YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Armenia’s armed forces received significant amounts of new weapons and ammunition last year, Defense Minister Suren Papikyan said on Wednesday.
Papikyan said that they included mortars, air defense and anti-tank rocket systems, drones as well as demining, communication and night-vision surveillance equipment. He declined to reveal the sources, quantities or monetary value of the arms acquisitions.
“I can’t tell where we bought them from. It’s a secret,” Papikyan told the Armenian parliament committee on defense and security.
In an apparent reference to Russia, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan complained last September that “our allies” have failed to deliver weapons to Armenia despite contracts signed with them in the last two years.
At around the same time, Armenia reportedly signed contracts for the purchase of $245 million worth of Indian multiple-launch rocket systems, anti-tank rockets and ammunition. Papikyan explored the possibility of more such deals when he visited India in October.
Indian media reported afterwards that the two sides signed in November a $155 million deal to supply Indian 155-milimeter self-propelled howitzers to the Armenian army in the coming years. Yerevan has not officially confirmed that either.
Armenia’s military spending is projected to rise by over 40 percent to 506 billion drams ($1.3 billion) this year.
Earlier in September, the Armenian military suffered serious casualties and territorial losses in border clashes with Azerbaijani forces. Armenian opposition leaders portrayed them as further proof of Pashinyan’s incompetence and inability to protect the country’s borders. They said that his administration has done little to rebuild the armed forces since the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Former President Serzh Sarkisian said last week that Russia donated “enormous” amounts of military hardware to Armenia in the past but stopped that “military-technical assistance” when Pashinyan came to power in 2018.
Pashinyan dismissed that claim on Tuesday, suggesting that Sarkisian referred to outdated “free weapons” sent by Moscow.
“Armenia purchased more weaponry in 2018-2020 than during the previous ten years combined,” he told a news conference.
A senior member of Sarkisian’s opposition Republican Party, Hayk Mamijanyan, hit back at Pashinyan, saying that the allegedly outdated weapons still account for a large part of the Armenian military arsenal. Mamijanyan also argued that Russia is using many of those Soviet-era weapons in the ongoing war with Ukraine.
Pashinyan also described as “unserious” the ex-president’s claim that the Armenian side did not use its “most powerful weapons” during the disastrous war with Azerbaijan.
During the parliament committee’s meeting with Papikyan, an opposition lawmaker, Anna Grigoryan, expressed serious concern over the state of Armenian army fortifications along the volatile border with Azerbaijan.
The minister acknowledged that “things on the frontlines are not as we would all like them to be.” But he insisted that “everything is being done” to strengthen Armenian military positions.
“There is a great deal of work to be done in the army and … I will bring that work to its successful completion,” added Papikyan.