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03/05/2021

New realities for Armenia & Azerbaijan: Are Russian weapons effective?

New realities for Armenia & Azerbaijan: Are Russian weapons effective?

The 44-day war in the South Caucasus last year is still hotly debated, and it seems that it will on the agenda for many years to come. This is due to the fact that, along with restoring the historical and legal justice, this war also created new realities in the region. The Azerbaijani side won the 44-day war and the Armenian side lost.

And the victory created new realities, new goals and a completely new political environment for Azerbaijan. The main task Azerbaijan faces today is to reconstruct the liberated territories, revive life there, ensure the return of IDPs to their homes and turn the region into a touristic center. And today, intensive work is being done in this direction: new roads are in construction; new hydropower plants and new international airports are being built in Karabakh. Azerbaijan has a lot to do. The country’s goals for the future have changed.

Armenia at a crossroads

Armenia’s goals have also changed. Armenia, trying to get rid of the image of aggression, is facing a civil war today. The situation in Armenia has not been calm since the November 10 agreement. Every day, protests, rallies, arrests and resignations take place.

Armenia also faces new realities, but is still unable to adapt to the new conditions. Today, the Armenian society is at a crossroads – either it pursues a pro-Russian policy, or builds its future as a fully independent country, or continues to be an extension of the United States in the region. These three options divide the country into three parts.

Today, the masses in Armenia, who have derived lessons from the bitter consequences of the 44-day war, want to give up utopian dreams, build good relations with their neighbors, especially Turkey and Azerbaijan, and pursue the path of development. But they face serious obstacles.

Armenia without Russia

This is because Russia has an important influence in the country, and without Russia’s guarantees today, Armenia, as a country, may not exist at all. In fact, without Russia’s mediation, Armenia would have faces more tragic consequences in the 44-day Karabakh war. Everyone understands this.

Everyone knows that today the Russian army protects the state borders of Armenia, the basis of the Armenian economy is Russian investment, and the Armenian army only receives Russian-made weapons. In short, Russia is a very important partner for Armenia, as Turkey is for Azerbaijan. Maybe a little too much.

So let’s see. What is the reason for the protest against Russia in the Armenian society? Do these protests take place based on domestic dynamics, or are they result of the influence of external forces? How logical and convincing is it, that the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, who lost the 44-day war, called the Russian-made Iskander missiles weak? Is this statement Pashinyan’s personal opinion, or is it America’s attack on Russia via Armenia?

The statement on the Iskander missiles made the current situation in Armenia very clear. The Armenian government seems to insist on turning the political course towards the West, but it does not think about the bitter consequences.

Is Iskander Missile ineffective?

Let’s talk briefly about the Iskander rockets. Iskander missiles, considered one of the cornerstones of Russia’s military industry, are still one of the most powerful weapons in the world today.

The 9K720 Iskander is a mobile short-range ballistic missile system produced and deployed by the Russian military. The missile systems are to replace the obsolete OTR-21 Tochka systems, still in use by the Russian armed forces, by 2021. The Iskander has several different conventional warheads, including a cluster munitions warhead, a fuel-air explosive enhanced-blast warhead, a high explosive-fragmentation warhead, an earth penetrator for bunker busting and an electromagnetic pulse device for anti-radar missions. The missile can also carry nuclear warheads.

Iskander missiles have proven themselves in many conflicts around the world. But they were not used in Karabakh. And it was fortunate, that they were not used. Everyone knows the power of this destructive weapon, which can take the lives of hundreds or even thousands of people.

But Iskander missiles were not used in the 44-day Karabakh war. The Azerbaijani side has also officially confirmed this. Armenian armed forces used Elbrus, Tochka-U, Scud and S-300 missiles against Azerbaijani civilians, but the Iskander missiles were not used.

Than, why did the Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan make the statement about the ineffectiveness of an unused missile?

New realities for Armenia & Azerbaijan

Did he make this statement in order to abdicate responsibility for the defeat in the war, or to weaken Russia’s influence in the region? In any case, the Prime Minister, who later realized his mistake and apologized, has to come to terms with the new realities.

And the new reality is that Russia is the reason for Armenia’s survival today. Russia is the reason for the suspension of military operations by Azerbaijan. Russia is the reason for signing the November 10 agreement on regional cooperation.

Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian-made S-400 complex, despite all international sanctions, is a sign of the strength and importance of Russia’s military industry. Even Azerbaijan makes extensive use of Russian-made weapons. This is a reality.

And Armenia, on the eve of a civil war, must also accept this reality.

Ahmad Shahidov

Head of the Azerbaijan Institute for Democracy and Human Rights

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