Armenia will acquire new weapons for its armed forces earlier than anticipated because of the escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian said on Wednesday.
“Very soon we will acquire what we planned to acquire,” Abrahamian told reporters in Yerevan.
“If people want to support the families of our killed soldiers and the army on their own, that is acceptable,” he said. “But we are not asking or telling anyone to do that. We have the necessary financial means to implement the programs relating to weapons for the army.”
“We will even shorten time frames [for arms deliveries,]” he added.
The premier most probably referred to new and mostly advanced weapons which Armenia is due to purchase from Russia with a $200 million Russian loan allocated last year. Abrahamian’s cabinet moved to accelerate those acquisitions on April 15. It instructed the Armenian Defense Ministry to “ascertain” the list of those weapons and negotiate supply contracts with relevant Russian government agencies.
Meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Yerevan on April 7, Abrahamian asked him to tell Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state arms exporter, to promptly “conclude the contracts” with the Armenian side. The request came just two days after a Russian-mediated ceasefire halted the worst fighting in and around Karabakh since 1994.
Many in Armenia feel that the April 2 Azerbaijani offensive there was made possible by Russian-made weapons worth more than $4 billion purchased by Baku since 2010. Both Abrahamian and President Serzh Sarkisian complained about those arms sales during the talks with Medvedev.
Despite the Armenian discontent, Abrahamian chose to attend an April 15 meeting in Moscow of the prime ministers of Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) member states. The summit was originally due to take place in Yerevan on April 8. Kazakhstan had it cancelled and moved to Moscow in what amounted to a show of support for Azerbaijan.
Abrahamian on Wednesday defended his decision to attend the Moscow summit, which has been strongly criticized by independent Armenian media, pundits and opposition politicians. He said Medvedev personally asked him to refrain from a boycott.
“Of course, I could have boycotted it and pleased those of our people who said that I should not go to Moscow,” he said. “But I think that attending it was the right step. We need to think about cooperation with our strategic ally.”