The Armenian military could “paralyze Azerbaijan’s economy” with missile strikes if Baku provokes renewed hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, Karabakh’s top military commander said on Tuesday.
“That is definitely part of our tactical plans,” Lieutenant General Levon Mnatsakanian told a news conference in Stepanakert. “In general, the art of warfare requires strikes on these facilities as well as military targets in case of a resumption of hostilities, which will damage the [enemy] economy and won’t allow appropriate supplies to the armed forces.”
“I see no need for that yet … But if there is a need to strike [those targets] we will not hesitate for a second,” he said.
Mnatsakanian implied that a big hydroelectric power station near the Azerbaijani town of Mingachevir is one such potential target. A recent accident there caused major power outages in Azerbaijan.
Other Armenian political and military leaders have said in the past that Azerbaijan’s strategic oil and gas installations could also be targeted in the event of another Karabakh war. The Armenian military can hit them with ballistic missiles, including state-of-the-art Iskander systems supplied by Russia in 2015 or 2016.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry was quick to react to Mnatsakanian’s warnings, dismissing them as “absurd” and saying that its missile defense systems adequately protect domestic economic and military facilities. In a statement cited by the APA news agency, the ministry also said Baku itself has sophisticated missiles capable of destroying key Armenian facilities.
“Before making such irresponsible statements, the enemy should think about the fact that in the territory of Armenia there are facilities the destruction of which would make it impossible to live there for centuries,” it warned in a clear reference to the Metsamor nuclear power plant.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev threatened military strikes against “strategic” Armenian targets during a June 26 military parade in Baku. The parade featured Belarusian-made Polonez and Israeli-made LORA missiles which were supplied to the Azerbaijani army in recent months. They reportedly have a firing range of 200 and 300 kilometers respectively.
Mnatsakanian said that the Armenian side has the capacity to shoot down these missiles. But he did not elaborate.