Sarkisian Promises Boost to Military Strength with ‘New, Powerful’ Weapons

President Serzh Sarkisian looks on from an Armenian army post on the border with Azerbaijan

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenia will boost its military strength in the coming years with new and powerful weapons which many other countries do not have at their disposal, according to President Serzh Sarkisian.

Visiting Armenian army units deployed along the heavily fortified border with Azerbaijan on New Year’s Eve, Sarkisian also expressed confidence that a full-scale Armenian-Azerbaijani war will not break out in 2014.

A short video released by the presidential press office through leading Armenian TV channels showed him inspecting the army’s border posts in northeastern Tavush province, talking to soldiers and officers serving there and handing awards to some of them.

“One or two more years, and you will be able to proudly say that the Armenian army possesses weapons which other states 20, 30 or 40 times our size do not possess,” Sarkisian said as he shared a meal with military personnel in a tent. He did not elaborate, saying only that “any powerful weapon derives its power from its soldiers and officers.”

It was thus not clear if the arms delivery promised by Sarkisian stems from a five-year plan to modernize the Armenian Armed Forces that was adopted by his administration in late 2010. The plan puts the emphasis on the acquisition of long-range precision-guided weapons.

The Armenian military is currently equipped with Scud-B and Tochka-U ballistic missiles that have firing ranges of 300 kilometers and 120 kilometers respectively. It also reportedly purchased in 2011 Chinese AR1A multiple-launch rocket systems with a firing range of up to 130 kilometers. The military makes no secret of its readiness to use such weapons against Azerbaijan’s oil and gas installations in case of a renewed war for Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Soviet-era Scud and Tochka missiles are less advanced than Iskander-M systems which Russia reportedly deployed at its military base in Armenia in 2013. Designated by NATO as SS-26 Stone, Iskander-M can strike targets more than 400 kilometers away and is regarded by military analysts as one of the most potent weapons of its kind in the world.

A Russian-Armenian defense agreement signed in August 2010 commits Moscow to helping Yerevan obtain “modern and compatible weaponry and special military hardware.” Armenia relies heavily on this and other security arrangements with Russia in trying to offset oil-rich Azerbaijan’s massive military buildup.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev claimed earlier this week that his country has “one of the strongest armies in the world.” “Our military might play a decisive role in a just resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict corresponding to international norms,” Aliyev said during a cabinet meeting in Baku, according to Azerbaijani news agencies.

Sarkisian, for his part, sounded confident that Azerbaijan will not attempt to regain control over Karabakh and Armenian-controlled territories surrounding the disputed enclave in the months ahead. “Rest assured that there will be no hostilities in 2014 as well,” he told soldiers in Tavush. “I am sure about it.”

“But in order to prevent those hostilities you must stand firm,” added the Armenian leader. “As soon as the enemy feels that you don’t stand firm, problems would arise.”

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21 Comments

  1. Anonymous said:

    It would be nice if Armenia obtained a weapon that could wipe Azerbaijan as a whole off the face of the planet.

  2. karakeuz said:

    We must keep increasing the strength and sophistication of weaponry for our armed forces. Like Pres. Sargisyan apty remark, the effectivenes of these weapons will demand the excellence of our soldiers and officers. Armenia’s security and future lies in a very strong army, an army strong enough to deter the most adventuresome hostile enemy from making any moves against our lands. The Army is Armenia, and Armenia is the Army. Without the army ,it is inconceivable the survival of our nation.

