Davtian, one of his deputies as well as the commanders of the army’s artillery and engineer units and the head of a General Staff division dealing with army morale were relieved of their duties on February 24 through presidential decrees requested by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. The chiefs of Armenia’s military intelligence and rear services were fired a few days earlier.
All of them except Davtian were swiftly replaced by other senior officers. Pashinian has still not installed a new army chief of staff.
An opposition lawmaker, Tigran Abrahamian, expressed concern about this fact during the Armenian government’s question-and-answer session in the parliament. Abrahamian cited grave security challenges facing the country.
Papikian assured him that the acting head of the General Staff, Kamo Kochunts, is in a position to properly lead the armed forces for now. The minister also indicated that he is the one who initiated the sweeping changes in the army top brass.
“We have entered a period of very important reforms,” he said. “I believe that it’s about time the military sphere was also entrusted to many of our capable and young cadres who went through war. I don’t want to link this with individuals but at the same time cannot fail to say that everything depends on individuals.”
“Everything is being done to make sure that we have a more motivated top brass,” added Papikian. “And this is a signal to all military officers. All worthy officers will be able to occupy high-level positions regardless of their personal connections.”
Pashinian promised a major reform of the military shortly after Armenia’s defeat in the 2020 war with Azerbaijan. He has replaced three defense ministers since a Russian-brokered ceasefire stopped the six-week war in November 2020. Papikian was appointed in November 2021.
Davtian became Armenia’s top general in March 2021. The previous holder of the post, Onik Gasparian, was fired after he and four dozen other high-ranking officers accused Pashinian’s government of incompetence and misrule and demanded its resignation.