On August 23, the Armenian defense minister attended the opening ceremony for the Army-2021 military-industrial exhibition and the International Army Games that was held at the Russian Patriot Center near Moscow.
According to the Armenian Defense Ministry, on the same day Karapetian held a number of meetings with the heads of major Russian military-industrial companies to discuss “a number of issues of mutual interest.”
“Karapetian then discussed the whole range of issues of Armenian-Russian military-technical cooperation with director of the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Dmitry Shugayev and director of the Rosoboronexport Company Alexander Mikheyev,” the Armenian ministry said.
Talking to media while in Russia, Karapetian said that Armenia intends to purchase only modern types of weapons. “It is better for us to have fewer, but quality weapons to know for sure that these weapons will work,” he stressed.
The minister also said that Armenia will seek to have its own weapons production, adding that in this the country has support in terms of joint ventures. “We will do it quickly. As a nation we should be able to produce our own weapons,” Karapetian said.
On August 23, the ministry also reported that Deputy Defense Minister Karen Brutian was in Moscow to sign contracts in the military-technical sphere and negotiate deliveries.
The contacts of Armenian officials with representatives of major Russian arms industry companies come after an August 11 meeting between Karapetian and Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu in Moscow.
During that meeting Shoygu said that Russia will continue to help Armenia reform and modernize its armed forces. “We can consider that the process of arms supplies to Armenia has started,” the Russian defense minister said as he handed a dagger as a gift to his Armenian counterpart.
The announcement apparently angered Azerbaijan, which defeated Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh in last year’s 44-day war and now objects to Russia’s continuing to arm Armenia.
In an interview to CNN Turk television on August 14 Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev argued that while the Armenian people and their leadership “have put up with the defeat” in the war, continuing to arm Armenia appears “illogical.”
“We expect that Russia will stop arming Armenia, we don’t see it at the moment,” Aliyev said.
Responding to Aliyev’s remarks, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that supplying weapons to other countries was Moscow’s sovereign right.
At a news briefing in Moscow on August 19 she reminded that Russia has supplied weapons not only to Armenia, its key military and political ally in the South Caucasus, but also to Azerbaijan.
“It is Russia’s sovereign right, and the Russian side always takes into account the need to maintain a balance of military power in the region,” Zakharova said.
Russia deployed about 2,000 peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh after brokering a ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan to put an end to six weeks of deadly fighting in the region last November.