Armenia and Russia have reached more agreements on bilateral “military-technical cooperation,” the Armenian Defense Ministry said on Thursday in an apparent reference to Russian arms supplies to its troops.
The ministry said two Armenian deputy defense ministers ended a three-day visit to Moscow during which they held talks with senior officials from Russia’s Defense Ministry, a Russian government agency overseeing arms deals with foreign states and Rosoboronexport, the state arms exporter.
“A number of agreements were reached as a result of the negotiations,” read a ministry statement. It did not elaborate.
One of the Armenian deputy ministers, Davit Tonoyan, already visited Moscow and met with his Russian counterpart Anatoly Antonov on June 14. “Military-technical cooperation between the two countries” was on the agenda of their talks, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
The other vice-minister, General Movses Hakobian, heads the Armenian Defense Ministry’s Department Material-Technical Procurements. The department is tasked with supplying the Armenian army with weapons, ammunition and other provisions.
Tonoyan’s and Hakobian’s latest talks in the Russian capital most probably touched upon Yerevan’s plans to buy a wide range of Russian weapons with a $200 million loan that was allocated by Moscow last year.
The Armenian government moved to speed up the implementation of the arms deal following the April 2-5 heavy fighting around Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It instructed the Defense Ministry to promptly negotiate supply contracts with relevant Russian government agencies. The Russian ambassador to Armenia, Ivan Volynkin, said on May 10 that most of those contracts have already been signed.
In February, Moscow disclosed the types of military hardware which Yerevan will be allowed to buy with the Russian credit. The deadliest of these weapons is the Smerch multiple-launch rocket system and TOS-1A heavy flamethrower using thermobaric rockets.
Russia has reportedly sold 18 Smerch launchers and as many TOS-1A systems to Azerbaijan along with more than 100 T-90 tanks, over 30 combat helicopters and other offensive weapons. The Russian arms deliveries to Armenia’s arch-foe, worth at least $4 billion, stemmed from contracts signed in 2010-2011.
Armenian leaders stepped up their criticism of those arms deals immediately after the April escalation in Karabakh.
Volynkin insisted last month that the military balance in the Karabakh conflict has not been disrupted by the Russian-Azerbaijani defense contracts. Russia regards Armenia as a “strategic ally” and will continue to supply it with “the most advanced weapons,” he said.
The two sides also negotiated last year on the delivery of Russian Iskander missiles to the Armenian army. With a firing range of up to 500 kilometers, the sophisticated systems would make Azerbaijan’s vital oil and gas infrastructure even more vulnerable to Armenian missile strikes in the event of a full-scale war for Karabakh.
An Armenian army general claimed in April that Armenia already has such missiles in its military arsenal. There has been no official confirmation of that claim yet.