YEREVAN – Former Minister of Defense Davit Tonoyan has claimed that when he took office in 2018, the Armenian military was capable of withstanding a significantly superior enemy force.
Tonoyan appeared before an ad hoc parliamentary commission tasked with examining the causes of Armenia’s defeat in the 2020 war with Azerbaijan. Over the past year, the commission has questioned dozens of current and former government officials, including PM Nikol Pashinyan, as well as military officers.
He told lawmakers that the Armenian Armed Forces were fit to engage in defensive battles and were capable of withstanding an attack by a force twice or three times more superior, taking into consideration the degree of combat readiness, geography, and positions.
“Why am I saying twice or three times more superior? I mean that in terms of engaging in a defensive battle, the readiness degree of the armed forces was satisfactory. This isn’t my assessment; this is calculated and substantiated information,” Tonoyan said.
Vahagn Alexanyan, an MP representing the Civil Contract party, asked Tonoyan to specify whether the Armenian military was outnumbered two or three times in terms of equipment compared to the Azeri forces when the 2020 war began. Tonoyan clarified that his response was to a question about the state of readiness of the military and not about the ratio of forces when the war began.
Tonoyan also said that Turkey’s direct military intervention in the war proved decisive for Azerbaijan’s victory. That intervention, he said, was unexpected for the Armenian military, which had calculated that it could “fight back Azerbaijani aggression.”
“We had not calculated that the Turkish armed forces could appear only 25-45 kilometers away from the Artsakh theater of war and carry out flights there,” added Tonoyan.
Tonoyan was sacked as defense minister in the wake of the war and arrested in 2021 in a criminal investigation into alleged supplies of faulty ammunition to the Armenian Air Force. He, two army generals, and an arms dealer went on trial in 2022. They all deny fraud and embezzlement charges leveled against them.