New Delhi: Armenia has turned to India to bolster its defenses with the purchase of an artillery system amid lingering tensions with Azerbaijan, a close ally of Pakistan and Turkey. Over the past two months, Armenia has purchased anti-tank missiles and multi-barrel rocket launchers, among other types of ammunition, from India following a Russian-brokered truce preceded by fighting for control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The latest piece of equipment on Armenia’s shopping list is the 155mm .39 caliber mounted artillery system manufactured by Bharat Forge, a private defense company part of the Pune-based conglomerate Kalyani Group. This will be the first artillery order for the Kalyani Group – the maker of several indigenous gun systems that have yet to be purchased by the military.
While the Kalyani Group argues the $155 million (over Rs 1,200 crore) order is for a ‘non-conflict zone’, defense establishment sources have now identified Armenia as the ‘Buyer. The gun systems will be manufactured at Kalyani Group’s facilities in Pune and delivered to the buyer in phases over the next three years.
But this is not the first time that Armenia has bought Indian defense systems. In September this year, Yerevan sign a government-to-government contract with New Delhi for Pinaka multi-barreled rocket launchers, anti-tank missiles and ammunition.
Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan even met with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh on the sidelines of the DefExpo held in Gandhinagar last month, seeking to expand defense cooperation with India. The impression had reported as Armenia considered more defense deals with India, including the purchase of drones, anti-drone measures and vagrancy ammunition, in addition to medium-sized surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems carried as the Akash developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).
The former Soviet republic had bought India’s four indigenous ‘Swathi’ weapons-locating radars in 2020, which were delivered in the context of its new conflict with Azerbaijan.
Revisiting the conflict, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on Monday accused Azerbaijan to “shoot at civilians” carrying out agricultural work in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Indian government has been reluctant to talk about defense cooperation with Armenia due to the former Soviet republic’s strained ties with Azerbaijan, seen by many as part of an emerging axis alongside Turkey and from Pakistan. Observers have underline that, despite their physical distance, an “indirect link” has emerged in recent years between Armenia-Azerbaijan and India-Pakistan.
In 2017, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Pakistan published a joint statement the establishment of security cooperation and the continuation of previous bilateral military aid agreements. Azerbaijan later deployed Turkish drones in the 44-day war against Armenia in 2020, and is said to be in talks with Pakistan to buy the JF-17 fighter jet.
In September 2021, the three countries also launched an eight-day joint military exercise, known as the “Three Brothers” exercise.
Incidentally, Pakistan was the second country after Turkey to recognize Azerbaijan as an independent state on December 12, 1991.
The regional trio is important in the sense that it will “add a military component to the political ties”, said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkey program at the Washington Institute. cited as said by Arab News in 2021.
In the Baku declaration signed last year, the speakers of the Turkish, Azerbaijani and Pakistani parliaments agreed to mutually support territorial integrity, while highlighting their respective priorities. The statement was an expression of clear support for Azerbaijan’s campaign in Karabakh, Pakistan’s claims in Jammu and Kashmir and Turkey’s position vis-à-vis the Cypriot, Aegean and Mediterranean disputes. from the east.
(Editing by Amrtansh Arora)