ARMENIA BUILDS UP ITS MILITARY MIGHT- 2007

ARMENIA BUILDS UP ITS MILITARY MIGHT AGAINST THE BACKGROUND OF THE DEEPENING CRISIS IN THE RELATIONS WITH AZERBAIJAN THAT THREATENS WITH FULL-SCALE WAR


Agency WPS/DEFENSE and SECURITY (Russia)
August 27, 2004

The Russian-Armenian military cooperation develops quite dynamically. Not long ago, Russia lent a sympathetic ear to Armenia's request concerning training of up to 150 officers. Complicated situation in the Caucasus forces the authorities of Armenia to pay unfeigned attention to national defense. According to official data alone, the 2004 Armenian state budget allocated almost $82 million for military needs, an almost 10% rise against war spending in 2003. Estimates of the International Institute of Strategic Studies (London) show that in 2002 Armenia was the CIS leader in the arms spending to GDP ratio - 6.4%, an equivalent of $162 million. The CIA claims that as far as this particular parameter is concerned, Armenia is the 11th in the world; it spent $135 million on its army in 2001. When the closed parliamentary hearing of fulfillment of the 2003 budget was over not long ago, Armenian Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisjan said that arms spending would be increased next year again. Sarkisjan refused to elaborate but said that the Armenian national army was initiating a program of rearmament. It should be noted that the population of Armenia, not exactly a wealthy country, does not object to these measures taken by national leaders. The population is perfectly aware of the undeclared war with Azerbaijan that is under way. Serious clashes are regularly reported in the areas where Armenian and Azerbaijani troops face each other; shots have been fired by sharpshooters for a decade (ever since the cease-fire on the Karabakh front was signed). Moreover, official Yerevan positions itself as a guarantor of security of Karabakh. Turkey is another potential enemy. Diplomatic relations with Turkey have never been established. Ankara is still blocking the border with Armenia and pursuing an openly anti-Armenian policy. Sociologists of the Armenian Center of National and Strategic Studies discovered that 47.5% respondents in Armenia believe that the war with Azerbaijan may be resumed within five years, and 7% more expect a Turkish aggression within the same span of time.

Figures

Armenian national army is considered one of the most combat ready in the Caucasus. These days, it is over 60,000 men strong. According to the CIA, there are 810,000 men in Armenia aged 15 to 59 and almost 650,000 of them are fit for combat. Most experts say, however, that mobilization resources of Armenia amount to 300,000 men, i.e. almost 10% of the total population (over 3.2 million). Under the Treaty on Conventional Arms in Europe, in 2001 Armenia declared 102 T-72 tanks and 204 armored vehicles (most of them infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers). With the military hardware the Treaty on Conventional Arms in Europe does not apply to, Armenia has up to 700 armored vehicles. Its artillery comprises 225 pieces of 122 mm and larger calibers including 50 multiple rocket launchers. The Armenian Air Force includes five SU-25 ground-attack aircraft, one MIG-25, 35 helicopters (the latter include twelve MI-24 attack helicopters), and 3,000 servicemen. Yerevan intends to build up this component of its Armed Forces. Not long ago, Defense Ministry of Slovenia proclaimed the sale of ten SU-25s to Armenia (nine SU-25K one-seaters and one SU-25UBK two-seater). The consignment will cost Armenia $1 million. Armenia bought two IL-76 military transports from Russia not long ago. The transports were bought at Russian domestic prices and made it to Armenia together with Defense Minister of Russia Sergei Ivanov.

Armenia builds up its Air Force in the hope of making it a match for the Azerbaijani, but its antiaircraft defense is considered the best throughout the Caucasus. Armenian antiaircraft defense comprises an antiaircraft missile brigade and two regiments armed with almost 100 antiaircraft complexes of various models and modifications (Osa, Krug, S-75, and S-125). Numerical strength is estimated at about 2,000 servicemen. Armenian antiaircraft defense developed in a hurry in the war over Karabakh when Azerbaijani Air Force regularly and energetically bombarded Armenian trenches and settlements both in Karabakh and in Armenia's own border districts. There was nothing Armenia could do about it then. By 1993, however, it already had a formidable antiaircraft defense in Armenia itself and in the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. Its deployment cut Azerbaijani advantage in the sky to the minimum. These days, the Armenian skies are controlled by Armenian and Russian antiaircraft defense units on joint combat duty since 1999. There are at least 30 MIG-29 fighters and a regiment of S-300s quartered on the territory of Armenia.

Allies in the Organization of the CIS Collective Security Treaty

Armenia is a member of the Organization of the CIS Collective Security Treaty. As such, it participates in all events organized within its framework. In any case, Russia is Armenia's oldest and traditional ally. Ever since the regaining of sovereignty, the tandem of Moscow and Yerevan has served as one of the few examples of bona fide military-political cooperation in the Commonwealth. There is practically no discord between Russia and Armenia in this sphere. Russia and Armenia together defend the Armenian airspace or, rather, the southern border of the Commonwealth. Armenian borders with Turkey and Iran are manned by almost 2,000 Russian bodyguards who serve shoulder to shoulder with their Armenian counterparts. Yet, it is the 102nd Military Base in Gyumri that is Russia's major outpost in Armenia. Unlike Tbilisi or Baku, official Yerevan never brings up the subject of withdrawal of the Russian troops. When Sarkisjan is asked the question, he never answers believing it a rhetoric question. Armenian society regards the Russian troops as a covering force defending it from the Turkish aggression. Until recently, the 102nd Military Base had 74 tanks, 17 battle infantry vehicles, 148 armored personnel carriers, 84 artillery pieces, up to 30 MIG-23s and MIG-29s, and a regiment of S-300 antiaircraft complexes. In the last eighteen months, however, a great deal of military hardware was moved there from Georgia. Armenia gave the land and objects used by the 102nd Military Base over to Russia and covers some communal services.

