STEPANAKERT — Armenia reported on Monday a dramatic increase in its arms acquisitions in the last few years, saying that they have offset Azerbaijan’s continuing massive military buildup.
“In the last three years we have acquired as much weaponry as we did in the previous 20 years,” Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian said during a visit to an army unit in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“In that sense, rest assured that we will never allow the military balance to be disrupted. We will maintain that balance,” he told soldiers serving there, in remarks posted on the Armenian government’s website.
Sarkisian gave few details of those acquisitions. He said only, in an apparent reference to Russia, that “strategic partners” are helping Armenia to stay in the arms race with oil-rich Azerbaijan within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
There have been other indications of late that Russian arms supplies to Armenia, mostly carried out free of charge, have intensified in recent. An Armenian pro-government parliamentarian claimed in May that as many as 120 planeloads of Russian weapons have been transported to Armenia over the past year alone.
The commander of Karabakh’s armed forces, General Movses Hakobian, likewise spoke of large-scale arms acquisitions in late July. Hakobian said the arms deliveries have been so extensive that the Karabakh military has difficulty storing the new weapons and plans to build a new arms depot for that purpose.
In particular, the Karabakh Armenians are known to have created a new tank brigade last year. Some defense analysts in Yerevan believe that it is armed with around 100 tanks.
Azerbaijan reportedly began receiving in June a similar number of tanks as well as many other Russian-made offensive weapons worth an estimated $1 billion. President Ilham Aliyev said last month that “the volume of military-technical cooperation between Russia and Azerbaijan is measured at $4 billion and it tends to grow further.” According to the Moscow daily “Vedomosti,” the figure cited by Aliyev is “the sum of all contracts concluded and partly executed since 2010.”a