Armenia’s top military official in charge of arms procurements will fly to Moscow on Tuesday to meet with representatives of Russia’s Defense Ministry and state intermediary agency for Russian arms exports.
The Defense Ministry in Yerevan announced on Monday that its delegation headed by Deputy Defense Minister Alik Mirzabekian will pay a four-day visit to Moscow and the nearby town of Kubinka, which is home to a Russian air base, an aircraft maintenance facility and a tank museum. Mirzabekian heads the ministry’s Department on Material-Technical Procurements charged with supplying Armenia’s Armed Forces with weapons and ammunition.
A ministry statement said Armenian defense officials led by Mirzabekian will “participate in bilateral Armenian-Russian negotiations” and hold “discussions” with top executives of the Rosoboronexport arms exporter regarding “supplies of items designed for military use.” They will also take part in a multilateral meeting of defense officials from ex-Soviet states, added the statement.
The ministry gave no details of the agenda of the planned Russian-Armenian talks. It is thus not clear whether it includes concrete arms deals between Russia and Armenia, its main regional ally.
Russia has long been the principal source of military hardware delivered to Armenia. A military alliance with Moscow and membership in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) entitles Yerevan to receiving Russian-made weapons at discounted prices or even free of charge.
These mostly unpublicized deliveries have enabled Armenia to partly or fully offset a massive military build-up which its arch-foe Azerbaijan began more than a decade ago. Russia alone has sold Azerbaijan more than $4 billion worth of offensive weaponry since 2010, a fact increasingly criticized by Armenian government officials, politicians and pundits.
Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian assured reporters last month that Moscow is addressing Armenian concerns about its lucrative arms deals with Baku. But he did not elaborate.