Armenia to Obtain Modern High-Quality Weapons from Russia

Rahim Huseynli Feature 27 August 2021
Armenia to Obtain Modern High-Quality Weapons from Russia

Armenian Defence Minister Arshak Karapetyan has said that Armenia is planning to obtain new and high-quality weapons.

"We are planning to have new and high-quality weapons. We are refusing to purchase old weapons. This is our policy. It is better to have fewer but higher-quality weapons, though we must make sure these weapons will function," Karapetyan said in an interview during his visit to Russia to attend the opening ceremony of the Army-2021 military-industrial exhibition and the International War Games.

He said that Armenia has Russia's support for launching its own military production "by forming joint production companies," and added that "we will do this quickly. As a nation, we must be capable of producing our own weapons".

Karapetyan went on to say that "practical steps will be taken to deepen cooperation with Russia".

The Armenian defense minister had a number of meetings with the heads of military-industrial companies in Moscow. Armenia has signed arms supply contracts with Russian companies as part of the Army-2021 military-industrial exhibition in Moscow, but the details of the deals have not been revealed. 

According to the director of the Russian arms exporting company Rosoboronexport, Alexander Mikheyev, more than 20 deals worth more than 2.4 billion dollars had already been concluded with Russia's partners, including Kazakhstan, Armenia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, India, China and Myanmar within the framework of the Army-2021 exhibition.

Earlier, in an interview with CNN Turk on 14 August, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev expressed his concern over Russia's arms supplies to Armenia. In response, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that provision of arms is Russia's sovereign right and that Russia is taking into account the need for a balance of power in the region.

While addressing the parliament on August 24, as he presented the government's five-year programme (2021-2026), Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that the strategic alliance with Russia was one of the pillars of Armenia's security. 

He said that Armenia would continue to strengthen and expand allied relations and strategic partnership with Russia in all areas, including the military-political, military-technical, economic, energy, transport, humanitarian and cultural spheres.

Pashinyan said that the "capacity of the 102nd Russian base continues to expand," and added that "new military posts of the 102nd base have been installed in the cities of Goris and Sisian (in Syunik region), and the Russian border guards are participating in the defense of some sections on Armenian-Azerbaijani border," he said.

"We will make efforts to further strengthen Russian-Armenian high-level dialogue and to deepen cooperation in multilateral formats, including in the (Russia-led) Collective Security Treaty Organization and Eurasian Economic Union," Pashinyan said.

Despite Russia acting as a leading mediator in the conflict between the two countries, in 2011–20, it accounted for 94 per cent of Armenia’s imports of major arms and 60 per cent of Azerbaijan’s.

Over the decade 2011–20, Russian deliveries to Armenia included armoured personnel carriers, air defence systems and multiple rocket launchers and tanks—all of which were used in the 2020 war. Among the deliveries were Iskander surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 300 kilometres, which Russia supplied in 2016. Armenia reportedly used one of these missiles against a target deep inside Azerbaijan during the 2020 war.

There were also reports that Armenia fired Smerch rockets, supplied by Russia in 2016–17, at Azerbaijani cities. Russia delivered four Su-30SM combat aircraft to Armenia in 2019. While these aircraft have the potential to significantly strengthen Armenia’s strike capability, they do not appear to have been used during the war. Armenia received Smerch multiple rocket launcher systems, Igla-S short-range man-portable air defense systems, Autobase-M passive radar systems, Heavy Flamethrower systems TOS-1A 'Solntsepek', armored cars 'Tiger', guided missiles 9M113M, RPG-26 anti-tank rocket launchers and so on.

Arms transfers are part of Russia’s broader military cooperation with Armenia. Armenia hosts Russian military bases and is the only current member of the post-Soviet Collective Security Treaty Organization that is located in the South Caucasus. Russia often supplies arms to Armenia at reduced prices or in the form of military aid, with the likely aim of maintaining influence in the region.