By K. Khodanian
Armenian Defense Minister, Suren Papikyan, expressed his satisfaction during a recent interview on Public Television regarding France and India becoming Armenia’s primary partners in arms procurement. Minister Papikyan emphasized the success of diversifying Armenia’s sources for arms acquisition, however, he declined to disclose other contributing countries.
Armenia’s progress in this regard has triggered unease in Baku. Azerbaijan’s leadership, particularly President Haytar Aliyev, frequently discusses and accuses France and India of exacerbating regional tensions through their arms sales to Armenia. Foreign Affairs Minister Cheihun Payramov labeled military aid from the European Union to Armenia as detrimental to peace.
This marks the first time in two decades that Azerbaijan is protesting Armenia’s arms procurement. Previously, it was Armenia criticizing Russia for supplying weapons to Azerbaijan, with Russian officials dismissing concerns, citing market demand.
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) recently published a report indicating Russia’s contradictory stance on arms supply. While Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pledged not to destabilize regions through arms sales, Russia was the largest arms supplier to Azerbaijan from 2011 to 2020. Despite Armenia also receiving the majority of its weapons from Russia during this period, Azerbaijan outspent Armenia by over $5 billion, acquiring eight times more weaponry, than Armenia’s previous corrupt administrations. Currently, the ratio between the two countries is more balanced. Azerbaijan’s state budget allotted a total of $3.77 billion for defense and national security in 2024, while Armenia will spend $1.5 billion this year.
Despite Azerbaijan’s discontent with Armenia’s arms purchases, it continues to purchase weapons from Russia, Israel, Belarus, Turkey, and others. However, Azerbaijan fears losing its military advantage as Armenia enhances its defensive capabilities.
Azerbaijan’s heightened concerns have led its official media to speculate about an “imminent attack by Armenia and France against Azerbaijan”. These developments serve to demonstrate Aliyev’s genuine apprehension, potentially deterring rash military actions against Armenia in the near future.