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Armenia Downplays ‘Security Threat’ After Russian Analyst’s Publication


Nagorno-Karabakh - Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian watches a military exercise, 20Nov2015.

Nagorno-Karabakh - Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian watches a military exercise, 20Nov2015.

Officials and experts in Yerevan do not think that the recent publication by a top Russian military analyst of detailed information on the military potential of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh jeopardizes the country’s security.

Earlier this week, the Russian newspaper, “Voyenno-Promyshlenniy Kurier” (“Military-Industrial Courier”), published an article by deputy director of the Russian Institute of Political and Military Analysis Alexander Khramchikhin, who provides a detailed account of the composition, structure and location of military units in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh as well as the types and amounts of weapons they possess.

Some media and analysts in Armenia assume the publication amounts to revealing “top secret” military information that could pose a threat to the national security of the South Caucasus country, which despite a 1994 ceasefire is still locked in a bitter conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharyan, however, downplayed the impact of the publication on the country’s ability to deliver a counterstrike against possible Azerbaijani aggression. “If it is a secret, it is very difficult to assess whether what has been published is true. In fact, I can only say without going into figures that in any case, in the event of a possible adventure [by Azerbaijan] the Armenian sides [Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh] are always ready to strike back and punish [the aggressor].”

Armenian Defense Ministry spokesperson Artsrun Hovannisian stopped short of clarifying whether the information revealed by Khramchikhin was classified in Armenia and amounted to state secret. He only said that much in the article was not true to the facts. “Like in any such analytical article something coincides with the reality and something doesn’t,” he said.

Military expert Sergey Minasian, who is deputy director of the Yerevan-based Caucasus Institute, described Khramchikhin’s article as “amateurish”. “The organization that the author represents has some links with the military and military-political sphere in Russia, but specifically this publication is part of a series of articles in which the author rather subjectively presents the armed forces of all post-Soviet countries,” Minasian said.

According to him, in his article Khramchikhin used mostly open and available data and some of the information is 10 years ago. “I don’t think that the publication which has nothing to do with the real potential of the Armed Forces of Armenia, can cause any serious damage,” the Armenian expert said.

Speaking about the correlation of forces, the Russian analyst in his article notes that due to the positional advantage and high fighting qualities of their personnel, the Armed Forces of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh are now able to repulse a possible strike from the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, but “the trends are unfavorable”. “Azerbaijan has a much higher economic potential. Even now it has an overwhelming superiority in the air, which is for now offset by strong ground anti-aircraft defenses of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh,” Khramchikhin writes.

In this regard Minasian said: “Since 2010-2011, Azerbaijan has achieved quite significant progress thanks to the purchases of Russian weapons, violating some of the elements of this balance. But I think that in the recent months, also within the framework of a preferential loan [from Russia], as well as due to cooperation in other formats, at least for the moment, the military balance for Armenia is more favorable than, say, a year ago.”

The Armenian analyst considers unlikely the resumption of large-scale hostilities around Nagorno-Karabakh for now, but he thinks “local escalations” are possible. He does not expect any breakthrough in the internationally mediated peace talks in the foreseeable future either.

Incidentally, Nagorno-Karabakh’s military authorities on Friday reported another attempt by Azerbaijani forces to carry out a commando raid inside the Armenian-controlled territory across the line of contact.

The Karabakh Defense Ministry claimed the Azerbaijani troops were repelled and forced to retreat “suffering casualties”. It said the ethnic Armenian forces suffered no losses in repelling the aggression.

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