  3. Sarkis said:

    Excellent news! But it really should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been closely following Armenian politics since the election of President Serj Sargsyan in 2008, and even earlier under President Kocharyan. President Sargsyan is a career soldier and military and intelligence man who is also highly gifted in diplomacy, which is exactly what Armenia needs at this pivotal and very dangerous point in its development. President Sargsyan is trained in the classical Soviet/Russian style, which focuses on substance over form in its soldiers and officers. That is a stark contrast to the career politicians (read politicians=liars) and special interest businessmen (not to mention war criminals) which are in charge of America’s military like Colin Powel, Donald Rumsfeld, Wesley Clark and Dick Cheyne, Brent Scrowcroft (a Mormon and member of Honorary Council of Advisors for U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce and other Turkish organizations), and Oliver North just to name a few. Needless to say the above mentioned western officials are rabid turcophiles and they hate Armenia with a passion. We Armenians must take more pride in our President and our Republic, and not fall for every so-called western-funded “activist” and “NGO” who wants to incite riots in Yerevan and effect “regime change” in Armenia so a western-controlled puppet dictatorship like Saakashvili in Georgia can be installed… To think in 2008 that traitorous criminal Levon Ter-Petrossian also took control of Yerevan, the so-called “historian” and “patriot” who made statements along the lines of “a 40,000 man army is a luxury for a small state like Armenia, but these Karabakhi clan kleptocrats refuse to make peace with Azerbaijan in order to cling to power here…”

    The other important factor to notice here, one which is grossly underreported, is that Armenia is enjoying these unprecedented opportunities to arm and strengthen its Armed Forced SOLELY due to the farsighted decision of its leadership to forge ever closer relations with Russia. We saw the fear-mongering that western governments, western-funded agents and “activists” in Armenia (including the so-called “opposition” led by the National disgrace known as Zaruhi Postanjian, and western-funded and controlled propaganda outlets masquerading as news agencies (including CIA and State Department linked Armenianow, RFE/RL Azatutyun, Hetq, and Lragir among others) engaged in, falsely claiming that Armenia was “losing its sovereignty” and being reduced to a Russian “outpost” in the South Caucasus (as opposed to American/Turkish/NATO outposts Georgia and Azerbaijan). Instead, thanks to the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Russian-Armenian Treaty of Mutual Friendship and Alliance, the Russian military bases in Gyumri and Erebuni, and most recently Armenia’s ascention to the Customs Union, Yerevan is poised to become a Russian backed powerhouse in the South Caucasus (Armenia is already the most stable country in the South Caucasus, and has the most secure borders)… Imagine the dire situation Armenia would have been in today without the Russian-Armenian alliance, while western energy companies continue pumping billions upon billions into the Azeri economy and send their mercenaries to train Azeri soldiers, officers and snipers, and while Israel and Turkey arm Baku to the teeth. As an interesting comparison, check out the recent calls by the unelected (and therefore by definition UNDEMOCRATIC) EU leaders for Greece to disband its Armed Forces as part of the austerity measures being shoved down the throats of their Greek vassals – not a second thought to the threat Turkey still poses to Greece and or to Cyprus a third of which Turkey continues to illegally occupy.

    Lastly, it is worth noting that 2013 saw a major drop in the number of deaths in the Armenia Army. If we recall a few years back, the Armenia hating-fanatics were hysterically calling for riots and chaos in Armenia, shamelessly exploiting a series of tragic non-combat deaths in the Armenian Army. This year the number of Armenian soldiers killed under all circumstances was 30, down from 73 in 2009, 54 in 2010, 36 in 2011, 52 in 2012. I haven’t heard a peep out of the “activists”, if they were truly concerned about soldier’s deaths they would have made statements welcoming the positive trends. Instead they demonstrated once again that they do not care about anything except exploiting, with an appalling lack of morality, any tragedy they can in order to gain a temporary advantage and attention to whatever subversive objectives they and their western handlers are underhandedly pushing in Armenia.

    • Armenian said:

      This is riddled with so many errors and emotional bias that I am in tears– Serjik a “gifted diplomat”? Tell that to the younger generation of Armenians who will be living in an Armenia that is more like a Russian oblast than anything else. Serjik and his goons have done more to set Armenia back and keep people in a constant state of hopelessness than any of his predecessors.

      • Sarkis said:

        “Serjik”, “Russian oblast”, “his goons”, “constant state of hopelessness” – That right there is what is called emotional bias, as well as a disconnect from reality. If you think President Sargsyan is in any way comparable to the traitors criminal levon ter-petrossian, I am at a loss of words to reply.

        President Sargsyan has been astoundingly successful diplomatically, from totally outplaying the west and the turks during the Protocols era (where even turcophile Hillary Clinton commended him) to brushing aside western-sponsored clowns and attention whores like zaruhi postanjian.

        Please at least if you want to attack my post, do so with concrete assertions. Not “Serj steals, I read it on the internet on a US-government funded propaganda media outlet.

