Igor Korotchenko: “Arms scandal fits into overall deterioration of relations between Armenia and Russia”
Today it became known that the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia wrote a letter to the Ministry of Defense of Armenia demanding to resolve situation around disruption of tender for supply of weapons to Yerevan. In August, Armenia held its first military tender, and only Russian company ORSIS could fulfill its conditions. However, tender was shut down without explanation, and the company was placed on the list of unreliable suppliers. Vestnik Kavkaza spoke to editor-in-chief of the National Defense magazine about what this event means for Russian-Armenian military-technical cooperation.
- Igor Yuryevich, how should this episode of Russian-Armenian relations in the military-technical sphere be evaluated?
- I think it's pretty local, albeit very unpleasant incident. Actions of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia are aimed at protecting reputation and interests of specific manufacturer of Russian small arms, which was excluded from tender for unreasonable reasons, and even had to deal with certain financial claims of Armenian side.
This case is completely outside legal plane, it fits into overall deterioration of Russian-Armenian relations. Armenia is extremely interested in obtaining Russian weapons, while still having certain limitations when it comes to its ability to buy such weapons - the financial and economic situation doesn't allow it to buy what it really wants.
Overall, nothing is threatening military-technical cooperation between Moscow and Yerevan, especially since supply of Russian weapons is often the only way for Armenia to ensure its defense capability.
- What are the advantages of purchase of Russian arms for Armenia compared to other options?
- The biggest advantage is interesting price. Russian arms can be purchased at special prices by CSTO countries, so Armenia can count on lower prices compared to global prices. In addition, Armenian army is armed mainly with Soviet weapons, in other words, old ones that require modernization and maintenance. In this regard, Russia supplies familiar, reliable, proven weapon.
At the same time, this applies only to classical war, and right now wars are waged with the use of high-tech weaponry. For example, during the April battles for Karabakh, Azerbaijan used Israeli barrage ammunition; Armenia had no weapons of such class at that time. Now it's trying to compensate for this with its own national weapons, but Armenia is unlikely to succeed in competing with Israel in this area, although some samples of unmanned aerial vehicles developed in Armenia are shown at military parades and military equipment demonstrations.
- How will events around this scandal develop?
- I don't think this incident will cause any serious consequences, although it's very unpleasant and demonstrates overall detoriation of relations between Moscow and Yerevan. Let’s see how Yerevan reacts to the letter of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, which draws attention to the fact that its actions towards our company are clearly illegal.
Everything will depend on that: if Yerevan takes unconstructive approach, it will have certain consequences, but if it somehow resolves this incident, it will be a different situation. That's why we're waiting for what the Ministry of Defense of Armenia will say in response to this letter, and depending on the answer, it will be clear what approach we should take. Basically, to a certain extent it will be an important moment for our relationship.