Former Minister of Defense of Armenia David Tonoyan gave an interview to Mediamax, and reflected on his statements before the recent Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) war, the course of the war, and the reasons for the defeat of the Armenian side.
Your famous statement “New war, new territories” has been discussed in and outside Armenia since the end of the war. In particular, the Russian Foreign Minister also mentioned it at a press conference on January 18. Do you have regrets about it?
The statement made during a meeting with the U.S. Armenian community about a year and a half ago was a response to the statements of Azerbaijani military-political leadership to resolve the Artsakh issue through war, which were “substantiated” by the futility of negotiations. Yes, the statement was emotional, but I don’t regret it.
No matter how much Aliyev and some Armenian politicians insist, that statement could not be a reason for the failure of the negotiations and resumption of the war. By the same logic, the war could have started every day, since the leaders of Azerbaijan were always talking about the military solution of the issue. Moreover, for decades the world has failed to “notice” Aliyev’s statements that “Yerevan was the historical territory of Azerbaijani.”
It should be clearly stated that Azerbaijan rejected the peaceful political settlement of the conflict. The initiator of the war and the disruption of the negotiation process were Ilham Aliyev and Turkey that had provoked and supported him in many ways.
I strongly believe that in conditions of geographical boundaries occupied by the Armenian Armed Forces after 1994, the reinforcement of military positions, the organization of combat duty and the armament of troops with modern weaponry did not solve the main task of ensuring the security and the economic development of Armenians of Artsakh.
What was the ultimate goal of retention of the territories delimited by above-mentioned boundaries? The restoration of historical justice, provision of long-term and sustainable security of Armenians of Artsakh and the Republic of Armenia, economic development, or creation of favorable conditions for negotiations on the return of territories in exchange for the internationally recognized status of Artsakh?
Certainly, neither the first, nor the second, nor the third. In today’s geo-political conditions with current boundaries and defensive posture existing, issues of long-term and sustainable security and economic development would not have been resolved, and the failure of the negotiation process would have sooner or later led to war.
Therefore, within the framework of defense and foreign policy pursued over the last 26 years, within the limits of existing social and demographic-economic capabilities, the fourth has been ensured in non-war conditions – the continuity of the “beneficial” settlement process for the Armenian side.
You have stated that in case of war the Armenian side should move hostilities to the adversary’s territory. In particular, you have stated that “in case of necessity our attack groups may create a chaos in the back of the adversary.” Why did this not happen?
Yes, the formation of these assault units and their training to operate in enemy territory, the equipment of Armenian Armed Forces with multifunctional fighter jets, various UAVs and high-precision missile systems, as well as the development of intelligence and special forces capabilities would have eventually led to conceptual changes.
However, the “2018-2024 Modernization Program for the Armenian Armed Forces” approved by the Armenian President’s decree of February 17, 2018, Armed Forces Development Plan edited and adopted by the Security Council in 2019, initiated Strategic Defense Review had not yet been fully implemented. We didn’t have time to prepare for a “contactless” was with the use of 5th generation weapons.
In the Vision on the priorities for the development of the defense sector and the Armed Forces published on June 9, 2020, I mentioned that a large-scale rearmament of the Armed Forces had begun, ranging from small arms to long-range missile systems and multi-functional fighter jets. However, we were at the beginning of the road.
The rearmament was aimed at recruiting the subdivisions of the Armed Forces with such mobile, modern and high-precision weapons that would operate in the field of the automatic command and control and would ensure the decentralized independent actions of subdivisions. I am convinced that we had no alternative but to go to war in this format.
All the statements were made taking into consideration the predictability of regional developments and possible actions of the enemy, but with an inadequate assessment of the risks of direct involvement of Turkey, mass involvement of mercenaries, and complete blockade of supply routes.
If my conceptual and program approaches are assessed as “pompous” and “arrogant”, then the incompetent, spinelessness and melancholic manifestations of some Armenian politicians are a security threat to our people. We have lost an unequal battle in all respects, but that does not entitle anyone to play with the national dignity of our people. This political nightmare that psychologically exhausts people needs to stop, and instead of injecting a complex of inferiority, we have to analyze the mistakes, learn the lessons and work. We have paid an extremely high price. Thousands of young people have given their lives for the sake of our Homeland and protection of our national interests, and defeatist speeches disrespect their memory.