Russian Arms Supplies to Armenia ‘In Progress’

Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian inspects Armenian troops stationed along the border with Azerbaijan on August 9, 2016. (Photo: Photolur)
Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian inspects Armenian troops stationed along the border with Azerbaijan on August 9, 2016. (Photo: Photolur)

Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian inspects Armenian troops stationed along the border with Azerbaijan on August 9, 2016. (Photo: Photolur)

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Russia has begun supplying Armenia with new weapons in line with multimillion-dollar defense contracts signed by the two allied states, Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian said on Tuesday.

The Armenian government is to pay for them with a $200 million loan that was allocated by Moscow a year ago.

The government moved to speed up the deal’s implementation following four-day hostilities around Nagorno-Karabakh that broke out in early April. It instructed the Armenian Defense Ministry to promptly negotiate supply contracts with relevant Russian government agencies.

“Almost all of the contracts have been signed and interstate procedures [for their implementation] completed,” Ohanian told reporters after inspecting Armenian troops stationed along the heavily militarized border with Azerbaijan.

“Through existing instruments and within the framework of agreements reached in the past, imports of [Russian] weapons are now in progress,” he said, speaking in the northern Tavush province.

In late June, two of Ohanian’s deputies visited Moscow for talks with senior officials from Russia’s Defense Ministry, a Russian government agency overseeing arms deals with foreign states and Rosoboronexport, the state arms exporter.

Ohanian did not specify the types or quantities of weapons which Armenia will buy at domestic Russian prices set well below international market-based levels.

In February, Moscow released a long list of Russian-made weaponry covered by the $200 million. It includes the Smerch multiple-launch rocket system, TOS-1A heavy flamethrower using thermobaric rockets, anti-tank weapons and shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.

In recent years, Russia has reportedly sold 18 Smerch launchers and as many TOS-1A systems to Azerbaijan along with more than 100 T-90 tanks, over 30 combat helicopters and other offensive weapons. The Russian arms deliveries to Armenia’s arch-foe, worth at least $4 billion, stemmed from contracts signed in 2010-2011.

Armenian leaders stepped up their criticism of the Russian arms sales to Baku following the April escalation of the Karabakh conflict. The Russians dismissed it, saying that they provide weapons to both Armenia and Azerbaijan and thereby sustain the “military balance” in the conflict. The Russian ambassador to Azerbaijan said last month that Moscow intends to sign fresh defense contracts with Baku.

Ohanian on Tuesday defended Armenia’s military alliance with Russia, insisting that the latter would defend the South Caucasus state in case of a foreign “aggression.”

Moscow and Yerevan also negotiated last year on the delivery of Russian Iskander missiles to the Armenian army. With a firing range of up to 500 kilometers, the sophisticated systems would make Azerbaijan’s vital oil and gas infrastructure even more vulnerable to Armenian missile strikes in the event of a full-scale war for Karabakh.

An Armenian army general claimed in April that Armenia already has such missiles in its military arsenal. There has been no official confirmation of that claim yet.

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4 Comments

  1. State of Emergency said:

    200 million dollar loan against 2 billion dollar outright purchase by Azerbaijan. Who’s fooling who? This is all a show to make Armenia feel complacent.

  2. Harutik said:

    Without Russian support not only Artsakh but all of Armenia will eventually fall to Turks and Islamists. Armenia/Artsakh exist in the south Caucasus because of the Russian factor in the region. That said, the Artsakh conflict has to end. I believe Artsakhtsis have the foresight to agree to land concessions IF doing so will lead to genuine peace between the two nations. Armenia’s red line has to be Artsakh proper and the region between Armenia and Artsakh. The “five territories” can be returned if Baku recognizes Artsakh’s independence. Another 25 years of the geopolitical climate we have had during the previous 25 years will sink Armenia hopelessly deeper into a third world existence. The south Caucasus region desperately needs peace and stability for it to develop economically. If the powers that be (primarily Russia) can guarantee that land concessions will bring lasting peace, then so be it.

    PS: Almost exactly one hundred years ago our “nationalists” not only lost all of Western Armenia but also parts of Eastern Armenia because they were stubborn, Russophobic, shortsighted and maximalistic in their demands and also because they trusted Western powers. We can’t afford repeating the same mistake.

  3. Art Napetian said:

    We the Diasporans don’t get any reliable news and reliable commentary about the important issue of Armenia|Artzakh present and future security. Do our poor Armenian\Artzakh people have any clear Idea about that.? All we receive from our sources sound like speculations.

  4. Vache said:

    Of course, Russia is selling the same and better weapons to Azerbaijan, and more of them.
    What a deal for Russia. It makes billions from both countries.
    And Armenia can’t pay back the loans so Russia takes it out of Armenia’s hide in hard assets and control.

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