By K. Khodanian
“Why is Armenia buying weapons worth hundreds of millions of dollars if it wants peace with Azerbaijan?” complained Ilham Aliyev, the dictator of Azerbaijan, during a meeting with the Indian ambassador. In recent years, India has become the main source of Armenia’s weapons purchases.
Aliyev complains about the money spent by Armenia, despite his own country’s defense budget being almost three times larger than Armenia’s. For the year 2023, Azerbaijan has allocated $3.1 billion, while Armenia’s budget for its armed forces in 2023 is $1.28 billion. If we apply Aliyev’s logic, his country seems less interested in peace, considering that Azerbaijan continues to channel the revenues from its oil and gas sales into its military, instead of allocating those funds to the welfare of its people. Armenia is merely attempting to keep up with the arms race to protect itself.
Throughout history, it has often been the stronger country that has attacked its weaker neighbors, attempting to enforce its will through force. Azerbaijan is now following this pattern, first attacking Nagorno-Karabakh and then violating the sovereign borders of Armenia.
The 44-day Artsakh war highlighted that in recent decades, the military balance between Armenia and Azerbaijan has shifted in favor of the latter. According to the Stockholm-based International Peace Research Institute, from 2011 to 2020, Baku imported weapons worth $3.274 billion, while Armenia spent a total of $398 million for the same purpose, with $248 million spent in 2019, following the Velvet Revolution. The disruption of the military balance was the main factor in the defeat of the Armenian army and the crisis our nation faces today.
The current Armenian government is sparing no effort to modernize and strengthen the Armenian army. $1.28 billion is a substantial amount for a country like Armenia, but the threats from Azerbaijan and daily border skirmishes have compelled Armenia to allocate significant funds to its military. The position of the Armenian army would have been much better today if the Russian weapons, for which hundreds of millions of dollars were paid two years ago, had been delivered as promised.
Recently, Azerbaijan has been spreading misinformation, claiming that the Armenian army utilizes Iranian drones (UAVs) during border skirmishes. By invoking Iran’s name, Baku seeks to create the impression of a military alliance between Armenia and Iran, which is not true. If the Armenian army is indeed using UAVs, they are locally produced military devices designed by Armenian scientists.
Yes, Aliyev has the right to worry and complain. The day will come when the Armenian army will be capable of putting an end to Azerbaijan’s unrestrained and reckless behavior as it attempts to impose its definition of peace on others. As the saying goes, “the shortest path to peace is through preparedness for war,” and that is precisely what Armenia is doing now.