Russian arms sales to Armenia won’t end disparity with Baku

By Asbarez | Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Some of the military hardware Armenia will buy from Russia

Some of the military hardware Armenia will buy from Russia

MOSCOW—A Russian military expert has said that the military equipment being supplied to Armenia by Russia is very similar to the equipment that Baku has already purchased, but warned that disparities in quantity would still be at play.

The Russian daily Izvestia reported on Tuesday that Russia, which has begun deliveries of arms to Yerevan based on a $200 million loan guarantee, will supply the same weapon to Armenia as it has sold to Baku.

Andrey Frolov, the chief editor of the Russian Arms Export magazine, told Izvestia that the new supply of arms to Armenia no doubt will advance the military disparity with Baku, but Azerbaijan still will have the upper hand in the weapons race given its large military budget.

Russia has sold Azerbaijan weapons in excess of $4 billion and has argued that if it did not supply the arms, Azerbaijan would purchase it from other sources. Russia’s arms sales to Azerbaijan has angered Armenia with its leadership expressing tacit dissatisfaction.

Last Thursday, after meeting with President Serzh Sarkisian, Russian president Vladimir Putin told a press conference that Armenia was Russia’s strategic ally in the region that Moscow “always fulfills its obligations.”

Russia is expected also to provide training to Armenian Armed Forces on the use and operation of the equipment.

Armenia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Artstrun Hovannesyan confirmed the flow of military equipment but did not specify the type of weapons to a timeline for the completion of the delivery.

Izvestia, which is viewed as a pro-Kremlin publication, citing sources with knowledge of the process, reported that Russia and Armenia have not fully agreed on the inventory that is to be purchased with the $200 million loan.

This article was published as Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu was in Yerevan to attend a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization—CSTO—after holding talks with Azerbaijani leaders in Baku on Monday.

While in Baku, Shoigu discussed furthering military cooperation with Baku and pledging to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev that all matters he had discussed with Putin a week before would be carried out.

These reportedly include plans to sign an agreement in September to open a Russian helicopter maintenance center in Baku.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that in 2017, Russia is going to sell one An-124 military transport aircraft to Baku and open an aircraft assembly plant in Azerbaijan, in addition to signing a contract with Baku next February for the supply of at least 10 new Russian MS-21 aircraft, reported