        And please stop with the borderline-racist attacks against Russia and Russians. Either Armenia will be subject to Russian domination and have a chance to develop, otherwise the only alternative is Armenia subject to turkish domination and final genocide against Armenians.

        • Armenian said:

          So anything resembling criticism is equal to racism? Don’t even start. I don’t have any racist sentiments towards Russians in the slightest. I’ve been there on several occasions and have several Russian friends; I can make a distinction between Russia and its government. My complaints are against its government, not Russian people.

          How has Sargsyan been successful diplomatically, can you please explain? What part of acquiring 300 million dollars of secret debt which would later be traded for a serious portion of national sovereignty is exemplary of “successful diplomacy”? Why are you ignoring that the president literally gave away 30 years of independent decision-making in an exchange for a debt that was acquired to secure his party’s victory in the elections? Where was his diplomatic corps when the government of Hungary had warned Armenia through cables that Safarov was going to be released? What was exemplary of “good diplomacy”, leading the West on for 4 years and then changing his mind within a matter of 3 hours on a Moscow trip? Do you understand what kind of damage that does to Armenia as a partner let alone as a reliable country for anyone in terms of doing business (West, East or Russia). Yes, Sargsyan is very successful, but only when it comes to securing what is personally best for himself. At no point in time did he have the nation’s interest at heart, nor has he acted in such a way.

          I can tell that the root of your support for Sargsyan comes from your staunchly anti-Western sentiment. It seems to me like you have such a profound distrust and hatred of the way the West does business, that you don’t realize that Russia operates in virtually the same way, and thanks to our incredibly unskilled politicians, in a way that will do us much more damage in the long run. You dismiss anything brought up by groups of people who might have westward orientations, and I am baffled that you think that corruption in Armenia is just a hysterical “talking point” that nobody should pay attention to.

          Your comments give me insight as to how you see Armenia’s place in the world. We don’t have to be a country that is characterized by “dominance”, and our choices not between who can and can’t dominate our country. Maybe we should focus on “dominating” our own country in the truest sense of the word rather than devoting our lands, hearts and minds to foreigners. Turkey did nothing other than close the border (which was a blessing in disguise, really) even when there were no Russian soldiers in Gyumri in 1993. The Kremlin feeds directly into your fears and capitalizes on these things to maximize its gains.

          Domination does not give anyone a chance to develop. Armenia will never realize its full potential while Kremlin’s heels are nestled firmly against our faces. Maybe if you want to be a Kremlin servant, you can go ahead and do so in your own right, but I would rather see Armenia playing all of its neighbors and reaping benefits instead of this kiss-ass diplomacy of licking Russia’s feet, mentally and emotionally surrendering ourselves to Moscow, and agreeing to give it more and more each time it asks for “bilateral partnership” because they have convinced people like you that the sky will fall if they aren’t involved in every aspect of our lives.

          Successive Armenian governments themselves have proved that due to tragic mismanagement, corruption and inequality, nearly a million Armenians have left their homeland. Maybe that might not be so terrible at this point in time, but in about 100 years when the descendants of those Armenians who were forced to flee in search of better opportunities don’t know or speak Armenian, and have no desire to be familiar with their country whatsoever, and would rather be citizens of foreign countries, then that’s as good as a cultural genocide in my book.

          • Sarkis said:

            So anything resembling criticism is equal to racism? Don’t even start. I don’t have any racist sentiments towards Russians in the slightest. I’ve been there on several occasions and have several Russian friends; I can make a distinction between Russia and its government. My complaints are against its government, not Russian people.

            Criticism is always welcome; however what you types do is not criticism, referring to Armenia as a Russian cesspool is a direct insult to both races and countries. And one the turks and azeris love throwing around.
            Examples of Sargsyan’s diplomatic accumen abound, he managed to secure stratetic relations with Russia for the long term while checkmating the turks, Americans and Europeans. From the Protocols until today, President Sargsyan has played the game of empty diplomatic niceties and lip service to utopian ideals of “peace and rapprochement” with turkey and azerbaijan, yet at the same time he spared no effort strengthening Armenia and Artsakh’s military ans securing the border.

