Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict: India considers sending second batch of weapons to Armenia in the face of rising tensions

Oct 27 2023

The decision comes after India successfully delivered the first batch of weapons to Armenia over the past year.

Amid the ongoing Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, India is considering sending more military assistance to Armenia, its vital ally in the Caucasus, reports the Economic Times. This comes after India successfully delivered the first batch of weapons to Armenia over the past year.

The article reported that India intends to send additional supplies some of which could consist of military hardware meant to strengthen Armenia’s deterrent might. The development came to light in the backdrop of serious tensions between Armenia and the Islamic country Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey and Pakistan.

A top Armenian official recently was in Delhi to hold negotiations about the same, as per sources with knowledge of the situation. They asserted that India has emerged as a reliable source of weapons which is in line with their demand.

However, specifics of the new shipments are undisclosed at this time and analysts in Armenia who want to remain anonymous stated that the cargo might comprise tools that could act as a deterrent amid the hostile environment with Azerbaijan.

India’s previous consignment to Armenia included Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers, anti-tank missiles, rockets, and ammunition. The weapons were reportedly delivered through Iran, a country with historical ties to Armenia. Iran, which has historical ties to Armenia had reportedly facilitated the delivery. The supplies had prompted protests from Azerbaijan.

India, Iran and Armenia established a trilateral earlier this year to explore a transit corridor. The three nations underlined the potential for strengthening cultural and people-to-people ties as well as trilateral collaboration in several areas during a meeting in Yerevan in April. They further spoke about economic initiatives and regional communication channels. The decision was made to “continue consultations” in the format at that point. The usage of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) as a regional connectivity network was addressed as well at the summit.

Armenia has been acquiring Pinaka systems mostly because of Azerbaijan’s drone utilisation, as the system’s “shoot and scoot” functionality allows it to avoid counter-battery fire. It is also an excellent armament system for the country due to its affordability and ease of application. Due to their familiarity with the Russian-made GRAD system, the Armenian army could quickly become proficient with the technique. 

The head of Armenia’s parliamentary committee on defence and security affairs, Andranik Kocharyan recently declared without mentioning India that the new arsenal supplied to the country is now being tested by their military, with “very satisfactory” results.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is an ethnic and territorial conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, inhabited mostly by ethnic Armenians until 2023.

The small nation of Armenia is nestled between Turkey and Azerbaijan. The Azeris share Turkish culture and religion since they are ethnic Turks. The Ottoman Empire colonized the predominantly Christian Armenians for a very long period. Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia were the three Soviet republics that split apart from Armenia after the Soviet Union annexed the country in the 1920s.

Armenia and Azerbaijan gained independence in the 1990s with the fall of the Soviet Union. However, a small area that was home to ethnic Armenians continued to be a part of Azerbaijan. The name of this area is Nagorno-Karabakh. In the 1990s, tensions rose, leading this region to announce independence with Armenia’s assistance. The impasse lasted for over thirty years until Azerbaijan unilaterally breached the truce in 2020, backed by Turkey.

The dispute saw a significant escalation after this. Six weeks of intense combat were reported to have claimed thousands of lives.

Azerbaijan took over large swaths of land, and by the time both sides agreed to sign a peace deal negotiated by Russia in November 2020, it had grabbed all of the regions surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh controlled by Armenia since 1994. The terms of the deal obliged Armenian troops to leave these territories and they have since been limited to a smaller part of the region.

The violence was momentarily stopped by the arrival of Russian soldiers, however, tensions had been building for months between the two nations.

In September this year, the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia once again escalated as the Turkey-backed Azerbaijani forces launched a military offensive in the region. The onslaught that lasted for 24 hours claimed the lives of as many as 10 innocent civilians and left several injured.

The following day, a cease-fire deal mediated by Russia was struck. The agreement stated that the military forces of Karabakh would be entirely disarmed and abolished.

On September 20, the prime minister stated that Armenia was not a party to the deal, accusing Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan of attempting to draw Armenia into a confrontation. 

Amidst all this, over 1,20,000 ethnic Armenians living in the region started fleeing Muslim-majority Azerbaijan fearing persecution and ethnic cleansing by the Azeri authorities.