Baku denounces Yerevan and Paris’ deal on CAESAR howitzers

Baku denounces Yerevan and Paris’ deal on CAESAR howitzers

PanARMENIAN.Net - France will sell CAESAR self-propelled howitzers to Armenia in another arms deal between the two countries announced by French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu on Tuesday, June 18.

Lecornu made the announcement on the X social media platform the day after holding what he described as a “warm and productive meeting” in Paris with his Armenian counterpart Suren Papikyan. He said the contract for the acquisition of the howitzers was signed during the talks.

Lecornu did not specify how many such systems Armenia will buy and at what cost. He said only that the contract marks a “new important milestone” in French-Armenian military ties.

“We continue to strengthen our defense relationship with Armenia,” wrote Lecornu.

Baku was quick to denounce the announced sale of CAESAR systems to Yerevan, calling it “another proof of France’s provocative actions in the South Caucasus.” A statement by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry also said “the Armenian leadership and [French President Emmanuel] Macron's dictatorship will bear full responsibility for creating a new hotbed of war” in the region, RFE/RL’s Armenian service reports.

The Armenian Defense Ministry reported on Monday that one of Papikyan’s deputies, Karen Brutyan, and a top executive of KNDS France, the manufacturer of CAESAR systems, signed an “agreement on military-technical cooperation.” It gave no details of the deal signed in the presence of the two ministers.

In a separate statement, the ministry said without elaborating that Papikyan and Lecornu reached “new understandings” on French-Armenian military cooperation.

Paris pledged last fall to sell weapons and provide other military assistance to Armenia part of a broader deepening of bilateral relations cemented by the existence of an influential Armenian community in France. Those weapons include sophisticated radars, short-range air-defense systems, armored personnel carriers and night-vision equipment. Some of that hardware was delivered to Armenia by the time Lecornu visited the South Caucasus country in February.

Yerevan’s contract with KNDS may well be the most significant of the French-Armenian arms deals signed to date. With a firing range of more than 40 kilometers, CAEASAR is one of the most advanced artillery systems of its kind in the world. France as well as Denmark have gifted Ukraine 49 such 155 millimeter truck-mounted systems since the 2022 Russian invasion of the country. Early this year, Kyiv bought another six French howitzers for between 3 million and 4 million euros ($3.3-$4.4 million) each.

France is also due to train Armenian military personnel. The French military will reportedly hold three “mountain combat training courses” for them this year. Armenia’s top general and France’s ground army chief of staff discussed these programs when they met in Germany last week.

During his trip to Yerevan, Lecornu emphasized the defensive character of the French-Armenian military cooperation condemned by Azerbaijan.

Armenia is deepening military ties with France amid mounting tensions with Russia, its traditional ally and until recently main supplier of weapons and ammunition. Yerevan is increasingly looking for other arms suppliers also because of the continuing war in Ukraine which is absorbing the bulk of Russia’s military resources.

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