            And don’t waste your time trying to hypocritically blaming Serj Sargsyan for the actions of Hungary’s corrupt, EU and NATO controlled government. The Hungarians learned turkophila, and the worship of oil and gas rich nations, from the Americans and Europeans… With the type of (il)logical assessment I’m seeing here, you probably also hold Serj Sarsgyan when Armenians die in California from Earthquakes or car crashes.

            And I never said corruption is “just a talking point”, but it is not as big a threat as the western agents working to incite Ukraine and Syria style riots in Yerevan. Corruption needs evolution, not revolution, to be managed.

            Oh and there is a significant difference between Russia and the west, which is that Armenia’s survival is in Russia’s interest. That anyone calling themselves “Armenian” would fail to see that baffles me. The Kremlin doesn’t “feed into my fears”, that is strictly a western game. The Kremlin and Armenia have the same national interests. That is all it takes. Rational discourse, not emotional ranting from western agents screaming about “gay rights and discrimination against Mormons and Jews within Armenia.”

            And finally, for the record, I don’t care at all for or about the Armenian Diaspora in the west. They are more of a liability and disgrace to Armenia than anything else. If Armenia is not good enough for them, let them assimilate. Armenia has a historic opportunity to develop to its full potential under Russian guidance and protection, including the Armenian Diaspora in Russia, which unlike the western Diaspora is very deeply connected to Armenia has produced many patriotic businessmen who proudly spend millions developing Armenia’s infrastructure… Meanwhile our losers in the west complain about Armenia having stinky toilets and shamelessly repeating baseless turkish propaganda about “the evil Karabakh clan hated by Yerevantsis” or American crap about the lack of gay rights and religious freedom in Armenia.

    • T.K. said:

      Sarkis
      I am glad you mentioned about Azeries getting weapons and military training (including sniper training resulting in Armenian deaths) from USA, England and Israel. If USA wants to arm and train any dictator they always use Israel and other proxies to do their dirty job.
      There was a lot of criticism about Russia selling weapons to Azerbaijan and now with this statement Sargsyan made and also a contract we signed (we can buy ANY weapon from Russia at domestic prices without any further approval) we will finally rest easy. We will soon have Iskandar missiles along with Smerches, Tornados and S400s.
      Offensive capabilities of Armenian Army will be the final blow to our enemies. we are already the best defensive force in the region. All we need is to become the best in offence too. Considering our GDP this could be described as a miracle.
      Let’s recognize this important moment and be thankful to Armenia-Russia strategic allied relationship as it is the only guarantee for both Armenian states.

    • Tony said:

      Sarkis, it makes sense what you’ve written here. Thanks for the info.
      God bless.

    • Avetis said:

      Brilliant essay Sarkis!

      At the current pace, I think in a few more years our little, poor, landlocked, remote and blockaded Armenia will be able to pose a military threat to Turkey! And thanks to Yerevan’s decision to finally stop its twenty years old counterproductive “conciliatory” politics and join the Russian led Customs Union, Armenia’s economy and financial situation will begin to improve in the near future. I don’t think enough Diasporans understand the crucial importance of Russian-Armenian alliance. As bad as the situation in Armenia seems sometimes, Armenia has not had it this good in one thousand years. God bless Russia, God bless Armenia, and may God help protect Russo-Armenian alliance from all enemies both foreign and domestic.

      • Armenian said:

        Nothing will pose a military threat to Turkey. With the multi-billion dollar trade volume between Russia and Turkey, not even Moscow will intervene. Your saber-rattling is putting Armenia in jeopardy.

        • Avetis said:

          Is that why Russia intervened to save a far away ally like Syria from Turkish/Western/Islamic aggression and even helped Syria shoot down a Turkish warplane in the process. It that why they shot dead a Turkish intruder at the Armenian border recently? Is Russia’s multi-billion dollar trade relations with Turkish the reason why every single high ranking Russian official that has visited Armenia has visited the Armenian Genocide memorial? Please educate yourself to the world you live in.

  4. Arn.Sweden. said:

    Be not so sure about 2014,
    If war breaks out between Israel and Iran,
    the whole of Caucasus region will follow suit.

    Arn.Sweden..

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