Russian state-owned arms manufacturers have delivered a limited amount of weapons to Armenia for contracts that were signed several years ago. Following the end of the 44-Day war in 2020 (also known as the second Nagorno-Karabakh war), Armenia signed defence contracts with Russia, valued at approximately 400 million USD.
While Armenia had already paid for the weapons from Russia, they had not received any until late last week. The amount which Armenia has received is not the full amount Armenia paid for, and so future deliveries are still expected.
“The Russians are giving us something, not on a scale anticipated by us in line with the volume of the signed contracts. But I’m sure that things will be sorted out in the process” -Andranik Kocharian, Chairman of Armenia’s Parliament Committee on Defence and Security
It is unclear the specifics on what types of weapons were delivered, and are involved in the contracts as a whole.
A Series of Delays
Armenia has on several occasions complained about the delayed weapons transfers from Russia, their primary arms supplier. While there has been much speculation as to why this has come about, State Duma Deputy Konstantin Zatulin stated in an interview with the “Moscow Speaks” radio station that the delays have mostly come about due to Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.
“Yes, they purchased weapons from us, but because of the special operation in Ukraine, we are delaying its delivery” -Konstantin Zatulin
The delays have been a hotspot in negotiations between the two countries. Russia’s ambassador to Armenia, Sergei Kopyrkin, acknowledged the “issues” in delivering the weapons last month, but stated they were “working issues that are resolved in the dialogue between relevant agencies of Russia and Armenia”. The ambassador further added that Russia and Armenia were “discussing new agreements in the field of military-technical cooperation”, however he did not offer any details as to what this may mean.
Ever since the end of the 44-Day war in 2020, relations between Russia and Armenia have worsened. In the last year and a half in particular, they have declined drastically. In the last few months, various Russian state media’s and even Russian President Putin have blamed Armenia, and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan specifically, for the loss of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), a disputed region between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which was seized by Azerbaijan in full in September of 2023. The region’s 120,000 Armenian’s left for Armenia under the watch of Russian peacekeepers, who had drawn criticism from Armenia for not halting Azeri military attacks when they had began.
Armenia has made several moves towards the west and away from the CSTO, oftentimes while being condemned by Russia for it, as their faith in defence agreements with Russia wanes.
On December 21st, 2023, Armenia suspended for one month the broadcasting license of Tospa Radio, the radio station within Armenia that broadcasts Sputnik Armenia, the Armenian division of Russian state-owned media company Sputnik. The suspension came after Sputnik Armenia had broadcasted “ironic and offensive” comments against both Armenia and PM Pashinyan. In addition to the suspension, Tospa was ordered to pay 500,000 drams (1,200 USD) in fines.
In the face of Russian delays, Armenia has began searching for other paths to suit its defence needs. Since September of 2022, after Azerbaijan launched a series of attacks on Armenia’s border that resulted in the deaths of hundreds on both sides, Armenia has signed a series of defence contracts with India valued around the same, 400 million.
More recently, Armenia has also signed two different defence contracts with France after Azerbaijan seized Artsakh in September of 2023. In November, Azeri President Aliyev condemned the sale, stating that France’s sale to Armenia “prepares the ground for the start of new wars in our region”, further accusing them of destabilizing the region.