Visiting Yerevan on Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said her government has approved “future contracts with Armenia which will allow the delivery of military equipment to Armenia.” She cited threats to the country’s territorial integrity emanating from Azerbaijan which “has continuously armed itself to take action.” Colonna did not specify the types of French weapons that could be supplied to Armenia.
“We may be talking about defensive weapons, training of military officers in French academies,” said Armen Khachatrian, the deputy chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on defense.
“Air defense is one of our main problems now, especially after the 2020 war [in Nagorno-Karabakh] and the events of September 2022,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
Khachatrian cautioned that it would take a while before the Armenian military receives such weapons.
“Arms acquisitions are a quite complicated process all over the world,” he explained. “A number of processes must happen before they materialize, perhaps within one year.”
Tigran Abrahamian, an Armenian opposition lawmaker, said that while we would only welcome French arms supplies to Armenia he is highly skeptical about the current government’s ability to boost the country’s defense potential.
“An army is not just weapons and military personnel,” said Abrahamian. “It also requires good management, correct tactical and strategic objectives and their achievement, something which I find impossible under the current authorities.”
Colonna signaled the arms supplies amid Armenia’s mounting tensions with Russia, its longtime ally and until recently principal supplier of military hardware and ammunition. Khachatrian said Moscow cannot frown upon the deepening French-Armenian military cooperation because it has stopped providing weapons to its South Caucasus ally.
In an apparent reference to Russia, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian complained in September 2022 that “our allies” have failed to deliver weapons to Armenia despite contracts signed with them since 2020. At around the same time, Armenia reportedly signed contracts for the purchase of $400 million worth of Indian artillery systems, anti-tank rockets and ammunition.