January 27, 2016 - 12:19 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Armenia continues acquiring long-range and precision-guided weapons for its armed forces thanks to its close military ties with Russia, RFE/RL cited the Defense Minister as saying on Tuesday, January 26.
“In the framework of a [Russian-Armenian] agreement signed in 2013, we acquire modern and compatible weaponry, military hardware and long-range and precision-guided systems,” Seyran Ohanyan told a news conference.
Ohanian gave no details of those acquisitions that were apparently discussed last week in Yerevan at a meeting of a Russian-Armenian intergovernmental commission on bilateral military-technical cooperation.
The four-day meeting was co-chaired by Konstantin Biryulin, the deputy head of a Russian government agency overseeing arms deals with foreign states, and Armenian Deputy Defense Minister Alik Mirzabekian.
The Armenian Defense Ministry said that the meeting discussed, among other things, Russian arms supplies. But it reported no concrete agreements to that effect.
In June 2015, the Russian government provided Yerevan with a $200 million loan for the purchase of more Russia-made weapons for the Armenian army. Shortly afterwards, a Russian official revealed that the two sides are negotiating on the delivery of advanced Russian Iskander-M missiles to the Armenian army.
With a firing range of up to 500 kilometers, the Iskander-M systems would have significant implications for the military balance in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. They would make Azerbaijan’s vital oil and gas infrastructure even more vulnerable to Armenian missile strikes in the event of a renewed war for Karabakh.
Russia has not exported such missiles to any foreign state so far. Ohanian and other Armenian military officials have been reluctant to comment on the possible Iskander-M deal.
Ohanian on Tuesday did not deny media claims that the Russian-Armenian commission also discussed the possibility of supplying Armenia with advanced Russian Su-30 fighter jets. But he declined to elaborate.
Armenia’s modest Air Force currently consists of more than a dozen older and less sophisticated Su-25 jets that are designed for air-to-ground missions.
The Russian and Armenian Defense Ministers on December 23 signed an agreement on creating a joint regional air defense system in the Caucasus.