MOSCOW (RFE/RL) — A senior Russian military official denied on Friday a Russian newspaper report which said that Moscow could halt further arms supplies to Armenia because of a rare diplomatic dispute with Yerevan.
Citing unnamed Russian defense industry executives, the “Kommersant” daily claimed on Thursday that implementation of the most recent Russian-Armenian defense contracts is now “in serious doubt.” It pointed to Moscow’s angry reaction to Armenian law-enforcement authorities’ controversial decision to bring coup charges against Yuri Khachaturov, the secretary general of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
The contracts stem from a $100 million Russian loan allocated to Armenia last October. The latter is due to spend it on buying more Russian weapons at internal Russian prices set well below market-based levels.
“This is incorrect information. I don’t confirm it,” Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Aleksandr Fomin said, commenting on the “Kommersant” report during a visit to Armenia.
“Everything is on track,” Fomin told reporters when asked about arms supplies that would be financed from the Russian loan.
Fomin is in charge of Russia’s military-technical cooperation with other countries. He held senior positions in Rosoboronexport, the state arms exporter, in the 2000s.
Fomin met on Thursday with Armenia’s Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan and Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian. According to the Armenian Defense Ministry, he and Tonoyan “attached importance to deepening existing political and military allied relations between the two countries.”
Russia has long been the principal source weapons supplied to the Armenian army. Membership in the CSTO entitles Armenia to acquiring them at discounted prices or even for free.
Moscow also lent Yerevan $200 million for arms acquisitions in 2015. The weapons delivered to the Armenian military under that deal include, among other things, Smerch multiple-launch rocket system, thermobaric and anti-tank rocket systems, shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, and army radios.
Tonoyan was reported to say on Friday that Yerevan could seek yet another Russian loan for the same purpose.
Another senior official from the Armenian Defense Ministry said in May that the Armenian army will receive Russian-manufactured Tor-M2 air-defense systems later this year. It is not yet clear whether that will be covered by the $100 million loan.
And in June, Armenia’s new government signaled its desire to also obtain Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter jets from Russia.