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Armenia ‘Continuing’ Military Buildup


Armenia - Missile and rocket systems put on display during an Armenian military exercise in Armavir region, 8Oct2013.

Armenia - Missile and rocket systems put on display during an Armenian military exercise in Armavir region, 8Oct2013.

Armenia is continuing to acquire “long-range and precision-guided” weapons for its armed forces thanks to its close military ties with Russia, Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian said on Tuesday.

“Within the framework of a relevant [Russian-Armenian] agreement signed in 2013, we are ensuring their development through the acquisition of modern and compatible weaponry, military hardware and long-range and precision-guided systems,” he told a news conference. “All that is going according to plan.”

Ohanian gave no details of those acquisitions that were apparently discussed last week in Yerevan at a meeting of a Russian-Armenian intergovernmental commission on bilateral “military-technical cooperation.”

The four-day meeting was co-chaired by Konstantin Biryulin, the deputy head of a Russian government agency overseeing arms deals with foreign states, and Armenian Deputy Defense Minister Alik Mirzabekian.

The Armenian Defense Ministry said that the meeting discussed, among other things, Russian arms supplies. But it reported no concrete agreements to that effect.

In June 2015, the Russian government provided Yerevan with a $200 million loan that will be spent on the purchase of more Russian-made weapons for the Armenian army. Shortly afterwards, a Russian official revealed that the two sides are negotiating on the delivery of advanced Russian Iskander-M missiles to the Armenian army.

With a firing range of up to 500 kilometers, the Iskander-M systems would have significant implications for the military balance in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. They would make Azerbaijan’s vital oil and gas infrastructure even more vulnerable to Armenian missile strikes in the event of a renewed war for Karabakh.

Russia has not exported such missiles to any foreign state so far. Ohanian and other Armenian military officials have been reluctant comment on the possible Iskander-M deal.

Ohanian on Tuesday did not deny media claims that the Russian-Armenian commission also discussed the possibility of supplying Armenia with advanced Russian Su-30 fighter jets. But he declined to elaborate.

Armenia’s modest Air Force currently consists of more than a dozen older and less sophisticated Su-25 jets that are designed for air-to-ground missions.

Ohanian reportedly thanked Russia for its “huge” military assistance to Armenia when he met with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu in Moscow late last month. The two men signed an agreement on the creation of a new Russian-Armenian air defense system.

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