Armenia VS Azerbaijan: arms race continues

  • Armenia VS Azerbaijan arms race continues

Yerevan: The South Caucasus is on the verge of a big war. So, in any case, almost all authoritative experts and think tanks believe that deal with regional security issues in the South Caucasus.

For example, the American analytical center "Stratfor" permanently addresses to the South Caucasian problems and in each report notes the increasing probability of a big war between Armenia and Azerbaijan every year. The same opinion is expressed in the International Crisis Group ("ICG"), which, in its turn, is not especially shy about the formulations and actually discusses not the possible military actions, but the consequences that the armed confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan will lead to.

Recall that the cause of the continuing confrontation between these countries is the historical Armenian region Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh), which in the twenties of the last century was violently transferred by the Bolshevik authorities to Azerbaijan.

During the entire period of Karabakh's stay in the Azerbaijani SSR, the Armenian population of the region raised the question of illogicality of such a decision by the central authorities of the USSR.

The "hot" phase of the Armenian-Azerbaijani confrontation began in the very collapse of the Soviet Union (1988-1991) when Armenians were forced to provide armed resistance to attempts to destroy the Armenian population of Karabakh by the Azerbaijani authorities.

Active fighting ended in 1994 with the defeat of the Azerbaijani forces. For peaceful settlement of the conflict, a special body was created under the auspices of the OSCE, the so-called OSCE Minsk Group with three co-chairs, comprising the United States, France and the Russian Federation. However, this format of settlement could not achieve tangible results. The main merit of the OSCE Minsk Group is the constant monitoring of the situation and the resolution of conflict situations that could lead to an outbreak of violence following the example of an unsuccessful blitzkrieg in Karabakh of Azerbaijani troops (April 2-6, 2016), having lost several hundred people and about three thousand wounded, and could not achieve any significant success in the short-term confrontation with the army of self-defense of Karabakh.

However, the Azerbaijani side did not accept the situation and within the next twenty years is getting ready for revenge, which is manifested in the anti-Armenian hysteria, which is promoted by the propaganda structures of official Baku, and in the massive purchase of weapons and modernization of its own army.

The Armenian side, realizing the high probability of military confrontation with Azerbaijan, is taking certain steps to minimize the consequences of a possible war.

In order to understand the level of militarization of the parties, let us turn to statistics.

Over the past twenty-five years, Azerbaijan has purchased weapons for a total of about twenty billion dollars. The main suppliers of weapons are Russia, Israel and Turkey. Only during the last five years the Azerbaijani side has concluded contracts for five billion dollars with Russia. The range of Russian weapons purchased by Azerbaijan includes T-90 tanks, Smerch and Grad rocket systems, S-300 Triumph missile and anti-aircraft system, long-range artillery and missile systems such as Pion and Tochka-U . Over the past three years alone, the Azerbaijani side has received more than thirty Mi-35M combat helicopters from Russian suppliers.

Equally impressive are the purchases by Azerbaijan of Israeli weapons, which in mass are the most high-tech and, as shown by the April fighting, an effective weapon. Speech about drones, which today mainly consist of shock and reconnaissance modifications of Israeli production. It is worth mentioning separately that official Baku has developed its own military industrial complex quite seriously, creating an extensive network of enterprises producing a wide range of weapons ranging from small arms to the licensed assembly of South African armored vehicles and Israeli drones.

It's also not worth dumping the Azerbaijani Air Force, which is represented by Soviet-made assault aircraft (Su-25) and by bomber aircraft (Mig-29).

Baku also bought and continues to buy weapons from Turkey, mainly armored cars and several types of MLRS.

Until recently, an impressive mass of weapons were purchased in Ukraine.

The saturation and types of weapons that are in the arsenal of the Azerbaijani army leave no doubt that the Azerbaijani side is preparing for the combat actions of the attacking plan, and the Armenian leadership is also actively arming, however, prefers an asymmetric response, taking into account the types of weapons that Azerbaijan has purchased.

Thus, the Armenian side does not focus on the purchase of fighter aircraft, which in fact is simply unaffordable for the budget of the Republic of Armenia, but prefers to purchase proven and proven air defense means, such as the same S-300 air defense system, Buk-M2, S- 125, Circle, Cube, P-75. In parallel, Armenia established the production of drone and reconnaissance drones of its own design, which again minimized the cost of purchasing expensive analogues.

The same applies to anti-tank weapons, which are quite dense in the Armenian Armed Forces. Although, it should be separately noted that the tank fleet of Armenia is large enough and includes more than three hundred vehicles, the exact number of which is kept secret.

Last year's sensation was the purchase by the Armenian armed forces of the latest tactical missile systems Iskander, the presence of which, in fact, put the Azerbaijani authorities before the threat of guaranteed destruction by the Armenians of the oil and gas infrastructure of Azerbaijan. Also, Armenians and Azerbaijanis own such types of weapons as the Smerch MLRS and the flamethrower systems Solntsepek.

It should be emphasized that the main supplier of arms to the Armenian Armed Forces is Russia, which sells weapons to the Armenian side not only at domestic prices, but also provides Armenians with soft loans for a massive purchase of weapons.

Arms of the Armenian side also includes weapons of Chinese and French production, which in different years were purchased by the Armenian side.

Of course, in this material it will not be possible to cover the whole range, reasons and methodology of the arms race, in which these two South Caucasian republics are located. But even a cursory analysis of the situation shows that neither side is going to radically change its position, and given that the positions of the parties are diametrically opposed, the arms race inevitably leads the region to a great war.

Yerevan, Front News International

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