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Armenian PM Denies Contradictions In Comments About Fighter Jets


Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian being briefed on the technical capabilities of Su-30SM fighter jets inside one of them. (The photo was released by the prime minister’s press service on December 27, 2019)

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian sees no contradictions between his comments about why Armenia did not purchase missiles for Russian fighter jets to be able to use them in its recent war with Azerbaijan and his prewar post on social media about the multirole aircraft “successfully testing missiles.”

During his March 20 visit to Armenia’s Aragatsotn province, addressing a rally in one of the villages, Pashinian said that Yerevan purchased Russian Su-30SM fighters in May 2020, but did not manage to purchase missiles for them before the start of the 44-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh in September.

Meanwhile, it was still in December 2019 that the press service of the prime minister and the Ministry of Defense officially announced that the Armenian Armed Forces had been “equipped with Su-30SM multifunctional fighters.”

In July last year, Pashinian wrote on Facebook that the Su-30SMs “successfully tested missiles.”

Opposition members have accused the prime minister of lying to the public with “contradictory statements.”

Meanwhile, in his answer to a related question asked by a pro-government lawmaker in parliament on March 24, Pashinian denied any contradictions between his comments.

He explained that since “fighter aircraft are ultra-modern powerful weapons.., it is obvious that manufacturers of aircraft and missiles of different modifications are not the same entities.”

“In other words, they are not produced in one place, and, therefore, are not purchased in one place, but they are purchased from different entities. Su-30SM fighter jets arrived in Armenia in May 2020 and, yes, training flights were carried out, and missiles that were already in the arsenal of the Armenian Armed Forces were used. In a specific military situation decisions on their use or non-use were made in accordance with the extent to which the available ammunition allows these aircraft to fulfill the combat missions assigned to them. And what I said in the village of Ohanavan and what I said earlier did not contradict each other. Unfortunately, during the war we did not have time to purchase all those necessary accessories, missiles that would make it possible to use the ultra-modern Su-30SMs for their intended purpose and in accordance with their power,” Pashinian said.

Pashinian did not explain the discrepancy between the December 2019 press statement from his office showing photographs of him and then-Defense Minister David Tonoyan at an airfield watching demonstration flights of Su-30SM fighters and boarding the cockpit of one of the aircraft, and his statement that the Su-30SM fighter jets arrived in Armenia in May 2020.

Opposition Bright Armenia lawmaker Ani Samsonian seized upon that, accusing Pashinian of lying again.

“When will the government stop lying, manipulating and misleading the public?” she charged in her question to Pashinian.

The prime minister did not answer the opposition lawmaker’s question himself. Instead his deputy Tigran Avinian said: “A full answer on Su-30SM aircraft was given, there is nothing that I can add on that.”

Earlier this month Pashinian effectively retracted his claim that the Armenian army’s most advanced Russian-made Iskander missiles seriously malfunctioned during the recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh. The retraction came after a storm of criticism from Russian pro-government lawmakers and pundits, who accused the Armenian prime minister of incompetence and deceit.

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