The Russian official gave no details of the deals.
“Among the countries that signed agreements are our traditional partners – Kazakhstan, Armenia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, and, of course, India, China, Myanmar,” said Shugayev, as quoted Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency.
Earlier, Alexander Mikheyev, director of the Russian arms exporting company, Rosoboronexport, told reporters that more than 20 deals worth more than 2 billion Euros (about $2.4 billion) had already been concluded within the framework of the Army-2021 exhibition.
After attending the exhibition in Moscow on August 24 evening and meeting with the heads of Russian military-industrial companies, Armenian Defense Minister Arshak Karapetian made a remarkable statement, saying that Armenia will stop acquiring old types of weapons and start purchasing new, high-quality weapons.
Remarkably, two Armenian delegations visited the Moscow arms exhibition. According to the Defense Ministry, first, on August 22, a delegation headed by the minister left for the Russian capital to take part in the opening ceremonies for the Army-2021 exhibition and the International Army Games.
The following day, the ministry announced that a delegation headed by Deputy Defense Minister Karen Brutian would also take part in the Army-2021 exhibition, which will be open till August 28, during which he would hold meetings with heads of a number of large Russian companies working in the defense sphere and sign contracts.
“We enjoy full support. I can say that I haven’t heard a single “no” word here. And we will take practical steps to develop our cooperation with Russia. We plan to get high-quality weapons, we plan to have new weapons, we refuse to acquire old types of weapons, that is our policy. It is better for us to have fewer, but high-quality weapons to know for sure that these weapons will work,” Minister Karapetian said in Moscow.
According to the Defense Ministry, on August 23 in Moscow Karapetian “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.”
Talking to media, Karapetian said that Armenia will also seek to have its own weapons production and that it will receive the support in terms of opening joint ventures. “We will do it quickly. As a nation we should be able to produce our own weapons,” the Armenian defense minister said.
He said that the third task for him is to exclude intermediaries between the Defense Ministry and the manufacturing companies. “I think that if these three conditions are met, we will definitely get a new modernized army, an army meeting the requirements of the 21st century, and we will be able to cope with the dangers we face,” Karapetian stressed.
After last fall’s 44-day war against Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh, in which Armenia suffered a defeat, and especially after the June 20 snap parliamentary elections, the government led by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has repeatedly announced plans to modernize the Armenian armed forces and acquire new weapons.
According to the government’s 2021-26 action plan unveiled by Pashinian last week, “the Armed Forces Reform Strategy is largely based on the analysis of the lessons learned from the 44-day war and the security environment formed after November 9, 2020 [when the Russian-brokered ceasefire was signed in Nagorno-Karabakh].”
“The government will define the main guidelines, long-term planning issues and resources on which the development of the defense system of the Republic of Armenia and the fifth generation warfare toolkit will be based. The government will continue the process of modernization of armaments, military equipment, acquisition of new types of weapons. A more targeted policy will be implemented in the spheres of military and military-technical cooperation with allied and partner countries,” the government’s action plan reads.
Still, it remains unclear what particular weapons Armenia will acquire.
The contacts of Armenian officials with representatives of major Russian arms industry companies come after an August 11 meeting between Armenian Defense Minister Karapetian and his Russian counterpart 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 objects to Russia’s continuing arms supplies to 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, which deployed about 2,000 peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh after the ceasefire, 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.
Political analyst Ruben Mehrabian said that the 44-day war, in particular, showed that the Armenian army needs to be supplied with a new generation of weapons and that a fundamentally new management system should be put in place.
“We need a drastic change in our entire military education system, so that the training of personnel directly meets the requirements set to the army and servicemen in the future can master everything that the army will be equipped with,” Mehrabian said.