YEREVAN—Armenia’s Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan warned Baku that Armenia will strike back harder in the event of an Azerbaijani attack similar to what he called the April 2016 “aggression” against Artsakh.
Speaking to the Russian EADaily Tonoyan warned that in an event of an attack by Azerbaijan, Armenia cannot be in the position to solicit peace and will use its capabilities to retaliate.
“Despite Armenia’s constructive stance, I wouldn’t want you to have the impression that Armenia will solicit peace. I would advise Azerbaijan not to be so confident that it is the one controlling the escalation of the military situation. Meaning, the mediators will not be able to convince Armenia to stop a response or punitive actions in the event that Azerbaijan re-launches military operations, evena limited scale military operations,” explained Tonoyan.
“In the event of a repetition of the 2016 April aggression, Armenia might not resist the temptation to use its entire available arsenal to deliver a massive and decisive blow to the enemy,” added Tonoyan.
The defense chief spoke about the dangers of large scale military build-up by Azerbaijan along the Artsakh-Azerbaijan border and warned that the likelihood of resumption of military operations is always high.
“Reports about the build-up of Azerbaijani military are accurate and similar processes are observed not only at the Artsakh-Azerbaijan border, but also at the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, namely in Nakhichevan. Azerbaijan’s conduct is nothing but a threat to use force, whereas not using force is the basis for the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” he said.
Tonoyan ruled out any future “surprise” attacks by Azerbaijan and said that in assessing the April 2016 War, Yerevan has reached several conclusions, among them being that “Azerbaijan will not be allowed to have a monopoly on deciding the time and scale of a military attack.”
The defense chief also expressed concern over the sources from which Azerbaijan is acquiring arms and military equipment and urged those countries that are engaged in the conflict resolution process to refrain from selling weapons to Baku. He lamented that Armenia’s allies are selling arms to Azerbaijan, which in turn are used against Armenian targets.
Tonoyan also said that the close alliance—military and otherwise—between Azerbaijan and Turkey was a source of concern to Yerevan, since alliance directly threatens Armenia’s national security given Baku’s continued military threats and Ankara’s largesse in advancing Azerbaijan’s agenda.
The defense minister said that Yerevan’s top priority for the defense sector is the creation of favorable military conditions for the peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict.
“For me it is a priority to create favorable military conditions for the resolution of the Karabakh conflict. Here we must note the contradiction between the terms ‘peace’ and ‘military conditions.’ However, as they used to say during the Cold War years: ‘missiles are made for peace, not war.’ Armenia is the sole guarantor of Artsakh’s physical security,” added Tonoyan