2023 at 7:08 pm

    This article is interesting, but it is only a grandiose mirage… a semi-matured adolescent thought constrained by the all-too real limits of American power and by lack of understanding or consideration of the rational self-interest on the part of the third party countries mentioned. For reasons I’ll enumerate on, the reality is much more complicated. Suffice it to say however that the long term interests of the countries the author mentions as being ripe fields for further and more expansive American intervention are anything-but at this time and will be for the foreseeable future.

    First: the marked hubris of the assertion that “Western leaders” are in any way situated to deliberate or dictate a future to Eurasia is astounding. Efforts to intervene in the Caucasus, Russia’s domain for hundreds of years and comprising of her underbelly, will provoke a proportionally greater response than the intervention, making it not efficacious. This is because, though not understood or appreciated by the author and anti-American advocates of wastrel expeditions like Gary/Walker/Wilsonian Interventionist (Jacksonian Libertarian), Russia has been and will not surrender her position as protector of the South Caucasus‘ Christian (read Orthodox) populations.

    Second: Turkey and the other powers of the region do not wish, and will not become persuaded to endorse, any American or Western European foray into the region. Without this buy-in, such efforts will be universally opposed. India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Russia… all oppose and will continue to oppose such American intervention in the region. They will continue to oppose such efforts because they perceive that such an effort would not be altruistic, and would in fact be done in furtherance of a broader goal—the further construction of a vast anaconda strategically around Russia. This they cannot countenance, as they see within the Western (Biden and Co’s) reaction to Putin’s independent and unilateral action to invade Ukraine a willingness to use coercive tools (sanctions/embargoes/proxy wars) to bully any nation with the temerity to act unilaterally. Turkey in particular would rightly fear and would strongly oppose any effort to bring Armenia into NATO, as it would bring another power with a relationship akin to that they share with Greece into the alliance. This they won’t countenance, as it would be a barrier to their own expansionist state theology. Turkey would greatly prefer a Russian-backed Armenia to a U.S. backed one.

    Moreover…Statements such as Blinken’s comments that: “it’d be a tragedy if Uganda were to find itself being sanctioned by the U.S. because it passed a law legislating on their own internal domestic unions” send an unmistakable message to these powers that the U.S. is willing and will use the full scope of tools at its disposal, up to and including the unlawful seizure of federally guaranteed national currency reserves, to coerce other non-belligerent countries into following its will. Simply put, these countries fear that a bully, if left unchecked, will continue its rapacious unilateral bullying.

  11. Tamerlane

    April 24, 2023 at 7:09 pm

    This leads to Three: India.

    India will not abandon Russia, despite this delay in arms deliveries, because India rightly fears American intervention in their affairs more than it is inconvenienced by a delay in arms deliveries. India, the reader will remember (though the author and chickenhawks like Gary conveniently forget in their efforts to double down on their failed interventionist hubris), is governed by a Hindu Nationalist party. This party has been slowly but surely constructing a Hindu nationalist state, and has simultaneously been constricting the legal protections societally of the Muslim minority. The author fails to remember the partition of India/Pakistan, nor the more recent battles over Kashmir following West Pakistan/East Pakistan’s bloody war. The reason the recitation of these facts matter is: the Indian Hindu nationalists rightly fear that the U.S.. propelled in its judgments by a messianic/imperialistic belief that they alone know what is right for the internal policies of the countries of the globe, will declare India an apartheid state and sanction them, confiscating their national reserves and embargoing them, as they did to Russia. It is this rational fear that pushes them towards the rest of the BRICs, and which will keep them aligned with Russia and China even if the U.S. were to give free of charge equally useful weapons systems

    India rightly sees that the U.S. intervention there would be accomplished at the cost of unraveling decades of independence and autonomy, and would place India under the American thumb, rendering it dependent on following American leadership in domestic and foreign policy. This they will not countenance or accept.

    Attempting to execute on the utopian and uninformed arguments of the author will backfire, and will fail. India is watching as American military power is ground down through Russia’s decimation of Ukraine’s military (and American stockpiles) and economy.

    The reader should remember this the next time someone like the author, Gary, Walker, or any of the other pseudo intellectual Ukrainian partisans trolling around this site seek to impress on the naive their spin on the utility of greater and more grand American interventions citing the profoundly mistaken and demonstrably false yet loudly trumpeted “successes” of American intervention to save Ukraine and expand America’s promise of a free ride eastward.

  12. Joe Comment

    April 24, 2023 at 8:59 pm

    US-India: The weapons issue is much less important than the fact that Russia is becoming more aligned with China, India’s rival across the Himalayan border. We can do much more with people-to-people and economic contacts. This, I think, offers far greater future promise than merely selling them more weapons or sharing strategic planning and intelligence about China.

    US-Armenia: There’s no realistic scope for us to act there militarily, both because of the difficult logistics and the sensitive political situation with Turkey. The real key is diplomacy around the Nagorno-Karabakh question. We need to come up with a fair compromise solution and put some leverage behind that.

  13. ada

    April 25, 2023 at 2:15 pm

    Armenia illegally occupied part of Azerbaijan and has finally been forcefully expelled, while the West and Russia looked the other way for 30 years during this occupation. Now the chickens have come home to roost. They have signed a cease-fire they are not obeying [open the Zengezur corridor] and trying for wiggle-room that’s not there.

    Amusing to see Michael Rubin, supporting a Russian and especially Iranian client state (Armenia) this enthusiastically. All Armenia needs to do is to try to limit the influence of well-heeled diaspora in France and USA and work for a peace settlement with their neighbours, especially Azerbaijan. Any other route will just prolong this uncertain predicament they find themselves under.

  14. Andrew M Winter

    April 26, 2023 at 10:56 am

    Oh wait,

    Has Russia gotten as good at betraying allies as the United States has?

    It wasn’t too long ago that the meme went like this, “What’s the most dangerous job in geopolitics? Being an friend of America.”

    So even if Russia is really doing this. Will it really matter? The US is in no position to really do anything about it. No one really trusts the US anymore and haven’t since the US left S. Vietnam hanging out to dry in 1975.

  15. David Boyajian

    April 26, 2023 at 12:03 pm

    Why did you not post my comment?

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