Russia Stations Advanced Missiles in Armenia

An Iskander ballistic missile is one of the advanced systems deployed in Armenia

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Russia has deployed in Armenia state-of-the-art ballistic missiles capable of striking targets more than 400 kilometers away, according to a source in the Armenian Defense Ministry.

Speaking on the condition anonymity, the source told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) over the weekend that several Iskander-M systems are currently stationed at undisclosed locations in the country. The source declined to clarify whether they were delivered to the Armenian armed forces or the Russian military base headquartered in Gyumri.

The Defense Ministry in Yerevan did not officially confirm or refute the information as of Monday.

Citing an unnamed Russian military source, the Russian news agency Regnum reported on May 15 that Moscow is likely to deploy the advanced surface-to-surface missiles as part of the ongoing modernization of its base in Armenia.

Designated by NATO as SS-26 Stone, Iskander-M is regarded by military analysts as one of the most advanced missile systems of its kind in the world. The system known for its precision was developed in the 1990s and adopted by the Russian army in 2006. With an operational range of at least 400 kilometers, its 7.3-meter-long missiles can overcome existing missile-defense systems, according to Russian military officials and experts.

Russian-Armenian military ties appear to have deepened further in the last few months, with Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and chief of the General Staff, Colonel-General Valery Gerasimov, visiting Armenia early this year. Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian held follow-up talks with Shoygu a mid-April trip to Moscow.

President Vladimir Putin and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian also discussed defense cooperation when they met near Moscow on March 12. Sarkisian reportedly thanked Putin for “good progress” in bilateral military ties made since their previous meeting in December.

A Russian-Armenian defense agreement signed in August 2010 commits Moscow to helping Yerevan obtain “modern and compatible weaponry and special military hardware.” Russian assistance is vital for the implementation of a five-year plan to modernize the Armenian army that was adopted by the Sarkisian administration later in 2010. The plan puts the emphasis on the acquisition of long-range precision-guided weapons.

The Armenian military has been equipped until now with only Scud-B and Tochka-U ballistic missiles that have firing ranges of 300 kilometers and 120 kilometers respectively. The Soviet-era systems are less advanced than Iskander-M. The military makes no secret of its readiness to use them against Azerbaijan’s oil and gas installations in case of a renewed war for Nagorno-Karabakh.

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24 Comments

  1. Kevork said:

    This is good, but 400 KM is insufficient. Armenia needs 2000 KM+ missiles which can reach Istanbul.

  2. Hratch said:

    US + Israel in a sea of Muslim Arabs

    Russia + Armenia in a sea of Muslim Turks

    Almost identical past, present and future.

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  4. Random Armenian said:

    So these missiles are most likely under the control of Russian military rather than Armenian. This would mean it can be taken away or not used when Armenia needs them. And also Russia could use it to strike Armenia’s neighbors without Armenia’s permission. This is an extreme case, but as a country, it would be better to own them rather than host them with someone else’s finger on the button.

    According to wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9K720_Iskander

    Iskander-M is not an export version. That would be Iskander-E.

    • Winny said:

      “Iskander-M is not an export version. That would be Iskander-E.”
      AFAIK, Russia doesn’t consider the Armenian military as a foreign power, so it would not be illogical if the missiles were the M version.

  5. Vindicated Man said:

    These missiles (Iskanders especially) are serious weapons. It looks like Russia has started to give more attention to the region, especially after it left the Gabala radar station (in the neighboring country).

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  7. Ara said:

    “The military makes no secret of its readiness to use them against Azerbaijan’s oil and gas installations”

    Is this a smart move? What if they target Metsamor? You can clean up the oil and fix the rigs, but you can’t clean up radiation or at least not for a 1,000 years.

    Perhaps Russia will also station some S-400’s to counter any attack on Metsamor? Also, can Iskander-M defeat the Israeli “Iron Dome” missile defense system? I’m pretty sure the petro dollars would have bought this already, seeing as Israel also gets Azeri oil/gas.

    On top of this, threatening Europe’s energy alternative (alternative to Russian energy) is extremely risky, this would firmly put Europe and US on the Azeri side.

    • Parsik said:

      Ara, it because of chicken Armenians like you that we have lost so much ground in last 100 years, and you type is still naging like typical Armenian no matter what good things happen, for your information Armenia already has S-300 to deffend Metsamor, and by the way you wise guy West and US has been and are and always will be on Azeri side, so you can’t do anything to turn the situation even worse

      • Ara said:

        What do you suggest? Just run in to battle like a headless chicken? Surely not?

        It’s better to be a chicken with a head who can analyze the situation and respond according to its conditions, blind faith in yourself is suicide.

        So who do you suggest we should have as our ally? Russia? Do you think we can trust them?

        • Aram said:

          Grow some fucking balls and get on the battlefield and be willing to give your life to reconquer tigranes fore fathers land back with immortal njdehs spirit that’s how you win a war against turkey or azeribaijan

        • john goncuian said:

          The reality of potential Azeri threats are there and will not diminish Azeris military drills around the border, purchasing weapons for war etc Lying and betrayel are well known Azeri national characteristics just like cowardness in war and the opposite is fact bravery and patriotism of Armenian soldiers . If Azeris thought they could win the war now, Azeris would have started the war next second. Armenia must stand ready at all times to defend and strike a serious blow to Azeris.

        • john said:

          Ara you’re not “analyzing” anything . just playing chicken.

    • Minas said:

      Who is paying for all of this? Do the natural gas price increases have something to do with Armenia getting these weapons?

    • lobo said:

      First of all a missile attack on a nuclear facility does by no means automatically lead to the result that you imagine. Second of all, and this is lucky, Azeris should have enough of a brain to realize that such an incident, of course lethal to Armenia, would be basically as fatal to Azerbaijan (and Georgia for that matter). Finally, some air defense and other security measures can be expeted to be installed.

      Finally, to hell with Europe and its need for energy. If it wasn’t for BP, Aliev would shut his piehole today rather than tomorrow. Oh, and Nabucco is not even happening.

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  9. Tsayt said:

    Depending what Azerbaijan offers, next we’ll read “Baku receives Iskander-M missiles”. Don’t be surprised, that’s exactly what happened to the famous S-300 surface to air missiles.

    • Ara said:

      Exactly, which is why I ask Lobo and Parsik, can we really trust Russia?

      We are not their friends or ally, they use us at their convenience.

      Ideally we should be self reliant, but alas.. we don’t have that opportunity now.

      • Ara S. said:

        Should we rely on ourselves ? Yes? Should we ask for help to who ever can help us? Of course yes. Moscow needs peace through using far neighbours as a shield….
        Do we need more balls to even up the powers in region ? Yes we do!!! This is a fight for sirvival or Armenia will not be even in world’s history… All we need is more balls with brains – but not either or or

    • Armanen said:

      Most likely not since relations between Moscow and baku have gotten worse in the past year or so. Also, Armenia gets these weapon systems for very cheap or free. The azerbaijanis pay the full price.

  10. Ara said:

    “should have enough of a brain”

    But do they? They are Muslim, I’m not sure they care about their own demise, especially if their wallet (Oil/Gas) is hit by us.

    “Finally, to hell with Europe and its need for energy”

    Do you think we can rely on Russia alone? Historically they have not proved themselves to be so reliable.

    Also, do you think it’s wise to make an enemy of NATO, which is what would likely happen in such a scenario unfolds. In particular, taking in to account our proximity to NATO enemy No. 1 – Iran?

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