Armenia Eyes Russian ‘Long-Range’ Weapons

Russian-made S-300 air-defense systems are driven through Yerevan's Republic Square during a military parade rehearsal (Source: Photolur)
Russian-made S-300 air-defense systems are driven through Yerevan's Republic Square during a military parade rehearsal (Source: Photolur)

Russian-made S-300 air-defense systems are driven through Yerevan’s Republic Square during a military parade rehearsal (Source: Photolur)

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenia will spend a $200 million loan provided by Russia on buying, among other things, “long-range” Russian-made weapons, the Defense Ministry in Yerevan said on Tuesday.

“With that sum we will acquire new military hardware, including both offensive and defensive weapons, as well as new equipment as part of our program of a large-scale modernization of the army,” the ministry spokesman, Artsrun Hovannisian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

Hovannisian declined to shed more light on the weapons, saying only that Armenia has not had some of the weapons in its military arsenal until now.

The Russian “export credit”, repayable in 13 years, is designed to finance fresh Russian arms supplies to the Armenian Armed Forces. Officials in Yerevan say they will be purchased at discount prices.

A Russian-Armenian agreement on the loan disbursement was signed on June 26 and ratified by Armenia’s parliament on July 2. The ratification coincided with a report by Russia’s official TASS news agency saying that Moscow and Yerevan are now negotiating on the delivery of advanced Iskander-M missiles to the Armenian army. Hovannisian declined to deny or confirm the report.

“I cannot say anything concrete,” he said. “We are discussing with the Russian side acquisition of various types of offensive weaponry.” Those include long-range weapons, he added without elaborating.

With a firing range of around 500 kilometers, the Iskander-M systems are one of the most potent weapons of their kind that could have important implications for the military balance in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In particular, they would make Azerbaijan’s vital oil and gas infrastructure even more vulnerable to Armenian missile strikes in the event of a renewed war for Karabakh.

Russia has not exported the Iskander-M system to any foreign state so far.

News of the latest Russian-Armenian arms dealings emerged amid street protests in Yerevan against a controversial electricity price hike initiated by Armenia’s Russian-owned power distribution monopoly. The protests seem to have raised fears in Moscow of the kind of Western-backed revolution that toppled Ukraine’s pro-Russian government last year. Observers have suggested that the Russians are now trying to placate disgruntled Armenians and shore up President Serzh Sarkisian’s position.

Manvel Sargsian, director of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies, described the Russian military aid as a “political gesture” to Yerevan. “That political gesture seems to have been taken seriously by everyone,” he said.

Azerbaijan, meanwhile, expressed concern at the Russian loan. An Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman said the weapons to be purchased with that loan must not be deployed on “Azerbaijan’s territories occupied by Armenia.”

Azerbaijan itself has bought at least $4 billion worth of Russian weapons in the last several years. Russia’s defense contracts with Azerbaijan have been criticized by Armenia’s government, opposition groups, and media.


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  1. State-Of-Emergency said:

    Playing right into Russian hands. First they sell weapons to Azerbaijan and then extend credit to Armenia to purchase more weapons to counter balance the region. All along, Russia is dancing to the tune of billions of dollars. They’re playing us for fools. They set the trap and we dive in. The mindless and unproductive religious animosities of the southern Caucuses has become a source of great wealth for the Russian oligarchs. This is a more refined master-slave relationship.

  2. Mkhitar Yepremyan said:

    Give us the weapons we will take care of the rest.

  3. Ararat said:

    I hope the next Russian weapons export to Armenia is nuclear. That will make the coward and draft-dodging spineless Aliyev, the head-donkey and oil sheikh of the artificial state of Azerbaijan, to have sleepless nights while wetting his pants in fear. It will also send a strong message to the Turkish terrorist-in-chief Er-dog-an that his 1,150-room palace in Ankara is now within the reach of the Armenian strike and that he should keep his windows shut just in case.

    • Ardemis Antaramian said:

      Ararat, thank you so much for your true feelings about the Sultan Erdogan, and the Aliyev, the fear we will create because they are within reach of the Iskandar M. I feel exactly the same way, so is millions of Armenians, about this barbaric thugs. We will never forget what the Ottoman Empire did, they will pay for it one day,

  4. Harutik said:

    Thank you Mr. Putin!

    Thank you for turning Armenia into an impregnable fortress via your military assistance and thank you for helping us Armenians lay the foundations of becoming a regional trade hub via EEU and SCO.

    At the end of the day, Russia and Armenia are strategic allies and historic friends. At the end of the day, without a Russian presence in Armenia we would be incapable of having an Armenian presence in the south Caucasus. A friendly reminder: The south Caucasus is one bad event away from reverting back to being an Islamic/Turkic cesspool. No Russia in the south Caucasus mean no Armenia in the south Caucasus. Moreover, without an Armenia in the south Caucasus Russia would lose control over a crucially strategic area. If Armenia is destroyed, after us Armenians, Russia has the most to lose. Russia is the ONLY nation on earth that will be negatively impacted with the destruction of Armenia. The above is the fundamental basis of our historic alliance as well as our current strategic relations with the Russian Bear. And this is what we need to exploit pan-nationally for a more mutually beneficial and efficient relationship with the Russian Bear. Anyone that does not see this is either stupid or an agent of the West, or both.

    God bless Mother Russia. God bless our Hayrenik. And may God help us protect our two hundred year old alliance with the Russian Bear from all enemies both foreign and domestic.