Updated: Oct 9
New Strategic Ally of India
“You cannot love this country with just words, the capital of this country starts in the trenches,” ~ Vazgen Sargsyan, the first Minister of Defense of the Armenian Republic.
Image Credits Team Geostrata
Being in such a crisis region, having gone through many wars and constantly being under the threat of new military aggression, the Republic of Armenia cannot hope for diplomacy due to the non-compliance of some countries in the region. Hence, the development of military forces has become a paramount task of national security.
NATO OR CSTO?
The Republic of Armenia is one of the few countries in the world that has friendly relations with both western and eastern nations in many areas of cooperation, but cooperation in military defense is an exception. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), over the 2011-2020 period, Armenia imported weapons worth $398 million.
Of these, 93.7% were imported from Russia, 5.3% from Jordan, and 1% from Ukraine. Is the Republic of Armenia not interested in purchasing western weapons, which are much more effective than Russian ones? The fact is that Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization military alliance.
CSTO began to be perceived by NATO as a hostile organization due to the strong influence of Russia on the domestic and foreign policy of the member states. In this regard, the sale of weapons to CSTO members is not carried out by Western countries.
Although many political forces in Armenia say that it is necessary to withdraw from the CSTO and accept military support from NATO, in particular from France and the United States, Armenia still has reservations about leaving CSTO, largely worrying about the possibility that after the country's withdrawal from the bloc, Azerbaijan will enter there.
NEW NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHITECTURE
Until recently, there was no problem with the import of weapons, as they were consistently supplied by Russia. During the May 2021 conflict, when Azerbaijan occupied several areas in the east of Armenia, in particular, most of the territory around Lake Sevlich, there were rumors that Russia after the 2020 war did not make the planned supply of weapons to Armenia.
Two weeks after the September 2022 aggression, during which Azerbaijan again occupied the territories of Armenia, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan confirmed the rumors at a government meeting by stating: “We have paid hundreds of millions of dollars, but the obligations for the supply of weapons to Armenia are not fulfilled by the allied countries."
Vice President of the Parliament Ruben Rubinyan completed it by saying: "Everyone knows who is Armenia's ally, the Prime Minister only declared the facts'' and "We must revise the National Security architecture of the last 30 years."
During these speeches, the information media of Armenia began to massively report that India and Armenia had signed an agreement for the purchase of long-range multi-barrel Pinaka rocket launchers and anti-tank missile systems by Armenia for $250 million.
They will be a great addition to the Swathi Weapon Locating Radars purchased from India in 2020 for $40 million. Countries stated that they will strengthen military cooperation. There are also indications that India plans to build a factory in Armenia for the production of military equipment that will be exported to the Middle East and the Balkans.
REFORMS IN NATIONAL SECURITY
Undoubtedly, Armenia not only hopes to receive help from other countries but also takes independent actions to ensure national security. The Parliament of the Republic of Armenia in December 2022 adopted the country's budget for 2023, the military part of the budget is at a record high - $1.25 billion. This made it possible to carry out reforms in the defense area.
The concept of Azg-Banak (Nation-Army) has been greatly developed, the essence of which is to attract ordinary citizens to military training activities to obtain and update military skills in order to resist potential military aggression against the Republic of Armenia by the whole nation.
The annual military training which will last 25 days became mandatory for reservists; high school students from the beginning of the new academic year will be required to participate in military sports camps, where they will learn the basics of tactics, fire training, first aid, and much more.
In January 2022, the Law on Weapons came into force, according to which, from the age of 18, any resident of the Armenian Republic who has passed the weapons examination and passed a psychotherapist can purchase smooth-bore weapons, and from the age of 21 - rifled ones.
Military uniforms from this year will be completely updated; uniforms of all seasons, helmets, and body armor will be replaced with modern ones. One of the main topics for discussion lately is the conditions of the border posts, almost all of which are protected by car tires or bags of stones and sand.
Border posts are the main targets during the military aggressions of Azerbaijan and September 2022 proved this. Reinforced concrete walls and ceilings can become an unassailable fortress for artillery shells and drones. The Minister of Defense already said that they will reconstruct border posts this year.
On February 13, during the Aero India-2023 event, the Armenian Deputy Minister of Defense, Karen Brutyan, met with the Indian Minister of Defense, Rajnath Singh. During the meeting, the possibilities of expanding military-technical cooperation were discussed.
Armenia had no choice, but to start ensuring national security itself and find a new strategic ally. India is one of the candidate countries for this position, the two nations have already established a mutual understanding and intend to strengthen cooperation for the sake of peace.
BY ROMAN KARAPETIAN