Officer training is another sphere of Russian-Armenian military cooperation. In the first years of sovereignty when Armenia did not have military educational establishments of its own, officers of its army were trained in Russia. Even now when Armenia has a military college on its own territory, the Armenian officer corps honors the tradition and is trained at Russian military educational establishments. On a visit to Armenia in late May, Ivanov said that 600 Armenian servicemen are being trained in Russia. "Armenia asks for the permission to send 150 servicemen to Russia in 2005, and Russia gave its consent," Ivanov said. It seems that Moscow and Yerevan do not plan to stop. The first meeting of the joint Russian-Armenian government panel for military-technical cooperation will take place this autumn. According to Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, Russian factories will participate in the Armenian program of military hardware modernization. He even said that Russia is prepared to supply the necessary spare parts an equipment. Belarus is another ally of Armenia in the Organization of the CIS Collective Security Treaty. The two countries signed a treaty in 2002. Under the document, Armenia will receive light weapons, armored vehicles, ordnance, and optical devices in return for spare parts and gadgets for military hardware. Armenia also intends to have its heavy military hardware upgraded at Belarusian factories. Lieutenant General Sergei Gurulev, Chief of the General Staff of the Belarusian Armed Forces, says that the Armenian-Belarusian military contacts "become systematic and deliberate."

Do not forget NATO

Greece is Armenia's best ally in the Alliance. Greece and Armenia share ancient ties and a common enemy - Turkey. Armenian officers are trained in Greece. Every now and then Athens puts into motion military aid programs. In 2003, the two countries signed another military cooperation accord under which Greece will up the number of Armenian servicemen trained at the military and military-medical academies in Athens. Armenia became a peacekeeper in February. It sent 34 servicemen to Kosovo where they became an element of the Greek contingent. Armenian servicemen in Kosovo are paid by the Greeks. Yerevan has been shifting towards NATO lately, mostly within the framework of the NATO's Partnership for Peace Program. Cooperative Best Effort exercise (the first one where Russia was represented) was run on the territory of Armenia in 2003. Armenian cooperation with NATO is mostly declarative for the time being, but the United States - the country steadily upping its clout with countries of the region - has far-reaching plans with regard to Yerevan. In early 2003, the Pentagon announced several major military programs in the Caucasus. Washington's military aid to Armenia in 2004 will amount to $5 million even though the US Administration intended to restrict it to $2 million at first. Armenia and the United States signed a military-technical cooperation accord in April. Some articles in the American media imply that the accord specifies the use of Armenian airfields by the US AF.

Proclaiming complementariness as its foreign political doctrine, official Yerevan never misses a chance to advance its contacts with Washington. When the war in Iraq was under way, Armenia remained neutral. It neither supported the war and America's action nor condemned them. These days, however, the parliament and government of Armenia are working on the legislation that will enable Yerevan to send servicemen to Iraq. The Cabinet already endorsed the decision of the Defense Ministry to subscribe to the memorandum "On the command and settlement of issues in connection with ac tivities of the international division in the forces of coalition in Iraq". At first, Armenia will probably send 10 de-miners and 3 doctors and some trucks to Iraq. Moreover, Armenia even permitted the United States to modernize its communications, one of the most vulnerable items. Yerevan expects to get communications means from American companies. The deliveries will be paid for by the White House (the sum amounts to $7 million). Commenting on it, Sarkisjan said that Russia is quite understanding. "We are allies. It means that the strengthening of one partner will benefit the other," said Sarkisjan. "We initiated the process a year ago, and I found our Russian colleagues quite understanding." He said that from military cooperation with the United States Armenia expected to up combat potential of its own army.

So, Armenia ups its military might against the background of the deepening crisis in the relations with Azerbaijan, the crisis that threatens to deteriorate into another full-scale war. It should be noted as well that in any conflict the Armenian national army may count on servicemen from Karabakh. In fact, the Karabakh army even leaves the Armenian behind in some parameters. Karabakh armed formations cannot match the Armenian army in manpower (about 20,000 servicemen and mobilization resources at 60,000 men), but they are certainly ahead of Armenia in heavy military hardware: 316 tanks, 324 armored vehicles, 322 artillery pieces of calibers over 122 mm, 44 multiple rocket launchers, and the antiaircraft defense system that performed flawlessly in the hostilities in the 1990's.

Source: http://groong.usc.edu/news/msg92385.html

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Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult for me because I had no assistance from anywhere. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside urged me to keep going; and I did. When Armenia joined the EEU and integrated into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago I finally felt a deep sense of relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my back. And when Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan reemerged in Armenian politics, I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back as I really needed the rest.

Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the internal urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal.

Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say anything if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however moderate the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what readers of this blog have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments. To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several anonymous visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what. If you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or just attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself.

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Thank you for reading.