YEREVAN — Armenia is moving away from its heavy dependence on Russian weapons and other military equipment, according to Defense Minister Suren Papikyan. The country has seen significant progress and success in efforts to diversify its defense ties, naming France and India primary partners.

In a weekend interview with Armenian Public Television, Papikyan said the Armenian government decided to diversify the country’s arms suppliers after Moscow failed to defend its South Caucasus ally against Azerbaijani military attacks in September 2022.

“We have made serious progress in this direction,” he said. “This process is irreversible, in the positive sense of the word. Current processes and contracts will significantly change the quality of our army’s weapons in the future.”

“In this process, we have also acquired new partners,” Papikian said, singling out India and France.

The minister noted, the acquisition of weapons also presupposes certain training, in particular knowledge of languages and adaptation.

“Our army is going through this phase, difficult but important,” the minister said.

Papikyan also noted that he intends to introduce military uniforms in the armed forces according to NATO standards. He added that a competition to develop such a military uniform was announced back in 2022. The minister emphasized that at this stage we are talking about field uniforms.

Since September 2022, Armenia has reportedly signed a number of defense contracts with India worth at least $400 million. The Armenian military is due to receive Indian artillery systems, anti-tank rockets and anti-drone equipment.

In October 2023, Armenia also signed two arms deals with France. One of them entitles it to buying three sophisticated radar systems from the French defense group Thales. Papikian and his French counterpart Sebastien Lecornu also signed in Paris a “letter of intent” on the future delivery of French short-range surface-to-air missiles.

Yerevan had earlier signed with Moscow contracts for the delivery of Russian weapons worth $400 million, according to Armenian officials. The latter repeatedly complained last year that the Armenian side has still not received any of those weapons. Two senior Armenian lawmakers said last month that Russia has shipped the first batch of that military hardware.

Papikyan also noted that he intends to introduce military uniforms in the armed forces according to NATO standards. He added that a competition to develop such a military uniform was announced back in 2022. The minister emphasized that at this stage we are talking about field uniforms.

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