Armenia keen to expand defence links with India as conflict festers

MINT, India
Oct 25 2023

NEW DELHI : Armenia is keen to expand its defence ties with India, its deputy foreign minister Mnatsakan Safaryan said, in the aftermath of its bitter conflict with Azerbaijan.

“Armenia is diversifying its defence cooperation and this is a good opportunity to further enhancing Armenian-Indian ties in this field," Safaryan told Mint.

The country has appointed a defence attaché to its Embassy in New Delhi in order to scope out potential for further cooperation, he added.

In 2020, India sold the Swathi weapon-locating radar system to Armenia. After this, a bilateral deal was struck for New Delhi to supply Yerevan anti-tank munitions, Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers and ammunition.

In November 2022, Kalyani Strategic Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bharat Forge, won a $155 million contract to supply artillery guns to Armenia, according to numerous media reports citing defence ministry sources.

The relationship developed after Armenia lost a short but intense conflict with Azerbaijan in 2020.

In March this year, Armenia’s top military commander Maj-Gen Edward Asryan visited India and met chief of defence staff Gen Anil Chauhan.

Asryan also met the National Security Council. Prior to this, defence minister Suren Papikyan visited India in October 2022 to meet defence minister Rajnath Singh.

Safaryan also thanked India for condemning Azerbaijan’s “aggression" towards Armenia and welcomed a greater Indian role in the region.

“We would like to see India’s increased presence in Armenia and in our region at large, be it trade and business ties or others.

“Given your country’s fast development, it will contribute to overall stability in our region, as well as India’s strategy to engage more in its neighbourhood" Safaryan said.

India has taken an interest in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, where Armenians were in a majority.

While the region is recognised as a part of Azerbaijan, it was controlled by ethnic Armenians.

After taking back control over large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, Azerbaijan was able to consolidate its grip over the region after a short military campaign in September this year.

Azerbaijan’s victory may be a cause of concern to New Delhi because of the growing closeness between Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Turkey.

The three countries have built a closer military and political relationship in recent years. Turkey and Azerbaijan have backed Pakistan on Kashmir.

These concerns could pave the way for greater cooperation on national security.

Armenia’s secretary of the security council Armen Grigoryan and India’s national security adviser Ajit Doval met in August this year.